Verna Wright Goddard led young Mormon women for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by some). Verna was an LDS woman leader who was asked by the living prophet of God (Heber J. Grant) (Lucy Grant Cannon, Wikipedia.org) to lead the youth during the fourth presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association (YWMIA), which is presently called the LDS Young Women’s organization (a global organization for female youth) (Caroline H. Benzley, “134 Years Young!”, New Era, November, 2003).
Mormon Women Leading the Young Women’s Organization
Within the LDS Church, Mormon women leaders have equal but complimentary roles. Verna served as a counselor in the young women’s organization. She interacted with various LDS women leaders such as Lucy Grant Cannon (the fourth young women’s president from 1937-1948), Helen S. Williams (first counselor until Verna replaced her in 1944), and Lucy T. Andersen (who replaced Verna as second counselor from 1944-1948) (Timeline of Young Women General Presidents).
During her presidency service from 1937-1944, she blessed the lives of many Mormon youth. Verna helped organize the Golden Gleaner awards, Sunday evening firesides (1940), and the Big Sister program (1944, for young women and mothers who needed work during the war) (“Presidents of the Young Women Organization Through the Years,” Ensign, June 2008, 40–45). During this presidency, the young women were split into classes by age which are known today as the Beehives’ class (ages 12-13), Mia Maids’ class (ages 14-15), and Laurels’ class (ages 16-18) (Young Women, Lucy Grant Cannon). During Verna’s service, the young women recited an annual theme at each YWMIA meeting worldwide:
Mormon Women: Biography of Verna Wright Goddard
Verna W. Goddard was born in 1889 and died on November 29, 1949, in Salt Lake City, Utah (Deceased Page: Verna Wright Goddard, Nameinstone.com). She married Joshua Percy and gave birth to at least two boys (Orson and Harold) and 3 daughters (Norma, in 1913, and Alice, were two) (“Death: Norma Goddard Hobson”, Deseret News, April 12, 1992). Norma taught her children the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and also influenced other children in her community. Elder G. Homer Durham spoke of Verna’s example:
There were many senior friends among the great women of my circles. They were examples during my growing-up years. There was Verna W. Goddard, neighbor, wife of one of our stake presidents. She was the Gleaner leader in the ward (young women 17 to 25). Her home was open to us, and we took advantage of it. By the time we were adults she was a member of the General Presidency of the YWMIA. We were grateful that her leadership was now extending throughout the Church (“Friends”, New Era, June 1984).
Mormon Women Leading Today
As a Mormon youth, I learned the importance of preparing to become a better mother by developing faith in Jesus Christ, recognizing my worth as a daughter of God, and developing important skills/talents. I know that as I follow the counsel of living prophets and leaders, I will be a better daughter, future mother, and able to serve my community:
Each [person] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny… The family is ordained of God… Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 1995).
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group and Ward Missionary for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He also serves as a Stake Public Affairs Specialist for the Annapolis, Maryland Stake. He is a 30-year honorably retired Navy veteran.