The 6th Annual Arizona LDS Widows and Widowers 2019 Conference was held recently from Thursday through Saturday, February 7-9, in the Mesa/Gilbert area. The theme was “They That Sow in Tears Shall Reap in Joy (Psalms 125:6).”
Starting out in 2006, a small group from Ogden, Utah, was first formed by Sister Kimberly Montierth, the result of a few young widows wanting to create a way to connect and offer mutual support to one another. It grew to around 100 people and then combined with another group from the Salt Lake/Riverton area, which had also started a few years earlier. The men and women heading up those groups wanted to provide an easier way for people to connect and support one another. The idea of a conference was discussed and planning meetings for producing the conference began in the summer of 2009. Early on, a LDS Widows and Widowers Facebook page was created to get the word out and as a form of broader communication. Its membership has since grown to over 4000.
Since March 2010, LDS Widow/Widower Conferences have been held semi-annually in Utah, but at the March 2014 conference, they announced a change: they would still hold the spring conferences annually in Utah, but the fall conference, formerly held in Utah, would be replaced with a regional conference or event.
The conferences, which have been widely attended and successful, include conferences held in Provo and St. George, Utah, as well as Idaho, Arizona, and San Diego, California. The conferences are free, although those attending the conference are invited to make a suggested donation to cover the cost of food and conference expenses. All are welcome to come, though, regardless of their ability to make a donation.
The activities started out with a temple session, followed by dinner and a social afterwards. On Friday, there was a hike up to the Wind Caves, followed by dinner and a bonfire at Usery Regional Park in Mesa.
On Saturday, the conference was held at Gilbert’s Highland Ranch building from 10-6 PM, with classes on service, grief, finances, blended families and other subjects. Keynote speakers such as Rob Gardner, and Shon & Julie Rasmussen, along with others, offered thoughts and several workshops. Lunch and dinner were also provided.
“I love this group because of the love and support everyone gives each other,” says Sister Nanette Brinton, of the Kimball East Stake. “When you are new at this, those tender hearts need lots of love. Those who have been through this for a few years are ready to give love and support to help those others in times of need. It’s an amazing group of instant friends who are all on the same path together.”
You can find more information at LDS Widows & Widowers main Facebook group, as well as an LDS Widows & Widowers – Arizona (group for local Arizonians). You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the group email list.