Mary Horne is a powerful example to me of faithfulness and magnifying your calling. When Mary Horne was first called as a Relief Society President of SLC 14th ward in 1837, she described herself as a "timid" woman, and said she was surprised by the call. But the Lord recognized her as an able administrator and woman of faith, and Mary was able to find her voice and have a profound influence on the shape many church programs took.
My favorite part of Mary's work is her efforts in organizing the Ladies' General Retrenchment Associations that eventually evolved into our current youth programs. Brigham Young was concerned that the women in the church were not spending enough time focusing on their spiritual development. He had noticed that in the areas he was visiting, the sisters had been skipping their meetings to make elaborate efforts in hosting him. "Sister Horne," he said, "I am going to give you a mission ... —the mission of teaching retrenchment among the wives and daughters of Israel. It is not right that they should spend so much time in the preparation of their food and adornment of their bodies, and neglect their spiritual education." She served as the president of this organization for 30 years. Mary took the work seriously, and I love her commitment to assist women in moving away from outward appearances and towards a stronger spirituality. She was also involved in organizing the youth of the church in similar societies.
Mary was an activist in the women's suffrage movement. She was the chairman of the well-attended "Mormon Women's Mass Protest Meeting" on March 6, 1886, which was organized to protest the disenfranchisement of women by the American government, as well as protesting the "indignities and insults heaped upon the wives and daughters of Mormons in the District Courts." She was also a member of the committee that drafted the resolutions for the bill that would grant Utah women suffrage.
This "timid" woman would serve in many other administrative capacities in a variety of organizations: counselor in the Silk Association, Deseret Hospital committee, treasurer of the Relief Society board, president of the Women’s Cooperative Mercantile and Manufacturing Institution, and 26 years as a stake relief society president.
Emmeline Wells said of Sister Horne, "[she] was a born leader, a sort of General among women, and indeed in this respect might surpass most men. … —A woman of great force of character, and wonderful ability, such a one as might stand at the head of a great institution and carry it on successfully. … Even President Young once nominated her for Justice of the Peace, and in character and ability to judge, she was not unlike Deborah of old, or Queen Elizabeth of modern time. … Sister Horne can appropriately be called a stalwart, a champion for the rights of her own sex, and indeed for all mankind. … Sister Horne had a fine presence on the platform, or in the pulpit, spoke with great earnestness and was wise in her utterances, prophetic in nature, familiar with the scriptures and handled her subjects well. Like others of her time, she was undoubtedly a woman of destiny."
I'm grateful that she was willing to put aside her notion of herself and her capabilities, and let the Lord transform her into an important tool in building his kingdom.
Mary Isabella Horne, Representative Women of Deseret
Mary Isabella Horne: Faithful Sister and Leader, by By Lyneve Wilson Kramer and Eva Durrant Wilson, Ensign 1982