Latter-day Saint women can help build a Zion society, change the world, and prepare for personal and global turmoil — even the Second Coming — speakers said during Saturday evening’s women’s session of the faith’s General Conference.
Three women’s leaders — though none of the top female auxiliary presidents — and the three men in the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delivered addresses during the day’s final meeting.
This session, like the earlier general ones, was broadcast from a small theater inside the giant Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, where participants were socially distanced and wearing masks until they spoke from the podium.
“The change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another,” said Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the all-female Relief Society’s general presidency. “Why? Because we are building Zion — a people ‘of one heart and one mind.’”
Eubank, who also is president of Latter-day Saint Charities, the church’s humanitarian arm, urged women to be “part of a collective force that changes the world for good.”
“Our covenantal assignment is to minister, to lift up the hands that hang down, to put struggling people on our backs or in our arms and carry them. It isn’t complicated to know what to do, but it often goes against our selfish interests and we have to try.”
Latter-day Saint women, Eubank said, “have power to remove prejudice and build unity” and “unlimited potential to change society.”
In the evening’s last talk, President Russell M. Nelson praised women for their efforts during the pandemic and urged them to continue to be prepared for trials — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
He advised women to create “places of security,” including making their home a “personal sanctuary of faith.”
The temple — which Latter-day Saints believe is “the House of the Lord” — is a “place of security unlike any other,” Nelson said. “There, you sisters are endowed with priesthood power through the sacred priesthood covenants you make.”
The “ultimate security,” he said, “comes as we yoke ourselves to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
Life without God “is a life filled with fear,” the 96-year-old leader said. “Life with God is a life filled with peace.”
He was not declaring “the days ahead will be easy,” Nelson said, “but I promise you that the future will be glorious for those who are prepared."
Henry B. Eyring, Nelson’s second counselor, described women’s role in the Second Coming.
“As the beloved daughters of Heavenly Father, and as the daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ in his kingdom, you will play a crucial part in the grand times ahead,” Eyring said. “We know that the Savior will come to a people who have been gathered …[and are ] united in faith in Jesus Christ.”
Latter-day Saint women — sisters, daughters, granddaughters “and the women you have nurtured,” he said, “will be at the heart of creating that society of people who will join in glorious association with the Savior.”
Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged his female listeners to “be of good cheer,” no matter the trials they face.
Mortal adversities “come to us in common with many others, like the millions now struggling through some of the many devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Oaks said. “Similarly, in the United States, millions are suffering through a season of enmity and contention that always seems to accompany presidential elections, but this time is the most severe many of the oldest of us can ever remember.”
Each person “struggles individually with some of the many adversities of mortality, such as poverty, racism, ill health, job losses or disappointments, wayward children, bad marriages or no marriages, and the effects of sin,” he said, “our own or others.”
Yet, amid troubles, Oaks said, “we have that heavenly counsel to be of good cheer and to find joy in the principles and promises of the gospel and the fruits of our labors.”
Cristina B. Franco, second counselor in the general presidency of the children’s Primary, discussed the healing power of Jesus Christ.
She told about getting a new piano that fell off a hand truck during delivery and was damaged. The manager offered to give Franco and her husband, Rudy, a new piano, but Rudy would not hear of it. He wanted the broken one back.
“Sisters and brothers, aren’t we all like this piano, a little broken, cracked and damaged, feeling like we will never be the same again?” Franco asked.
But Jesus Christ can “heal brokenness,” when people have faith, repent and seek him, she said. These believers will be “mended and made whole.”
Rebecca M. Craven, second counselor in the general presidency of the Young Women organization for girls starting at age 11, addressed the possibility of individual change.
“Jesus Christ has given us a continuous pattern for change,” Craven said. “He invites us to exercise faith in him which inspires us to repent.”
Enduring to the end “means changing to the end,” she said. “I now understand that I am not starting over with each failed attempt, but that, with each try, I am continuing my process of change.”