Jean Stevens offering the benediction is probably the most-posted image in the Bloggernacle today.
I gotta say, I am extremely surprised that the church allowed a woman to pray in General Conference. I guess I thought the Big Fifteen were a little more diabolically clever than that. But even though women should obviously be allowed to pray in Conference, I think the church has made a tactical misstep that will weaken their already tenuous credibility.
One of the church's more important claims is that it is the same church that existed during Jesus's ministry. Mormonism likes to tout itself as representative of unchanging truth, the constant word of God, and the restored original gospel of Christ. But then something like this comes along and the church decides to make a logistical change--and some people who were paying close attention suddenly exchange skeptical glances and whisper, "Wait...why wasn't it like this all along?"
I'm hoping this event will be a miniaturized version of the end of the ban on blacks in the priesthood. The scope of this event is much smaller, but it still--hopefully--will make people think. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why have women been kept from praying in conferences for so long? Why the change? If the church is run by divine inspiration, why does it feel like the leadership is simply giving the squeaky wheel some grease? If God is at the head of the organization, why did he allow a tradition with no doctrinal basis whatsoever to continue? And how depressing is it, that, in a religion which denies women the priesthood and relegates their value to the realms of child care and homemaking, such a small victory is met with such an outpouring of gratitude?
From the evil, scheming apostles' perspective, letting Jean Stevens step up to the microphone in the conference center was probably a bad idea. At least, had they simply ignored the movement, they could have maintained a degree of continuity. But now the continuity is broken and the credibility is compromised. It's a slippery slope, Thomas, Henry and Deiter. You opened the floodgates--next thing you know, you'll be ordaining them as deacons.