The England London South Mission held its first Multi-stake Women’s Conference at the Reading Chapel. It was organised by the Stake Relief Society Presidents of the nine stakes within the England London South Mission (Plymouth, Bristol, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Staines, Crawley, Wandsworth and Maidstone); supported by each stake president as well as Elder and Sister Clifford Herbertson, Area Seventy, who both spoke at the Conference. The purpose of the conference was to provide an opportunity for learning, to increase faith in the gospel and by so doing help the women to strengthen their homes, families and communities.
The Conference was held in March which is the month that the Relief Society Organisation was organised and is also the month in which the International Women’s Day is celebrated. It was organised in the spirit of the statement made by Emma Smith (the first Relief Society General President) – “We are going to do something extraordinary…We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls”[i]; recognising that it needed to provide something beyond that which could be provided at individual Stake level.
All nine relief society presidents took part in the planning and organisation; the theme “…then shall thy confidence wax strong…” from D&C 121:45 was chosen after much discussion and prayerful consideration. The conference began with all 469 sisters meeting in the chapel for opening exercises and an inspiring talk by Sister Herbertson; following her remarks each sister then attended 4 workshops and all returned to the chapel to hear a final uplifting and motivating talk by Elder Herbertson. There were five workshop themes : The Atonement and Grace, delivered by Denise Wilkinson (Reading Stake); Choosing our level of Spirituality, Jane Dixon (Plymouth Stake); Courage and Confidence, Fleur Kitsell (Portsmouth Stake) and Natasha Morgan (Maidstone Stake); Communication and relationships, by Terrie Atkins (Crawley Stake) and Fiona Phillips (Staines Stake); and Eve in the Garden by Nicola Bridgewater (Bristol Stake).
The day was busy and uplifting, with sisters being excited and grateful to attend a conference especially for them, during which they could learn new things, make new friends, participate in discussions, and generally have a productive, enjoyable and uplifting day free from their usual responsibilities. Such was the popularity of the conference that the original 350-400 places were increased, and still there were women unable to register for the event because all spaces had been booked.
There is a plan to hold the conference again in 2016, and make it even better!
Notes:  Emma Smith as quoted in the Preface of Daughters in My Kingdom, The History and work of Relief Society, 2011