Women leaders visit Pacific Northwest 1 year after President Nelson spoke at Safeco Field — here’s how it unified the youth

It’s been almost a year since President Russell M. Nelson addressed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Safeco Field (now T-Mobile Park) in Seattle, Washington, and Church members are still talking about the prophet’s visit with excitement.

That event, with the number of Latter-day Saints it brought together along with the fact the prophet was there to speak to them, is not something the members there will soon forget, said Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, after a recent visit to the area. 

“It is so encouraging to see their excitement and faith in listening to and following the prophet of God,” she said.

The gathering of nearly 50,000 members of the Church from the Northwest area in one place was a powerful reminder, particularly for the youth, that they are not alone in their beliefs, said Elder Gary F. Gessel, an Area Seventy in the North America Northwest Area of the Church.

“There really was a wonderful feeling of unity that came from that,” he said.

And that sense of unity was strengthened yet again during a recent weekend visit Aug. 16-18 by Sister Sharon Eubank of the Relief Society general presidency; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president; and Sister Harkness.

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, speaks at a multi-stake youth devotional at the Graham Washington Stake center on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019.
Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, speaks at a multi-stake youth devotional at the Graham Washington Stake center on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Credit: Alisa Florence, South Hill Washington Stake

Having the women leaders visit, especially just one year after President Nelson visited their area, was a great blessing and an example for both the youth and for the women, said Sharron Taylor of the Graham Washington Stake, who attended a leadership instruction meeting with the general women leaders. 

“It isn’t very often that we have general auxiliary presidencies come,” Taylor said. “I think for the youth, it has been important to see the love from their leaders. We all want to be remembered, and I think, by those visits, you really can feel that we all matter and that we are all loved.”

That is what is great about the Church, said Margaret Spencer of the Tacoma Washington South Stake. Although the Church is large and covers much of the world, it is also small because it is still about the individual. 

Watching the general women leaders as they came at different times and from different places to join together and teach the auxiliary leaders in the area was a great example of how members of the Church can come together and council with one another, Taylor said.

“There is a power and a strength when we assemble together.”

“You could see the unity that they had there with each other. This wasn’t the Primary auxiliary, this wasn’t the Relief Society auxiliary, this wasn’t the Young Women auxiliary, they were just all joined together as one and very unified.”

During the training sessions they held for auxiliary leaders in the area, the general women leaders highlighted four gospel leadership principles that are applicable no matter what organization a leader or member serves in. 

“It all starts with our spiritual preparation and our ability to receive personal revelation,” said Sister Harkness as she explained the principles and their applications. “From there we participate in councils, collectively seeking revelation, and then we leave there with an action, a decision from that council of how best to minister to others. And when we go out to minister to others, then we teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them increase their faith.”

Sharing an example of a young woman she met during her visit to the area, Sister Cordon said she was impressed by how well the youth in the area understand and apply the principles of the gospel. 

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, takes a selfie with youth following a multi-stake youth devotional at the Graham Washington Stake center on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019.
Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, takes a selfie with youth following a multi-stake youth devotional at the Graham Washington Stake center on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Credit: Alisa Florence, South Hill Washington Stake

The youth “are really stepping up despite the challenges they face,” she said. “They see the needs of others, and they look beyond their own problems and help others come unto Christ. … And I know why — they see their parents and leaders leading and loving like the Savior, and they follow in their footsteps.”

When people come to realize each person has something to offer and they can learn from one another, Sister Harkness said, it becomes easier to understand why learning from and counseling with one another is an important part of the revelatory process.

“When you really listen to somebody and you listen to their perspective, you actually get more revelation,” she said. 

Relating some of what she took away from the women leaders’ visit, Spencer said, “In any form of council, whether it be in our home, in our families, in our presidency meetings, or in our ward and stake councils, as we come together and work together we will know how we can solve problems.”

Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, embraces a youth following a multi-stake youth devotional at the Bremerton Washington Stake center on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019.
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, embraces a youth following a multi-stake youth devotional at the Bremerton Washington Stake center on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Although the women leaders’ visit included several devotionals with various stakes throughout the Tacoma area, Sister Harkness said the importance of counseling was highlighted by the way they led the auxiliary training meetings.

“It wasn’t just us up at the microphone for two hours talking,” she said. “The idea when we go and do training is to glean knowledge from each other. The people are teaching each other as well as teaching us.”

And across their differing auxiliary organizations, the women leaders continue to learn from one another as well. 

“We are Relief Society sisters,” Sister Harkness said. “We serve in other organizations, but we understand the work of Relief Society, so it’s a pleasure to serve and to go on these trips with Sister Eubank and Sister Cordon and to work together as sisters.”

Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, visits with YSA in the South Hill Washington Stake on Aug. 16, 2019.
Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, visits with YSA in the South Hill Washington Stake on Aug. 16, 2019. Credit: Alisa Florence, South Hill Washington Stake

Laughing, she added: “‘As sisters in Zion, we all work together.’ Like the song says, that’s what we do.”

For Spencer, having the chance to assemble together was a great reminder of the strength that comes from being unified in Christ. 

“We’re all striving to do the same things,” she said. “And there is a power and a strength when we assemble together.”