News Release

Celebrating Women of Faith - International Women's Day

The purpose of the annual International Women’s Day is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  Carole Sneddon, Edinburgh Scotland Interfaith Specialist from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was assigned to coordinate this year’s event in the Dalkeith congregation.

Women from various faiths which included Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan and Christian were invited to speak on ‘Women of Faith Who Inspire Me’.  The Dalkeith Chapel was filled to capacity with an audience that included men, women, youth and children, all of various faiths.  It was an evening of inspirational talks, songs and music.  Marianne Neilson, President of the Edinburgh Stake Relief Society, the women’s organization of the church, conducted the meeting and gave a warm welcome to all in attendance.

Nila Joshi of Loanhead, representing the Hindu faith spoke about her beliefs and shared some words in Sanskrit. An experienced speaker, Nila chairs the Edinburgh Women’s Interfaith Group and organises Interfaith visits and events every year.

Sally Day, a Buddhist, spoke of Sister Chan Khong, a Buddhist nun who devoted her life to service. Her teachings were mindfulness meditation practice as a key to living a life of giving and serving.

Ruth and Rachel Shanks, both Latter-day Saints aged 10 and 12 took turns at reading the story of Queen Esther from the bible; a brave queen who was prepared to sacrifice her life to save her people. They were followed by Rebekah Sneddon aged 10 and Millie Donaldson aged 9, both Latter-day Saints who read a story about faithful mothers teaching their sons to trust in God and keep their promises. The story ended with a question for the audience to ponder, “When have you chosen to keep a promise?”

Katrina Campbell, a Latter-day Saint mother of five, spoke of her mother and grandmother who had inspired her. She also spoke of Edith Cavell, a nurse who helped over 200 Allied soldiers during the First World War.  Nurse Cavell was executed by a German firing squad for her compassionate actions. Yvonne Cassidy, a   Baha’i, shared the story of Baha’ullah then went on to speak about Tahirih, a woman from the early days of the Baha’i faith who challenged the culture by not wearing a veil and by directly addressing men. She was later executed.

A choir of women and youth from the Dalkeith Ward sang, “Walk Tall, You’re a daughter of God”. The choir ranged in age from 7 to over 70. Chantal Robertson of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification focussed on Joan of Arc, sharing details of her life. Chantal related that her faith teaches that the family is of central importance in life.

Bethany Campbell, a Latter-day Saint teenager, spoke of the challenges of living one’s faith in today’s world. She shared a story of a teenage girl who refused to participate in bullying a class member in school. This teenager’s  example stopped the bullying.

The final speaker was Sue Cotterill of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Her spiritual path included Buddhism and Mindfulness which has transformed the way she lives. Being a Druid has confirmed her deep feeling of connection with the earth, nature and all humanity and that compassion is a vital teaching in all religions.

As each speaker finished and took her place on the stand, the other speakers expressed their respect and joy for her talk with smiles and a quiet touch of a hand on her arm.  The attentive audience watched in wonder as they observed the respect that each speaker showed for the other speakers. The event was instrumental in learning about other faiths and of realizing that women share a common bond that is centred on faith, family and community.

Speakers and audience connected to each other during the event which felt like a family gathering. The evening ended with refreshments representative of different cultures. Jennifer Middleton, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remarked, “I think it was so enlightening and uplifting, to sit there and hear the testimonies and experiences from women of very diverse faiths. There was such a feeling of love and unity.”

Each woman left the event knowing they were no longer strangers but women of faith.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.