With broad smiles and bright eyes, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints eagerly announced more changes to youth programs and encouraged women to serve one other during a special conference session on Saturday evening.
Thousands of church members from across the world filled every seat inside the Conference Center during the 189th Semiannual General Conference on the first day of the event.
“Becoming a covenant woman in partnership with God is how great and good daughters of God have always mothered, led and ministered, serving in whatever way and place He has prepared for them,” said President Henry B. Eyring. “I promise that you will find joy in your journey to your heavenly home as you return to Him as a covenant-keeping daughter of God.”
Leaders also addressed topics ranging from how to handle mental health issues to seeking the name of Jesus Christ to the role of a woman in the church.
President Russell M. Nelson invited women to draw the power of God through searching the scriptures and set aside worldly cares and philosophies.
“Every woman and every man who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants, and who participates worthily in priesthood ordinances, has direct access to the power of God,” he said. “The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood.”
He stated women are crucial to the growth and direction of the church. Women are tasked with being “society’s guardians of morality” and preparing for the return of Christ.
Nelson also announced eight new temples will be built in Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Arkansas, Texas and Guatemala, as well as Orem and Taylorsville, Utah.
“My dear sisters, your power will increase as you serve others,” Nelson said. “Your prayers, fasting, time in the scriptures, and service in temple and family history work will open the heavens to you.”
Sister Reyna I. Aburto shared the story of her daughter who struggled with depression and her father who died by suicide several years ago. She urged women to seek help through prayer and through therapy or medication.
“When our minds are suffering, it is appropriate to seek help from God, from those around us, and from medical and mental health professionals,” she said. “Your struggles do not define you, but they can refine you.”
Feeling sad or anxious is normal once in a while, she explained, but the inability to feel the influence or love of God can signal emotional concerns.
“My dear friends, it can happen to any of us — especially when, as believers in the plan of happiness, we place unnecessary burdens on ourselves by thinking we need to be perfect now,” Aburto said. “In contrast, when we open up about our emotional challenges, admitting we are not perfect, we give others permission to share their struggles.”
Making promises with God is another way to receive strength during challenging times, said Sister Lisa Harkness.
She explained serving under the name of Jesus Christ means more than speaking words or having a part-time commitment.
“Our promise to always remember the Savior gives us strength to stand for truth and righteousness — whether we are in a large crowd or in our solitary places, where no one knows our actions except for God,” Harkness said.
President Dallin H. Oaks focused his remarks on issues and challenges facing those who identify as LGBT and how members of the church can show love despite differences in opinion.
Eyring stated women are called to be leaders and mothers in the church and in families. Serving others and obtaining divine revelation is a gift women can use to love others and come closer to God.
“Becoming a covenant woman in partnership with God is how great and good daughters of God have always mothered, led and ministered, serving in whatever way and place He has prepared for them,” Eyring said.