The Inaugural LDS Women’s Meeting–Part I

I have looked forward to this historic women’s meeting for many months despite sharing the concerns of some that the audience may be too broad. I arrived at my stake center, wearing my subversive purple dress, vowing to keep an open mind and to stand with my sisters, no matter what.

I will be sharing my thoughts on the first half on the session but I have to say, I loved every minute. I was moved and inspired by each talk, I found the videos and music uplifting and heart-expanding. I am grateful that I live in a time where a meeting like this can be held and that we can be taught powerfully by the women leaders of my own faith. I look forward to the time when my daughter can join me.

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An (Out)Burst

Three Sundays ago in Relief Society we had lesson 1 in the Joseph Fielding Smith manual. It was the lesson on Heavenly Father. I had  ended up on the front row with my knitting and my baby. The first discussion in the class included listing the traits of God on the board. I sat there wondering if I had something to add while everyone else put up all the phrases  I was already thinking about: all the omni-stuff, loving, merciful, etc. And then,

“Male.”

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When Teacher and Text Aren’t on the Same Page

When Teacher and Text Aren’t on the Same Page

I would consider it unethical to advocate spiritual principles that I didn’t believe or hope to be true.  At the same time, I recognize that when I teach at church, I am serving as a representative of the institution.  People do not come to church to hear my personal opinions. It would be inappropriate for me to contradict the text I am supposed to teach.

Stepping down, either by seeking a substitute or by asking for a release from a calling, may be a justified strategy to avoid teaching material that rubs the wrong way, but I have never used this option.  Frankly, I appreciate the opportunity to teach when the subject matter is sketchy because then I can frame the message to be less offensive.

Here are some of the more difficult lesson plans I have taught at church and the strategies I used to balance my personal, feminist ideals and my obligation to represent the institutional church.

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Relief Society General Broadcast: Linda Reeves

Linda Reeves, 2nd Counselor

Linda Reeves began her talk with an anecdote of a recently baptized woman who walked through mud for two miles to get to church. In choosing to become a member, this woman gave up her boyfriend, was trying to live the Word of Wisdom, and quit her job which had her working on Sunday. Just as this woman would come to church and wash off all the mud from her clothes, the atonement cleansed her spiritually and physically.

I thought it was nice that Reeves began her talk with a woman’s experience. Since leaders rarely quote women leaders and since most scriptural references allude to men rather than women, it’s a good thing to get women’s experiences and voices into these talks in some fashion. Using anecdotes of women she has met through her positions in the Relief Society is one good strategy. 

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Relief Society General Broadcast: President Linda K. Burton

imageOne thing I really like about this Relief Society General Presidency is that they pick themes each year for the sisters of the church to focus on. Last year was furthering our knowledge and understanding of the atonement, this year’s theme is becoming better covenant keepers. President Linda K. Burton conducted the meeting and gave the first address.

There seems to be a divide in our rhetoric surrounding covenant keeping. We focus on what it means to make and keep sacred covenants for ourselves but also what it means to be a covenant keeper in a community of saints. This divide was apparent in President Burton’s talk as she tried to address both topics to show how keeping both personal and community covenants proves us as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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