At the Pulpit

by Jennifer Reeder, Kate Holbrook

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From the banks of the frozen Lake Erie in early May 1831, Lucy Mack Smith admonished her despondent fellow Saints. "Where is your faith in God?" she asked. "If I could make my voice to sound as loud as the trumpet of Michael the archangel I would declare the truth from land to land and from sea to sea."

At the Pulpit contains fifty-four discourses given by Latter-day Saint women throughout the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like Lucy Mack Smith, these women drew on inspiration and experience to declare their understanding of eternal truths. This book illustrates the history of women's public preaching in the church, but its most important feature is the actual words of Mormon women. From the time of Emma Hale Smith's earliest exhortations at meetings of the Nauvoo Relief Society, Latter-day Saint women have been charged to instruct their families and neighbors, their congregations and Relief Societies, and other organizations. The talks featured in this volume show Mormon women doing the spiritual and intellectual work inherent in a life of Christian faith—seeking to do good works, understand the atonement of Jesus Christ, and strengthen their own faith and the faith of those around them. These women endeavored to live what they believed and to help their listeners do so as well.

Written to the high scholarly standards of the Church Historian's Press, the book provides a resource for contemporary Latter-day Saints as they study, speak, teach, and lead. Each discourse in this volume begins with an introduction that acquaints readers with the vibrant personalities of some of the women who have shaped the church. Introductions also provide glimpses into the circumstances and forces that shaped these women. Readers will encounter some familiar figures from church history and from the contemporary church—leaders like Eliza R. Snow and Linda K. Burton, current Relief Society general president. But they will also learn from women like Jane H. Neyman, whose stories are largely unknown to modern Latter-day Saints. Neyman applied to join the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, but her petition was rejected due to gossip about her daughters. Over twenty-five years later, she spoke in a Relief Society in Beaver, Utah, on charity, urging members to be forbearing and forgiving of one another.

The voices in these pages ring from Nauvoo's red brick store to the National Auditorium in Mexico City to the Tabernacle on Temple Square and beyond. These discourses offer instruction on gospel principles while also revealing the particular concerns of individual women. At the Pulpit allows us to hear the historical and contemporary voices of Latter-day Saint women—voices that resound with experience, wisdom, and authority.

Included in the eBook are 7 bonus talks and 21 original recordings.

Product Details

Size7 x 10
Pages480
ISBN9781629722825
PublishedThe Church Historian's Press 2017

About the Authors

Jennifer Reeder

Jennifer Reeder is the nineteenth-century women’s history specialist at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University.

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Kate Holbrook

Kate Holbrook is the managing historian for women’s history at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She received a PhD in religious studies from Boston University.

View more products by Kate Holbrook

Reviews

Average rating:

(based upon 36 reviews)

Historical and Doctrinal Gems
By , Submitted on 2017-03-07

Review of Reeder, Jennifer, and Kate Holbrook, editors. At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2017. 452 pp. Photographs, notes, appendix, index. ISBN 978-1-62972-282-5. $29.99

Review by R. Devan Jensen

R. Devan Jensen is executive editor at the Religious Studies Center.

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women is well conceived, compiled, and edited by Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook and a team of researchers who embody the high standards of the Church Historian’s Press. The volume is also timely, being released for the 175th anniversary of the Relief Society. But this is more than a book about the Relief Society or the Young Women organizations. It is a collection of wise, witty, and spiritual insights to inspire and enrich readers’ understanding of American religious history and Sunday School lessons. “In addition to being a scholarly history,” the editors write, “this book provides a resource for contemporary church members as they study, speak, teach, and lead” (xv).

How did this project come to be? In a recent interview, Holbrook said she envisioned a “journal of discourses” for women. Many collections traditionally emphasize the writings of male church leaders, whose writings were more likely to be recorded in church minutes. A stated goal of this volume is to “powerfully demonstrate that women have contributed to Latter-day Saint devotion through sermons, speeches, prayers, songs, and stories” (xv). She and Reeder pitched the concept to the Church Historian’s Press and found a willing reception.

To create this vital project, Reeder, Holbrook, and a team of researchers and editors scoured eclectic sources such as “old minute books and obscure newspapers.” Reeder emphasized nineteenth-century discourses, while Holbrook focused on twentieth- and twenty-first-century speeches. The editors then created introductions and notes that “provide insight into the biographical, historical, theological, and cultural context of each talk” (xv). The result is a compilation of fifty-four speeches or, in a few cases, notes of speeches. Sometimes the latter strain the definition of “discourses” and are sometimes shorter than their accompanying introductions, but the overall compilation is well done.

Auxiliary leaders such as Linda K. Burton, Julie B. Beck, and Sheri L. Dew are well represented, but this book includes other lesser-known women who spoke at BYU Women’s conference. To represent the global nature of the church, the editors quote women from North and South America, Europe, and Asia. These talks include warm and witty speeches by Jutta B. Busche, Chieko N. Okazaki, Irina Kratzer, and Gladys N. Sitati (who is both wise and hilarious).

In my honest opinion, Francine R. Bennion’s BYU Women’s Conference address of March 28, 1986, “A Latter-day Saint Theology of Suffering,” is, by itself, worth the price of the book. Bennion begins with paradoxical couplets such as Proverbs 3:13 (“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding”) and “Ecclesiastes 1:18 (“In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow”). How do we reconcile these paradoxes? “Theology,” she writes, “provides a framework that binds diversity and complexity into a more simple net with which we can make some sense even of things we don’t fully understand” (215).

Citing incidents of suffering worldwide, Bennion writes, “Good theology makes sense of what is possible but also of what is presently real and probable. . . . It is not enough that theology be either rational or faith promoting. It must be both. It is not enough that satisfying theology be mastered by a few expert scholars, teachers, and leaders. It must be comfortable carried out by ordinary people. It is not enough that theology help me to understand God. It must also help me to understand myself and the world” (216–17). Quoting the story of Jephthah’s vow and consequent sacrifice of his daughter, Bennion asks, “What do you think about Jephthah, his vow, and his God? Your answer will depend in part upon your own version of theology” (219). Complex, intriguing, and open ended!

Bennion then quotes a BYU Honors student’s conception of the celestial kingdom in the context of Voltaire’s “best of all possible worlds.” What is the celestial kingdom like? she asks. “Well, there won’t be any problems,” he replies, saying that “everyone will be–happy. There won’t be any unkindness. No one there will be rejected or abused, or laughed at, or ignored.”

“Oh,” Bennion said, “Are you suggesting that God experiences none of these things now?” Silence. Bennion then wrote, “In wanting to get to the celestial kingdom, these students had more awareness of traditional struggle-free utopias than of our own God and our own world” (221). Thus, our theology embraces the world as it is and our struggle to make sense of it.

This is just one of the many treasures to be discovered in "At the Pulpit." The book is well worth efforts to mine it for other historical and doctrinal gems.

Amazing!
By , Submitted on 2017-03-01

What a piece of work! After reading this book it's clear that numerous hours of work went into creating it and it shows. Discourses by female leaders in the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) combine to make this a tour de force. Not only are the talks powerful doctrinally, but they also give a glimpse into different times and places and how things have both changed and stayed the same over time. All of these women made a difference during the times in which they lived. Some of these women I remember myself. Reading this was both eye-opening and informative. I especially think the timing on the release of this book can't be an accident. With some questioning women's role in the Church, I couldn't be more pleased with this book that clearly demonstrates the strong and ongoing role that women have in the LDS Church. This is the sort of book that could be read over and over again with the reader learning new things every time. It's also an excellent resource as it includes extensive footnotes and an appendix. The release of this book is truly a service to both members and nonmembers alike as well as female and male readers.

Great History Book
By , Submitted on 2017-03-01

This book is very interesting to me because it starts out with a history of the women of the church and as you read through the talks, you can see the changes and the constants over time. I can’t imagine the work that went into compiling this book. It is one I’m sure I will use over and over again. If you want a great reference book from so many of the women throughout LDS History, At the Pulpit is the book for you.

Inspirational, Driven Women
By , Submitted on 2017-02-28

At the Pulpit is a window into the thoughts, language, and awe-inspiring activity of the strong, relentless women of God who have played a critical role in the Mormon story.

One gains a sense of how truly driven Latter-day Saint women of the past two centuries have been while practicing charity and creating a better world. These noble sisters are indeed reflected in the Mormon and Utah symbol of the beehive as they have, in no small part, forged an empire in the wilderness and made the desert “blossom as the rose”. You may find the sisters of nineteenth century Mormondom especially fascinating. Their language is dignified and often direct but most of all full of purpose. There is also mention of sisters using spiritual gifts such as giving “blessings of health or comfort” and relating dreams.

At the Pulpit discusses the many organizations to which Mormon women have belonged in order to do good and bless lives. One of these was the Senior and Junior Cooperative Retrenchment Association in which sisters “focused on cooperative assignments. . .including silk production, cooperative stores, grain storage, home industry, and medical classes.”
One of many noteworthy descriptions and discourses is that of Eliza R. Snow. As she discusses the challenges of early Utah pioneers she gives advice that many of us could heed in our day to “not leave those that are nearby to reach after those that are far from us”. She furthermore encourages women to become well-educated to benefit not only society but, above all, to be great homemakers as well: “Our ladies should learn trades and get all the book knowledge they can. But the perfect knowledge of domestic duties lays the foundation of a thoroughly accomplished lady.”

Amelia Flygare, daughter of Danish immigrants, is another impressive example of service and achievement to benefit society while meeting the needs of her family in the early twentieth century. She speaks beautifully of talents and sharing them to build up the kingdom of God, likening the Church to a “great locomotive” where each of us is a pin, a “little wheel” or other mechanism which “has its work to do in order to keep the whole machinery in harmony.” She furthermore shares charming and rather ingenious insight on how to motivate others to magnify their callings.

I am truly amazed and inspired by the women in this book. It will expand your perspective and understanding of the Mormon story and you will feel love for these noble women. At the Pulpit makes it clear that the Church is what it is and where it is, in large part, due to the talented, charitable, and industrious women who have raised up righteous men and women who serve in our wards, branches, stakes and beyond.

At the Pulpit illustrates that we are all an integral thread in this beautiful tapestry of saints as it reveals how it has been woven and expanded into a masterpiece. It will inspire you to follow in their footsteps to develop and share the talents with which God has blessed you. As Sister Flygare put it, “We are all God’s children, and that we owe him everything that we can do in his service, and there should not be one position in it—not one—but what is worthy of our very best.”

Valuable, Quotable Resource
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

This volume of talks serves a valuable purpose and should reside in the home of every LDS family. For me, the individual biographical information provided new information and was often just as important to read as the talk. It was wonderful to "meet" new Relief Society sisters and see how much we are truly connected spiritually in our testimonies and convictions, regardless of any generations that might separate us. The success of this book will be manifest as its talks are quoted and requoted in the future. What a blessing it is to have new information, new women's testimonies, and new ways of seeing the women of the Church. It makes me wonder how many thousands of unrecorded talks we could enjoy, were we more diligent in recording local meetings. And I hope that more collections of women's talks will follow!

AT THE PULPIT an excellent choice for inspiring, faith-promoting reading
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I really enjoyed reading this collection of discourses (talks, meeting notes, informal addresses, etc.) by LDS women and female leaders throughout the Church's history. Watching the progression of the Relief Society and its members over time was especially fascinating to me. I read 1-3 talks every night in addition to my scripture study and found the experience to be uplifting, inspiring, and faith-promoting. It gave me a much greater appreciation for the women of the LDS church -- those represented in AT THE PULPIT are incredible examples of intelligent, passionate, God-fearing women who are devoted to doing the Lord's work. If you're looking for a great read to boost your faith, lift your spirit, and give you a better appreciation for the great work of the Relief Society, look no further. This is an excellent choice.


By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women validates how women in the Church have responded to the call to “speak up and speak out,” to “expound scripture, exhort the church,” and give voice to the “fire in the bones.” This unique, first-of-its-kind publication will hopefully not be the last compilation of soul stirring messages spoken from women’s faithful hearts. The historical backgrounds that shaped the speakers’ lives and thoughts make a significant contribution to this work. The selected messages show both similarities and differences in the challenges and opportunities women in the Church have faced through the ages and in different countries as membership has expanded worldwide. The book captures the humor, spunk, humanity and humility, as well as the intelligence and courage of each speaker, whether she be a shy new member mentioned in the minutes of a long-ago meeting or a polished well-seasoned leader speaking at General Conference or writing a speech to be delivered before the National Council of Women. The issues and challenges of women never really change. Themes of health, family, education, poverty and personal improvement fill these calls from the pulpit to demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ through the application of timeless principles of self-worth, hard work, and true charity.

Inspiration for the ages
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

While reading At the Pulpit I could not help but wonder what women of previous centuries would have given to have such a resource at their fingertips. We may often feel the challenges and trials we confront are unique, however, the discourses and experience of these Latter-Day Saint women are a reminder that our “burdens may be light” by developing a strong testimony of Christ and of true gospel principles. Throughout all of history - and throughout the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints- God has relied on woman to be a “light to the world”. Each of the life experiences and discourse of the women presented in this book are testimony to the need, the possibility, and the influence of such women. Whether looking for encouragement, strength, or guidance these, along with other personal insights, may be found by reading At the Pulpit.

AMAZING
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I do consider myself a feminist. Not a in-your-face-women-are-better-than-men-let's-march-and-protest-women-need-the-priesthood type of feminist. But, I do believe that the church wouldn't be as successful without its female leaders. We have a really important duty in the church--no matter what church you belong to. I even wrote a short series about women in the scriptures for She Teaches Fearlessly (before moving, pregnancy, and other issues got in the way!)

So, when I saw that this book had 185 years worth of discourses from prominent women in the LDS Church, I was thrilled to be able to read it.

It is set up so simply. Each "chapter" is one woman's discourse. There is a short contextual biography of the woman and the talk she gave before the actual excerpt. Then, there is an excerpt or full-text of her sermon, poetry, hymn, or letter. And that's something else that I really liked--the discourses are all in different formats--it's not all just Sunday School or General Conference talks. It really shows that women can teach and preach the Gospel in many formats. You can feel the Spirit and learn from it in different ways and at different times and in different scenarios.

When I read this, I have a highlighter and a pen ready, just as if I were doing scripture study or reading church magazines. There is so much goodness in this book.

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I recently received an advance copy of “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourse by Latter-day Saint Women,” which officially launches today (February 27, 2017). Edited by Kate Holbrook and Jenny Reeder and published by the Church Historian’s Press, “At the Pulpit” is a compendium of women’s stories and their voices, as they have preached, prayed, exhorted, and taught Latter-day Saint women and men over the last 185 years.

At the Pulpit Details:
Editors: Kate Holbrook and Jenny Reeder
Publisher: Church Historian’s Press
Outline: 452 total pages
54 Sermons by 51 women (2 by Lucy Mack Smith, 3 by Eliza R. Snow)
~340 pages of women’s biographies and sermons
~110 pages of context, notes, index, etc.
27 illustrations

The sermons range in length from a paragraph to several pages, and are preceded by a short biography of the speaker. Women who might be familiar to many Latter-day Saints, including Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Barbara Smith, and Chieko Okazaki are featured. The book also features women who might be less familiar, including Sarah M. Kimball, who attended at least one session of the School of the Prophets and the Hebrew School in Kirtland (90), Rachel H. Leathem, one of the first single female missionaries, who served in Colorado at the turn of the 20th century (103), and Marianne Clark Sharp (156), who served for thirty years in the General Relief Society Presidency at the same time her father, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., was serving in the First Presidency. She oversaw curriculum; her father played a large role in shaping curriculum and changing the institutional relationship between the Relief Society and the Priesthood. This volume does not go into their relationship or what that dynamic might have been like—I have never made that connection before, and I can imagine it made for some interesting family dinner discussions.

This book will appeal to casual readers and scholars alike; it can be read in short snippets, or as an entire work. It is also a powerful reference book, filled with stories of and words by vibrant, smart, spiritual women. This volume is valuable to women and men looking to incorporate women’s voices into lessons and sermons of their own, those who want to learn more about the history of the LDS Church, and scholars pursuing their own research.

I found the biographical sketches and end notes just as important, if not more so, than the sermons themselves. They provide context and information that informs the broader Latter-day Saint story. Two accounts in particular left me wanting to learn more about the women mentioned. Phoebe M. Angell, a midwife and nurse, gave a speech at the Female Council of Health meeting at the Old Adobe Tabernacle on Temple Square in 1852, and Elvira S. Barney’s sermon is a prewritten prayer that she shared at the Utah Woman Suffrage Association meeting at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in 1889. I know little about either of these women or organizations, and appreciate being introduced to them.

Why I Would Recommend a Friend Take a Look
The book is well organized, well thought out, and insightful. The photos are carefully chosen, and the “extras,” including an exhaustive list of women who have spoken at LDS General Conference, for example, are helpful in telling a story. Two women, Belle Spafford and Barbara Smith, spoke at General Conference between 1969 and 1979. By my count, in the last 10 years, 23 women have spoken in conference—significant when measured against women speaking in the past, and a tiny fraction of the number of men who have spoken in the last 10 years at the same venue.

I Wish the Book Included
Most, but not all, of the women included in this work are from the United States—there are a few that were born and/or live(d) outside of the United States, but the vast majority of the voices are American voices. The editors acknowledge this in the beginning, and suggest that there is much more work to be done.

On a Personal Note
On a personal note, I’ve read a pretty significant amount of Mormon women’s history over the last 15 years. I expected to feel a kinship with some of the early Mormon women listed, including Zina D.H. Young, Mattie Horne Tingey, and Amy Brown Lyman. I didn’t expect to learn as much or feel a kinship with the words of leaders in my lifetime. I appreciate the more nuanced perspective this volume provided, and I hope to see more work of this import and caliber from the Church Historian’s Press.

Valuable resource for personal study, lessons and devotionals!
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I loved reading and studying the important words of women from our church history and present day. Recently a friend mentioned that she thought it would be wonderful if one year the lesson manual for Relief Society and Priesthood classes was a compilation of talks from the female general auxiliary presidents. I agreed, and soon after I was presented with the opportunity to review this book, which is just what we had been thinking about, but even better since it also includes women who are not well known but have an interesting history and poignant testimony. It strengthened my own testimony to read such a wide variety of talks, rich with gospel principles, gratitude for the Relief Society, and strong examples of enduring and overcoming hardship. Each individual's brief background is set forth before their address and I especially appreciated it for the historical context as well as instilling a feeling of admiration for the woman whose words I was about to read. Each discourse is significant in some way and I felt edified by each.

One of my favorites was "An Elevation So High Above the Ordinary" given by Eliza R. Snow in 1872, where she encourages the women in regards to both spiritual and intellectual edification, as well as the necessary development of domestic skills as a foundation for daily life and upon which to build "finer accomplishments". Another that stood out to me was "Drifting, Dreaming, Directing" by Ardeth G. Kapp in 1980 about the importance of standing immovable in matters of principle and making choices based on motivation from a relationship with the Savior and personal revelation, instead of drifting with the crowd, our faithfulness simply based on practices and tradition, existing on "borrowed light".

At the Pulpit is an amazing book that is perfect for personal gospel study and as a resource for teaching lessons or devotionals in the home and church. I highly recommend it to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those who want to learn more about the history and spirituality of Mormon women.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

At the Pulpit will be an excellent resource which I will use as a newly called Gospel Doctrine instructor. I was amazed at the talented writers of the early pioneer women of the Church, and had no idea that many Christian denominations, in the early 18th and 19th centuries believed that women should be "silent" in church. I'm thankful to these great women who paved the way for women speaking in public and church gatherings. The earlier writings of the sisters were a little more difficult for me to read since their use of the English language was more of a written language than the way we typically speak to each other. As I read the 20th century speakers, their messages were a faster read and I could comprehend and relate to their talks a little better. This is a great resource and wonderful book to have in your library of church history books!

This read will stay with me
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint women Is a collections of 52 "sermons or discourses" delivered by females dating back to 1831, just a year after the official organization of the LDS church in 1830. Authors include well known female members such as Lucy Mack Smith, Eliza R. Snow and Chieko Okazaki, as well as many sister I was unfamiliar with. Each sermon is prefaced by a short biography of the speaker or writer (my favorite part) and an explanation of the setting under which it was delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed each preface, learning about the lives of these Saints and watching their evolution over the decades. Some discourses were so inspiring and relevant, I've referenced these long dead women in conversations among my ward sisters. Other talks were historically significant, but not very interesting to me. Sensitive parts of early church history were not swept under the rug, and an incredibly thorough annotation system explained curiosities and provided reference for further research. This was an enjoyable, inspiring and insightful book reading it from start to finish, but would also be incredibly useful as a reference text, reading talks and biographies out of order to prepare for lessons or talks. I will carry the stories of these women with me. This is not a read I will forget.

Some of my favorite quotes are:

"When you see one step before you, take it, and do not wait to see where is the next-if we see one step, it is not for us to stand still until we can see the way clear in the distance, but move forward and the way will be opened before us, step by step." Eliza R. Snow 1869

"Remember, if you are too busy to serve the Lord, you are too busy." Leone O. Jacobs 1949

"One of my prayers to my Father is that my children will be healed of my ignorance and will not bear forever the difficulties caused by things I have mistakenly done or not done as a parent." Francine Bennion 1986

"It wasn't until I began to understand how the Lord felt about me that my feelings about myself and my life slowly began to change...the more clearly we understand our divine destiny, the more immune we become to Satan." Sheri Dew 2001

We need God. And if our troubles can take us to God, we can be thankful for them." Virginia Pearce 2011

You can read more excerpts at
http://churchhistorianspress.org/at-the-pulpit

Worth it!
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I loved all the different formats that were included in the book, especially the prayers. The biography before each address helped me to connect to the author.

A MUST HAVE for every LDS home.
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I have four daughters and, as a Mom, I am daily trying to think of ways to make them feel empowered and important and significant in a world that tells them they are not those things. They are constantly told through media and those around them that they are meant to be ornaments. That being pretty is the most valuable thing they have to contribute. Magazines stare back at them every time we go to a grocery store. Commercials and television shows come into our home that reinforce these incorrect principles of what it means to be a female and what's important.

As my oldest daughter turned 12 years old this past Sunday I was especially thoughtful as she entered the Young Women's program at church that our church is reinforcing those sacred principals that I want her to know. She is divine. She is powerful. She can change the world.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to begin reading a brand new book that inspires, enriches, and uplifts women of the church with the words of other LDS women, spoken with power, force, and purpose over the pulpit!

AT THE PUPLIT showcases the tradition of Latter-day Saint women's preaching and instruction by sharing 54 speeches given from 1831 to 2016, with selections from every decade since the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The discourses, given by women both well known and obscure, represent just some of the many contributions of women to Latter-day Saint thought. Each talk is prefaced with a biography of the speaker herself and then we get to read the profound words given by these sisters who have been called by God to lead within His church.

As I read through certain talk within this book I needed a highlighter at the ready! There are such impactful and amazing passages that speak to me as a woman in these Latter-days and also as a Mother raising girls.

I cannot recommend this book enough! It has easily taken a spot on my top 5 favorite LDS books of all time! It would be an amazing gift for LDS women of all ages.

A Must-Read
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women is a valuable addition to the growing corpus of LDS literature for a number of reasons—and this assessment is from a male member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon Church).

First, it represents the first collection of which I’m aware that contains, in chronological order, discourses by LDS women from the founding of the Church in 1830. I found it fascinating to follow the evolution of women’s voices in the Church from mid-19th-century near-dismissal to the status of full partnership they have today, from more domestic and feminine concerns to insightful and practical theological discussions. The biographical information introducing each speaker and the context in which the words of the speaker were delivered allows for a rare exploration of the contribution women have made to the LDS Church, American society, and the world over the past 185 years. The notes that take up a substantial portion of the end of the book contain information that deepens and expands that exploration.

While this book contains solid scholarly research into the context of each talk, the talks can be read and enjoyed for their own merits. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the insights the sisters have brought to the gospel conversation, but I was. Surprises are often in this book. Consider Elizabeth Ann Whitney’s extemporaneous song sung under the influence of the gift of tongues as interpreted by Parley P. Pratt in 1835. Or how often sisters spoke of Mother in Heaven toward the end of the 19th century (for example, Matte Horne Tingey in 1893). Or some of the deeper doctrines of exaltation we rarely hear preached anymore over the pulpit (for example, Bathsheba W. Smith’s discourse in 1905).

Perhaps the most remarkable surprise for me was reading Francine R. Bennion’s talk given in 1986 at a Brigham Young University women’s conference. Titled “A Latter-day Saint Theology of Suffering,” it is the most rational, inspiring exploration of the issue of mortal suffering I’ve ever encountered. Every member should have the privilege of reading it—not just every member of the Church, but every member of the human race.

Who, you might be asking, is Francine Bennion? One of the surprises in the book is that, in addition to speakers with well-known names (to Latter-day Saints at least) like Emma Smith and Eliza R. Snow are women you may never have heard of. One of the more delightful I found is Judy Brummer, who grew up under Apartheid in South Africa learning to speak Xhosa. After joining the Church, she served a mission to Xhosa-speaking people in South Africa and later translated Church literature, including Selections from the Book of Mormon, into Xhosa. Her account of her experiences, as delivered at a 2012 fireside, is highly inspiring and a hoot to read.

I give a full five-stars to At the Pulpit and recommend it to anyone interested in learning—and being inspired by—what Latter-day Saint women have been talking about for nearly two centuries. I consider it a must-read.


By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

Jenny Reeder and Kate Holbrook have put together one of the most important books on women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the Pulpit gives us historical insight into the extraordinary lives of LDS women from the early 1830s up until the present times. It includes discourses of leaders such as Eliza R. Snow, Mattie Horne Tingey, Sarah M. Kimball, Elsie Talmage Brandley, Jutta B. Busche, Chieko N. Okakzaki, Gladys N. Sitati etc. Each woman demonstrates her spiritual capacity and strength - even in times when this was not the norm.

To state a few quotes I love:
"Now we understand that instead of depending entirely on our husbands for salvation and position, we have to work them out ourselves." Eliza R. Snow

"Let mother impress upon their children the principles of justice and equal rights, and the women of the next generation will not have to beg and plead for what rightfully belongs to them." Mattie Horne Tingey

"According to my belief, to know the fundamental truths of the gospel is to leave one free to go far and wide, anchored by that knowledge, in search of all else that earth and sea and skies have to teach." Elsie Talmadge Brandley

In regards to the youth "Listen to what they have to say; open your hearts and minds to their problems. Never bid them be silent, but inspire them to cry out to you the innermost questions of their souls. Forget your own convictions in listening to them; remember your convictions only when you come to make reply." Elsie Talmage Brandley

"Jesus Christ never condemned the honest heart. His wrath was kindled against the hypocritically empty rule-keeping of the Pharisees." Jutta B. Busche.

I loved seeing how from early on in LDS history women stood for their own personal truth as well as the truth found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They came from a variety of backgrounds such as single mothers, midwives, an actress, plural wives, growing up in exceeding poverty, orphaned at a young age, first female (unmarried) missionaries, women of Danish, British, German, Scottish, Mexican, Japanese and Kenyan background etc. These women were strong, faithful, outspoken, and powerful. At the Pulpit will inspire many woman to stand stronger and know and feel their personal strength. LDS women have a tremendous legacy to follow.
If you would like to browse through the book, read a few chapters then please visit www.churchhistorianspress.org/at-the-pulpit.

Strong Women, Strong Talks
By , Submitted on 2017-02-27

I was inspired by the talks included in this book. I especially love the more recent talks.

There are talks from strong LDS women from around the world offering wonderful insight.

I was able to use the book in teaching my Sunday classes and was grateful for that.

Loved all the references included for each talk, helped in my study.

Wonderful and long-needed resource
By , Submitted on 2017-02-26

This book is a treasure--a long-needed collection of sermons by LDS women, from the very beginning of the Church (Lucy Mack Smith) to the present day. Kate Holbrook and Jennifer Reeder have done a fabulous job locating these selections and providing biographical/contextual essays before each selection. The discourses not only cover LDS history chronologically, but also do a good job showing the growing international diversity of the church, with selections by women from South Africa, Ukraine, Germany, Mexico, and Kenya.
I absolutely loved reading Judy Brummer's account of her preparation to become the first Xhosa-speaking missionary in South Africa ("Our Father in Heaven Has a Mission For Us"), Virginia H. Pearce's lovely sermon, "Prayer: A Small and Simple Thing," with its beautiful evocation of God's presence in our lives ("the indescribably settling quality of his great love"), Lucy Mack Smith's spirited call to her fellow saints, "Where is Your Confidence in God?" and many others.
This is a wonderful resource, a volume that should be used in lessons and talks at church and read in homes by women and men, young and old.

At the Pulpit
By , Submitted on 2017-02-26

This book is a compilation of talks given by women in the Latter-day Saint church. Its an important work documenting the perspective of women in the church. Many talks are given by leaders I was familiar with, but of even more interest were the talks given by women who were leaders and pioneers in their wards, stakes and countries that are unknown of by many. Before each talk was a biography of the speaker. There is an appendix with a list of all women speakers at general conference. Extensive notes in the book led me to look up areas that I wanted to learn more about and the index has been useful to look up topics to use as I've planned my own lessons and talks. What an exciting collection that has been compiled at a time when there is much interest and recognition of the contributions of women in the church.

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