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New leaders for Mormon women

Published March 31, 2012 3:11 pm

Relief Society • Linda K. Burton replaces Julie B. Beck as president.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After five years at the helm of the LDS women's organization, Relief Society President Julie B. Beck stepped down from the position on Saturday afternoon.

Beck was replaced by Linda K. Burton, a mother of six and grandmother of 19 who recently accompanied her husband, Craig P. Burton, as he presided over the LDS Korea Seoul West Mission.

As a teen, Burton spent time in New Zealand, where her father was an LDS mission president.

Burton was serving as a member of Beck's Relief Society general board and had previously been a member of the church's Primary (for children under 12) general board. She also was an LDS seminary teacher and studied elementary education at the University of Utah.

Steve Thompson, a friend in the Burtons' Murray neighborhood, said when he heard the news, it made "perfect sense" that his neighbor would be the new Relief Society president.

"She has always been in leadership positions," Thompson said.

Thompson added that Burton's husband also has served in Mormon leadership positions and is currently the president of a Young Single Adult Stake in the area.

When Thompson thinks of neighbors he admires, the Burtons "would be the first name that came to mind."

Carole M. Stephens, another Relief Society general board member, will be Burton's first counselor,

Stephens has also served as a stake and ward Relief Society president, ward Young Women president, Cub Scout leader, church-service missionary and seminary teacher.

She is married to former Utah legislator Marty Stephens. They are the parents of six children and 15 grandchildren.

Linda S. Reeves is Burton's second counselor. Reeves served with her husband, Melvyn K. Reeves, when he was president of the California Riverside LDS Mission. They have 13 children. She held numerous positions on the ward and stake level.

Reeves graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in special education.

Beck — who was released along with counselors Silvia Allred, of El Salvador, and Barbara Thompson, a single woman — had been in the position since April 2007.

Her first General Conference address, "Mothers Who Know," generated controversy, with some arguing it made LDS women feel inadequate, while others said it reinforced rigid gender roles for women.

Afterward, Beck reached out privately to some of her critics and answered questions but remained unapologetic for her remarks.

Under Beck's leadership, the church recently published Daughters In My Kingdom, a history of the faith's women's organization, and put online minutes from the Relief Society's March 17, 1842, founding.

Cimaron Neugebauer contributed to this story.