After accepting a call as the Young Women general president, Sister Elaine S. Dalton and her counselors, Sister Mary N. Cook and Sister Ann M. Dibb, hiked to the top of Ensign Peak.
Looking down on the Salt Lake Temple, they — like early pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley — unfurled a banner. The banner, made of a gold Peruvian shawl, was their ensign or standard to the nations. It was their symbolic call for a return to virtue.
Six months later, they recall the event which helped them focus the theme of their presidency. Their goal, they said, was simple: they wanted the young women of the Church to cherish virtue and to be worthy to some day enter the temple.
In an effort to help young women worldwide reach that goal, the First Presidency recently announced the addition of virtue to the Young Women theme.
“We are pleased to announce the addition of the attribute of ‘Virtue’ to the Young Women theme,” they wrote in a letter to priesthood leaders dated Nov. 28. “This addition will assist young women in developing high moral standards. We invite parents and leaders to teach the doctrine of chastity and moral purity to help each young woman to be virtuous and worthy to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple.”
Speaking to the Church News about the changes, Sister Dalton and her counselors called virtue a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.
The theme now reads:
“We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will ‘stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places’ (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity and Virtue.
“We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.”
The theme has become the backbone of the Young Women program. Latter-day Saint teens recite the theme weekly and use the values as standards to achieve Personal Progress goals and earn their Young Women recognition award.
The Personal Progress program currently uses the seven Young Women values to help teens understand more fully who they are, why they are here on earth, and what they should be doing as daughters of God. As part of the program, young women complete six value experiences and one value project for each of the seven values.
Each of the values in the theme is represented by a color.
Like the gold Peruvian shawl the Young Women presidency unfurled at the top of Ensign Peak, the value of Virtue will be represented by gold — a precious metal that has long been known as a symbol of purity, said Sister Dalton. “When gold is refined, it is pure,” she said.
“If you are virtuous, you are strong,” added Sister Cook. “It is power and it is strength. It is all derived by being pure.”
Sister Dibb noted that virtue is “what’s a part of you that no one else will know. But you know and the Lord knows.”
Sister Dalton compared gaining virtue to training for a marathon. “Virtue isn’t something that you have instantly,” she said. “It is strict training. It is the daily, deliberate practice of small things.”
In the First Presidency letter, local Young Women leaders were invited to immediately include the addition of the new value as they repeat the Young Women theme. Further, it noted that “Virtue” will be added to the Personal Progress value experiences and projects. Instructions on how to implement this change in Personal Progress will be forthcoming, the letter stated.
Sister Cook said one of the things that is unique about Latter-day Saint young women is their virtue. “We want them to cherish it,” she said. “It is what will take them to the temple.”
The reason this is so crucial is to help every young woman be worthy to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple, added Sister Dalton.
“Virtue is the power of a pure life,” she said.
Following is a statement from the Young Women general presidency — Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Sister Mary N. Cook, and Sister Ann M. Dibb — regarding the addition of the value Virtue to the Young Women theme and how it will impact Personal Progress:
We are thrilled about the addition of the value of Virtue to the Young Women theme and values. We believe that families will be blessed as young women come to accept and act on the values in the Personal Progress program. With the addition of another value, we want all young women, parents, and leaders and to know that this will be an important value experience to complete. As we call for a return to virtue, we would like to ask all young women and their leaders to complete this additional value experience. This value is important for every young woman to understand and live because it incorporates those things that she can do to be worthy of receiving the blessings and ordinances of the temple. If a young woman has already completed Personal Progress and received the Young Womanhood Recognition, we recommend that she complete this value also. We promise each young woman and each leader who goes the extra mile and completes this new value experience, will receive additional blessings of strength, confidence and peace.
There has never been a more important time to understand and practice virtue. We call on each young woman to do her best in accepting and acting upon the value of Virtue. We promise that a young woman’s life will be blessed, her family will be strengthened and her confidence will “wax strong” as she becomes pure and virtuous and prepares to assist in the great work of preparing the earth for the Savior’s second coming.