In bringing together a virtual audience of young women from around the world, Sunday night’s Face to Face event with the Young Women general presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opted for a bit of a twist on the typical Face to Face events.
Rather than youth leading the event and asking questions of the invited Church leaders, the Young Women general presidency — President Bonnie H. Cordon and her counselors, Sister Michelle D. Craig and Sister Becky Craven — hosted the event and invited youth from around the world to be their guests.
“Oh how grateful we are for your influence for good all over the world, especially during this pandemic,” President Cordon said of the virtual youth audience joining them.
The event, which marked the culminating celebration of this year’s 150-year anniversary of the Young Women organization, was an opportunity for young women from around the world to connect with one another and their leaders through conversations and music.
Music for the event was provided by young women participants and two new songs titled “I Will” and “Great Work” were introduced during the event. Both songs, which highlight important concepts from the event, are available as part of the 2021 youth theme album recently released by the Church, the presidency noted.
Art for the event was provided by Eva Timothy, a Bulgarian artist whose photo series titled “The Lord is My Light” depicts various scriptural scenes with the Savior.
The event also offered a chance for youth to share what they have done and learned as part of the three invitations issued by the general presidency this year.
The first was the My150 invitation, which encouraged young women to do 150 of something positive. The second invitation asked young women to reach out and thank a Young Women leader who had blessed their lives. The third invitation asked young women to join leaders of the Church in sharing how they hear the voice of the Lord in their lives.
The general leaders and young women participants shared dozens of examples of what young women throughout the globe have done this year to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve and bless the lives of others.
When the Young Women organization was first formed 150 years ago, the Prophet Brigham Young said the purpose of the organization was to “help young women gain a ‘living testimony’ of the gospel of Jesus Christ and stand together against the challenges and temptations of the world,” President Cordon said.
That same hope has been shared by every prophet since, President Cordon said before introducing a special message from President Russell M. Nelson.
In a prerecorded video message shared during the event, President Nelson extended a special invitation to Young Women, asking them to focus on four key areas to help with the gathering of Israel.
Sharing how he has been blessed by interactions with young women throughout the world, including his own nine daughters and many granddaughters and great-granddaughters, President Nelson thanked the young women for the many contributions they make to their families and communities.
“I have learned much from young women like you,” President Nelson said.
He promised young women that by making the vision given by the new Young Women theme a standard in their lives, they will be blessed to become who the Lord wants them to be. “You never need to feel alone as you walk on the covenant path,” he said.
President Nelson then renewed his invitation for all young women to join the youth battalion of the Lord and help with the gathering of Israel.
“If you will be prayerful about helping to gather Israel, the Lord will inspire you,” he promised. “He will strengthen you to meet your own challenges and fill your life with joy.”
He then invited the young women to focus on four key areas to help gather Israel.
Living the gospel
The first area of focus, as introduced by Sister Craven, is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Living the gospel comes through a million small, but faithful decisions and then the courage to follow the Spirit to live by those decisions,” Sister Craven said.
When striving to live the gospel, being consistent in simple, everyday things like prayer, searching the scriptures, listening and acting on the words of the prophets, and maintaining a current temple recommend are some of the most powerful things a person can to do draw closer to the Savior, President Cordon explained.
“I know that even with these daily efforts, at times we may still struggle to feel peace in an uncertain world, but the Lord’s promises are sure,” she continued. “Our Savior will be with us. May we look for Him in our own personal story. Continue to look for the good things that are happening, no matter how small. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are there — and Their promise of peace is eternal and unfailing.”
Responding to questions from youth in various parts of the world, Sister Craig and Sister Craven spoke in Spanish to a young girl from Uruguay about her experience trying to draw closer to the Savior by living the gospel daily.
“Living the gospel of Jesus Christ and being His disciples requires faith — and acting on that faith,” Sister Craven said following their conversation. “Some days I do better than other days, but the point is that we never stop trying.”
Care for those in need
The second area of focus to help in gathering Israel is to serve others and care for those in need, President Cordon said.
The presidency members highlighted several examples from young women around the world who have been serving people in their families and communities and thanked all for the work they are doing to lift the burdens of others.
One example is a young woman named Faith Murray from the state of Washington who suffers from a debilitating disease and has found joy through serving others amidst her trials.
“That’s how I’ve stayed motivated and I know everybody else can do that too,” she said. Service has the power to uplift and change lives.
“You young women are so inspiring,” Sister Craig said after listening to the many examples of service performed by the youth. “Choosing to look up and look out to see the needs of others is not always easy, but it will always bring joy.”
President Cordon added: “I want you to know that Heavenly Father honors the smallest step and the biggest leap. Every act of service makes a difference. I hope we will each choose to make a difference.”
Invite others to come unto Christ
Highlighting the third area of focus introduced by President Nelson — inviting all to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ — President Cordon said, “The Lord longs to bless all of His children, and He is allowing us to be His voice and His hands to bring about His great work.”
Inviting others to come unto Christ can be done in more ways than the typical missionary work done by those with a badge and a full-time calling, President Cordon explained.
“You share the gospel every day by the way you live — and sometimes you even get to use words,” she said. “Remember President Nelson said, ‘Anytime we do anything that helps anyone — on either side of the veil — to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.’”
Social media is a powerful means of sharing the gospel Sister Craven explained, sharing examples of youth who have used the My150 challenge to share the gospel through social media.
President Cordon spoke in Portuguese to a young woman from Brazil and asked about her experience and what she learned about sharing the gospel through social media after posting 150 inspiring quotes as her My150 challenge.
By finding unique and personal ways to share the gospel, young women are “following the prophet’s invitation to be a part of the work of salvation by inviting others to come to Christ,” Sister Craven said. “You are doing what it says in the Young Women theme: ‘standing as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places.'”
Unite families for eternity
Highlighting the fourth area of focus from President Nelson, Sister Craig said, “The reason we share the gospel is so that families can be united for eternity.”
Uniting families for eternity can be done in many different ways, the leaders explained.
Temple work is the most obvious way, but has also been the most difficult to do during a year marked by worldwide temple closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “But that has not stopped us from participating in family history work,” Sister Craig said.
In addition to doing family history research and indexing, young women can also help unite their families by strengthening their relationships with family members, Sister Craig said, sharing an example of a young woman who has turned her efforts to serving and strengthening her relationships with her living relatives.
President Cordon added, “My dear young sisters, no matter what your family looks like, you can strengthen and bless them through your goodness.”
A purpose for this time
Concluding the event with their testimonies, the Young Women general presidency reiterated President Nelson’s words that “we do not walk the covenant path alone.”
Together, the young women of today are “the Lord’s symphony” and “His battalion” President Cordon said.
Building on a foundation of 150 years of Young Women, all of whom are mighty daughters of God, “We’ve been called by the Lord’s prophet to do the work of salvation and exaltation,” Sister Craven said. “And it’s really quite simple: Live, care, invite and unite. Tonight you have shown us what this looks likes.”
Every child of God has gifts and talents that come from their loving Heavenly Father, she continued. “None of us are exactly alike but all of us are needed and have something to contribute.”
The gathering of Israel is the work and purpose of the Lord at this time, “it is why Heavenly Father has sent you here,” President Cordon told the young women.
“There will be bumps, there will be roadblocks — of course there are — they are part of our mortal journey. Don’t let that stop you from your glorious and eternal work,” she said. “It will bring you joy.”