When Sister Becky Craven considers the Church’s Young Women program, she sees the past, the present and the future.
First, the present: Sister Craven is the second counselor in the new general Young Women presidency sustained in April 2018 general conference.
Mindful of her present calling, Sister Craven draws on her own Young Women past, part of her global experiences growing up in the Church. After her birth in Ohio, her family joined the Church in Texas in January 1964 when she was 5 years old, and 18 months later was sealed in the Swiss (now Bern Switzerland) Temple while living in Germany. She was baptized in Salt Lake City during her father’s first Army tour in Vietnam, and with her military family frequently on the move, she spent her Young Women years in Kansas, Missouri and England.
Living in areas where her siblings often were the only other Church members at her schools, Sister Craven drew on the social and spiritual support of Young Women peers in weekly lessons and gatherings as well as stake and regional Super Saturday activities.
“Young Women to me was very critical — and even more than my Young Women friends were my Young Women leaders. I looked up to and admired them,” she said, noting her mother was her Laurel adviser while in London.
She cites two defining moments — one educational, the other spiritual.
The first came when, as a young teenager, she attended a Young Women activity involving a local less-active sister, who welcomed the girls into her home to talk about being an interior designer.
“And that very day, I knew that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up — and I never wavered from that,” said Sister Craven, who started taking art classes and eventually graduated with a degree in interior design from Brigham Young University.
The spiritual moment was as much reminding as it was defining. As a 17-year-old sharing a London bedroom with two younger sisters, she was reading the Book of Mormon again. She had saved reading Moroni Chapter 10 for a fast Sunday — coupled with prayer and private time in the bedroom — to ask God the book’s truthfulness, as invited in Moroni 10:4.
“I just asked. And it came as clear as a voice,” she recalled, her voice cracking with emotion. “And what I heard was, ‘You already know it’s true — you don’t have to ask again.’"
Knowing that others receive answers ranging from a burning of the bosom to the opening of the heavens, Sister Craven was content with her simple experience. “The heavens did not open, and that experience was just very quick, but it was as profound to me as if I had seen a concourse of angels.”
Sister Craven also draws on the past experiences and impacts of other young women — the sister missionaries of the North Carolina Charlotte Mission from 2012 to 2015, when she served as a fellow full-time missionary while accompanying her husband, Ronald L. Craven, as he presided over the mission.
“I think the youth of the Church — and I could especially see it in the sister missionaries when they came — they have a spiritual preparedness that I’m not sure I had at that age. I think that’s just the way they’re being taught — ‘Teaching in the Savior’s Way,’" she said, adding that she enjoyed teaching and training missionaries during her three-year service, especially the focus on the doctrine of Christ.
Sister Craven looks at the current young women — and the older-aged Primary girls who will advance to Young Women during the tenure of her calling — and catches glimpses of their future.
“We don’t see them as young women; we see them as wives, mothers, as future leaders of the Church and as community leaders,” she said. “If we just see them as young women, then we miss the whole purpose. It’s fun watching them grow into those realizations.”
She drew upon an oft-used saying from the Cravens’ mission service: “ ‘When you know who you are, you act differently,’" she said. “And that’s in every aspect, from how you dress, what you say, how you speak, how you present yourself, the activities you participate in. …
“When young women start to see themselves in God’s plan, they will begin to see a vision for themselves. They need to have a vision. Having a vision will help them know where they’re going and what to do to get there.”