News Release

A Gathering of Women in Harare

Women of all ages were taught lessons on motherhood, marriage and service, as they joined together at a chapel in Mbare

The value of women has always been a key teaching in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Preparing to gain inspiration and support in their role as wives, mothers, grandmothers and teachers, women gathered over the weekend at the MBare Chapel in Harare. 

Mormon leaders from the Church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah recently held meetings throughout Harare with various congregations. Instruction has been given to missionaries, youth and young single adults. Priesthood leaders from the Harare area were receiving instruction from male members of the world leadership on Saturday 18 October. Simultaneously, the women of the same area were receiving their instruction in MBare, under the direction of the visiting authorities’ wives. Counsel was given on various subjects, including motherhood, marriage and service.

Conducting the meeting was Tarirai Mhonda (local multi-congregation women’s leader), with Charles Maphosa presiding. Wives of the traveling general authorities, Sister Mary Cook, Sister Kathy Clayton, and Sister Lesa Stevenson were special speakers at the meeting, with over 300 women and girls in attendance. As Sister Lynette Cook introduced the guest speakers, she remarked that all three were teachers by profession.

Sister Mary Cook remarked that their husbands had come to discuss issues of the 25-30 countries that make up the Africa Southeast Area and to provide training. While the brethren provided that valuable training, their wives were excited to spend the morning with the beautiful sisters of Harare.

The women’s meeting included one more “Cook” on the speaker list: Sister Janice Cook (wife of Harare Zimbabwe Mission President), noted there are 20 full-time sister missionaries serving the Harare area, and that number has tripled in the past few months. She then shared the words to the Young Women (LDS group of girls ages 12-18) Theme, which states that they will “stand as witnesses of God at all times, & in all things, & in all places, as they strive to live the Young Women values…”  Sister Cook reminded the young girls in the audience that this should begin at home, then at church, then in their community.

Latter-day Saint girls, age 12-18, attend meetings each Sunday to receive instruction on how to live the values recommended in their theme: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice & Accountability, Good Works, Integrity & Virtue. They are encouraged to focus on these values throughout their lives, and as instructed in the women’s meeting, thus prepare them to be better wives, mothers and individuals.

In a message from Sister Clayton, she declared, “I hope you never feel alone. Leaders all over the world pray for you…for YOU sisters on the continent of Africa, where the gospel is flourishing.” She recognized the generous way African women care for children in their home, even children who are not their own.

Sister Mary Cook, who has a musical background, involved the audience in ways to effectively use music to teach their families or in their church callings. The congregation thoroughly enjoyed her exuberance, as they lifted their lovely voices in harmony together.

A lesson on marriage was taught by Sister Stevenson. She challenged the women to love their spouse more deeply, and to pray for help to make that happen. Mary Cook further instructed, “The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to ensure that children are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, and loved by their Heavenly Father.”

Women in the LDS faith belong to an organization known as Relief Society. Although women do not hold the priesthood, they do serve as leaders within their congregations, and their specific purpose is to provide charitable service. Women from within the organization are called to provide weekly instruction on various faith-based subjects.

In addition to the Young Women Program, younger girls also attend classes each week in the Church’s organization known as Primary. Girls ages 8-11 are instructed on gospel principles, and have additional activity days where they set goals and learn skills that will enable them to become strong examples of Christ-like behavior.

In concluding remarks, Sister Mary Cook shared, “Africa is just as close to heaven as America. The Lord knows you, and you will be able to find the peace you strive for as you follow Jesus Christ.” 

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