Latter-day Saint Women podcast offers unique insights into women’s roles around the world

As the Latter-day Saint Women podcast enters its third season with weekly episodes for the remainder of 2020, the podcast is making a “significant shift” in its content.

While the first two seasons of the podcast focused mostly on discourses and topics from the book “At the Pulpit,” the podcast is moving forward now with a broader view of women’s experiences in the Church. By including stories of women both past and present who are working or serving in various capacities in the Church, this Church-produced podcast is becoming more and more relevant for women everywhere. 

To get an inside look at this recent shift and why it’s important for women in the Church, the Church News spoke with the podcast’s co-hosts, Karlie Guymon and Shalyn Back. The following is a transcript of their interview. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Church News: Tell us what is exciting about the new season of the podcast and what is coming for the rest of 2020.

Karlie Guymon: Well, we wanted to broaden what was being shared to include not just stories of women from the past, but also women from the present. That includes current and former general women leaders as well as other women serving the Church in various capacities. 

The Latter-day Saint Women podcast is produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Latter-day Saint Women podcast is produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Shalyn Back: We’re working closely with the women general officers and leaders to get their ideas and input because we want to address the topics that are relevant to women worldwide and that are timely. And when we talk to our guests, we ask what is on their minds and in their hearts and what is meaningful to them. It makes for an authentic conversation that is relevant to women in the Church everywhere.

CN: What are some examples of those relevant topics you address in the new episodes?

Guymon: Temples is a big one. We talked about how to prepare for going through the temple for the first time and how you can improve your experience each time you visit, as well as how to feel a connection to temple covenants when you can’t attend. We’ve also covered topics like motherhood and how parenting changes as children grow. Other topics are gospel study and increasing faith and testimony, mental health challenges and finding balance in life and dealing with expectations. That’s a big one for people who maybe don’t feel they fit the “norms” of the Church. We wanted to address that and help them feel they’re not alone. We’re also working to include a global perspective and share stories from diverse backgrounds and experiences that demonstrate how women are contributing from wherever they live. 

Back: One exciting thing is that we are speaking to women who serve as communications directors for the Church. We are learning from experiences and involvement around the world and the unique issues they are dealing with as they partner with local government and other organizations in their areas. It’s been really great to highlight that outreach in a more contemporary way. We also recently did an interview about global histories and women from the past. That episode is really cool because it helps you see how average women who were just living their life and trying to do their best have made these major contributions that have really changed the ways we worship around the world.

Guymon: Another important topic we’re addressing is what responsibility women have in the administration of the Church. We’re talking with current and former leaders and asking, “What was your role and what is the impact of women on leadership?”

CN: What has been the best part for you about focusing on these different topics and interviewing leaders and women around the world?
Sheri Dew, a former general Relief Society presidency member, center, stands with Karlie Guymon, right, and Shalyn Back, left, after interviewing for the Latter-day Saint Women podcast. Dew discussed the influence of her mother and grandmother and the power of influence women can have in their own spheres.
Sheri Dew, a former general Relief Society presidency member, center, stands with Karlie Guymon, right, and Shalyn Back, left, after interviewing for the Latter-day Saint Women podcast. Dew discussed the influence of her mother and grandmother and the power of influence women can have in their own spheres. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Guymon: It has been so spiritually uplifting for me. These women (past and present) have such different stories, but there are similar themes of courage and determination in all of them. And there is an impact in the telling of their stories. Whether they live in Alabama or Ghana, they have extraordinary stories to share. One thing I see over and over again is that women often feel very ordinary, but these discussions help us realize the truly extraordinary contributions they have made or are making. At the time their actions can seem very small, but by acting on their faith, they are converted, and they have tremendous power to impact generations across the world. It’s what makes me excited to share every episode. They’re very inspiring.

Back: It’s been wonderful to have such a variety of guests, topics and themes. I’ve felt something relevant to myself and situation in every episode, no matter who we are talking to. I have felt inspired to better myself, and it makes me feel validated in my own service to realize I have contributions I can make as well. It helps me realize I do have skills and talents and things to contribute. I feel there has been something for me to learn in every episode. 

CN: What makes this podcast unique and important for women in the Church?

Back: First off, this is a platform where we can acknowledge how voices of women are being heard in the Church. I think it’s valuable to realize the voice that women have by highlighting their current personal and professional experiences. And it’s been valuable to me to recognize that women have had a voice throughout our history. Historians are still discovering their stories, and it’s so inspiring to see the contributions that women have been making all along that haven’t been highlighted or previously known.

Guymon: We’re striving in each episode to make it feel like you’re just sitting down to a real life conversation that is timely and relevant and personal and real. A lot of the time when we hear from leaders it is scripted, and that’s good, but this is different because it is just a chat. It’s still edited, obviously, but I think it brings some real and profound insights. That is something unique to this platform and our content. Women are powerful teachers of doctrine. They know the scriptures and this is a way for them to share their additional insights understandings. It can also be a record of women powerfully testifying of Jesus Christ.

CN: Can you share a couple quick examples of women you interviewed that you learned a lot from?

Back: Sister Rosemary Wixom was the first interview of the new 2020 episodes. It was a little bit of a tough topic because we focused on temples, and temples are still somewhat closed, so it was interesting hear how she talked about improving temple experiences from outside of going to the temple.

Julia Fellows, right, a volunteer Church Communications Director for North America Southeast area, at a Freedmen's Bureau event — a project to index 1.8 million+ names of freed slaves. Margie Westenhofer is at left.
Julia Fellows, right, a volunteer Church Communications Director for North America Southeast area, at a Freedmen’s Bureau event — a project to index 1.8 million+ names of freed slaves. Margie Westenhofer is at left. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Guymon: And the thing that is unique about Sister Wixom is that she was a Primary general preisdent and then a temple matron. We don’t often get to sit and talk to a temple matron, so it was really unique to chat with her and just talk about the questions we have. She is so warm and loving and has a deep connection and love for the temple. It was a great conversation. 

Guymon: Another interesting interview was with Julia Fellows. She is a communications director for the North America Southeast Area of the U.S. and so she handles Church outreach in a dozen or so states. She shared some amazing stories of local outreach and some really relevant stories of connecting with both LGBTQ and Black community groups. People often ask questions about what the Church is doing to show love and reach out to other communities but so much is happening at a local level that we don’t even know. So often it is these women who are just volunteers, this is their calling, that are reaching out to build relationships with other groups and organizations and inviting people to learn. It’s a little known story that is happening all around the world.

The Latter-day Saint Women podcast can be found by visiting the podcast website, downloading episodes through iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play or by downloading the Latter-day Saint Channel app for IOS or Android devices.

To send feedback to the Latter-day Saint Women Podcast, email: [email protected].