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'Speak up and speak out': Sister Carol F. McConkie speaks during BYU Women's Conference

PROVO, UTAH

“When we speak up and speak out with courage, faith and humility our words are a testimony of truth,” said Sister Carol F. McConkie, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, in her address during the BYU Women’s Conference held in the Marriott Center on Friday, April 29.

“Whether we are young, scared or simply feeling insecure or doubtful, we are in good company,” Sister McConkie said. “Enoch, Jeremiah, Jonah and almost every missionary who has ever walked out the door to serve with heart, might, mind and strength has had to work very hard to develop the faith, the courage and the confidence to speak up and speak out. And we all have the power to do so.”

At baptism, as well as each week when taking the sacrament, Church members pledge that they are willing to take upon them the name of Christ, always remember Him and to keep His commandments with the promise that the Spirit will be with them.

“In essence, we have promised to think, speak and act as the Savior would, all the time and not just on Sunday,” Sister McConkie said. “We recognize that our willingness to speak up and speak out is an essential part of what we have promised to do. And, as we keep our covenant we may obtain the enabling power of the Spirit of the Lord that we might be witnesses of Jesus Christ.”

By speaking up and speaking out, people can help others feel, hear and know the Savior’s love, the Young Women leader taught.

“We speak up and speak out so that we may defend truth and build the kingdom of God on the earth,” she said. “We speak up and speak out so that we may help prepare a people to come unto Christ in mortality and return to His presence in the eternities.”

Sister McConkie said that over time she has learned that an individuals' ability to speak up and speak out increases when they strive to do three things: speak by the Spirit, speak the words of Christ and love one another as the Savior does.

“My hope today is that each one of us will recognize the power and the privilege that it is to speak in the name of the Lord and be prepared to do so ‘at all times, and in all things and in all places,’ especially in the home,” she said.

Speak by the Spirit

“I have learned that the Spirit of the Lord is essential whenever we share heartfelt and sacred beliefs with the power and authority that comes from God,” Sister McConkie said.

The Holy Ghost is the teacher of all truth and has promised blessings to all who follow the Savior. Keeping baptismal covenants and choosing to pray, study the scriptures and to be obedient to the commandments of God invites the divine companionship of the Holy Ghost. Sister McConkie reminded listeners that the Lord promises the ability to speak by the spirit to those who keep their covenants saying, “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”

Speak the words of Christ

“If we are going to speak up and speak out, we must have something to say,” Sister McConkie taught.

By study and by faith, and by feasting upon the words of Christ, one is able to gain understanding and knowledge by the Spirit.

“When women speak the words of Christ by the Spirit their words have power to help others feel God’s love, strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and find answers to their questions,” she said. “Our words bless others with enlightening, ennobling and uplifting influence.”

Love one another

“On a daily basis we interact with those who struggle with personal, social and moral issues,” Sister McConkie said. “We will encounter spurious and emotionally charged messages about the Church, its leaders and its doctrines. Many of us have family members and friends who are wavering in faith or who simply have questions about the Church and its standards.”

It is during those times that women need to, as President Russell M. Nelson taught, “access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and … express [our] beliefs with confidence and charity.”

Wherever and whenever faithful women speak — whether at home, at school, at Church or in the community; whether in person or on paper, in public, by phone or on social media — their words must be filled with faith, hope and charity, Sister McConkie taught.

“We are accountable for the words we speak,” she said. “Our words will condemn us if we are not careful to observe the commandments of God. …There is no place for gossip, vulgarity, swearing or profanity in our conversations. We do not engage in ‘doubtful disputations’ or disagreements over personal opinions. When we truly love one another, we listen carefully to questions and concerns, and we show respect for those who believe differently.”

As women speak out by the Spirit they nourish others with the good word of God. Christ showed the perfect example as He responded to the woman taken in adultery.

“As the crowd pressed Him for His judgment, the Savior demonstrated important principles about what it means to defend truth and to extend charity,” Sister McConkie said.

His example of kindness and compassion, while standing true to the doctrine of His Father, is the perfect example for all to follow.

“The Lord needs the voices of faithful women to speak by the Spirit, to speak the words of Christ and to speak with the love that the Savior offers to us all,” Sister McConkie said. "We do not have to know everything about the gospel of Jesus Christ to share the precious truths that we do know.”

[email protected] @marianne_holman

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