SALT LAKE CITY — Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saint women filled the Conference Center Saturday night, and others watched from meetinghouses or live streaming throughout the world, as the women leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Relief Society and Church President Thomas S. Monson brought messages of hope and love to their annual meeting.
A women's choir filled with sister missionaries opened this year's General Relief Society Meeting, which included 6 million Latter-day Saint women throughout the world. The leaders of the worldwide organization talked of keeping covenants, or promises, to the Lord.
"Making and keeping covenants means choosing to bind ourselves to our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. It is committing to follow the Savior," said Relief Society General President Linda K. Burton.
"You quietly stand as witnesses of God, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort without realizing that you are keeping the covenants," Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, told the women.
"What will matter to our Heavenly Father will be how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ," said Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
The women who spoke to KSL news were grateful to have been in attendance.
"The messages were powerful and strong to what I'm going through in my life, and I'm sure what other sisters are going through in their lives as well," said Rebecca Wagner, a Relief Society member from American Fork.
"It's nice just to be able to get out and to feel the kind of camaraderie from other women who might be in the same situation as us with small children," said Allison Rae, a Relief Society member from Bountiful.
President Monson spoke of his dear wife, Frances, who passed away in May. She served as a leader in Relief Society and loved the organization. "My beloved companion and my dearest friend," he said, "I miss her more than words can express."
He also told the women that the Spirit they felt at the meeting was a reflection of their strength, their devotion and their goodness. He also assured them that God is always with them.
"We were not placed on this Earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength and of comfort is available to each of us," President Monson said.
Church members will gather once again to hear from their leaders next weekend when the Church holds its semi-annual General Conference.