Academic journal article Magistra

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women

Academic journal article Magistra

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women

Article excerpt

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women. Edited by Jennifer Reader and Kate Holbrook. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian's Press, 2017, 452 pp., $29.99. ISBN 978-1-62972-282-5.

Given some of the stereotypes and lack of knowledge about the Latter-Day Saint religion, some may be quite surprised at the title of this book. They might be even more surprised at its size, with over 400 oversized pages of 54 transcripts. The earliest is an exhortation delivered by Lucy Mack Smith, mother of Joseph Smith, at a gathering of emigrating Saints in Buffalo in 1831.

This and other early examples indicate that the term "pulpit" is being used rather broadly, but that is not a bad thing. It reminds the reader that there are many ways to preach and instruct outside of ordained ministry and formal liturgical worship roles. Many of the discourses were given to assemblies of women at church conventions and especially for gatherings of the Female Relief Society. This was a social welfare organization started in 1842 when Joseph Smith announced a revelation he had received in 1830 that his wife, "Presidentess" Emma Hale Smith, had been "ordained ... to expound the scriptures to all and to teach the female part of the community."

Subsequent speeches in this volume demonstrate that women in leadership of this organization took their responsibility seriously, as their talks are steeped in both Mormon theology and in interpretation of passages in the Old and New Testaments. …

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