Jennifer Reeder is the nineteenth-century women’s history specialist at the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University. Kate Holbrook is the managing historian for women’s history at the Church History Department. She received a PhD in religious studies from Boston University.
ABOUT THIS VOLUME
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, this 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.
“High praise for this significant collection of discourses and instruction from Latter-day Saint women over the course of the history of the church. These sermons communicate wisdom, sensitivity, and influence, and this long-overdue volume will change the manner and frequency with which we ponder and cite women’s witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
—Camille Fronk Olson, Professor and Chair, Department of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University
“We owe much to the editors for this rich collection of materials. Their thoughtful choice of artifacts ranging from sermons to prayers to charismatic hymnody give us a vivid historical survey of Latter-day Saint discourse. Their learned but restrained editorial notes illuminate these documents rather than overwhelm them. We owe an even greater debt, however, to the women whose declarations of belief and whose engagements with theology appear here. They represent nearly two centuries of Mormon women’s determination to examine and express their faith. The volume is a treasure.”
—David F. Holland, John A. Bartlett Professor of New England Church History, Harvard Divinity School
“After years of basso profundo comes another sound out of the Mormon tradition, the voice of women preaching. It is a pleasure to hear, for the general as well as the scholarly reader. This collection of fifty-four sermons reveals unknown ranks of Latter-day Saint women leaders and captures their theologizing upon the tenets of their faith, making it a significant contribution to American religious history. Moreover, with its professional citation and notation, the book promises to be a rich source for scholarly interpretation and elaboration.”
—Kathleen Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies, University of Virginia