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General Women’s Session of General Conference – It’s Official

Silliness has reigned for years. The General Relief Society Meeting and the General Young Women Meeting were considered far off appendages, only remotely related to General Conference. They were always held the week before General Conference, but weren’t really, completely, totally, fully part of the conference. Just kind of close by. Although the meeting was first chronologically, the proceedings were always stuffed to the back of the Ensign “conference issue.” (The Priesthood Session being placed third, as it occurred.) Showing once again the kind of, sort of conferenceness of the meeting for women, without confusing official status.

General Women's Session

Recently all the females ages eight and up were lumped into the General Women’s meeting but, still, not authentically General Conference, just conference-ish. Until this fall when Uchtdorf (almost, sort of) said it was. But then Eyring said it wasn’t. And then Carlson indicated it was. But the editors knew it wasn’t.

As women were left with whiplash from the multiple 180s, some noted that these things really do matter.

As of today, however, wonder of wonders, glory of glories, miracle of miracles, the General Women’s Meeting is officially part of General Conference! Per church spokeswoman Jessica Moody:

The First Presidency has decided that the General Women’s Meeting will be designated as the General Women’s Session of general conference.

We shall see if it makes the cut to be listed first or if it is still relegated to the appendices. In any event, it’s a good thing!

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • MB October 30, 2014, 7:26 pm

    That’s good news.
    I understand the umbrage we take about being part of an organization that is called an appendage to priesthood.
    I will point out one thing in regards to appendices, however:
    The following things are referred to as appendages to priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants:
    “the offices of elder and bishop”, “the offices of teacher and deacon”, Doc & Cov 84:29-30
    the Aaronic Priesthood, Doc & Cov 107:14
    “All other authorities or offices in the church ” Doc & Cov 107:5
    Looks to me like we all, men and women, if we work in any church capacity, work in the role of appendages (extensions of or additions to) priesthood (the power of God)
    Which brings to mind:
    “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches.” John 15:4-5
    We are all branches, appendices or whatever you wish to call them.

  • Ginny October 31, 2014, 1:14 am

    Once again I have to ask…what took so long???

  • Angie Gardner November 1, 2014, 7:27 am

    It’s sad it hasn’t been considered a session of conference all along, but I’m glad they are making the change.

    As for where it will appear in the Ensign, I would not be surprised if they change when the actual meeting occurs.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 1, 2014, 10:20 am

    Haha. You may be right. That would be interesting…
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  • Jettboy November 2, 2014, 8:16 am

    Considered part of the General Conference or not (and whoever didn’t recognize the relationship before is beyond me), what is the difference? Are the words and teachings now more True than they were before? Will more women pay better attention and therefore draw closer to the Lord than before the label? (and that is all this is, a labeling). I get that some women now feel a sense of gratification or added bonus of self-esteem, but this move isn’t Gospel, it is word politics.

    MB, I love what you said. This “me too” feminist movement in the Church is not spiritually healthy. It focuses on the self and not the Lord or neighbor.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Got my Ensign. It was retroactively labeled as a conference session. But it’s still in the back, where we belong.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Jettboy, you’ll have to talk to President Eyring about why he didn’t recognize the (apparently) obvious connection. You’ll also have to talk to the first presidency about why they spent time on something so silly and meaningless.

    If by neighbor you mean you, then, no, it wasn’t about you. If by “neighbor” you mean the women in the church, then, yes, it was about our neighbors.

    Tell you what, starting today, I want you to shed the silly egotistical labeling. From now on, you may refer to others using only first names. No titles for anyone. No bishops, presidents, elders, etc. at church. And nowhere else either.

    Funny how it’s “respectful” when we’re talking about men and “word politics” when we’re talking about women.
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  • IdRatherNotSay November 2, 2014, 3:54 pm

    You know, I was thinking the other day…

    Every time we are publicaly chastised by male priesthood holders for bringing up matters pertaining to women, well, it just can’t look good to the outside world, can it? And by doing so, are they not reinforcing if not proving to us, themselves and everyone else that there really is reason for conversation? Does it not scream of patriarchy?

    It’s funny. I always noticed the gender differences in our church, but they never really bothered me until the men began being so confrontational about women’s issues. I always assumed they desired to serve and protect us. I guess I grew up in a fantasy world where my father respected my mother and my husband has treated me like an equal. I’m feeling pretty sorry for my fellow sisters who have to live with these apparent misogynists. How sad!

    Alison, I am interested in whether it not you have any comments about the church’s recent essay on plural marriage and the history of the church?

  • Craig D November 2, 2014, 7:28 pm

    Jetboy said: “…what is the difference?”

    If there is no difference, why didn’t our leaders do it years ago? ***Why exclude women for NO REASON???***

  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2014, 7:19 pm

    IdRatherNotSay…um…yes.

    I don’t really want to live in a world where we can’t have frank, open conversations. As a woman, I don’t want to be stroked and put on a pedestal (which is why Jettboy’s irrational labeling (heh) of those who bring up such issues as being a search for self-esteem is so humorous). I have no problem with hard counsel nor with direct counsel, rather I hope for it.

    But when the thoughts of women are dismissed, punished, etc., rather than addressed as if the woman are thinking adults, it’s just proving the point.

    My dad was ahead of his time in the equality in our home. I thought it was normal and only learned much later it wasn’t. My husband is the same. But I have had very close friends and ward members (and many when I have served in RS) who had relationships I could not stomach.

    Do I have any thoughts on the polygamy essays? Yes. But that’s a burdensome post to write, isn’t it? First thing was, “It’s about time.” Second was, “I don’t want to read them.” Third, it was, “Sigh.” If anyone wants to know what I think, my hope would be:

    (1) Disavow it completely and explain how it was a huge mistake (but the church is still true),
    or
    (2) Explain what the crap it all means once and for all.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2014, 7:36 pm

    It’s fun? So there can be another “special job for men“? :::cough:::
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  • MB November 3, 2014, 8:29 am

    General Conferences of the church started in Utah in 1848.

    When the first general RS meeting was held on Saturday, April 6, 1889 (date chosen, likely, to facilitate travel plans for those also attending other church conference meetings that weekend), it was called by the general RS president Zina D.H. Young. Twenty stakes were represented at that first Relief Society Conference, some of whom had traveled over 500 miles to attend by rail or carriage. It was titled, by the RS presidency, “The General Conference of the Relief Society” to distinguish it from “The General Conference of the Church” which was held that same weekend.

    RS was at that time a fully functional, financially independent organization.

    So, that’s how it started in it’s designation as not a session of General Conference, but held at the same time of year. Later, when travel was easier, it was moved to dates other than the exact same weekend as the general conference of the church.

    When RS was merged more fully into church organization in the 1970s, including financial support (halleluya! no more fund raising bazaars or membership dues!) there was, as can be imagined, some confusion about independence and interdependence in the relationship between RS and the rest of church administration. The predominant feeling among women at the time (I’m old enough to remember that) was one of women wanting RS to retain as much of its independence as it could and the idea that RS conferences could be schlooped under the umbrella of General Conference was resisted.

    Now women’s ideas about that have changed, with many women feeling that being integrated into General Conference gives their meeting more validation.

    That short history may hold some of the answer to the question of why this didn’t happen sooner. The change in women’s attitudes about whether or not it should happen has been a slow 180 degree shift over more than 40 years. It is only in the very recent past that the prevailing sentiment among women in the church as been an inclination to have it be considered part of the General Conference of the Church.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 3, 2014, 8:57 am

    Thanks for posting that, MB. I think it’s a rather generous history of how Relief Society was correlated. 🙂 But as you said, the predominant feeling was to retain independence — and that didn’t remotely happen.

    The problem is not that the RS meeting hasn’t been part of GC my entire adult life. It’s that it has not been part of GC while still being entirely controlled by the FP, not the RS. When men must approve each item, preside at the meeting, keynote at the meeting, and sometimes even decide to present important church documents no women had any input on, there is no independence. Given that it’s another male-controlled meeting held at General Conference time, why not at least give it the same status the Priesthood Session has? Why shove it to the back of the Ensign like another appendage?

    It’s the worst of both worlds. Feigned independence without credibility of the group.
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  • Grey Ghost November 12, 2014, 4:05 pm

    Angie Gardner alluded to it – let’s see if they put their money where their mouths are by holding the meeting the Friday night of Conference weekend.

    Personally, I think the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot – not from the women’s viewpoint, but from the Church leadership viewpoint. Why should this be at all a controversial decision?

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