Posted by on Jun 22, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In anticipation of Kate Kelly’s church disciplinary council, Ordain Women asked for letters of support commenting on how Ordain Women had deepened their relationship with the LDS Church, strengthened their faith and given them hope. They will be presented to Kate’s ecclesiastical leaders and Church Headquarters. Over 1,140 letters were submitted. We’re gratified by the overwhelming response and touched by the sincerity of the messages. OW will publish selected letters each day leading up to the date of the disciplinary council. 

My heart goes out to Sister Kelly. From what I know of her, it is clear that she loves the gospel and the Church. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Sister Kelly, and with the many members of the Church who care deeply about these issues.

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I am a life-long member of the Church. I have been active in the Church all my life, and have held a variety of callings. I am presently serving as a bishop. I love the gospel and I love the Church. I offer my faith and prayers in the council’s behalf, asking and believing that your hearts will be filled with love and that you will receive knowledge from the Lord concerning His will in this matter. I believe disciplinary councils are courts of love because I have presided over many of them, and love was by far the strongest feeling shared in each and every one of them. I respect the keys you hold, and I am confident that you do not take this responsibility lightly. I wish to offer two points in defense of Kate Kelly. First, her principal aim, and the stated objective of Ordain Women, is to seek to have the leaders of the Church inquire of the Lord concerning His will with respect to whether women should be ordained to the priesthood. Indeed, the Mission Statement of Ordain Women concludes with this sentence: “We sincerely ask our leaders to take this matter to the Lord in prayer.” Sister Kelly understands that this is a matter to be determined not by her, nor by any woman or man, but only by revelation from the Lord to the prophet. Second, neither the scriptures nor the doctrine of the Church define asking the Lord for help, guidance, blessings or miracles as apostasy. If asking of the Lord is not apostasy, then asking the leaders of the Church to ask of the Lord is likewise not apostasy.

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In President Wheatley’s letter to Kate Kelly dated May 22, 2014, I read that Sister Kelly must “stop trying to…lead others away from the church.” Sister Kelly has done the opposite for me—her efforts and testimony have brought me closer to Heavenly Father and to our church.

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I have always been an active, temple recommend holding member (plus a returned missionary). And even as OW launched in 2013, I had most recently finished serving as my ward’s Relief Society President. I continue to faithfully serve in my ward, and my husband is in our Bishopric. Sister Kelly’s desire to ask the Brethren to pray over women’s status in our church rings true to my soul. I am grateful to her for standing up and saying what needs to be said. I have felt the Spirit when pondering over the matters that Sister Kelly has raised, and I will be forever grateful to her for the voice and testimony that she has brought to our church.

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I pray that Sister Kelly will not be ousted from our community, as she is a sister who has brought me personally closer to Christ.

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When I first heard of Ordain Women I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Having the Priesthood is not something I have strong feelings about. However, feeling like women need more of a voice within the Church and having concerns about the obvious inequities between the opportunities men and women have to serve and participate within the Church is something I have struggled with over the years. I have mostly kept these concerns to myself, but in doing so, have at times felt isolated and alone, and like I may not belong at church. Not because I don’t have a testimony, but because I was worried that my views may not be socially or culturally acceptable to many members.

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What Ordain Women (OW) and Kate’s work have done for me, and I would venture to guess for many other women, is to provide a safe space to share our feelings, our experiences, and maybe most importantly, our desires. Having a forum where women can express the desires of their hearts, particularly when these desires are righteous desires, is not something to be feared, but something to be embraced. I find the work of OW to be faith promoting and testimony strengthening as they have been instrumental in starting important and necessary conversations (far beyond the topic of women and the priesthood) to occur, but are doing so in a respectful and thoughtful manner.

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I am an active High Priest … in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do not know whether or when women should be ordained to the priesthood, but I think it is a critical question worth open and respectful discussion. Everything I have read about Kate Kelly’s work and that I have heard her say on several podcasts that I have listened to indicates that she is asking the question in a respectful and persistent way. God help us all if it becomes implicitly or explicitly forbidden to publicly ask questions and have discussions about these kinds of important matters.

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I believe in female ordination. I don’t believe in female ordination because Kate Kelly started a website and began publicly asking the question. I believe in female ordination because, during one of my last visits to the temple, I had a spiritual experience that confirmed my hope that our Heavenly Parents wanted more for women. That experience was one of the most potent spiritual experiences I ever had, akin to my first intimate interaction with God.

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After that experience, I had a difficult time maintaining my testimony. I was frustrated and discouraged that there was no forum for me to voice my concerns about exclusion. I felt isolated because I was not comfortable discussing my desire to have a greater role in the Church.

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One day, I listed to a podcast that led me to ordainwomen.org. I cannot describe the sense of excitement and relief that I felt when I found that forum. I suddenly found an optimism for the Church that had been absent in my heart for many years. I was elated to find a place where I could voice my questions and concerns, to know that there were others struggling with the same issues that I experienced. It rejuvenated my testimony and led me back to activity in the Church.

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I can honestly say that Kate Kelly taught me nothing that I didn’t already feel about female ordination. She voices my questions and concerns more eloquently, but she voices my concerns and questions. I participated in the October 2013 event, and none of the women that I spoke to described a “conversion” to the idea of female ordination that came from Kate Kelly. Instead, these women discussed personal, isolating, painful struggles that led them to that belief on their own.

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Kate Kelly created a forum for us to come together to ask these questions. For me, that was a heroic and inspiring act. I admire her humility and faith, and she demonstrates a thoughtfulness that I respect. Losing her as a sister because she asked the same questions I feel in my heart would be devastating to my faith and confidence in this church.

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As an individual not associated with Ordain Women and one who is neutral concerning their controversial methodology, I appreciate what the group has done by raising questions that need to be asked and answered. I value their bravery to be vocal and respectful with their concerns in an organization that allows very little space for truthful sincerity. I’ve been deeply disappointed with the Church’s PR response to the organization time and time again, including this recent decision to bring Sister Kelly to a church court. I share many of her concerns but have not been brave enough to ask as she has, knowing the consequences of such honesty that she is now facing. To know that there are others out there, braver than I, who are willing to lead has given me much hope and reason to stay in an organization which I have loved but that I see as increasingly un=Christlike in the way that members’ sincere concerns are handled.

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I would like to tell you how Sister Kate Kelly has helped deepen my appreciation of LDS doctrine and given me hope that I can remain a member of this church.

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I am a 5th-generation member of the church, hailing from a very active family. Nearly 20 years ago, I started to quietly question why women could not have the priesthood. Over these two decades I have studied this issue and tried to make my peace with it. I tried to keep my question a secret because I could not find a safe place to ask or discuss my question, but it continually ate at me.

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However, after Sister Kelly—very bravely—asked the brethren to pray whether women could have the priesthood, I noticed that it became more okay to have the discussions I have been longing to have for 20 years. Now, I know that these discussions might seem threatening to some people, but the discussions I have participated in have been very faithful. They have consisted of people really studying the scriptures, the doctrine, our history. We have learned so much! And, at least in my case, the burden of having this secret question has been lightened. This in conjunction with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, “Come, Join with Us,” gave me hope that there was space for someone like me in this church. You don’t realize how important hope is unless you have lived without it.

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I have heard speculation that Sister Kelly is being called into a disciplinary hearing not because of her questioning but, instead, because of her actions. I can understand why such actions seem problematic; I initially was unsure about them myself. However, I read an interview with Chieko Okazaki, conducted in 2005, in which she discussed in detail the difficulties she and the rest of the Relief Society General Presidency had in getting their needs met by the brethren. She said, “Sometimes I think they get so busy that they forget that we are there.”*

If Sister Okazaki had a difficult time getting her concerns addressed, how are the rest of us supposed to have our concerns met? Sometimes it feels like we are left with no other mechanism but “disobedience” to be heard—sometimes you have to wrestle with the angel. That does not mean that mistakes haven’t been made along the way; hindsight is 20/20. But it does mean that until safer, more robust mechanisms are in place for women’s concerns on this and other issues to be heard, it seems like a travesty to punish Sister Kelly for resorting to the only methods that seem to get attention.

*Greg Prince (2012). “There is Always a Struggle”: An Interview with Chieko N. Okazaki. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 45(1), 112-140.

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I am thankful for Sister Kelly’s courage and questioning. She has helped my heart to heal and remain in Mormonism. She has spurred me to deepen my understanding of the priesthood.

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Sister Kelly, her family, you, and the rest of the brethren are in my prayers at this difficult time.

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I have been a ward Relief Society president on four occasions, stake Relief society counsellor twice and Primary and Young Women’s president along with being an ordinance worker in the temple … and I am shattered at what is happening regarding Kate. She has kept me going when I wanted to give up. She gave me hope for the future of the Church. She gave me hope for my daughters and granddaughters staying in the Church. Please do not destroy that hope by punishing her.

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Growing up, I saw how my very intelligent and capable sister chafed at not feeling like a first-class citizen in the Church. I also sensed that boys felt like they were more important than girls. I so long for that all to change, and, as a committed and faithful member, I’ve deeply appreciated the work of Ordain Women in raising awareness and starting conversations that I hope will raise the status of women in the Church.

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As a relatively new convert (joined in early summer of ’13), Kate Kelly has been a source of inspiration for me during the many times when I have felt like the Church and the Church’s culture weren’t welcoming of differing viewpoints. Her continuing faith and dedication and her acceptance by the Church have been comfort and proof that there is room and a place for everyone who loves the gospel. This disciplinary council is so disappointing (and un-Christlike) that my heart just breaks for us all.