More than 15,000 women from around the world gathered to the Brigham Young University campus April 28-29, to be instructed and give service at the annual Women's Conference.
The conference is co-sponsored by BYU and the Relief Society organization offering more than 100 classes for women — six of which were in Spanish — covering a wide variety of topics.
This year's conference theme, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass," comes from the scripture found in the Book of Mormon in Alma 37:6-7.
The conference began Thursday morning with a welcome from Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, BYU president and member of the Seventy, and Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president. An organized evening of service took place Thursday night, and other smaller humanitarian projects were handed out to complete during the conference. Speakers for Friday's general sessions included Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, and Sister Beck.
In his remarks, Elder Bednar shared personal stories of how great things are brought to pass through small and simple things.
"In contrast to what we so often observe in the world, the Lord typically ministers 'one by one,' " Elder Bednar taught. "He enables us to learn 'line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.' And He accomplishes His work by bringing to pass great things through small and simple means.
"I believe many, if not all, of the most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in our homes, in the Church, in our jobs and professions and in our communities will be the product of this important spiritual pattern — of small and simple things. We should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results."
It is through living the gospel in small and simple ways that individuals are able to bless all around them and generations to come, remarked Elder Bednar.
"As you and I become increasingly steadfast and immovable, we are less prone to zealous and exaggerated spurts of spirituality followed by extended periods of slackness," he instructed. "The spiritual pattern of small and simple things bringing forth great things produces firmness and steadfastness, deepening devotion and more complete conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel."
Sister Beck shared principles she has learned from studying the history of the Relief Society.
"We have an interesting and exciting, unique female identity," Sister Beck said. "This identity the Lord has given us is in direct contrast to the debased and devalued identity of women that we find in the world."
It is through understanding and acting in accordance to a woman's divine identity that they are able to do the Lord's work, Sister Beck said.
"This identity and purpose can only be fully understood through a spiritual confirmation. There is an intellectual study that can be made, but a spiritual confirmation is what teaches us who we are and what we are to do."
Since women are the guardian of their family's hearts and home, they are involved in a powerful and influential leadership role.
"We have non-negotiable responsibilities," Sister Beck said. "Accept and live them. … We do not get a pass from the responsibilities we are given. We cannot give them away. They are our sacred duties and we fulfill them under covenant."
In addition to the divine identity of women, Sister Beck spoke of the origin of the Relief Society, and the important participants women are in offering relief and carrying out the Lord's work. She spoke of the motto of Relief Society, "Charity never faileth," and how through living the motto, women are able to become holy and learn to be like the Savior. Sister Beck said that it is important to know their spiritual heritage, and that it unifies women in purpose.
More than 100 classes and activities on a variety of topics were available, in addition to organized humanitarian projects. Other presenters over the two days included members of the auxiliary presidencies of the Church, as well as many experts on various topics.
"The small and simple things have great meaning in our family relationships, in our Church service and in our personal righteousness," said Sandra Rogers, chairperson for Women's Conference, in her welcome message. "We also have the benefit of seeing how the Lord works through small and simple things to accomplish His great work."