Why are you engaging in the October 2016 Ordain Women action?
Ordain Women’s upcoming action in October is an effort to be heard on the issue of women’s ordination in the LDS Church. On Saturday, October 1, 2016, from Noon to 2:00 PM, we invite all who share our hope for a more inclusive church to stand with us—in person, if possible, by proxy, if not—in front of the Church Administration Building, 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT. Lined along the sidewalk, we will hold purple Ordain Women umbrellas, while church officials meet inside between conference sessions, and, one by one, we will request a meeting with a general authority or general officer of the Church. “This action,” explains OW Board Chair Bryndis Roberts, “will be an opportunity to gather in person … [to demonstrate] our commitment to the cause of equality.” In joining together, we are punctuating our commitment to Mormonism and our fervent desire that Church policies and practices better reflect the inclusiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What exactly is going to happen?
On Saturday, October 1, we will gather at 11:30 AM in City Creek Park to distribute Ordain Women umbrellas and hold a brief devotional. We will then walk to the Church Administration Building at 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. Lined along the sidewalk between Noon and 2:00 PM and holding our purple Ordain Women umbrellas, we will stand, walk, watch, and wait while church officials meet inside between conference sessions. One by one, we will climb the steps to the Church Administration Building to request a meeting with a general authority or general officer of the Church to raise the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood in the LDS Church. To RSVP on Facebook, follow this link.
Ordain Women asserts that it engages in faith-affirming, religious action. How is this compatible with the LDS doctrine of continuing revelation?
Our understanding of the gospel is that the heavens are yet open. As we obtain more light and knowledge, we expect Church policies and practices to reflect that increased wisdom. The 9th Article of Faith states: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that [Godd] does now reveal, and we believe that [God] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” That Church members play a part in this process is demonstrated throughout the Doctrine and Covenants. We ask questions and articulate the need for revelation. According to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “… if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. … How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know, but couldn’t get past the massive, iron gate of what we thought we already knew?” It is our faith in this process that compels us to action.
Is this a protest?
No. It is a petition for inclusion, and, as such, we see it as both faith-affirming and consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We encourage participants to wear Sunday attire and comport themselves with dignity and respect.
Why are you advocating in public?
Mormon women and many others who feel called to serve in positions that require Priesthood authority or power are not ordained to the priesthood, which means they lack positional authority and the institutional power to influence church-wide policy. A number of us over the years have met with our local Church leaders to discuss issues of gender equity and inclusiveness. However, they have no power to address or remedy Church-wide structural inequality. Most personal letters sent to the hierarchy are routinely sent back to stake or ward leaders. Other than a few letters from the Church’s public relations department, Ordain Women’s numerous requests for dialogue have been met with silence. Because Mormon women lack institutional authority and access to those leaders who have the responsibility to receive revelation on behalf of the Church, public advocacy is one of the few options open to those of us who actively seek greater inclusiveness and other equitable changes in the LDS Church, including the ordination of women. Increasingly, women are finding the courage to express their desire to participate more fully with men in all aspects of church governance, service and sacred ordinances.
The umbrella metaphor is often employed in the LDS Church to explain why we shouldn’t be troubled by its present exclusionary, males-only priesthood policy: As long as everyone is under the umbrella, i.e., enjoys the blessings of the priesthood, it doesn’t matter who holds it. But as anyone who has tried to huddle under another’s umbrella knows, both generally get wet. Giving everyone the opportunity to hold their own umbrella works best, just as making priesthood ordination available to all who are worthy can help us make better use of the talents and abilities of every member of the Church.
If I can’t join you at the Church Administration Building, but want to be supportive, what can I do?
First, you can join hundreds of others in requesting that your name and/or an Ordain Women umbrella be carried for you. Names can be submitted by following this link. Ordain Women umbrellas to be carried during the action are available for purchase in our store. If you would like to purchase an umbrella to be carried by proxy, place the order and then leave a note for the seller (OW). Umbrellas purchased for the action will be distributed to attendees either on Friday, September 30th or on Saturday, October 1. After the action, umbrellas will be sent to purchasers who are unable to attend but want to support OW’s efforts. Second, you can continue the conversation by discussing your thoughts about women’s greater inclusion in the Church with friends, family, and members of your local congregations; spread the word on your personal Facebook pages, blogs and Twitter accounts; “like” our Facebook page; make a donation in support of Ordain Women; and, add your profile to ours at ordainwomen.org.
I’m afraid to participate with you. Do you anticipate disciplinary action?
We cannot predict the response of individual church leaders. Many of our local leaders have been loving and supportive. Others have not. We believe our actions are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the LDS Church. We work with the government of Salt Lake City to obtain the appropriate permits. Though our action is not a protest, we have applied for a “free speech” permit. The City of Salt Lake requires it of any large group gathering in public spaces, such as City Creek Park and the sidewalks near the Church Administration Building. We recognize that there might be social or personal costs to participants. Only you can weigh your circumstances and concerns and decide if this action is the right thing for you to do.