A woman has led a prayer at the semi-annual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City. Jean A. Stevens led the closing prayer for more than 100,000 members of the Mormon church Saturday.
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Salt Lake City
For the first time in 183 years, a woman has led a prayer at the semi-annual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jean A. Stevens led the morning session's closing prayer for more than 100,000 members of the church who've gathered in Salt Lake City for two-day general conference, and the millions more watching via satellite, radio or Internet broadcast.
A feminist group launched a campaign in January asking church leaders to let women lead the opening and closing prayer, a first for the conference, as a symbol of gender equality.
In addition to holding other church roles, Stevens is member of a three-person board that advises and assists parents to teach their children about the faith.
Women hold leadership positions in the church but aren't allowed to be bishops or stake presidents.
Thomas S. Monson, the president of the Mormon church, made the announcement in his opening address.
Temples are considered sacred to Latter-day Saints and are used for religious rituals including proxy baptisms, marriage ceremonies and other rites designed to strengthen church teachings.
The exact locations of the new buildings will be announced at a later date, the church said. Worldwide, there are 141 temples in operation and 29 under construction.