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PROVO — Thousands of women from — from more than 13 countries and 48 states — spent the day on the BYU campus for classes and service projects as part of the 40th annual BYU Women’s Conference.

“Every topic, every speaker, every decision has been a matter of earnest prayer,” said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, as she welcomed women to campus during the opening session of the conference. “Individual needs of our sisters have been considered carefully by this inspired committee.”

The conference, co-sponsored by the Relief Society and BYU, brings leaders of the Church and women of all ages together for two days of instruction and service. The conference theme — “One in Charity” — comes from a line in the hymn, “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” (Hymns, no. 246).

“It is in perfect harmony with our Relief Society purpose, which is to help one another prepare for the blessings of eternal life,” Sister Burton said. “One of the ways we accomplish this purpose is by working in unity to help those in need. With whom do we need to work in unity? We begin on our knees seeking to know and then do the will of our Heavenly Father. We then rely on the Gift of the Holy Ghost to guide our footsteps and ask for the enabling power of the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to strengthen us … and become filled with charity.”

Sandra Rogers, the 2016 Women’s Conference Chairwoman, conducted the session and gave the Thursday morning opening session address. BYU President Kevin J Worthen shared brief remarks and an “Instant Choir,” consisting of conference attendees, provided music for the keynote sessions. Sister Kristen M. Oaks, wife of Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke during the afternoon general session.

“The mission statement of Brigham Young University says that the mission of BYU is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal lives,” said President Worthen. “Notice that that is not limited to students, it is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal lives.”

President Worthen invited listeners to be open to personal revelation during the conference. Using the analogy of an irrigation system, President Worthen spoke of the process of channeling water to the crops at the end of the row.

“Many times [we] don’t want to have water get to the end of the row, we want it to rain,” he said. “And that’s what we hope happens here, is that you receive inspiration from Heavenly Father. … Heavenly Father loves you immensely and wants to give you rain.”

Speaking on the topic, “Hidden in the Circle of His Will,” Sister Rogers spoke of charity — the “defining characteristic of the extraordinary service of the Relief Society since it began in 1842.”

“I know that the Lord’s love helps us manage, and eventually conquer, our fears and circumstances,” Sister Rogers said. “Often those fears come because we are asked to do something very difficult, including overcoming resentment or mistrust, or forgiving someone who has hurt us or our loved ones, or even interacting with someone when contention is involved. But, I bear my witness that the Lord’s love helps us in those gut-wrenching times. It does the same thing as we work to conquer any attribute of the natural man standing in the way of us becoming better disciples of Jesus Christ.”

When a person is one with the Lord, their charitable acts are the things that the Lord would do for others, she taught. Being “One in Charity” means a person sees others the way the Lord sees them, banishing judgment and fears for those who are “different.”

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