Increasing family effectiveness, scholarship in the modern Church and strengthening youth were among the many topics discussed during the annual Women's Conference at BYU May 4-5. Sponsored by the Relief Society and BYU, the conference was based on the theme "Hearts knit together in unity and in love," taken from Mosiah 18:21.
Included in the two-day conference were keynote addresses, a fireside, a plenary session, closing addresses and 61 sessions given by 124 presenters.This year, about 8,000 attended Women's Conference. Last year, some 7,700 participated in the annual event.
BYU Pres. Rex E. Lee welcomed conference participants during the opening session May 4 in the Marriott Center. In his opening remarks, the university president said: " `Hearts knit together in unity and love.' It seems such a simple request. And yet, as the Book of Mormon confirms, it has never been - nor is it today - an easy commandment to follow."
Expressing a belief that unity is possible, Pres. Lee continued: "Achieving unity does not mean we must all think, walk and talk alike. . . . Unity suggests inclusion, acceptance and enrichment, despite differences. Unity necessitates the direct application of the second great commandment - to love our neighbors as ourselves."
Delivering the keynote address was Sandra Rogers, dean of nursing at BYU. In speaking of the challenge of managing diversity in the Church, she said: "In truth, no matter where they live, be it the Wasatch Front or West Africa, today's Saints come in many varieties. We differ in size, education, ethnicity, political preference, accent, the clothes we choose, how much money we have, how much money we want, the kind of work we do in or out of the home, our marital status or lack thereof. Yet, with all this variation, `all are alike unto God.'
"We could look at becoming sensitive to each other as a way of making all feel welcome, wanted and needed in the Church; a way of being divinely `politically correct.' But, there is something more that inspires the theme of this conference.
"Polarization, hardness of heart, lowered capacity to achieve reconciliation, all will take sides either for or against the kingdom of God. . . . These are the most compelling and urgent reasons for a repeated emphasis on uniting the Church's diversity.
"Paradoxically, as fully as we accept the absolute necessity of being one we also must honor the eternal principle of agency and recognize we possess, as sisters, a wide spectrum of spiritual gifts and talents, as well as many preferences that will probably become meaningless once we are on the other side of the veil. If our differences in preferences won't matter on the other side why should we let them matter here?
"Without a sense of sacred oneness we truly cannot be covenant keepers, for all the law and the prophets hang on loving God with all our heart, might, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves."