To delight of many, a women’s session of general conference was announced for the evening of Saturday, April 2, 2022. The format for women’s session has changed quite a bit over the years; catch up on its history in timeline below.
- June 9, 1830: First meeting of all Church members is held. General conference continues to be held every year, with two exceptions.
- According to the Church History website: “The first [cancellation] was 1846; no conferences were held that year, because of the exodus from Nauvoo. The second cancellation was October 1957, because of the Asian flu epidemic.
- October 1845: Sister Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, speaks on the last day of a three-day conference. Her message marks the first account of a woman speaking in general conference.
- Sister Smith requested to speak in response to a discussion about the Saints moving West. According to the Times and Seasons, the Church’s newspaper back then, 70-year-old Sister Smith “spoke at considerable length, and in an audible manner, so as to be heard by a large portion of the vast assembly.” Read more about what she said at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- April 6, 1889: The Relief Society holds its first annual conference in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake. The next April, the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (Y.L.M.I.A.) holds its first annual conference. The Church History site notes that these meetings were “considered conferences specific to their organizations and, while held in the spring and fall to increase attendance, were not considered part of general conference.”
- When the Young Woman annual meeting was announced, Sister Norma Smith, first counselor in the general presidency of the Young Women, explained, “We hope to uplift and encourage girls and help them make valid decisions. We hope they will hear the clear, strong voice of the gospel. There are so many angry, strident voices calling out to women today.”
- October 1986: The Relief Society general meeting is held annually the week before conference.
- April 1994: A semi-annual Young Women general meeting is added. Relief Society general meetings are now held a week before the October conference. Young Women general meetings are held a week before the April conference. Both meetings are still organization-specific conferences, not part of general conference. This continues until March 2014.
- March 29, 2014: The Young Women and Relief Society meetings are merged into one general women’s meeting and officially become part of general conference. A general women’s meeting is held in both April and October on the Saturday evening before conference.
- October 2018: General women’s session is changed to be held annually, instead of semi-annually.
- When it was announced that women’s session and priesthood session would be held semi-annually instead of annually, a letter from the First Presidency explained: “In the spirit of reducing and simplifying the work of the Church and the demands made upon leaders and members, we are pleased to announce that the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve has decided to modify the general conference meeting schedule.”
- June 2021: Church announces that starting in October, Saturday evening sessions of any kind are discontinued.
- July 27, 2021: First Presidency announces that after additional “study and prayer” they decided to continue holding the evening session, “albeit in a different format than in the past.” In October 2021, a Saturday meeting is held for all members and friends of the Church; intended for any demographic.
- February 2022: Church announces a women’s session of general conference for the evening of Saturday March 2, 2022.
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