Salt Lake City, Utah | December 8, 2011
South Africa’s Benoni Stake hosted a Relief Society women’s conference that united local organizations in celebrating and uplifting women as part of the national Women’s Month. More than 300 women, as well as representatives from the Salvation Army, the Anglican Church: Buyani House and Kid’s Haven, attended the conference.
“We wanted to organize a day that uplifted women of all ages and walks of life, and to remind them that they are all daughters of our Heavenly Father,” explained Sandy Taylor, the stake Relief Society president who spearheaded the organization of the event.
Those in attendance listened to addresses on faith in Jesus Christ and the constancy of God’s love, given by members of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency and their wives. Other speakers included Moira Simpson, founder of Kids Haven, an organization formed to rehabilitate children living and working on the streets, and Lorraine Hartman from the Anglican Church: Buyani House, who spoke on community service.
After the addresses, attendees released 350 pink and white balloons into the air to symbolize “letting go” of disappointment, criticism, pain and judgment they may have encountered in life.
“The speakers were motivating,” recalled one attendee. “When we let the balloons go, I felt like Heavenly Father was taking all my troubles from me. We all felt uplifted.”
A luncheon was provided after the conference to allow the priesthood and community leaders a chance to get better acquainted. In the end, the different organizaitons found shared goals that could lead to mutual efforts of service.
“We wanted to give time for the priesthood leaders to build relationships with the community leaders,” said Taylor. “The perceptions that community leaders, government officials, news media and others hold can directly affect the Church. A principle objective of the conference was to strengthen these relationships and further the public affairs efforts in the area.”
“I’m so glad I came because I found just what I was looking for,” said Lorraine Hartman from the Anglican Church: Buyani House, after learning about the Church’s Employment and Career Workshop. “It’s wonderful to be with a group like this who strives to serve God. Together we can reach out to help each other serve those in need.”
The environment created by the conference allowed those who would not normally attend a Church service to learn about the Church in a comfortable setting.
“I could relate to what the speakers were saying in a friendly setting,” said Ursula Weyers, a non-member attendee who came with her member friend Elizabeth Burger.
The Benoni Stake Women’s Conference was an event that brought organizations together to find common ground and uplift women in the area. Search for opportunities such as these in your area to further public affairs efforts with local organizations and opinion leaders.