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See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “ Mormon Feminists Surprised By New Wording Referring To Women As 'Blessed Disciples Of Jesus',” Salt Lake Tribune, Sept 29, 2014,  reprinted online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/29/mormon-feminists-blessed-disciples_n_5901166.html?cps=gravity ,

 

(RNS) Mormon feminists may have been surprised by some subtle changes in vocabulary and approach Saturday (Sept. 27) at the church’s general women’s meeting.
 
Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed the audience — sitting in the giant Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City or watching via satellite in chapels of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe — not just as “sisters” but also as “blessed disciples of Jesus Christ.”
 
In a speech about living out one’s faith joyfully, Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church’s governing First Presidency, referred twice to women as “daughters of heavenly parents,” alluding to the Mormon belief in male and female deities.
 
And, for the first time, the charismatic German leader described the meeting as the opening session of the church’s 184th Semiannual General Conference. Until now, General Conference has referred only to the two-day gatherings held during the first weekends of April and October, with the women’s meeting seen as a separate event.
 
Saturday night’s meeting also featured the first-ever prayer at a session of General Conference by a black woman, offered by South African Dorah Mkhabela, a member of the LDS Young Women’s General Board.
 
These changes come in the wake of wide-ranging conversations about the role of women in the LDS church, including efforts by Ordain Women, a movement pushing to open the church’s all-male priesthood to females. Women prayed for the first time at General Conference in April 2013, and female LDS leaders decided a year later to unite the women’s auxiliaries into a single meeting to parallel the men’s priesthood meeting.
 
Some feminists also have urged church leaders to talk more openly and often of a Heavenly Mother, who is considered equal to Heavenly Father.
 
At Saturday’s meeting, women auxiliary leaders talked about being prepared for temple rituals, making covenants and building faith in Jesus Christ, and included “wage earner” among women’s roles.
 
Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society president for adult women, recounted the biblical parable of the 10 virgins, five of whom were wise because they kept their lamps filled with oil and five considered foolish because they did not.
 
Church attendance, monthly fasting, preaching, deeds of kindness, chastity and charitable giving, Burton said, build the “oil of spiritual preparation … drop by drop.”
 
Jean A. Stevens, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency for children under age 12, described the importance of making and keeping promises to God.
 
“Covenants with God help us to know who we really are. They connect us to him in a personal way where we come to feel our value in his sight and our place in his kingdom,” Stevens said.
 
Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency for girls between ages 12 and 17, discussed how Mormon women and girls can use their influence for good.
 
“We have our own roles on the earth — from daughter, mother, leader and teacher to sister, wage earner, wife and more,” Marriott said. “Each is influential. Each role will have moral power. … Our small acts of faith and service are how most of us can continue in God and eventually bring eternal light and glory to our family, our friends and our associates.”
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I think that is great that they found things positive to focus on in the talks, but while it may be unusual (hard to tell for sure but I did a search on daughter excluding a specific phrase from the family proclamation and came up with three hits, but there may have been talks that used only "daughter" while still quoting from the Family Proclamation which would have not been counted) to have a reference alone to "daughters of heavenly parents", it is very common to have references to sons and daughters of heavenly parents (I did a search and got over 2000 hits in conference talks since the language is in the Family Proclamation).  It is very important for women to make this connection imo and if women are getting it now, this is wonderful, but I am also grateful there were also earlier opportunities as well.

 

I couldn't figure out what the big deal was with "disciples" but it just occurred to me that perhaps others see "disciples" as a label for men given the usage in the Book of Mormon, but I've never seen the term as gender related and simply defined it as follower of Christ.  Perhaps someone else can tell me what their impression of the word is and why it might be seen as important to be used for a female only audience.

 

The session comment could be a big thing.  The General Meeting has been included under the Conference category (which is one of the reasons why it makes it hard to do searches since the RS and YW and now Women's Meetings don't have their own category but just like the Priesthood session is under "ldsconference") for years on lds.org and was sent out before that IIRC with the Ensign Conference issue and videos, but it has been tagged on at the last rather than first which may be seen as significant (they stick it there for convenience rather than any real connection).  I will be very interested to see if it stays where it is right now (since it is the only thing there), at the front of the page rather than the Saturday morning session.

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I couldn't figure out what the big deal was with "disciples" but it just occurred to me that perhaps others see "disciples" as a label for men given the usage in the Book of Mormon, but I've never seen the term as gender related and simply defined it as follower of Christ.  Perhaps someone else can tell me what their impression of the word is and why it might be seen as important to be used for a female only audience.

 

I've always considered myself a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I don't think there is any intimation of formal authority in the word disciple, only one of devotion to a beloved leader, teacher and/or mentor.

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I've always considered myself a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I don't think there is any intimation of formal authority in the word disciple, only one of devotion to a beloved leader, teacher and/or mentor.

Still there is the extraordinary presence and influence of women in the retinue of Jesus.  They are at the Cross, and a woman is first at the Tomb.  The men may have authority, but the women have real presence when the men are cowering in fear.

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Still there is the extraordinary presence and influence of women in the retinue of Jesus.  They are at the Cross, and a woman is first at the Tomb.  The men may have authority, but the women have real presence when the men are cowering in fear.

 

And it was women who met Jesus on the road and fell at his feet and worshipped him... and who were given the task of running and telling the apostles that Jesus was risen, that they were to go into Galilee and he would see them there.  Mary Magdalene and the other women told the apostles of their experiences but the apostles did not... could not... believe the wondrous news.  Even after all He had taught them concerning his rising on the third day... While the apostles hesitated, the women knew, for they had seen him and heard His voice.  (Paraphrased from Jesus the Christ)

 

GG

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See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “ Mormon Feminists Surprised By New Wording Referring To Women As 'Blessed Disciples Of Jesus',” Salt Lake Tribune, Sept 29, 2014,

 

 

 

Absolutely meaningless. Righteous men and women both have been known as disciples within the Church since ancient times. For example:

 

Luke 23:27–31. “Daughters of Jerusalem, Weep Not for Me, but Weep for Yourselves”

After Pilate sentenced the Savior to be crucified, many sorrowful people followed Him as He was led away. Luke particularly mentioned that women were members of this group—one of his numerous references to faithful women who revered Jesus Christ. At least some of them had followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem (see Luke 23:49, 55). Elder James E. Talmage explained that the Lord’s warning to these women, whom He called “daughters of Jerusalem” (see Luke 23:28–31), referred to the future destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70: “It was the Lord’s last testimony of the impending … destruction that was to follow the nation’s rejection of her King. Although motherhood was the glory of every Jewish woman’s life, yet in the terrible scenes which many of those there weeping would live to witness, barrenness would be accounted a blessing; for the childless would have fewer to weep over, and at least would be spared the horror of seeing their offspring die of starvation or by violence” (Jesus the Christ, 654).

 

https://www.lds.org/manual/new-testament-student-manual/introduction-to-the-gospel-according-to-st-luke/chapter-20-luke-23-24?lang=eng&query=woman+disciple

 

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I couldn't figure out what the big deal was with "disciples" but it just occurred to me that perhaps others see "disciples" as a label for men given the usage in the Book of Mormon, but I've never seen the term as gender related and simply defined it as follower of Christ.  Perhaps someone else can tell me what their impression of the word is and why it might be seen as important to be used for a female only audience.

 

 

I think it is in what wasn't said. There was no mention of a woman's identity, purpose, and role as being only mother/wife. There is something magnificent about a member of the First Prez saying it to women...and adding the word "blessed" made it even stronger. I did a search and did not find it in other talks. That is a small thing but I will remember it because of that word that set is apart from other mentions.

 

What this did is brought all those in the room join in a common identity and purpose. All could feel included. All would know they are important (blessed) without them having to be anything else. There is a completely different vibe when talked to as a disciple rather than as something you are totally dependent on your body or a man to be part of. As wonderful as those things are, they leave out a lot of a woman's life even when they are fortunate to have all the mother pieces fall into place. I'd like to see a "What Empty Nesters' Know" follow up talk to "What Mothers' Know."

 

Pres. Burton actually made a stronger statement in the last Women's Session. She said being a disciple of Christ is our identity. Period. I hope this signals a move toward expanding what women are and can do so that every woman always feels important and included.

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I think it is in what wasn't said. There was no mention of a woman's identity, purpose, and role as being only mother/wife. There is something magnificent about a member of the First Prez saying it to women...and adding the word "blessed" made it even stronger. I did a search and did not find it in other talks. That is a small thing but I will remember it because of that word that set is apart from other mentions.

 

What this did is brought all those in the room join in a common identity and purpose. All could feel included. All would know they are important (blessed) without them having to be anything else. There is a completely different vibe when talked to as a disciple rather than as something you are totally dependent on your body or a man to be part of. As wonderful as those things are, they leave out a lot of a woman's life even when they are fortunate to have all the mother pieces fall into place. I'd like to see a "What Empty Nesters' Know" follow up talk to "What Mothers' Know."

 

Pres. Burton actually made a stronger statement in the last Women's Session. She said being a disciple of Christ is our identity. Period. I hope this signals a move toward expanding what women are and can do so that every woman always feels important and included.

It would also be nice to see women accorded the same respect among Mormon businessmen and educators as men are, i.e., allowed to rise to the height of their actual abilities in all secular areas of endeavor.  There is no reason, for example, why a woman could not be president of BYU (or chair of its Board of Trustees), dean of a college, a school principal, chief of a police department, CEO of a corporation, president or prime minister of a country, etc.  Yet the "glass ceiling" is ever present, even for non-Mormon women, and there is an almost "natural" tendency for Mormon men to extend the priesthood pattern of governance to all their business dealings (even including the rule of three: two counselors and the boss).

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I hope that one day no individual, regardless of gender, has to so dependent upon the views of others to recognize they are each and everyone a child of God and were each made to be disciples of Christ.  There has never been a different message in scripture or in teaching.  He stands at the door and he knocks.  He does not only knock at a man's heart.  He does not only knock at a woman's heart.  He stands at the door and knocks to our heart.  We control opening it or not.  No one else does nor have anyone ever been able to control that door except for ourselves.

 

Going back decades, it was common to have a favorite record that became scratched.  From then on when the record was played it would come to that scratch, depending upon how deeply scratched, there would be the same noise repeated.  It never stopped.  

 

Christ has always been able to heal individuals of these scratches so that the spirit played in perfected harmony to his touch.  It was one of the great blessings of coming to know him. He made us whole.  It was our faith to be made like him that we struggle to follow after him.  Any problems that we had could far more often than not be traced directly to our own pride and rejection of his will for us.

 

What confuses me is that a single gender can be so harmed as to not understand scripture or the gospel.  The idea that a gender is incapable of fully embracing the healing power of God.  Further, there is this constant hunger for validation from others.  The world is completely toxic to them; nothing provides the surcease from the overwhelming pain that appears to belong to their gender.  

 

Pain is genderless.  Hardship, challenges, heartache, frustration, confusion are each genderless.  No gender becomes so important as to blot out the worth and value of the individual.  Gender does not cause pain.  Perspective is individual.  Some will only see life through gender and others will see life through lens that see more than just gender.

 

I remain confused and befuddled by this entire issue.  How do I protect my children from such an influence that is so pervasive?  What I think I have done since the moment each child was born is to instill in them the understanding that they need to follow their heart and that each was given special gifts that they needed to discover and they could do anything their pure heart desired.   I hope it has been enough.

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Still there is the extraordinary presence and influence of women in the retinue of Jesus.  They are at the Cross, and a woman is first at the Tomb.  The men may have authority, but the women have real presence when the men are cowering in fear.

Wait; I am the leader of my household and I have my wife's permission to say so! On a more serious note, my wife loved the broadcast, she came home talking about it with me and got up the next morning talking about it. I have often wondered why the Relief Society did not have a meeting during General Conference.
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It would also be nice to see women accorded the same respect among Mormon businessmen and educators as men are, i.e.,  CEO of a corporation,

I think they are respected. The CEO were I work is a woman. And she has a lot of respect in the industry.

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I think it is in what wasn't said. There was no mention of a woman's identity, purpose, and role as being only mother/wife. There is something magnificent about a member of the First Prez saying it to women...and adding the word "blessed" made it even stronger. I did a search and did not find it in other talks. That is a small thing but I will remember it because of that word that set is apart from other mentions.

 

Context makes a huge difference even when saying the same thing.

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What confuses me is that a single gender can be so harmed as to not understand scripture or the gospel.  The idea that a gender is incapable of fully embracing the healing power of God.  Further, there is this constant hunger for validation from others.  The world is completely toxic to them; nothing provides the surcease from the overwhelming pain that appears to belong to their gender.  

 

But it is not just the one gender that doesn't understand scripture or the gospel.  I have seen both genders make the same mistake.  The difference is that for one gender the mistake is making them more special, more recognized and getting more validation from others while for the other gender they are ignored.

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But it is not just the one gender that doesn't understand scripture or the gospel.  I have seen both genders make the same mistake.  The difference is that for one gender the mistake is making them more special, more recognized and getting more validation from others while for the other gender they are ignored.

 

When you state it like that I hope you are talking about men being ignored.  When I have private conversations with group members and quorum members I understood them to sense they are not special; not spiritual, not valuable.  Mother's Day was about how great moms are and Father's Day was about the horrors of child sexual abuse and/or how bad daddies are.  So I take it you are talking about men?

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I specified scripture and gospel which was the topic, I believe not culture. Women are in the scriptures rarely depicted as fully as men are and often don't even have names as wives and mothers where fathers, sons and brothers do. The claim is there is some women cannot relate to the fundamental source of inspiration for our faith because it can be difficult for some women to find meaning in scripture stories and language that is dominantly about men if it isn't easy for them to picture themselves as part of those experiences....and given how many teachings in the Church are about how men and women are different, have different roles and callings, it should hardly be surprising that some women who interpret these teachings as a great divide across the genders then find it no easier to see themselves in the scriptures than an engineer would find a training manual for a vet useful in his work. And thus they are lacking the very blessing they need in times of spiritual distress and doubt...and have we provided them with an alternative they can relate to better or not? Have we done so in our classes and talks?

Men find themselves all over the scriptures but they are missing the stories of women just as the women are. Yet because it is so full of the story of Man and his dealings with God and his fellowmen he may not realize there are lessons missing for him as well. The covenantal life taught in the scripture was not just about a few covenantal men and much fewer covenantal women and their relationship to God. What about their relationship to each other? There are few stories I would use to point to build a better marriage without having to add a lot of stuff...and take away more. Men suffer from not having stories of women to learn from just as women suffer (suffer as in it makes life and the right and love harder to figure out).

Dinah's story is of brothers avenging their sister's rape, not about a woman being loved and then raped and what that meant to her. Hannah's story is to set the background for Samuel and how he came to be dedicated to God. Ruth, Naomi and Esther are seen in relative depth...but Esther may be completely fictional and do we really want a role model of a woman who uses her primarily sexual powers of persuasion (and who married a nonbeliever as well) for political purposes? And do we learn how Ruth and Boaz turn their love into a covenantal eternal marriage? Or does the story end before we get to the parts where the men and women actually have to start talking to each other?

How often has the story of Martha and Mary been taught in YM's, or in Priesthood lesson? How often are the stories of females not as messengers or supporters connecting Christ with the Apostles, but their own stories being taught. Are men instructed to put themselves in the place of Ruth and Naomi, or Esther or Mary and Martha whose stories all could be easily adapted to work in their lives. Are these women stories ever taught in men only meetings?

Plenty of men's stories from the scriptures are taught to women, don't know lately but in my years in YW and as a teacher in Primary it was probably at least ten stories of men to one of a woman if that and a lot of the women's stories were told from the POV of the Man so we got to learn how he felt about things, but not how the woman did in her own words.

If they put out books of the teachings of the General Women's Boards Leaders to add to the teachings of the Presidents, they could have a nice collection and they have the older magazines as resources as well as the women meetings. They could also add variety of thought on the typical subject by making collections of good speakers among the leadership who never made it to the top.

How many of the conference talks that have been used in class time have ever been women in your ward out of 12 a year?

I find the once a year deification of mothers/women/female (so no female feels left out) in contrast to the if they are lucky they get a primary song about dads cultural practice distasteful. And certainly not contributing to any lessons of how to be a better mother or father for the most part or just human being. Also any cultural practice that elevates one and degrades the other unrealistically adds confusion, not love. It is not a competition, if we work together both will be raise up and no one need be degraded (if such shaming works even) and if we take input and instruction from each other growth will be increased and be much less trial and error.

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