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For week ended February 27, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Mar00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Conferences beckon 'women of faith'
Deseret News 26Feb00 N6
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor

PROVO, UTAH -- Several gatherings of religious women have been scheduled along the Wasatch Front during the next few weeks and months.  Though all the conferences will represent different theological beliefs, the basic premise, if not the stated theme, is that through Jesus Christ women of faith have the power to change society.

Attendance at "Women of Faith" conferences nationwide has surpassed that of the popular "Promise Keepers" attendance that drew hundreds of thousands of men.  According to the movements founders this year's attendance is estimated at 350,000.  More than l5,000 attended a conference in Washington, D.C. last weekend with an expected 23 additional cities to be announced.

"We haven't come for the purpose of teaching doctrine or what women should not do," said speaker Patsy Clairmont.  Rather, the focus is "to encourage women and let them know we're rooting for them...and so is God." Women of Faith founder and CEO Steve Arterburn said he began the Christian-based stadium events in 1996 "to honor and support women with a conference that specifically addressed their needs as women.  I had a hunch there was a void out there we could fill."

The 25th Annual Latter-day Saint Women's Conference will be held at Brigham Young University from April 26 - 28.  Organizers of Utah's largest event believe that women encourage, strengthen and unify each other when they meet in such a setting.  Conference chairman, Wendy Watson, announced plans last month for a huge service event.  The gridiron at Cougar Stadium will be covered with 2,000 quilts to be hand-sewn by an expected crowd of 20,000 women.

Participants at the LDS sponsored event will have the chance to give blood, sort tons of food for the Utah Food Bank and assemble thousands of hygiene, education and literacy kits to be distributed worldwide.  "When they are literally linked together doing something they know will make a difference, it's an indescribable feeling of being a part of something that's bigger than all of us," Watson said.

The 25th Annual event, sponsored by the LDS Church's Relief Society and Brigham Young University, includes two days of workshop sessions that focus on spirituality and relationships. All women, members of the Mormon church or not, are invited to attend.

With the BYU event being the state's largest, it is by no means the oldest.  The Diocese of Salt Lake City's Council of Catholic Women will hold its 72nd annual convention April 29 and 30 at the Salt Lake Hilton Hotel. The theme will be, "Jubilee Women: Strong, Loving and Wise."  Speakers will include author and columnist Mitch Finley, Dominican Sister Janet Stankowski and Benedictine Sister Stephanie Mongeon.  The council's mission statement is "to support, empower and educate Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service."

An International 2000 World Day of Prayer Service will be held locally on March 3 and 4.  Rounding out the events, Evangelical Christians will hold their first women's conference in Utah on March 17-18.  Interestingly, Women's History Month in March will coincide with the many of the events. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, will be honored for her achievements posthumously during the month of March at the Salt Lake Public Library.


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