Mormon women and girls can lead out in bringing positive change to the world, leaders said as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened its 187th Semiannual General Conference on Saturday with a session for female members 8 and older.

Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the presidency of the Relief Society organization for women, urged listeners to be articulate and imaginative in expressing faith and extending service.

“Being happy doesn’t mean to slap a plastic smile on your face no matter what is going on,” she said, “but it does mean keeping the laws of God and building and lifting others.”

Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the presidency of the Young Women organization for teen girls, spoke of a political disagreement she’d had with a family member. In her prayer that night, she vented to God about her anger and frustration until she realized the answer was love. “How can I love her? I don’t think I even like her,” she recalled saying. She answered her own question: “You love her, Heavenly Father. Would you give me a portion of your love for her so I can love her, too?”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the faith’s governing First Presidency, also had advice for ministering to those with whom listeners might disagree.

Poignantly expressing his shame at the actions of his native Germany during World War II, Uchtdorf said, “Of course, we must always stand for what is right, and there are times when we must raise our voices for that cause. However, when we do so with anger or hate in our hearts … chances are we are not doing so in righteousness.”

Joy D. Jones, president of the Primary organization for children, spoke on self-worth, reminding her audience, “If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less.”

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham conducted the meeting and reported that church President Thomas S. Monson was watching from home. The church announced in May that Monson, now 90, had stepped back from day-to-day leadership because of advancing age and declining health.

The General Conference will continue with five more sessions, including one for the all-male priesthood, next weekend.