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At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women Hardcover – February 27, 2017
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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
About the Author
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.
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It makes one realize that the women were equally well suited to study and learning of scriptures, teachings and doctrines of the restoration.
There testimonies are inspirational and enlarging to the mind as one reads their sermons and lectures.
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.