On his first day on the job as the president of Brigham Young University, President Kevin J Worthen welcomed more than 11,000 women from around the world during the opening session of BYU’s Women’s Conference May 1.
“What a great way to start off my tenure as president of Brigham Young University,” President Worthen said. “I can think of very few other things I would rather be doing on my first day here than greeting this group.”
The annual conference — sponsored by BYU and the Relief Society — includes two days of more than 100 classes on a variety of topics held in buildings around the BYU campus. This year’s keynote speakers in general sessions on Thursday included Sheri L. Dew, and Bruce C. and Marie K. Hafen.
Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, introduced this year’s conference theme found in Psalm 84:11 from the Old Testament:
“ ‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,’ ” she said. “We are reminded here that the Lord willingly gives protection and His power to help us navigate this life’s unpredictable journey.”
She also invited all to “look for ways in our own lives that we might walk more uprightly before the Lord and commit to do so. And, may we also look for eyes of gratitude.”
Although the majority of “students” at Women’s Conference are a different group than the BYU student body, President Worthen spoke of how Women’s Conference fits within the mission of BYU.
“In the very first sentence it says that the mission of Brigham Young University is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection,” he said. He recognized that it doesn’t say “Brigham Young University students,” rather it says individuals, making it a great place for learning for all people — especially those who go home and teach the future students at BYU.
“We hope as you come here you get (the) sense that you belong to a whole, a worshipping, building, expanding kingdom of God and that you have a role to play in it,” he said.
Elder Hafen, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and Sister Hafen focused on the redeeming and strengthening powers of the Atonement during their general session talk.
“Our hope today is that perhaps we might clarify some key elements of the Atonement’s doctrine and clarify how we participate in that doctrine,” Sister Hafen said. “In doing this, we hope you will feel reassured about Christ’s desire to lift our burdens and that you will feel more comfort in your ability to stick with Him no matter what. We also hope that as we increase our understanding of what Christ has done for us that we might also increase our willingness to submit to whatever He would ask of us.”
Elder Hafen said that “this earth is not our home, we are away at school,” and we call this school mortality.
“Just knowing that much gives us a unique understanding of who we are, who God is and why we’re here, and we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Elder Hafen said.
All will, in this life, taste some sin and bitterness, Elder Hafen said. “Not because we’re innately bad, but because we can’t learn to prize the sweet without actually tasting the bitter. And because the effects of that bitterness may separate us from God, we need the Atonement to overcome any separation. That’s what the word means — At-one-ment.”