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Forever 'Young' — Leaders reunite

Former and current members of Young Women presidencies gather

Elaine S. Dalton hopes she soon has young women approaching her with two thumbs up. That signifies they are "One-hundred Percent" — one hundred percent in daily prayer, scripture study and, what she says may be the most challenging, smiling.

Ruth Funk smiles at a familiar face and voice as former and current members of the presidency of the Young Womens Organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a reunion at the Relief Society building on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  November 6, 2008.  Mike Terry, Deseret News.
Ruth Funk smiles at a familiar face and voice as former and current members of the presidency of the Young Womens Organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a reunion at the Relief Society building on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. November 6, 2008. Mike Terry, Deseret News. Photo: Deseret News

The Young Women general president issued this challenge to young women throughout the Church recently and reiterated the goal of 100 percent to former general Young Women auxiliary leaders during a luncheon Nov. 6 in the Relief Society Building in downtown Salt Lake City.

"Can you imagine the implications that this has, if a young woman is 100 percent for 10 years, for 15 years?" asked Sister Dalton, who was sustained as general president of the organization during last April's general conference.

Addressing the former auxiliary leaders, including several former Young Women general presidents, during the annual "Forever Young" banquet, Sister Dalton said the Young Women general presidency issued the challenge of morning and nightly prayer, at least five minutes a day studying the Book of Mormon, and smiling during a "Brand New Year" celebration the previous evening at the Conference Center during which 21,000 youth attended. (Please see Church News, Nov. 15, pages 8-10, for reports on the celebration and the soon-to-be-released DVD.)

Former and current members of the presidencies of the Young Womens Organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a reunion at the Relief Society building in Temple Square in Salt Lake City. November 6, 2008.  Mike Terry, Deseret News.
Former and current members of the presidencies of the Young Womens Organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a reunion at the Relief Society building in Temple Square in Salt Lake City. November 6, 2008. Mike Terry, Deseret News. Photo: Deseret News

"This is a grand beginning from what all of you have done in the past, and these youth have a great and a marvelous work to do," Sister Dalton said. "As the youth were leaving the Conference Center, they were saying, 'This is like the greatest thing,' and I thought, 'And it's just the beginning.' This is just the beginning of what we'll be doing to have these youth arise and shine forth."

Former leaders attending the luncheon held in the reception room of the Relief Society Building represented more than four decades of Young Women leadership, including Florence S. Jacobsen, 1961-1972; Ruth H. Funk, 1972-1978; Ardeth G. Kapp, 1984-1992; Janette C. Hales Beckham, 1992-1997; Margaret D. Nadauld, 1997-2002; and Susan W. Tanner, 2002-2008. Elaine A. Cannon, who served as general president from 1978-1984, died in 2003. Also attending were several general board members and Sister Dalton's counselors in the new general presidency, Sisters Mary N. Cook and Ann M. Dibb.

Expressing her gratitude for the service and example set by former leaders, Sister Dalton quoted the 12th century theologian John of Salisbury: "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants."

"We feel like just a tiny part of something that is so big, and it is that stone cut out of the mountain that is rolling forth and we are part of that," Sister Dalton continued. "We are so grateful to you for what you have done."

Sister Dalton emphasized how the vision and focus of the new general presidency will be on temple preparation and worship. She related how, after she was sustained as general president and entered her office in the Relief Society Building for the first time, she could clearly see the Salt Lake Temple across the plaza.

"The temple really is the reason for everything we do in the Church. We know that young women can't be there if they are not worthy, so we will be focusing a lot on virtue and standards."

Former presidents of the Young Womens Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a portrait in the Relief Society Building on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  Front row left to right - Janette H. Beckham, Ardeth G. Kapp, Ruth H. Funk and Florence C. Jacobsen.  Back row left to right - Margaret D. Nadauld, Susan W. Tanner, Elaine S. Dalton.  November 6, 2008.  Mike Terry, Deseret News.
Former presidents of the Young Womens Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a portrait in the Relief Society Building on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Front row left to right - Janette H. Beckham, Ardeth G. Kapp, Ruth H. Funk and Florence C. Jacobsen. Back row left to right - Margaret D. Nadauld, Susan W. Tanner, Elaine S. Dalton. November 6, 2008. Mike Terry, Deseret News. Photo: Deseret News

As a general board and general presidency, she added that they have unfurled a banner "not just to the Church but also to the world calling for return to virtue."

"I feel it's such a privilege to be a woman on the earth at this time, but to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is just absolutely astounding."

During the luncheon, Sister Jacobsen was asked to read some thoughts she had written during her tenure as general president. Included were the words: "A girl, a daughter, a sister, a young lady, a bride, a mother, a woman, a grandmother, all of womanhood glorified, born to be something special and to do something special with your life. You have a special obligation in life to be an example to all the world in your high goals, actions, attitudes and accomplishments."

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