New Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency
New General Relief Society Presidency
During the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference, a new Relief Society presidency was sustained. I was surprised at my initial reaction because it was so emotional. Usually announcements like that are interesting to me, but because I don’t live in Utah, are not anything I am invested in. Yes, these are women who will counsel with the rest of the general leadership of the church, including the Q15, about women’s interests in the church and society, but they are so many levels removed from me that the impact their term of leadership will have on me seems extremely far removed.
On Saturday though, I felt a little thrill of emotion go through me when the new presidency was sustained. It felt so absolutely right, that I could not ignore the surge of love and sustainment I immediately felt for these three women. I even made a note in my personal notebook, inspired by the fact that I felt not only something, but something so strong, wondering what challenges they would face and what mark their leadership will leave on the women in the church.
I was delighted to learn that Sister Eubank is single, not because I delight in others’ state of singledom (like my own), but because the last time we had a counselor in the general RS presidency who was single, she left an indelible mark on my life, and I presume many others as well. You may remember Sheri L. Dew. I’m a huge fan. She taught pure doctrine plainly and with strength from the pulpit. Her method of delivery resonated in a way with me that no other woman speaking from the pulpit had been able to achieve, and gave me a hope that women would begin to find their voice within the church.
I do not mean to define Sister Eubank solely by her marital status. Every thing I have read about her since Saturday speaks highly of her, and I look forward to learning from her as well as Sisters Bingham and Aburto over the next several years.
And if the address that Sharon Eubank gave to the FAIR Mormon Conference in 2014 is any indication, we are in for a time of learning pure doctrine from the pulpit from a woman of Christ. In it, she talks about the role of women in the church, and how the doctrine has shaped her own life and understanding of her role. In a time when there is plenty of squawking about the “lack” of a woman’s place in the church, this strongly renounces that criticism. (And personally, I always like it when a single woman understands the doctrine of the celestial kingdom well enough to understand her life does not have to be defined by her marital status.)
Consider, for example, this gem:
“I have to be candid that there are lots of people who would not agree that this is a church for women. And I think that the reason they feel that way is because of a disconnect that comes between our doctrine and sometimes the way that we practice our doctrine. And there has been a lot of discussion and a lot of disagreement and people have had painful experiences. There is just stuff that is plain wrong. And there are consequences, too. It would be absurd for me to stand up here and say that our political and our traditional and our cultural practices always live up to our doctrine. I’m not even sure that we fully grasp our doctrine. And to be honest, in my opinion, we can improve in many, many ways. We should and I think we will.”
(Sharon Eubank, “This Is a Woman’s Church,” FAIR Mormon Conference, 2014.)
Here is her address at that conference – both the transcript and the video. I highly recommend reading and watching both.
While we’re talking about Sheri Dew, and the role of women in the church, here is a wonderful address she gave in 2015 at about women and the priesthood in the church. The video quality is not great, but the content is remarkable.