General Relief Society Broadcast

I felt rather smug on my way to the conference. I had a crazy-busy week, yet I was determined to go hear the first official addresses of our new presidency. But as I pulled in at 7:58, the parking lot was . . . empty and dark. Oops, should have read the e-mail more carefully. As the Stake Center is 30 minutes from my chapel — and hard to find in the dark — I headed home again.

I was hoping to post my own reflections tonight. Instead, I welcome yours until the transcripts are posted. For you, what were the highlights, money quotes, key themes, personal reflections and insights . . . .

Deborah

Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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31 Responses

  1. DLS says:

    I hadn’t been to the broadcast in over 10 years, so decided to go tonight.

    After the RS Presidency spoke, Thomas S. Monson was the last speaker. I found it interesting when half the audience started crying when he said “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world”.

    I would like to know others thoughts on why this would be such an emotional statement to a group of mormon women.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They probably cried because it’s untrue.

  3. Dora says:

    I was really disappointed in President Beck’s talk. I had such high hopes for this presidency, since it included the first woman of color, and a single sister as well. However, I felt absolutely excluded from a talk that I felt was directed solely at mothers. Plus, I thought that she went overboard on the fear aspect … mothers need to protect their children from the dangers of the world (why not fathers as well?), etc etc.

    After her remarks, it was refreshing to hear Sister Allred talk about Visiting Teaching, a church program that affects all women in the church.

    And I thought Sister Thompson carried the day. She addressed the family, but in a way that was inclusive … both to sisters without children, and to men. She also seemed to talk about Christ more than the other two speakers. Besides, I love social workers!

    And, President Monson’s talk was pretty standard fare. Feel-good. Fatherly. Touching stories. He also looked in good health, which is a relief.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In general I think the talks were well written although the pastel colors always annoy me:) I loved hearing all the women sing Redeemer of Israel. I felt president Julie’s talk was some firm mainstream mormon propaganda. I enjoyed the single sisters talk the most(can’t recall her name)As far as the Monson talk goes– pretty typical for him, I always find myself conjuring up versions of real life stories to contrast with his. Overall an interesting evening

  5. FoxyJ says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent way too much time staring at Sister Beck’s hair. Something about it seemed kind of strange to me. Anyways, I liked Sister Allred and Sister Thompson’s talks a lot. Their perspective was refreshing and it was nice to hear about visiting teaching in other countries. President Monson’s talk was pretty much what I expected. I was also really wondering about that story he told. Who on earth tracks down a General Authority at his hotel room to get a blessing? Do they not have local priesthood leaders? It just seemed kind of odd. Generally I liked the meeting and I loved how all the hymns chosen were upbeat.

  6. DLS says:

    We had the english version in our chapel and the Spanish version in our RS room. It seemed so segregated, but logistically I’m not sure there is any other way to handle it.

    Then, when the choir got up, I searched and searched for one non-white face and there were none. Goes back to the diversity post a few days ago.

    I would hope in the future maybe they could send the presidency to another country and do the broadcast from there. Yes, thousands of people wouldn’t get to attend in the conference center, but the same people probably attend live in person every year, I’m sure it could be out of Utah once in awhile.

    I was relieved there were several mentions of Christ, something I have been feeling is lacking in church lately.

    I don’t feel the talk on families was inclusive of those without children, although it tried really hard to make it seem like it was. Tried too hard in my opinion by asking someone without children to do it, having her mention repeatedly how it did apply to her even though she had no children, but not giving concrete examples.

    I guess I’m feeling irritated this morning because I have to turn around the next day and go to another 4 hours of church(including choir practice which I promised to start attending), and even though I tried really, really hard to get something out of last night, I’m not sure that I did.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to read Julie Beck’s remarks before commenting as i was also distracted by her hairdo,don’t know why it’s very plain.
    On the matter of being inclusive…did anyone notice the graphics/pictures used? This is not a departure but all the homes were very nicely furnished, granite countertops, fine kitchen cabinetery. Do I expect old, run down houses, well, maybe some of the time. That is the reality for most members. In other parts of the world and even in mine–Salt Lake–most members make sacrifices of the finer things in life in order to live the Gospel.

  8. FoxyJ says:

    I was also bothered by the lack of diversity in the choir. They should get a Polynesian or Spanish-speaking choir. I know those stakes exist in the Salt Lake Valley, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable. I also thought the additional video was a little too white/rich/lots of kids oriented and could have used some diversity. They did have some diverse still photos later in her talk.

  9. Maria says:

    I was working last night, but read the Deseret News write-up from this morning’s paper. Hopefully they will put the text of each speaker’s talk on lds.org soon.

    I spoke to my mother afterwards, however, and she said she really liked Sister Thompson’s talk. From a social worker/therapist perspective, she thought it was spot-on.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I missed the more inclusing still photos, I was probably still mulling over the ritzy ones. Sister Thompson’s talk was the best, in my opinion, but I wasn’t impressed with any of the others. I think the skimpy DNews article speaks to the lack of substance in the meeting. My recollection of Julie Beck’s talk was that it was all about “we’re the best at everything–marriage, raising kids, family–, we should be showing the world!” It didn’t address the needs of the women who are struggling with those roles. I’ve been totally open to Julie Beck; she’s exactly my age and I’ve been waiting to see what she will do.

    I wish they’d post the talk right away, it still wasn’t there this morning.

    I too loved the music. I was in the choir that sang last year; it’s a lot of work but very worth it. i liked how they solved the “jewel tones” issue by having everyone wear white. The dress rules are absolutely unbelievable. Last year, the general board member who briefed us weekly on the dress code said refering to tight fit etc, “we don’t want to turn on any men watching this meeting.” No, i’m not kidding. Now, how many men do you know you just can’t wait to watch the General RS meeting while there’s football going on?

  11. Anonymous says:

    lds.org reports that everything will be available Monday, Oct. 1st.

  12. Deborah says:

    Thanks for the thoughts and reflections — makes me eager to read the talks myself. When they were called, I was pleased to see the relative diversity within this presidency — and early indicators that they would increase the focus on the humanitarian service . . .

  13. Melanie says:

    Sister Beck’s hair wasn’t any different than usual other than that her bangs on the right side were funny. It drove me nuts but I suppose even General Relief Society Presidents have hair struggles.

    I thought Sister Beck’s focus was interesting– she used forms of “defend” and “excel” a lot. It felt like a pep talk. It’s interesting having a different Presidency– I’ve never known anything but Sister Parkin et al. I thought things, by the women at least, were more straight forward and less touchy feely than usual.

    Did anybody else notice Pres. Monson’s comment about education and how all sisters in the church should be getting some if they don’t have it? It seemed completely natural to me in the midst of my singles stake and then I realized he wasn’t just speaking to us. I thought that was big.

    I really struggled with the emphasis on family. I don’t have one of my own and have left mine to pursue an education. I felt guilty and had to check myself with memories of Sister Parkin’s “Choose that good part” talk from a few years ago.

    I also wish Sister Allred would have spoken in Spanish.

    After all that, I left feeling uplifted but I think it had little to do with the content and more to do with the kum-bay-a feelings I have from being with the sisters.

  14. Tona says:

    I concur with a lot of what’s been said – Sister Beck’s talk, although I was impressed by her emphatic & unequivocal strength of delivery, felt too much like a call to arms to defend family. It felt almost political, which made me a little uncomfortable. I also shuddered at the idea that we should be “doing family” and relief “better than anyone else.” How about joining those who already do it well? Build bridges? Celebrate the things we DO have in common with people in “the world” instead of buttressing our existing barriers? I missed the diversity-we love you-gentleness from previous RS meetings, but maybe she’s right, maybe it’s time to get serious about the basics of our creed & practice. I liked one of her quotes, which I think was meant to implicitly criticize those dippy Enrichment meetings we’ve all seen, that “focusing on relief will bring sociality, but focusing on sociality may not bring relief.” I also loved her use of a John Widtsoe quote-with its bold & big vision-that Relief Society is for relief of poverty, illness, doubt, ignorance, all that hinders women’s progress. ALL.

    I too, enjoyed Sister Allred’s comments, wished they were longer. Loved the international visiting teaching experiences she related. Got the feeling that she wanted North American women to stop whining and just do it, if Dominicans can walk miles in the rain barefoot to do theirs.

    I really appreciated Barbara Thompson’s emphasis that the Savior has promised to help us, and we should take him at his word.

    I wasn’t surprised by Monson’s use of outdated quotes & trite tales. And my chapel audience chuckled appreciatively at his gender joke he opened with, but I wish that men speaking in womens meetings would just skip over that part and not call attention to their feeling outnumbered by women or that they have to pay homage to our essential qualities. I liked the three goals he suggested, they seemed concrete and widely applicable to women in any circumstance: study diligently, pray earnestly, and serve willingly. Like others, I also noticed the stress on everyone getting an education. I guess if he can argue that everyone will need it, in case of life’s “uncertainties” or to help their children with their studies, then we may not be far from the celebration of women’s educational achievement as an end in itself, because of the innate worth of the individual woman & her divine potential, not just for what her education can do to help others.

  15. Markie says:

    I left feeling truly disappointed. I was excited at first that there was going to be an emphasis on the ‘relief’ in Relief Society, but all of the examples (and Sister Allred’s entire talk) were about how to provide relief to members. While this is also important, the first two talks seemed like a call to circle the wagons, take care of ourselves, and show the world how much better we are than they are. And Sis. Beck used a lot of phrases that seemed like code for ‘speak out in favor of ultra-conservative political agendas’ (I guess I would have had to walk out if she had just come out and said, “Be homophobic and make sure you stay at home and have lots and lots of babies”, but I couldn’t help but feel like she should just say what she meant or be quiet about it). I enjoyed Sis. Allred’s remarks (although, thought it was funny that she started by saying she was talking about relief, but only talked about Visiting Teaching) and really felt like Sis. Thompson had something useful to say. I had such high hopes – what do I do now?

  16. shimmy says:

    Sister Allred rocked my socks off. It was a solid VT pep talk, and I don’t think I’ve heard a woman at the pulpit before who had a native language besides English. Has there been one? I enjoyed her emphasis on discussing gospel principles, as too often the VT “lesson” is just a quote.

    I appreciated Sister Beck’s remarks, though I agree with the conservative-propaganda mentions. “Defending the family” makes me cringe a little, esp. after the 4th time. But I definitely applaud her reference to keeping RS openings brief…in our ward we always spend 15 minutes on spotlights, 30 announcements, 30 clipboards, quilting groups, blahblah. Write it on the board and let’s cut to the chase. She mentioned something about keeping openings brief so we can spend every possible minute studying the gospel…AMEN.

    Anyway, Pres. Monson’s was standard fare, and Sister Thompson’s was refreshing…it’s nice that we don’t have an entire presidency all born & raised in SLC with 7 children each. Looking forward to more from them.

  17. Matt says:

    President Monson has talked about getting an education in every RS talk he’s given as far back as 1997, which is as far back as I went. He’s 4 for 4 on saying “get an education”

  18. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t go on purpose.
    I could have guessed what was said before hand. Nothing really new.
    I know the young moms need pep talks or guilt trips.
    I agree that more talk of the Savior could and should be a pivotal point in our church period!

    I don’t think the idea that
    “we are better”, should ever be an agenda item in any subject or at any meeting.

    In 1986ish the prophet said for women to leave their desk and come home. Be at all your children’s crossroads, their comings and their goings. Very Serious call.
    One sister in my ward dropped out of her recently scheduled college classes and cried because she knew she needed to be home!

    Then in 1989ish it was get “some” education.

    Then in 1997ish it was get an
    education.

    Then in 2003ish, education or marketable skills.

    I cried because I could only market diaper changing etc.(J.K.)
    My choice yes, but I was still living the “every cross road mode”.

    What is right for you may not work for the next person. Different seasons for each of us.

  19. MDS says:

    For you younger bloggers…..Sister Chieko Okazaki (1992-97) is a well-known Democrat–she makes contributions to local candidates– and was the first non-caucasian in a general presidency. She had just two sons and had worked full-time as a teacher and principal her entire adult life.

    Every time I heard her speak I would joke that she was going to be the first woman GA someday. Her delivery was fast-paced and passionate; her message always inclusive and compassionate. I just found this which, if Saturday’s meeting left you wanting, might fill you up. It did the job for me.

    http://www.lds-mormon.com/chieko.shtml

    Contrast her talk with this interview with Mary Ellen Smoot where she talks about her goals for the “women of the Church” we, that homogeneous group. http://www.lds-mormon.com/rspres.shtml

    Her former 2nd counselor, Sheri Dew, is, of course, still single and was another non-traditional woman in a RS general presidency. She is the president of Deseret Book.

    My memories of RS presidencies go back to Barbara Smith in the early 70’s. Unfortunately, Okazaki and Dew are the only standouts in all that time.

  20. claire says:

    I’m actually disappointed that Shimmy reports that we were encouraged to shorten the RS opening… I’ve been rallying to extend it. To me the point of RS isn’t to have a lesson- think back to what the first RS meetings were like- sharing information and resources to serve the sick/poor in their community.

  21. Joanne says:

    I liked the musical arrangements of “The Lord Is My Light” (no fermata at the end) and “Hark All Ye Nations” – the text of which was originally written in German (in Switzerland) and translated into English. The American church needs to benefit from even more international influences.

    I enjoy TSM’s talks, but I always felt they were a bit shallow. I have officially changed my mind. Basically, what I realized is this: TSM is not strident. I can tell from what he says as well as what he does not say that he does not insist we interpret the gospel as he does. His different approach is distinct from other current apostles and it is needed. His words leave enough room for a range of interpretations. Less prescription. Less doctrinal hair-splitting.

    The talks were okay, but I have the same concerns about “we should be the best” rhetoric. I guess I’ll never “get over” my favorite presidency from the early 90s. Elaine Jack, Chieko Okazaki, Aileen Clyde were a dynamite presidency. Sister Jack, a Canadian, made a point of celebrating diversity and launching the literacy program. Sister Okazaki took on racism and sexism and was a working mother herself for a time because she loved teaching. Sister Clyde is a feminist and has spoken at an Exponent II retreat. I like Sheri Dew for her dynamic speaking style, but I didn’t hear innovative content from her. Her words just had different ethos because she’s a single career woman.

  22. shimmy says:

    Claire, that’s a good point, and I should clarify. I applauded the shorten-the-opening point bc in my experience, the beginning takes half of class time and isn’t substantive: book clubs reading fluffy books, come scrapbook at 10 am on tuesday, dry flowers with so and so, whatever. When we get started on the “lesson” (I prefer “discussion” but maybe that’s too generous :)), it’s always rushed, and we’re out of time before we get to the meat. If our openings were about providing relief to the poor, I’d feel differently, but that hasn’t been my experience.

    Does anyone know…is Sister Allred the first member of a presidency not from the US or Canada?

  23. Laura says:

    Sister Beck did seem nervous conducting and on the delivery of her talk but I thought the content was great.

    Some may know that Sister Beck was pulled out of the ranks of the General Young Women’s Presidency were she was serving with Sister Tanner when she was called to be the General Relief society pres.

    I served in Young Women’s while she was in that positiion and consequently probably paid more attention to the talks she gave in that role. When I read her talk that included encouraging young woman to seek and excercise spiritual gifts that included sharing stories of how her mother excercised the gift of healing — I was excited there was a woman in such high leadership like Sister Beck. Consequently, I was then thrilled when she was called as RS general pres.

    For me, there was something so releiving about not hearing the usual maternal “don’t feel bad if you don’t measure up, etc” disclaimers in any of the talks. I felt like they really had faith in us as women and in the Lord that we could truly rise to greater hieghts and be the best. Perhaps we’ve gotten so used to hearing that disclaimer, not hearing it may imply to some that we should beat ourselves up or feel guilty if we aren’t quite there yet — but I think that’smaking a huge and unintended leap.

    Overall, I liked the unapolagetic confidence and from the diverse group.

  24. Deborah says:

    Thank you to everyone who is contributing! I love hearing how others are reacting to our new presidency. Whether one loved the talks or had thoughtful reservations, it’s good to be TALKING ABOUT our female leaders, taking them seriously, having hopes for their leadership. As Elie Weisel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.”

  25. Keri says:

    I had mixed feelings about the RS broadcast. I liked that it wasn’t fluffy, like some prior broadcasts. (Thank goodness there wasn’t some artsy film piece with cheesy music to introduce the theme, as has happened in previous years.)

    I found Sister Beck’s talk to be generally peppy and upbeat, but she spoke too quickly for me to digest what she was saying. I also thought her remarks on the family were a bit insensitive to the unmarried and childless. (I’m both, and I very nearly got up and walked out.) It’s not so much what she said, as how she said it. (Unfortunately, I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that upset me.)

    I really liked Sister Allred’s talk. I’ve been looking for an adjective to describe it, and the only thing I can think of is “real”. She seemed genuine and earnest. I also liked the focus on visiting teaching and its power.

    Sister Thompson’s talk was well presented, but it didn’t speak to me. However, I was touched by her testimony at the end. I can tell that she has a deep love for and an abiding personal relationship with the Savior. She testified with the same power that I have seen from some apostles.

    President Monson’s talk was a mixed bag. I’m not too fond of his speaking style, with his heavy reliance on stories, and extensive use of the passive voice. (I prefer a linear and logical style, such as that of Elder Oaks.) However, I did like the content. I was struck by what he had to say on education and providing for families. It seemed to me that he was almost prophesying the day when most LDS women would be in the workforce. (He didn’t go quite that far, but it seemed that he was approaching it.) I can’t wait to see a transcript so I can re-read it to see if I was interpreting correctly.

    I loved the music. Redeemer of Israel is one of my favorite hymns. I also liked that the choir was dressed uniformly, instead of in the traditional hodgepodge of pastels. It was much less distracting.

  26. Jessawhy says:

    I agree with most of the comments so far. (even about Sis. Beck’s hair, it was oddly asymmetrical) with the exception of the choir, which had a very immature or bright tone, almost like a young women’s choir.
    Sis Beck’s talk was not directed at single or childless women, so I felt for those who were in that role. I also cringed at the political undertones. But, mostly I cringed as the camera panned out to a nearly empty front section of the conference center (a handful of women seated where droves of men will sit next weekend). Thus, Pres. Monson’s joke about men being the master of women didn’t seem as funny to me in contrast to the stark visual that women really don’t hold power in our church. (although they do have an advisory role)
    But oddly, the most moving for me was a photo, probably from the generic church pictures, of a family kneeling in prayer, in a circle, holding hands. It looked really sweet and we tried it when we came home. My 5 year old and 2 year old love it, and we now have a new way of holding family prayer. 🙂
    Interesting the things that we take away from these meetings that nobody would expect. Although I was not being super-impressed with any of the speakers, the meeting itself gave me peace and a renewed love for my husband and children. That’s also a bonus.

  27. Anonymous says:

    for those who didn’t get to hear it you can watch it online at the byutv site…they have a tivo-like feature.

    while i agree it’s good to be talking, it’s a bit disappointing to see a lack of the unity that sister beck told pres hinckley she was sure we could pull together. i also can’t believe people are picking apart sister becks hair?????

    i thought the broadcast was fantastic. a great presidency. i look forward to more.

  28. ME says:

    The broadcast was a mixed bag for me.

    On the plus side, I was REALLY excited to see the church’s growth in Central/South America represented in the RS leadership, finally. I grew up in a half Spanish speaking stake and Silvia Allred’s accent was like hearing a piece of familiar music. I wondered if the Latinas in our area were excited to have a leader who looked and sounded like them.

    On the minus side, I felt that the focus on family didn’t really extend to the entire human family. Just your own family, or maybe your ward family, but not beyond that. BTW, since when is it the “doctrine of family”?

    I thought it was interesting how the early mission of the RS–the relief part–was highlighted, but no one really spoke specifically about similar relief efforts today. I know the church provides humanitarian aid and individual wards do humanitarian/community projects, but that varies considerably by area and leadership; I’d like to see something more systemic like the literacy projects of the Jack-Okasaki-Clyde era.

    I left with two questions: When will the rest of church leadership begin to reflect the church’s growth outside the U.S.? What exactly are we doing as a church to relieve poverty? The issue isn’t on my stake’s/ward’s radar despite the crushing poverty along the South Texas border.

    Mary Ellen

  29. Anonymous says:

    I am somewhat disappointed at the comments I have read in this blog. I was unable to attend the broadcast at our Stake building, but watched it a few days latter on the internet. I thought it was a wonderful meeting. I was spiritually lifted and encouraged to go forward with faith to face the difficult world we have to live in. I do not believe that Sister Beck went overboard on the fearful future because it is a very uncertain and worrisome world that we live in. I loved Sister Allred’s talk the most because she did focus on visiting teaching and I am the visiting teacher leader in our ward Relief Society. I heard much that I can use in encouraging my sisters in their service. There is so much of pain, sorrow, struggle, financially and spiritually in our families, I was sorry to see so many of you missed the spiritual boost you could have had because you were so determined to be critical. It seemed you were looking for anything to complain about, picking apart some very uplifting talks. I hope you listened to General Conference with less judgment and more desire to be taught and uplifted.

  30. Linanda says:

    Does this final anon. realize where she is? This isn’t the Ensign ( if that still exists!) I agree that the ” presidency from the early 90s. Elaine Jack, Chieko Okazaki, Aileen Clyde” were a dynamite presidency, esp. since Aileen is and remains the only long term female role model I ever personally associated with, in the church and in the neighborhood. A deep bow to her and her family!

  1. May 20, 2016

    […] found The Exponent that same day.  I remember poring over the comments on the General Relief Society broadcast, and finding opinions from all over the spectrum: some liked her talk, some didn’t.  Some […]

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