Women in spring colors filled the Marriott Center early Thursday morning for the opening session of Women’s Conference.
Participants briefly heard from Sandra Rogers, Women’s Conference chair, Sister Linda Burton, newly sustained General Relief society President and President of Brigham Young University, Cecil O. Samuelson, before keynote speaker Ruth Todd took the stand.
Sister Linda Burton, the newly sustained General Relief Society’s President, spoke for a few minutes to introduce herself and welcome the sisters.
“If it weren’t in front of me I wouldn’t be able to tell you my name,” Sister Burton said.
She turned the audience’s attention to the pioneer woman in Minvera Teichert’s painting “Zion, Ho!” which is the theme artwork fot this year’s conference and encouraged the women to follow that woman’s example.
“She provides a meaningful symbol of faith, family and relief,” she said. “If someone were to paint an image of me, would those same themes be presented in me in the master artist’s hand?”
Ruth Todd, a former local news anchor and new senior manager for LDS Public Affairs, continued on that message in her keynote address about the conference’s theme.
This year’s theme for Women’s Conference comes from 1 Nephi 14:14: “And they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”
Todd explained women are part of this group and said it could be felt among all the people in the conference.
“What power there is in this room right now with all of you incredible women in one room,” she said. “Can you feel it? … When you go home and feel alone remember this.”
The theme for Women’s Conference is not just limited to attendees, or even just LDS women, Todd said, but rather a theme for all the women in the world.
“We need the women of the world to be armed with the ‘power of righteousness,'” she said. “He needs us all and he needs us now.”
The scriptural theme comes at a point of the Book of Mormon where Nephi is seeing a vision of the future, of modern day. During that time, Nephi writes righteous members were spread across the world among those doing wickedness.
“How do you suppose that this small band of strength stand up against the tidal wave of wickedness?” Todd said. “We may be relatively small in numbered scattered about the world but our influence for good can be magnified by the power of God in great glory.”
The power and strength, she said, come from relying in the Lord through prayer, scripture study, service, unity and the temple.
Todd said when she was young she was a worrier, particularly when her parents left.
“I would worry something would happen to them and they wouldn’t come home,” she said.
Laying in her bed as child, Todd said her fear would taking control creating vivid imaginary sirens and scenarios of car accidents and hospitals. The key, she said, was to find comfort in the practice of prayer her parents taught her.
“As I lay in my bed almost paralyzed with fear, I would be prompted to pray,” she said. “The feeling of comfort would be the same every time. The memory of it [the peace] was seared in my heart and I knew that that the power of prayer was real.”
Todd also encouraged participants to regularly engage in intense scripture study, despite busy schedules.
“Don’t let a single day go by without serious study of the scripture,” she said. “The more we read, the more we realize that we must read and the more we want to read.”
In service, Todd said sisters should be willing to serve in whatever capacity and when ever they are called.
As a Relief Society, women need to be unified and supportive of each other. She encouraged women to be like the mothers of the 2,000 stripling warriors and work together to raise up a righteous generation.
“It could have never worked if they were judgmental of each other or critical of each other,” Todd said. “We cannot be like them unless we are unified together.”
While members many come from different backgrounds and cultures, Todd said each individual is essential for all to succeed. As such, there can me no room for judgment, only compassion.
“Though vastly different we are unified in the Relief Society,” she said, “together we strengthen home and families. … Each of us is unique … it takes all of us, and we don’t want to be with out a single one of us.”