SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in the event's 183-year history, a woman led a prayer Saturday at the semiannual gathering of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jean Stevens led the morning session's closing prayer for the more than 100,000 Mormons in Salt Lake City for the two-day general conference, and the millions more watching via satellite, radio or Internet broadcast.
Among other church roles, Stevens is member of a three-person board that advises and assists parents on teaching their children about the faith, which has 14 million members worldwide.
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.
Women hold leadership positions in the church but aren't allowed to be bishops or presidents of stakes, which are geographic areas similar to Catholic dioceses.
Amber Whiteley, 23, of St. Louis, one of the organizers of the Let Women Pray campaign, said Saturday she was "thrilled" and couldn't stop smiling when she heard the news.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Mormon leaders late last year decided who would be leading the conference prayers, which is before the women prayer campaign was launched.