Lesson Plan: Beloved Daughters (The New Young Women Theme) by Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President

While the Young Women Theme of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has been tweaked at various times over the past few decades, in her October 2019 General Conference talk, Beloved Daughters, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon presented the most dramatic changes to the theme in many years. Young Women; along with their parents, Young Women leaders, priesthood leaders and other mentors; need to understand the theme to use it as a gospel teaching tool. This lesson plan covers the doctrinal basis and implications for the new Young Women theme.

Young Women Theme, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name. I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places. As I strive to qualify for exaltation, I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day. With faith, I will strengthen my home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances and blessings of the holy temple.

Photo by Tuấn Trương

I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.

Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem. Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity. Rosemary M Wixom, General Primary President, September 2016

You are literally the spirit daughters of Heavenly Parents, and nothing can separate you from Their love and the love of your Savior. -Bonnie H. Cordon, October 2019

  • Why do we need to understand that we are children of God?

An important change in the new theme is that it now references our Heavenly Parents, not only our Heavenly Father.

There are forces that work beyond our sight. Sometimes we think the whole job is up to us, forgetful that there are loved ones beyond our sight who are thinking about us and our children. We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can.”  -President Harold B. Lee, February 1974

  • Why is it important for Young Women to learn about Heavenly Mother?
  • Why is it important for male members of the Church to learn about Heavenly Mother?

President Cordon pointed out another change to the theme:

Notice the shift from “we” to “I.” These truths apply to you individually. You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents. You are a covenant disciple of our Savior, Jesus Christ. -Bonnie H. Cordon, October 2019

  • What is the significance of the shift from “we” to “I”?

We are each individuals with singular talents, strengths, opportunities, and challenges. We are as individual as are our fingerprints or our DNA. Unfortunately we cannot discover our individuality as easily as we can identify ourselves with our fingerprints or our DNA. We believe we are foreordained to come to earth at a particular time into particular circumstances and that our particular set of gifts, attitudes, and talents—if properly developed and employed—will enable us to fulfill our foreordained purpose. –Elder Robert C. Oaks, March 2006

  • How can we determine our unique destinies?

Siblings and co-authors Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey dedicated their book, Cheaper by the Dozen, as follows:

To Dad, who only reared twelve children
and To Mother, who reared twelve only children.

  • How can we honor the individuality of each Young Woman?

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become like Him.

Sometimes Young Women are told that only men can become like Christ or represent Christ, but Christ is the exemplar of all and his characteristics, which we are all commanded to emulate, are not gendered.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:27-28

The Lord sometimes even uses feminine imagery to refer to Himself:

For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Isaiah 66:12-13

  • How can we become more like Christ?
  • How can we avoid implying that only males have potential to be like Christ?

I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name.

​​​​Ask​, and it shall be given unto you; ​​​seek​, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. ​For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 3 Nephi 14:7–8

And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned. Alma 32:22-23

  • How can we seek personal revelation?
  • How can we develop confidence to trust our personal revelation?
  • How can we help Young Women seek and trust their personal revelation?
  • How can we honor the revelations of Young Women?

President Cordon emphasized how Young Women presidencies give Young Women opportunities to use revelation.  To Young Women presidency members, she said:

You have been set apart by one who has priesthood authority; this means as you perform the duties of your calling, you exercise priesthood authority. You have an important work to do. Be sensitive to and act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As you do so, you can serve with confidence, for you do not serve alone! -Bonnie H. Cordon, October 2019

To adult leaders of Young Women, she said:

Whatever level of leadership experience a class presidency has, start where they are and help them develop the skills and confidence that will bless them as leaders. Stay close to them, but don’t take over. The Spirit will guide you as you guide them. -Bonnie H. Cordon, October 2019

  • How can we magnify our callings as Young Women presidencies?
  • How can adult leaders guide without taking over?

I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.

This part of the theme echoes the baptismal covenant:

Yea, and are ​​​willing​ to mourn with those that ​​​mourn​; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as ​​​witnesses​ of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the ​​​first resurrection​, that ye may have eternal life. Mosiah 18:9

  • What does it mean to stand as a witness of God?
  • What are some examples of ways we might stand as witnesses of God?

Be the source of love and care you are hoping to receive from others. With a prayer in your heart, continue to reach out and be that force for good. -Bonnie H. Cordon, October 2019

We need to uphold the equal rights, voices and influence of girls in our families, communities and nations. Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres, October 11, 2019

The United Nations has designated October 11 as International Day of the Girl to raise awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide in areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, and medical care, and to support protection of girls from discrimination, domestic violence and child marriage. The day also celebrates the emergence of girls and young women as advocates for their own futures.

  • What are some of the unique challenges facing Young Women?
  • How can Young Women be “a force for good” and “powerful agents of change”?

Christian author Diana Butler Bass responded to critics of 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg by naming several powerful girls from history:

Those commenting on Greta Thunberg would do well to remember that Joan of Arc led an army, Jane Austen wrote her 1st work, Sojourner Truth escaped slavery, Anne Frank kept her journal, & Malala won the Nobel Prize at the same age. Young women are fierce when changing the world. — Diana Butler Bass (@dianabutlerbass) September 18, 2019

  • Tell us about Young Women who have inspired you.

As I strive to qualify for exaltation, I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day.

Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. …Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Whether you are diligently moving along the covenant path, have slipped or stepped from the covenant path, or can’t even see the path from where you are now, I plead with you to repent. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day. —Russell M. Nelson

  • How can we reframe repentance as an opportunity rather than a punishment?
  • How does defining repentance as “doing and being a little better each day” change your perspective on repentance?
  • How is repentance liberating?

With faith, I will strengthen my home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances and blessings of the holy temple.

Organize yourselves; ​​​prepare​ every needful thing, and establish a house, even a ​​​house​ of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of ​​​order​, a ​​​house​ of God. Doctrine and Covenants 109:8

  • How can Young Women contribute to creating a “house of God” within the homes they share with their parents and siblings or nontraditional families?
  • How can we support Young Women who are struggling with difficult home environments?

​And also my soul delighteth in the ​​​covenants​ of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his ​​​grace​, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of ​​​deliverance​ from death. 2 Nephi 11:5

  • How can we delight in covenants and in the grace, justice and mercy of the Lord?
  • How can we help Young Women delight in covenants and in the grace, justice and mercy of the Lord?

 

 

 

 

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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