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October 19-21, 2018 — Jenny Reeder

Jenny Reeder

In the few months since its 2017 publication, At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses of Latter-day Saint Women has assumed a significant role in the recovery and access to Mormon women’s discourse.  A publication of The Church Historian’s Press, At the Pulpit is available in print, for free online, and in the LDS Library app.  In an effort to reach a larger portion of the Church’s worldwide membership, the book has even been translated into Spanish and Portuguese.

Kathleeen Flake praised At the Pulpit: “After years of basso profundo comes another sound out of the Mormon tradition, the voice of women preaching.”

David E. Holland said, “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 study of Latter-day Saint discourse…. 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.”

Please join us for a wonderful evening (or two!) as Jenny Reeder tells the story of Mormon women At the Pulpit.


Friday, October 19, 7 pm (McKinney)
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, October 20, 7 pm (Arlington)
Baird Residence
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016


Sunday, October 21, 7 pm
Arlington Stake Center
3809 Curt Drive
Arlington, Texas 76016


“To Expound Scripture and Exhort the Church: Women Behind the Pulpit”

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” (1 Cor. 14:34).

In early July 1830, Emma Hale Smith received a revelation dictated through her husband, Joseph Smith, about her role in the new Church of Christ.  Drawing on New Testament language, he described the office of her specific assignment as an “elect lady . . .  to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.”  Smith concluded the directive with a more general invitation: “this is my voice unto all.” (D&C 25:3, 16).

From that time, Mormon women developed a robust tradition of public speaking.  Amid the contentious atmosphere of American religious women both speaking and being silenced, Mormon women spoke. Their words strengthened each other, influenced the larger Latter-day Saint community, and forged collaborative relationships with others in both religious and civic associations.

In this presentation, Jenny Reeder will talk about the charge to speak; the process of selecting sermons and writing the book; and the role of women in contributing to Latter-day Saint discourse.


“Fire In My Bones: Women’s Stories from the Church Historian’s Press”

Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt was baptized in 1837. She and her husband settled in Mayfield, ten miles from Kirtland.  There, she later recorded, “I wanted very much to get the good will of my neighbors,” for she yearned to expound–to clear out of obscurity and to explain the truth of the gospel.  Leavitt visited local taverns or inns, speaking earnestly to anyone who would listen.  “I had some [thing] of more importance that was shut up like fire in my bones,” she wrote. At a visit to a sick neighbor, where a large group had gathered, Leavitt desired to exhort–to give strength and courage.  She remembered, “The Lord gave me great liberty of speech.”

Women have been and continue to be a key part of the Restoration.  They spoke, testified, expounded and exhorted. Their stories and experiences provide both scholarly information and devotional inspiration, demonstrating their institutional authority and how they lived their religion.  The well-being of women is crucial to the success of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We read their stories to know we are not alone.

Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt


Jenny Reeder is the 19th-century women’s history specialist at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Department.  She currently works on the web team, where she has authored several History Topics essays to accompany Saints, vols. 1 and 2. She has edited two books: At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women with Kate Holbrook at the Church Historian’s Press, and Witness of Women: Firsthand Experiences and Testimonies of the Restoration with Janiece Johnson at Deseret Book.  Jenny has written chapters in edited collections such as Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources (Oxford Press, 2018), Immediate Present (Mormon Arts Center, 2017), Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (University of Utah, 2016), and Women of Faith in the Latter Days, vol. 1 & 2 (Deseret Book, 2011 & 2012).  Jenny earned a PhD in American History at George Mason University, emphasizing women’s history, religious history, memory, and material culture. She has an MA from New York University in history, archival management, and documentary editing.  She speaks at Time Out for Women.