Members of the Relief Society and Young Women's General Presidencies as well as Elder David B. Haight, Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be featured at the annual Women's Conference Thursday and Friday, May 1 and 2, at Brigham Young University.
With newly appointed BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. conducting, Thursday's opening session in the Marriott Center at 9 a.m. will feature Bishop H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ, and Bonnie D. Parkin, general president of the Relief Society.
Elder Ballard and Anne C. Pingree, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, will speak during the Friday general session at 9 a.m. Elder Eyring and Susan W. Tanner, general president of the Young Women, will give addresses during the Thursday general session at 3:30 p.m. Elder Haight and Sandra Rogers, Women's Conference chair and BYU international vice president, will close the conference Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Admission to all events, including the service and entertainment venues, is by conference pass only. Participants will be able to choose from dozens of speakers and topics during the two-day event.
Registration fees on or before April 11 are $36 for the full conference or $21 for one day; after April 11 the fee is $41 for the full conference or $23 for one day. You may register online through April 11 at http://womensconference.byu.edu or by telephone through April 18 at (801) 378-8925. Through May 2, registrations will be accepted at the Harman Continuing Education Building on the BYU campus weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Conference programs will be sent only to those who register before April 11. Materials for those registering after April 11 will be held at will-call for pick up at the conference.
An attendance of 18,000 to 20,000 is expected at the event, which is limited to women and men age 16 and older; no infants or children will be permitted at any of the sessions.
The event will also include addresses by 92-year-old great-grandmother, former school teacher and Temple Square tour guide Ardes Christiansen McQueen; Sheri Dew, former second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, president/CEO of Deseret Book and newly appointed to the President's Commission on the Status of Women; BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway; and Karen Ashton, organizer of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and founder of Thanksgiving Point with her husband, Alan Ashton.
The theme of this year's conference, which will be conducted at sites throughout campus, is from the Book of Mormon, "Come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved" (Omni 1:26).
"We believe that the messages of Women's Conference offer sisters the opportunity to be uplifted spiritually, to gain insight into dealing with the challenges we face, and to feel a sense of community with other women," said Sandra Rogers, Women's Conference chair and BYU international vice president.
"We know that women in the Church are diverse in their experiences and concerns. We hope to have sessions that meet individual needs as well as provide opportunities to emphasize our shared faith in Jesus Christ and shared commitment to His gospel," she said.
For those unable to attend the conference on-site, this year's event offers eight hours of satellite broadcasts running each night from 6 to 10 p.m. MDT on KBYU-TV (Channel 11) and BYU-Television on cable and satellite systems. The broadcasts will be in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese and will be closed-captioned. Audio streaming of the broadcast sessions will also be available both nights on the Internet at http://broadcasting.byu.edu.
For the first time at the BYU Women's Conference, three concurrent sessions on Thursday will be offered in Spanish, with native women speakers of Spanish as presenters. The two general sessions on Thursday will also be translated from English to Spanish with headsets available.
"We know that we have a growing Spanish-speaking population along the Wasatch Front," said Rogers. "We feel a need to attempt an experiment in trying several Spanish-language sessions. We wanted these sessions to be given by native Spanish speakers, and we are excited about the women who were willing to speak."
Thursday night will feature "An Evening of Service and Good Works," where conference attendees will be invited to participate in a variety of service projects beginning at 5:30 p.m. The theme for the Women's Conference Service Component this year is "Hands to Work, Hearts to God," and will focus primarily on community service ideas.
Because of the high demand for kits distributed by Humanitarian Services of the Church of Jesus Christ, this year's Women's Conference participants have been asked to assemble 45,000 hygiene kits, 15,000 school kits, 5,000 newborn kits and tie 250 quilts for Church Humanitarian Services.
Attendees will also complete a variety of projects for community organizations such as the Dan Peterson School (developmental disabilities), Parent to Parent, Centro de la Familia, Center for Women and Children, Shriners Hospital and the Boys and Girls Club.
In addition, participants can visit the second annual Idea Fair where they can view more than 100 "Sharing Stations" to exchange practical and innovative service ideas to take back to their homes and communities.
A series of fine arts performance will also be featured Thursday, including "Variations on a Sacred Theme," a 60-minute multimedia concert of selections conducted by Lex de Azevedo featuring the Millennium Choir and Orchestra and soloists George Dyer and Jenny Jordan Frogley.
Other events include a concert by Jericho Road, a participant talent show and "Whispers from the Dust," stories and original music portraying women in the Book of Mormon performed by a group of four women called Touch of Class. "Charly," the movie based on the best-selling novel by Jack Weyland, will be shown, and several new exhibits at the Museum of Art are also available.
Tickets for these events will be available to registered conference participants beginning March 25 on the Web site at http://womensconference.byu.edu. Tickets will be mailed to those who pre-register. A limited number of tickets may be available on the days of the conference at the ticket office in the Harris Fine Arts Center.
Parking for the conference is available in the lots north and northeast of the Marriott Center; overflow parking will be in the lots west of LaVell Edwards Stadium. Self-contained recreational vehicles can park in lot 37 northwest of the Smith Fieldhouse. Disability parking is located directly north of the Marriott Center.
Courtesy vans will run between the residence halls, campus buildings and parking lots from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. While the vans are available to all conference participants, preference will be given to seniors and/or those with disabilities.
For more information, visit the Women's Conference Web site ( http://womensconference.byu.edu).
Writer: Elizabeth B. Jensen