The Role of Women in Church Councils

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(This is an excerpt from the book Counseling with Our Councils, Revised Edition by Elder M. Russell Ballard.)

One general Church auxiliary leader told me about a marvelous experience she had with her bishop when she was serving as a ward Relief Society president. “I had only been serving for a short time when this new bishop was called,” she said. “One of the first things he did after he was ordained and set apart to his new calling was to ask me to come to his office to visit with him. He said, ‘I want you to know that it is impossible for me to fulfill my calling and to fulfill my responsibilities to the Lord without your input. I want you to let me know the concerns of the sisters, and I want you to know that when you come to ward council, whatever you have to tell us, we will be listening.’ That put my respect for my calling on a whole different plane because I knew that I was needed.”

The sisters of the Church are needed. Whether you are eighteen or eighty, married or single, speak English or Portuguese, live on an island or in the mountains, have children or simply love children but have none of your own, have an advanced degree or little formal education, have a husband who is not active or are married to a stake president, you belong here! You and your talents, strengths, and insights are needed urgently in the Church. As Eliza R. Snow, the second general president of the Relief Society, said, “There is no sister so isolated and her sphere so narrow but what she can do a great deal towards establishing the kingdom of God upon the earth” (address at a Relief Society meeting, August 14, 1873; quoted in Woman’s Exponent, September 15, 1873, 62).

Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children equally, perfectly, and infinitely. His love is no different for His daughters than for His sons. Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, also loves men and women equally. His Atonement and His gospel are for all of God’s children. During His earthly ministry Jesus served men and women alike: He healed both men and women, and He taught both men and women.

The gospel of Jesus Christ sanctifies both men and women in the same way and by identical principles. For example, the principles of faith and repentance, the ordinance of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost apply equally to all of God’s children, regardless of gender. The same is true of temple covenants and blessings; men and women alike must receive all of the ordinances of salvation. Our Father’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. He loves us all equally, and His greatest gift, the gift of eternal life, is available to all.

Even though men and women are equal before God in their eternal opportunities, they do have different duties in His eternal plan—and yet these differing roles and duties are equally significant. We must understand that God views all of His children with infinite wisdom and perfect fairness. Consequently, He can acknowledge and even encourage our differences while providing equal opportunity for growth and development.

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