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Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review - At the Pulpit, 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women


At the Pulpit is a refreshing collection of women’s voices from the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The book contains 54 speeches given by women from 1831 to current day and is an impressive collection that shows the strength of women in the church. After reading the words of these eloquent women, I felt empowered and grateful for their examples of courage, compassion, and faithfulness. 

Life can be very full and busy at times.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to find time to read and review this book at first.  But during quiet minutes, I found myself drawn to it to bring me peace. I loved the stories and I felt stronger and more motivated after reading it.  Sister Jacobs had it right in the infographic below.


In the first chapter, I was impressed with the leadership of Lucy Mack Smith (aka “Mother Smith,” mother of Joseph and Hyrum Smith). In 1831, Lucy Mack Smith was part of a group that was planning to travel to Kirtland, Ohio from Fayette, New York. Two prominent males in the group refused to lead the group during the journey and deferred to Mother Smith. She rallied the troops and handled the finances, food, lodging, and spiritual guidance. At one point, the group was stuck in Buffalo, waiting for the ice to break in the harbor. Another party there encouraged Smith and her group to hide their religious identity to avoid prejudice. Smith rejected the advice and instead “boldly proclaimed her Mormon beliefs” to the townspeople.


Eliza R. Snow’s speech to the Salt Lake City 17th Ward Relief Society really struck a chord with me in regards to how church callings should work.  She said, “Each member of the society should study to know her place, and honor herself by filling it honorably , and all move forward like machinery that is perfect in all its parts. Let no one overstep her mark or in the least crowd against another… And if this principle shall be carried out in every department, the society will move like clockwork.”  Her beautifully chosen words and appropriate similes describe how callings should be handled not only in just olden days but now as well. Each person is to learn and magnify her calling and not hinder others from fulfilling their responsibilities by enabling them or doing things that are outside their realm of stewardship.

Great lessons on forgiveness were conveyed in Jane Harper Neyman’s story and words. Neyman had been widowed twice and had lost four other family members. She was destitute. When she applied to join the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, she was rejected because of gossip regarding two of her daughters who had been accused of sexual immorality. She continued to show great faith and serve others. Eventually Neyman became the first Relief Society in Beaver, Utah and her motto as president was “gather up the fragments, let nothing be lost.” When she addressed the Relief Society sisters in Beaver First Ward in 1869, she encouraged all “to be forbearing and forgiving, refraining as much as possible from scrutinizing the conduct of our neighbors, remembering always that we are human and must therefore err.” She set the expectation in the Relief Society sisterhood that “they will live above reproach and by guarding the doors of their lips keep themselves from censure.” What a wise woman to encourage charity and teach sisters to refrain from gossip, slander and judging others.

Zina D. H. Young was a great example of serving God. She was described as the heart of women's work in the church.  "Sister Zina was all love and sympathy, and drew people after her by reason of that tenderness." She spoke to the Relief Society sisters in her ward and valued motherhood and said children are "blessings from God entrusted to your care."  Yet she also showed compassion to the sisters who did not have children and urged them to be comforted, saying, "We serve a just God, and if you are faithful to his cause it will be no loss to you."  This is as applicable today as it was nearly 150 years ago.


This book contains a plethora of valuable information that has been overlooked and underappreciated over the years.  I for one am grateful that the Church Historian’s Press worked hard to gather this information and share it with the world.


















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