(by Tad Walch deseretnews.com 10-30-14)
The LDS Church's semiannual General Women's Meeting is now an official session of the faith's semiannual general conferences.
“The First Presidency has decided that the General Women’s Meeting will be designated as the General Women’s Session of general conference," said Jessica Moody, spokeswoman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Moody confirmed the decision after the new issue of the church's monthly magazine, the "Ensign," referred to the meeting as the "General Women's Session."
LDS general conferences, usually held each year in early April and early October, traditionally have had five sessions, three on Saturday and two on Sunday.
The General Women's Meeting is held a week before, on a Saturday night. The addition means each conference now will have six sessions.
This is the second major development for meetings for women and girls in the church in the past year.
Nearly a year ago, the church announced it was consolidating the annual Young Women meeting previously held in March a week before general conference and the annual Relief Society meeting held in September a week before October general conference into one meeting, the General Women's Meeting, to be held a week before conference each spring and fall.
The first General Women's Meeting was held in March. During the second meeting, on Sept. 27, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency described the meeting as the opening session of general conference.
"My beloved sisters, my dear friends and blessed disciples of Jesus Christ, I am honored to have this opportunity to be with you as we open another general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the coming week the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles will meet with all the General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders, and the remaining sessions of our worldwide general conference will follow on the coming Saturday and Sunday."
However, a week later in the Saturday morning session of general conference, two church leaders referred to that meeting as the first session of conference.
Some confusion followed on social media and in other channels about whether the General Women's Meeting actually was a session or not.
With the publication of the "Ensign," an official LDS publication, the change is now official.
The May issue of the magazine, which traditionally carries all the conference talks as well as those from the meeting the weekend before, included the talks from the women's meeting under the heading, "General Women's Meeting."
The November edition of the magazine, now available at Deseret Book, uses a new heading, "General Women's Session."
The change is also apparent at LDS.org, where the women's session is also now a part of the online listing of all the October conference talks.