Recalling the firm foundation built by generations of strong Church auxiliary leaders, President Thomas S. Monson lauded the efforts of two former Young Women general presidents Nov. 19.
The Lord prepared Sister Florence S. Jacobsen and Sister Ruth H. Funk — who both have fine "executive ability" — to serve in the Mutual Improvement Association, said President Monson.
"The Church moves on and programs change, but the basic responsibility of helping youth to choose the right when the choice is placed before them is as cardinal a rule today as it has ever been," said President Monson.
He spoke at a luncheon held in the Relief Society Building for former general Young Women leaders and their boards to honor Sister Jacobsen and Sister Funk.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton and her counselors, Sister Mary N. Cook and Sister Ann M. Dibb, also spoke at the luncheon.
Sister Jacobsen served as general president of the Young Women's Mutual improvement Association from 1961 to 1972; Sister Funk from 1972 to 1978. It was during Sister Funk's service that the program changed from YWMIA to Young Women.
President Monson opened his remarks by speaking of being called as his ward's MIA superintendent and telling his bishop that if he had a little leeway to work with the YWMIA, as well as the YMMIA, the activity level would increase in the ward. He and the young women leaders worked hard and were successful. "We did it together. That is the secret of MIA, to work together."
President Monson recalled magnificent dance festivals and musical festivals and the enormous amount of work and prayer that made them a success.
He asked leaders of youth in the Church to be models to follow, to not judge others, and to put their shoulder to the wheel and push along.
"This great Church was not built by any one person," said President Monson. "The Lord has to inspire those whom He calls. If we trust in the Lord with all of our heart He will respond to our needs. That is the testimony I leave with you."
Remember, he counseled current leaders of youth, "you are a youth only once."
"Don't cheat them out of a road show. Don't cheat them out of having a position in the three-act play. Don't cheat them out of having a dance festival, or a music festival or a speech festival. Give them memories to carry into eternity and your name will be called blessed by the Lord.
During the luncheon, Sister Cook spoke about the legacy of Sister Funk.
"Always an optimist and with an incredible zest for living, [Sister Funk] has shared that zeal with countless children and youth," Sister Cook said. "She is known for her love of music and youth and those two loves were often combined during her service."
A believer in the youth and their capacities, Sister Funk also introduced peer leadership during her administration. "Her philosophy: 'Give them the opportunity to perform and to expand and magnify what gifts they have. You don't become anything by hearing about it; you become by doing it,' " Sister Cook said.
Sister Dibb spoke about Sister Jacobsen, calling her one of the Lord's valiant servants. "The Lord can certainly depend upon Sister Jacobsen. She has a wonderful heritage that I believe has been a great blessing to her throughout her life. ... Both her grandfathers were presidents of the Church — her father's father being Joseph F. Smith, her mother's father being Heber J. Grant."
It is important to remember that the vision of Sister Jacobsen's Young Women presidency is that not one young girl would be forgotten, said Sister Dibb. "How is that done? It is done through lessons that emphasize the importance of young women. It was also done through activities and through leadership."
Sister Funk called it a great privilege to attend the luncheon with the many current and former Young Women leaders and with President Monson.
Sister Jacobsen said to President Monson, "You are very kind to be here today to honor two old ladies."
President Monson corrected her. "Two lovely ladies," he said.
Sister Dalton noted that current auxiliary leaders are standing on the firm foundation Sister Jacobsen and Sister Funk built. She said young women in all of the world will look with gratitude upon their labor.
"Today we honor the past, and we look to the future with a brightness of hope and with an enthusiasm," Sister Dalton said. "We acknowledge the sacrifice and the hard work and the dedication and the consecration to the Lord that is in this room.
"We acknowledge each small part that each one of us has played to build on this whole."