Culminating the 150th anniversary of the Young Women organization, the Young Women general presidency — President Bonnie H. Cordon, Sister Michelle D. Craig and Sister Becky Craven — will lead a special Face to Face event on Sunday, Nov. 15.
The Face to Face broadcast offers a chance to meet with young women from all over the world and gather together to “talk and enjoy music and celebrate how glorious it is to be a young woman at this time,” said President Cordon of the event. It is also a celebration of the amazing 150-year history of an organization that was created to help provide instruction and encouragement for young women living the gospel and promote their personal development as disciples of Jesus Christ.
“It’s going to be full of energy, full of music, full of light. This will be the culminating event as we come together and really celebrate Young Women and celebrate our Savior, Jesus Christ,” President Cordon said, sharing her hope that “the Holy Spirit will impress on our minds things that we personally can do or personally understand better.”
Noting her own excitement for the event, Sister Craven said, “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Young Women organization, we also celebrate the future as our young women move forward in the great work they were called to do — gather scattered Israel and prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord.”
Episode 4: Sarah Jane Weaver interviews President Bonnie H. Cordon about the 150-year legacy of Young Women
Participating in events like this with Young Women is a blessing, added Sister Craig, “because we are able to collect just a fraction of what girls around the world are doing, and they inspire us.”
The young women of the Church are seeking personal revelation and acting on it, Sister Craig continued. “They are the Lord’s hands in accomplishing His great work. The world is in desperate need of what our youth have to offer. They are examples of finding joy and spreading that joy to others. We are learning much from them, and we are so grateful.”
In the 150 years since the organization’s inception, the organization has evolved greatly, Sister Craig said. “I have loved learning more about the Young Women organization — and how and why it started. A lot has changed in 150 years — names, uniforms, and achievements, just to name a few. Some of the things make us smile, but really, the underlying purposes have not changed.”
From its earliest days until now, the Young Women organization has continually helped young women “learn their true identity as beloved daughters of God and has given them a sense of belonging. The Young Women organization helps us learn of Jesus Christ and hopefully to become more like Him,” Sister Craig said.
Initially known as the First Young Ladies’ Department of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association, the Young Women organization was formed on May 27, 1870, by some of President Brigham Young’s daughters.
What began as a small gathering of faithful women has become a worldwide organization with hundreds of thousands of young women throughout the world in 182 countries.
The growth and expansion of the organization, much like the spread of the gospel, has been impressive, President Cordon said. “I am humbled and grateful to be here at this time, and in this calling, to be able to have a front row seat of these young women and the goodness of their hearts. I express my gratitude to each one of them for their love and their desire to follow the Savior, and their ability and their intentional desire to have a cause and they’re placing Jesus Christ as that cause and they’re lifting others.”
When the Young Women organization was first formed under the direction of Brigham Young, Church leaders were worried about how worldly influences may affect the young members of the Church, Sister Craven explained.
“Brigham Young stated that he wanted the young women to gain a living testimony. The name ‘Young Ladies’ Department of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association′ may be an odd name to call a young women’s organization, but it perfectly described their mission — to diminish all that was bad and embrace godliness.”
The work of the organization today, like its purpose, is the same as it was then, Sister Craven said. “We hope that all young women will gain a living testimony, which indicates their ongoing conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel.”
Given the challenges people around the world are facing during this global pandemic, young women who are converted to Christ have great opportunities to connect with and bless the lives of others, Sister Craig added.
“We have been so inspired as we have seen young women shine brightly in a world that is increasingly dark, a world that needs the light they have to offer,” she said. “They are reaching up and reaching out.”
Throughout this year’s sesquicentennial celebration, the Young Women general presidency have issued three key invitations or challenges to help young women prepare for the Face to Face event.
The first was the My150 challenge, which encouraged young women to do 150 of something positive. The second challenge asked young women to reach out and thank a young women leader who had blessed their lives. The third invitation asked young women to join leaders of the Church in sharing how they hear the voice of the Lord in their lives.
Through every challenge and invitation, the young women have shown their strength and testimony in their Savior and their commitment to participating in the great gathering of Israel, President Cordon said.
“We often tell the youth that they are not preparing to be future leaders, but rather that they are leaders now and that they will continue to be leaders,” President Cordon said. “They are realizing that they can help be part of a solution now, and they can be a light and a source of strength for so many around them.”
As the young women of today continue to seek and act on personal revelation as they serve others, they will continue to draw closer to the Lord and act as beacons of light to the world as part of “this divine organization,” Sister Craven said. “We trust our young women today in the same way Brigham Young trusted his daughter to do good and be good.”