Mormon Women's Conference
photos: Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune

Mormon women are surprised as LDS President alters wording to be more inclusive of women.

Last month, a gathering of female Latter-day Saints became a turning point in history. Slight changes made in wording and vocabulary surprised the attendees. These changes seem to be part of an effort to reach out to Mormon women in a more egalitarian view.

Self-described Mormon feminists are surprised and pleased by the small changes that seemed to have been made, both in word and in attitude.

For example, for the first time ever, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf described the general women’s meeting as an “opening session” for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 184th Semiannual General Conference. Traditionally, this female-only conference was seen as a separate event, but Uchtdorf’s language implied the two events are not mutually exclusive. Uchtdorf spoke to the women there not only as 'sisters', but also as 'blessed disciples of Jesus Christ', putting them on an equal and genderless basis with male believers. He then continued on in a speech to call the women there 'daughters of heavenly parents', giving them the same lineage as male believers which has often been denied to them.

As if that wasn't astounding in and of itself, the meeting on September 27 also saw the first ever prayer spoken at a General Conference of the Latter-day Saints by a black woman. Dorah Mkhabela is a South African Mormon, and is a member of the LDS Young Women's General Board. Considering the complicated relationship that the Mormon church has had with black people and other races throughout their time, this can be considered to be a major breakthrough.

Of course, there are many Mormon groups such as Ordain Women – a movement that encourages the Mormon church to officially ordain women for ministry – that will be wanting more. But as wage earning was talked about as a typical role for a Mormon women in the same meeting, it is safe to say that the Mormon church has evolved a lot in recent times. Just this past Saturday, October 4, Ordain Women were permitted to watch a live broadcast of the all-male priesthood meeting.

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