My dear sisters, it is a joy to be with you! We are witnessing an outpouring of revelation that is both soul stretching and exhilarating.
As we begin, I would like to introduce you to some friends; they are young women unique in talent, custom, and individual and family circumstance. Each of them, like all of you, has captured my heart.
First, meet Bella. She stands strong as the only young woman in her branch in Iceland.
Meet devoted Josephine from Africa, who has recommitted to studying the Book of Mormon every day. She is discovering the power and the blessings that come from this simple, faithful act.
And finally, meet my dear friend Ashtyn, an extraordinary young woman who passed away after a six-year battle with cancer. Her strong testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ still echoes in my heart.
You are all remarkable young women. You are unique, each with your own gifts and experiences yet alike in a very important and eternal way.
You are literally the spirit daughters of Heavenly Parents, and nothing can separate you from Their love and the love of your Savior.1 As you draw closer to Him, even taking the smallest baby steps forward, you will discover the lasting peace that settles into your soul as a faithful disciple of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
President Russell M. Nelson, our dearly beloved prophet, has asked that I share some inspired changes that will help you “develop [your] sacred personal potential”2 and increase your righteous influence. I will address four areas of adjustment tonight.
First, at the heart of all we do in Young Women is our desire to help you gain unshakable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ3 and a sure knowledge of your divine identity as a daughter of God.
Tonight, I would like to announce a revision to the Young Women theme. I pray you will feel the Holy Ghost testify of the truth of these words as I say the new theme:
I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.10
As I strive to qualify for exaltation,11 I cherish the gift of repentance12 and seek to improve each day.13 With faith,14 I will strengthen my home and family,15 make and keep sacred covenants,16 and receive the ordinances17 and blessings of the holy temple.18
Notice the shift from “we” to “I.” These truths apply to you individually. You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents. You are a covenant disciple of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I invite you to study and ponder these words. I know that as you do, you will gain a testimony of their truthfulness. Understanding these truths will change the way you face challenges. Knowing your identity and purpose will help you align your will with the Savior’s.
Peace and guidance will be yours as you follow Jesus Christ.
The second area of change affects Young Women classes. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “So often what people need so much is to be sheltered from the storms of life in the sanctuary of belonging.”19 Our classes must be sanctuaries from the storms, secure places of love and belonging. In an effort to build greater unity, strengthen friendships, and increase that feeling of belonging within Young Women, we are making some adjustments to class structure.
For over 100 years, young women have been divided into three classes. Beginning immediately, we invite Young Women leaders and bishops to prayerfully consider the needs of each young woman and organize them according to the ward’s specific circumstances. Here are some examples of how this might look.
If you have few young women, you could have one Young Women class with everyone meeting together.
Perhaps you have a large group of young women age 12 and then a small group of young women who are older. You may decide to have two classes: Young Women 12 and Young Women 13–18.
Or if you have a large ward with 60 young women attending, you may have six classes, one for each age, organized by year.
However your classes are organized, you young women are vital in building unity. Be a light to those around you. Be the source of love and care you are hoping to receive from others. With a prayer in your heart, continue to reach out and be that force for good. As you do so, your life will be filled with kindness. You will have a better feeling toward others and will begin to see their goodness in return.
Third, with this new class organization, all classes will be referred to by the unifying name of “Young Women.”20 We will retire the names “Beehive,” “Mia Maid,” and “Laurel.”
The final area I wish to address is the importance of class presidencies. No matter how Young Women classes are organized, every class should have a class presidency!21 It is by divine design that young women are called to lead in their youth.
The role and purpose of class presidencies have been strengthened and more clearly defined. The work of salvation is one of these significant responsibilities, particularly in the areas of ministering, missionary work, activation, and temple and family history work.22 Yes, this is how we gather Israel23—a glorious work for all young women as members of the Lord’s youth battalion.
As you know, at every level of the Church, the Lord calls presidencies to lead His people. Young women, being a member of a class presidency may be your first opportunity to participate in this inspired pattern of leadership. Adult leaders, make the calling of class presidencies a priority and then lead side-by-side with them, mentoring and guiding them so they can succeed.24 Whatever level of leadership experience a class presidency has, start where they are and help them develop the skills and confidence that will bless them as leaders. Stay close to them, but don’t take over. The Spirit will guide you as you guide them.
To illustrate the vital role of parents and leaders as mentors, let me tell you a story. Chloe was called to serve as a class president. Her wise priesthood leader encouraged her to seek the Lord’s help in recommending names for her presidency. Chloe prayed and received inspiration for whom to recommend as her counselors rather quickly. As she continued to ponder and pray about a secretary, the Spirit repeatedly drew her focus to a young woman who surprised her—someone who rarely came to church or activities.
Feeling a little insecure with the prompting, Chloe talked with her mother, who explained that one of the ways we can receive revelation is through recurring thoughts. With renewed confidence, Chloe felt she could recommend this young woman. The bishop extended the call, and the young woman accepted. After being set apart, this sweet secretary said, “You know, I’ve never felt as though I had a place or was needed anywhere. I didn’t feel I fit in. But with this calling, I feel as though Heavenly Father has a purpose and a place for me.” As Chloe and her mother left the meeting, Chloe turned to her mother and said, with tears in her eyes, “Revelation is real! Revelation really works!”
Class presidencies, you have been called of God and trusted to lead a group of His daughters. “The Lord knows you. … He chose you.”25 You have been set apart by one who has priesthood authority; this means as you perform the duties of your calling, you exercise priesthood authority. You have an important work to do. Be sensitive to and act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As you do so, you can serve with confidence, for you do not serve alone!
Class presidents, we need your wisdom, voice, and energy in the new ward youth council that Elder Quentin L. Cook announced today. You are an essential part of the solution to meeting the needs of your brothers and sisters.26
These changes in class organization and leadership may begin as soon as wards and branches are ready but should be in place by January 1, 2020.
My dear sisters, I bear witness that these adjustments I have spoken of today are inspired direction from the Lord. As we diligently implement these adjustments, may we never lose sight of our purpose: to strengthen our resolve to follow Jesus Christ and help others come unto Him. I testify that this is His Church. How grateful I am that He allows us to be a very important part of His sacred work.
I pray that the same Spirit that has guided these adjustments will guide you as you press forward on the covenant path. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.