Friday, April 15, 2016

Sisters Conference in Auckland

I attended a very special gathering of women in Auckland.   It was the Sisters Conference organized by Sister Robyn Balli, the Mission President's wife.  Sister Missionaries both young and old gathered together for a full day of uplifting messages, fun skits, a scrumptious meal and good council.

The theme of the conference was "We Need Sisters Who....", based on the talk by Russel M. Nelson "A Plea to My Sisters" given in the October 2015 General Conference.
This is what MormonNewsroom had to say about the event:

The purpose of the gathering in Auckland on Thursday was to discuss in depth the subject, “We need women who…”—a subject formerly introduced in talks by Russell M. Nelson and Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015), apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Nelson said, “We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.
"We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world."
Elder Packer said, “We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out.
"We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous."

Sister Robyn Balli, wife of President Frederick K. Balli, who presides over the New Zealand Auckland Mission, organized and conducted the day-long conference.
In her message to the women on Thursday she likened each individual's development to that of a pearl in an oyster that takes an "irritant" or "weakness" and from that develops lustrous layer upon layer of learning as our knowledge and faith develops until one becomes a "pearl of great price." 
Balli said the talks given by Nelson and Packer were for today's women. "They can empower us to realize the scope and influence we can have as we seek to be daughters of faith and understand and teach the doctrines of Christ."
Her talk included the following points:
“We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith.
“We need women who know how to receive personal revelation. Who speak those things that come to their heart and mind as directed by the Spirit.
“We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ who will use that understanding to teach.

“We need women who speak up…We need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration.
“We need women who teach fearlessly, who can speak with the power and authority of God.
“We need women who know how to draw upon the powers of heaven.
“We need women who with the gift of discernment can view the trends in the world, and detect deception in all of its forms…who are courageous defenders of morality.”

I'm always baffled by those who say that the LDS faith holds women in any sort of subservient role simply because only men are ordained to the Priesthood. While it is inevitable that some individual men in the church (some who may hold local positions of leadership) may have demeaning attitudes or behavior toward women, the PRINCIPLES of the gospel are quite clear that the Lord honors women and that members of the church are supposed to do the same.

In all the years I have been an active member of this church I have been treated with respect by the overwhelming majority of the leaders and officers of my faith.

I have been taught so many good and useful things  in the classes that have been offered to me.  I have been given opportunities to grow and stretch, developing new talents and abilities.  I have also been given opportunities to lead groups in meaningful ways.

Today more than ever before women of the church are being included in key councils and being given responsibility for critical projects.

Over and over I hear talks about the important role of women in the church.   This one was a good one, but certainly not unique.

I am so grateful to be a woman in the gospel at this time in history and in a place in the world where I can speak up and speak out knowing I can contribute and have it be valued.

I will go back and read and/or listen to this full talk again, along with some of the others that have been given on the topic of women in the church, to better understand how I can best strengthen my home, family and community through righteous influence.

I will also ponder the poem that Sister Balli shared about the pearl and think about how I choose to respond to things that may irritate me or which I struggle with.

I hope I can always remember the lessons I learned from this conference.  I want to be one of the kind of women Elder Nelson spoke of, who will make a difference for good.

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