I attended a blogger event this morning in the Presidents’ Room of the Relief Society building on Temple Square. If you’ve never been to that building, take a trip sometime. It’s gorgeous. The room is lined with portraits of past leaders of the Relief Society going back to the beginnings in 1842. It’s an impressive visual legacy.
The event was a panel discussion of the recently launched At the Pulpit collection of great speeches, sermons and teachings from LDS women. Present were several leaders included in the volume: Virginia Pearce, Elaine Jack, Jutta Busche, Gladys Sitati, as well as Kate Holbrook, one of the editors of the volume (with Jenny Reeder, who could not attend). Elder Steven Snow was present and gave some very brief opening remarks, then the rest of the event was each panel participant speaking plainly and boldly about their leadership, spiritual development, and their included speeches.
I was one of maybe 5 or 6 men present in a crowd of about fifty. This is the first time I’d ever seen female leadership speak, uncensored and uninterrupted, on matters of doctrine and spiritual leadership.
It was excellent.
These women have organization talent, spiritual gifts, keen minds and they speak with power and authority. They were speaking, surrounded by their forbears, of the tremendous and underappreciated legacy of great LDS women-leaders. Sister Sitati spoke of the importance in her own culture of grandmothers as sources of spiritual legacy, and referred to this At the Pulpit text as a way of discovering new grandmothers. Sister Pearce described gathering personal revelation with friends as she put together her own talk. The Spirit was present, and it was just as present as it would be were any ordained prophet, seer or revelator were speaking.
It seems to me that the prophecy of Elijah’s return is not just about turning our hearts to our fathers; we now have opportunities to turn our hearts to our mothers and reclaim a forgotten legacy of leadership and true spiritual power. At the Pulpit is a catalyst for that turning of hearts, as was the First 50 Years of Relief Society volume (now available online! ), and the excellent The Witness of Women book (by Reeder and Janiece Johnson). I do not believe that the coming forth of these books of women’s history are accidental or without divine design. I think it’s just God telling us that we are cursed if we do not remember the greatness that is the legacy of LDS women, and of the future of LDS women.
We have nothing to fear from female leaders speaking with power and authority from God. I felt that today and know it’s true. And yes, get a copy of At the Pulpit and use it, not just to spice up your curriculum but to remember for yourself that being Mormon means an amazing birthright.