BYU cancels 2022 women’s conference as options are explored for 2023

BYU Women’s Conference — one of the largest gatherings of Latter-day Saint women in the world — will take a one-year pause in 2022 as options are explored for a 2023 women’s conference, according to a BYU announcement released Friday, Dec. 3, in the campus newsletter, Y News. 

“We recognize that this gathering has provided women across various demographic groups with an opportunity to hear messages of hope, encouragement and practical advice,” said Renata Forste, BYU’s international vice president with responsibility for BYU Continuing Education. 

“We are looking forward to exploring options for a conference in 2023 that can continue to meet these needs,” said Forste. “We invite everyone to visit ce.byu.edu to discover other in-person and online opportunities for personal enrichment, growth and inspiration, including BYU Education Week, scheduled for August 2022.”

The announcement came as variants of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to threaten large public gatherings. Due to the pandemic, BYU Women’s Conference in spring 2020 and 2021 were held virtually rather than in person.

BYU Women’s Conference, cosponsored by BYU and the Relief Society, has been held each spring for 45 years. It has attracted participants from all 50 U.S. states and 22 countries, according to its website. In 2021, the Church News also co-sponsored the annual event.

Typically, BYU Women’s Conference is a two-day event held on the university’s campus in Provo, Utah. General sessions are held in the Marriott Center, followed by concurrent sessions each hour. Though the general sessions are usually broadcast, other offerings are limited to those who attend in person. 

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, center, stands with her counselors, Sister Sharon Eubank, left, and Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, right, on stage in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, during BYU Women's Conference on April 29, 2021.
Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, center, stands with her counselors, Sister Sharon Eubank, left, and Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, right, on stage in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, during BYU Women’s Conference on April 29, 2021. Credit: Ryan Campbell, BYU Photo

2021 BYU Women’s Conference

The theme for the April 29-30 digital event was “I Am a Child of God. His Promises Are Sure.” Sessions were streamed live from the Marriott Center in English, Spanish and Portuguese

At the conclusion of the conference, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged women to “hold on to the promises you have received and the promises and covenants you have made.”

“May you know of your profound influence and may you devotedly serve your Father in Heaven,” he said.

Other speakers included members of the Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, Young Men and Sunday School general presidencies. It was the first time members of all five organizations spoke at BYU Women’s Conference. A special service broadcast and Sister to Sister event were also held. 

A limited in-person audience is seated in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, during BYU Women's Conference on April 29, 2021.
A limited in-person audience is seated in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, during BYU Women’s Conference on April 29, 2021. Credit: Ryan Campbell, BYU Photo

How to deal with unfulfilled expectations was one of many topics addressed during the Sister to Sister event, which featured Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency; and Sister Susan H. Porter, newly called first counselor in the Primary general presidency. 

The 2021 conference offered seven complimentary sessions, in addition to a paid digital package with an additional 35 sessions in English, five given in Spanish and five translated into Spanish. 

2020 BYU Women’s Conference

With a total of six presentations, the virtual conference held May 1, 2020, was a highly condensed version of what is normally offered by the annual two-day conference. But the messages of strength and hope were nevertheless impactful to the thousands who participated online.

While physically gathering on BYU’s campus was not an option due to the pandemic, the 2020 theme “Gather All Safely in Christ” was all too appropriate. The virtual event was free to the public. 

Speakers and participants in the event included Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham; Sister Eubank; Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency; and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency.

President Bingham and Sister Eubank taught about what gathering Israel looks like during COVID-19.

“This ‘now’ is filled with great challenges as well as great opportunities” but it is also an “unprecedented time of great opportunities for personal growth,” President Bingham said. “We are being reminded of those things of lasting value on which to focus our energy. We are learning to share the message of the gospel through technology as well as personal connections. We are increasing our understanding of the value of temples. All these efforts are part of the gathering.” 

Sister Becky Craven, Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, Sister Lisa L. Harkness and Sister Tracy Browning gather together virtually for the Sister to Sister event featured during the BYU Women's Conference digital event on Friday, May 1, 2020.
Sister Becky Craven, Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, Sister Lisa L. Harkness and Sister Tracy Browning gather together virtually for the Sister to Sister event featured during the BYU Women’s Conference digital event on Friday, May 1, 2020. Credit: Screenshot from Sister to Sister event

Sister Aburto, Sister Craven and Sister Harkness participated in a prerecorded Sister to Sister event. Gathered together via video from four separate locations, the Church leaders addressed topics such as how individuals are making use of their time in isolation during the coronavirus, mental and emotional health, motherhood, comparison and judgement, Church callings and understanding priesthood power.