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See photos from the historic women's session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference

Marking a historic moment in general conference history, the women’s session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference was held in the Saturday evening spot of conference weekend on Oct. 6, 2018. The change to alternating priesthood and women’s sessions of conference was announced the year before in October 2017.

The session was conducted by Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, with music provided by a choir of young women from stakes in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

The invocation was provided by Sister Memnet Lopez and the benediction was given by Sister Jennefer Free.

Speakers were Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president; Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency; Sister Cristina B. Franco, second counselor in the Primary general presidency; President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency; President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency; with President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the concluding speaker.

Women and children line up to enter the general women's session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.
Women and children line up to enter the general women's session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

“We gather tonight in unity, in strength, in purpose, and in testimony that we are loved and led by our Heavenly Father; our Savior, Jesus Christ; and our living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson,” Sister Jones said as she began her opening address.

The women leaders each spoke of the privilege and blessing of service.

Sister Craig centered her address on the idea of “divine discontent,” which she explained is the feeling experienced when one compares who they are with who they “have the power to become.” She explained that such discontent can move us to act through service to others, and by so doing, as daughters of Heavenly Father are better able to live up to the prophet’s call to “live and care in a ‘higher and holier way.’”

After sharing a story from when she was in Primary and was served selflessly by her Primary leader, Sister Franco explained how “unselfish service” is often the best way to follow God’s great commandment to love one another.

The remarks from the three women leaders demonstrated the power of service in strengthening individual relationships with Christ and providing better understanding for each individual’s own purpose in their mortal life.

Gabriela Gonzalez, left, and Kamilah Baltrons are reunited before the start of the general women's session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Oct. 6, 2018. Gonzalez and Baltrons became friends while Gonzalez was serving a mission in Oakland, California.
Gabriela Gonzalez, left, and Kamilah Baltrons are reunited before the start of the general women's session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Oct. 6, 2018. Gonzalez and Baltrons became friends while Gonzalez was serving a mission in Oakland, California. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Following the women, the First Presidency spoke at length of the important roles that women and mothers hold in the Church and in God’s plan of happiness. They expressed their gratitude for the women of the Church and emphasized how much the Church needs the strength and kindness of women of all ages.

Although no two women will have the same experiences in this life, President Eyring said, "Whatever your personal circumstance, you are part — a key part — of the family of God and of your own family, whether in the future, in this world, or in the spirit world.”

The address given by President Oaks emphasized the importance of motherhood and the role that the rising generation of women will have in “shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation.”

He cautioned young women to limit the amount of time they spend on their cell phones, and to remember to be kind to one another, and to not engage in petty or mean behavior.

Lanaea Clifton, 8, of Gunnison, Colorado, kept notes during the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.
Lanaea Clifton, 8, of Gunnison, Colorado, kept notes during the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

In his concluding remarks, President Nelson stated that all women have a divine endowment to nurture and love, and that each woman is a mother by divine right. He explained that women play a key role in the gathering of Israel.

“This gathering is the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today!” he said.

He then extended four challenges to the women of the Church. He invited them to take a ten-day fast from social media, read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year, make temple attendance a habit, and participate more fully in Relief Society.

“My dear sisters, we need you!" President Nelson said. "We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.”

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