"Our young women are amazing," said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, who was recently released as the Young Women general president, during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference on March 31. "They have talents, unlimited enthusiasm and energy, and they are compassionate and caring. They want to be of service. They need to know they are valued and essential in the work of salvation."
Speaking of the role young women play in building the kingdom of God, Sister Oscarson said each person should know he or she is needed. "Every young woman in the Church should feel valued, have opportunities to serve and feel that she has something of worth to contribute to this work."
Young men have Aaronic Priesthood duties clearly described in the Doctrine and Covenants, she said. It "may be less obvious" to young women in the Church that from the time they are baptized, they "have covenant responsibilities 'to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [they] may be in, even until death' " (Mosiah 18:9).
When young women serve in callings within their wards and branches, they have the opportunity to fulfill those responsibilities.
The work of salvation, according to Handbook 2, includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work and teaching the gospel. This work is directed by bishops, who hold priesthood keys for their wards, Sister Oscarson said.
"For many years now our presidency has been asking the question, 'Which of these areas mentioned should our young women not be involved in?' The answer is that they have something to contribute in all areas of this work," Sister Oscarson said.
For instance, she met several young women in the Las Vegas area serving as ward temple and family history consultants. "They had valuable skills on the computer, had learned how to use FamilySearch, and were excited to share that knowledge with others," she said. "It was clear that they had testimonies and an understanding of the importance of seeking out the names of our deceased ancestors so that essential saving ordinances can be performed for them in the temple."
In another example, Sister Oscarson obtained copies of two ward council agendas several months ago and gave them to two 14-year-old young women to see if there was anything they could help with. Emma said she could help a new family moving into the ward move in and unpack. Maggie said she could fellowship and visit some of the elderly people in the ward, as well as teach them how to set up and use social media accounts.
"Do those who sit on ward councils, or hold any calling in the ward, see the young women as valuable resources to help fill the many needs within our wards?" Sister Oscarson asked.
"Just as our Aaronic Priesthood holders have been invited to labor with their fathers and other men of the Mechizedek Priesthood, our young women can be called upon to provide service and minister to the needs of ward members with their mothers or other exemplary sisters. They are capable, eager and willing to do so much more than merely attend church on Sundays."
Sister Oscarson said, "I encourage you young women to raise your hands to volunteer and to put those hands to work when you see needs around you. As you fulfill your covenant responsibilities and participate in building the kingdom of God, blessings will flow into your life and you'll discover the deep and lasting joy of discipleship."