From Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith; to Sarah Granger Kimball, a 19th-century Latter-day Saint advocate for women’s rights whose involvement in the Church led to the establishment of the Relief Society; to Martine Grimm, whose missionary work in Indonesia led to the establishment of the Church in that country — the history of the Church is filled with women who have helped build the kingdom of God.
Even today, that legacy of history-making women in the Church continues.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, and her counselors, Sister Lisa L. Harkness and Sister Cristina B. Franco, spoke May 2 during a breakout session at BYU Women's Conference on the contributions of women to the building of Zion. Sister Jones participated in the discussion via video. She was in Washington D.C. where she earlier participated in the National Day of Prayer at the White House.
“We live in a day when rich narrative is being added to the history of our Church,” said Sister Franco. “That history is filled with the experiences of sisters all over the world. We hope that you feel a bond to your sisters, both past and present.”
The topic of women making history in the Church has as much to do with the present as the past, Sister Franco said. “What history are you making, in your own way? What stirs your passion? What makes you burn with divine energy within?”
Today, the Church is in a home-centered, Church-supported era, Sister Harkness said. “If we are to be women making history in the Church, that also translates into women making history in the home.”
Each person’s history has great value and can be sources of strength and inspiration to children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, they taught.
Sister Harkness told the women to let their history live on in their children. “If they understand the past, they can better live the future. Plant those seeds of faith.”
Sister Jones recently attended a stake conference where a mother of 4-year-old twins and a 9-year-old daughter shared her family’s experience using the new “Come, Follow Me” curriculum in their home. The lessons had been going well for a couple of months when 9-year-old Mazuran asked if she could teach the next lesson. Her mother was surprised, but gave her the manual and offered to help.
“Mazuran took the manual, read all of the lesson, and told her mother, ‘Mom, I’ve got this. I don’t need your help,’” Sister Jones said.
Mazuran proceeded to teach a wonderful lesson on “The Bread of Life” and related it all to the Savior, astonishing her parents.
“What a wonderful example of a woman making history in the lives of her children as they simply learned together from the scriptures, and as she allowed them to develop confidence and testimony of their own,” Sister Jones said.
When leaving a legacy, what is important is not what one leaves for his or her children and grandchildren, but what is left in them, she said.
“Perhaps the greatest thing we can plant in them is that which points them to Jesus Christ.”
In closing, Sister Jones said, “We hope it is plain to see, sisters, that you can and indeed do write your own history, and that is part of the history of this Church — the Kingdom of God on earth. … Let us join hands and hearts with our sisters of the past and the present.”