Sheri Dew opened the 2014 BYU Women’s Conference by speaking of the power of Christ’s Atonement and the healing power of his grace.
A native of Kansas and a graduate of BYU, Dew served as the second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency from 1997 to 2002. She is currently CEO of Deseret Book and executive vice president of Deseret Management.
Dew has had many experiences that helped her understand the role of Christ’s grace in everyday life. She shared several as she answered four questions: What is grace? How do we access grace? How does the Savior make His grace available? and What must we do?
She spoke about her own past and how her father struggled with a temper throughout his life. She remembered sometimes bearing the brunt of his anger. Before his death, she prayed and felt peace and healing.
“That was grace,” Dew said. “No earthly remedy could have done that. … Grace is power that flows from the Atonement.”
Dew, who came to the conference for her keynote address feeling under the weather, attributed her ability to attend the conference and deliver her talk to Christ’s grace.
“Being here is an answer to many prayers,” she said. “I’m here because priesthood power is real and angels minister through a very thin veil.”
Dew touched on the topic of women and the priesthood — a sensitive issue facing the church currently. She explained that no women at anytime in the history of the world have had more access to divine power than they do currently.
She taught that women are not ordained to the priesthood, but in the temple they are endowed with power and the knowledge of how to use that power.
“Both men and women who function under priesthood keys function with priesthood authority,” Dew said. “Both men and women have access to God’s greatest blessings.”
As part of her address, she quoted former apostle Elder Bruce R. McConkie, affirming that men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord.
She urged audience members to become true disciples of Christ. “It is hard to be a disciple of someone we do not know,” she said. “We indicate by the way we live our lives where we want to belong.”
Dew spoke to an audience burdened by unmet expectations, explaining that the Lord magnifies what his true disciples offer.
“We can’t earn exaltation, but we can indicate through our faith and behavior that we desire it more than anything else,” Dew said. “That is discipleship.”
She taught that by understanding and receiving Christ’s grace, the circumstances of our lives may not always change, but our attitude will, faith being the key component to unlocking Christ’s power.
Dew taught that through keeping covenants men and women are able to show faith and access God’s power. She told of when she nearly married in her 30s and went into a depression when the relationship ended, but remained faithful to her covenants and ultimately felt her heart heal.
“The Savior rarely removes the mountains in front of us, but He does help us climb them,” she said.