Nearly a year after the LDS Church began seeing a dramatic increase in the number of women serving missions, the leaders of its women's organization delivered a clear message Saturday night: Keep your promises to the church and God.
That message emerged from three talks delivered in the General Relief Society Meeting, an event for the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a week before General Conference. The meeting also included a speech from church President Thomas S. Monson and several choral performances from a group of female missionaries.
Linda Burton, who became Relief Society general president in March 2012, spoke first, offering a traditional take on "covenants," a word used in the LDS Church to mean promises between God and members.
Burton hit a variety of go-to LDS topics in the speech temples, modesty, family history but spent much of her time discussing women's role as mothers.
A pair of subsequent speeches touched on similar topics. First, Carole Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, emphasized the need for women to help one another keep their covenants.
Linda Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, followed, arguing that God has a plan for the women of the church.
Reeves also recalled the fire that destroyed the Provo Tabernacle in 2010, saying God "didn't cause the fire, but he allowed the fire to strip away the interior."
"He saw the Tabernacle as a magnificent temple," Reeves added. "A permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants."
Right now, work crews are transforming the historic Tabernacle into the Provo City Center Temple.
The emphasis on covenants comes about a year after the church lowered the eligibility age to 19 from 21 for women wanting to serve Mormon missions.
That announcement produced a deluge of female mission applications and promised to reshape the social and cultural dynamics of Utah and the LDS Church.
Though the mission age change wasn't explicitly discussed in Saturday's meeting, all Mormon missionaries, including women, attend an LDS temple before departing. The increased numbers of missionaries suggest there are more women attending temples, where they make covenants about church participation.
Saturday's meeting concluded after less than 90 minutes surprisingly short by LDS meeting standards after a brief talk from Monson. The talk covered familiar Mormon topics but also gained special attention among Twitter users when he mentioned a woman who struggled with depression.