SALT LAKE CITY -- It didn't take long for another woman to lead a prayer at the semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Carole M. Stephens, first counselor of the faith's Relief Society general presidency, offered the invocation for the Sunday afternoon session.
She became the second woman to lead a prayer in the event's 183-year history.
On Saturday, Jean A. Stevens became the first by leading the morning session's closing prayer for the more than 100,000 Mormons gathered in Salt Lake City for the two-day general conference.
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 more than 4 million members worldwide.
A feminist group earlier this year pressed church leaders to let women lead the opening and closing prayer as a symbol of gender equality.
Women hold leadership positions in the Mormon church but aren't allowed to be bishops or presidents of stakes, which are geographic areas similar to Catholic dioceses. At past conferences, women have regularly given speeches and could pray in the audience.
Mormon church leaders addressed a wide range of subjects, including marriage, social media, miracles and missionary work, during the event's closing day Sunday.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve said swelling numbers of Mormon church missionaries in recent months are a sign that miracles happen.
He said he has been amazed by the number of young people who have reacted since church officials announced in October a lowering of the minimum age for missionaries: from 21 to 19 for women, and from 19 to 18 for men.
The church says applications for new missions are up twofold since the announcement and more than 65,000 Mormon missionaries are serving around the world. More than 20,000 additional missionaries have been called to serve, while another 6,000 are in the interview process.
"Faith overcame doubt and young men and women moved forward ... It's a miracle," Andersen said.
L. Whitney Clayton of the First Quorum of the Seventy said husbands and wives treat each other as equal partners and make decisions jointly in successful marriages.
Healthy marriage partners also "turn off electronics and forgo personal entertainment in order to help with household duties," he added.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor of the First Presidency, warned that spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch.
"It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the Light of Christ," he said. "Spiritual light cannot be discerned by carnal eyes."
Besides the thousands attending in person, millions more participated in the meeting through satellite, radio or Internet broadcast translated into more than 90 languages.