Church leaders encouraged sisters to cultivate connections with others and use faith to navigate hardships in the opening session of the 2021 BYU Women’s Conference.
The 45th annual event began this morning and continues through April 30. The conference features live broadcasts from the Marriott Center as well as pre-recorded lectures from influential Church leaders and associates. Speakers this morning included members of the Relief Society General Presidency, the Primary General Presidency and the Sunday School General President, Elder Mark L. Pace.
Invite others to belong
Relief Society Presidency members Jean B. Bingham, Sharon Eubank and Reyna I. Aburto encouraged listeners to work on giving loving responses to ward members who come home from missions early, are childless or are in other less-than-ideal circumstances. Sister Bingham encouraged sisters to look for “untapped potential and hidden talents” in others to help them feel like they belong.
Sister Eubank shared examples of times in the scriptures when Jesus Christ saw beyond people’s differences. She invited to the stage her friend Liv, who shared that her feelings of acceptance in the Church stemmed from her bishop trusting her and listening to her. Liv said her bishop focused on her eternal identity, not her present decisions.
“Our work as disciples of Jesus Christ is to make it easier for people to come unto Him,” Sister Eubank said.
Sister Aburto shared the story of primary children who helped an inactive sister feel included. “Children naturally tend to be more accepting of others and love them as they are,” Sister Aburto said. “We can all be more like children and accept each other with compassion and without judgment.”
Primary Presidency members Camille N. Johnson, Susan H. Porter and Amy Wright discussed unexpected connections they discovered amongst themselves after being called to the Primary General Presidency.
“Sisters, we are all connected,” Sister Johnson said. She encouraged listeners to prioritize finding connections between themselves to help them cultivate feelings of love, sisterhood and belonging.
Have faith during trials
Sister Porter talked about her husband’s recent and unexpected death. Addressing listeners undergoing difficult challenges, she said their circumstances would not always change through prayer but that they could still be assured of God’s hand in their lives.
“God is with us, even when we can’t feel his presence,” Sister Porter said. “Sometimes we are aware of that help and other times we just soldier on, not realizing that it is by His power that we have the strength to carry on.”
Sister Wright testified that Jesus Christ is capable of accomplishing his own work, but “he shares his sacred work with us so we can have opportunities to learn and grow.” She encouraged listeners to make intentional choices to follow God and to find power in growing spiritually through trials.
In a pre-recorded broadcast, Sunday School General President Mark L. Pace discussed the resolve and faith individuals can gain from their challenges. Elder Pace gave the example of his current experience undergoing cancer treatments.
“I trust that I will be made whole, but I also trust that I might not be,” Elder Pace said. “Our faith does not necessarily remove our trials, but it does give us the power and perspective to navigate those trials successfully.”