Conversion, healing highlight BYU Women’s Conference

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BYU hosted the largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world on May 4 and 5 at its annual Women’s Conference. Over 200 presenters shared their thoughts, and conversion, healing and sharing the gospel emerged as prominent themes at this year’s conference.

Gaining conversion

Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, spoke on the three basic building blocks of true conversion in the opening session of the 2017 BYU Women’s Conference. These included learning to see beyond the mortal limits of time and space, using the body as an instrument of power, order and creation, and practicing unity and love.

Dani Jardine
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke on the three principles of conversion in the opening session of BYU’s 2017 Women’s Conference. (Danielle Jardine)

“If we build our conversion to the Lord a little bit every day by acting on our faith to see, by disciplining ourselves to repent and create according to the law, and by strengthening others in bonds of unity, the Lord will bless us in all our doings,” Sister Eubank said. “He will convert us in all our parts, and we will find the happiness we seek.”

BYU religion professors Hank R. Smith and Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt joined forces in a Thursday afternoon session of Women’s Conference to deliver instructions on remaining centered in discipleship by focusing on the doctrine of Christ.

Whether a question of faith, feelings of inadequacy or any other obstacle to discipleship, Platt said a deeper understanding of doctrine is the solution.

“Through a careful and intentional study of the doctrine of Christ, you will have power come to your life,” Platt said. “Be transparent, clear and simple in learning and teaching the doctrine of Jesus Christ.”

From left: Sisters Sharon Eubank, Jean B. Bingham and Reyna I. Aburto open the General Relief Society Presidency’s session of BYU Women’s Conference at the Marriott Center on Friday, May 5. (Danielle Jardine)

The General Relief Society Presidency said Relief Society can help women accomplish extraordinary things in its Women’s Conference session on Friday.

General Relief Society President Sister Jean B. Bingham encouraged women to remember Heavenly Father will provide them all they need to become extraordinary as daughters of God.

“Every single one of us can be spectacular because of our unique bundle of talents and abilities,” Sister Bingham said.

Members of the Primary General Presidency spoke about how women can be intentional parents and raise their children in a spiritual atmosphere on Thursday.

Primary General President Sister Joy D. Jones said parents can’t sit back and wait for their children to accidentally do the right or wrong things; they must actively help their children stretch and lean toward the goal of eternal life.

“When we talk about intentional parenting, it is parenting with a goal in mind — it is deliberate, planned and purposeful,” Sister Jones said.

Healing through Christ

Sunday School General President Brother Tad R. Callister and his wife, Sister Kathryn Callister, closed the first day of Women’s Conference by speaking on the healing power of Christ.

Ari Davis
Brother Tad R. Callister speaks during the general session of BYU Women’s Conference on May 4. (Ari Davis)

Sister Callister said women of the church can be healed from all ailments — whether they are physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual — through Jesus Christ if they are willing to return, repent and become converted. Brother Callister said this process can be summed up in one word: obedience.

“If we obey God and submit to his will, we will return to him, we will repent of our sins, we will be converted, and as we do so we will be healed in the Savior’s chosen way,” Brother Callister said.

LDS Church Institutional Messaging Director Ally Isom and ward Relief Society president Lark Galli spoke on how disciples of Jesus Christ can answer difficult questions that come up in conversation among family, friends, colleagues and major audiences.

Isom said everyone will face times when difficult questions will be directed toward them, and it’s possible the answers will not be readily available.

“When you find yourself in either instance, be assured you are not there by accident,” Isom said. “Whether you know it or not, you have been prepared, your voice is needed and you are there by divine design.”

Author and therapist Wendy Ulrich and Vice President of Student Life Jan Scharman spoke on the why and how of forgiving oneself in a Friday afternoon session of Women’s Conference.

Scharman said guilt is not always bad because it often leads to godly sorrow, hope and change. She said the problem is when people fall into Satan’s trap of thinking less of themselves as a result of past mistakes.

Ulrich went on to speak about God’s role in change and repentance.

“God doesn’t just wait for us to crawl up to his door once we’ve figured out how clearly despicable we are, or once we’ve figured it all out, or once we’ve figured out by ourselves how to get out of this self-harrowing state that we’re in,” Ulrich said.

Psychologist Marja Reynolds and BYU social work professor David Wood offered comfort and counsel to those affected by suicide on Thursday.

Reynolds said everyone’s experience coping with suicide is unique. She said whether a person struggles to get out of bed or feels angry, the feelings are normal and Heavenly Father understands.

“He feels your hurt and he knows your needs, and he is actively working to comfort you, even now,” Reynolds said.

Sharing the gospel

BYU professor Michelle Stott James and former member of the Young Women’s General Presidency Sister Virginia H. Pearce said unique blessings and knowledge are available through expounding on the scriptures during a Friday afternoon session of Women’s Conference.

James said expounding and exhorting are the types of work that require preparation.

Ari Davis
Elder Gary E. Stevenson speaks at the closing session of the 2017 BYU Women’s Conference. (Ari Davis)

“When it’s time to expound and exhort the things of the better world, our mouths will be filled if we have spent the time learning the words of Jesus Christ,” James said. “We cannot teach what we do not know.”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson encouraged taking advantage of the capabilities of the latest technology and social media to share the knowledge of a Savior.

“May each of you have the courage to blog, pin, like, share, post, friend, tweet, snap and swipe up in a way that will glorify, honor and respect the will of our loving Heavenly Father,” Elder Stevenson said.