Sunday Spotlight – Kristen

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s Sunday Spotlight is from Kristen, who opens up about her fears of raising a son or daughter in the LDS faith.

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My name is Kristen. I’m a wife, mother, news producer, and dog sport enthusiast. I am most happy when I’m outside, especially if a boat is involved. I was born and raised in the LDS Church. I have been married nearly 7 years and have an adorable little boy, two border collies, two turtles, and two sugar gliders.

I submitted a profile to Ordain Women in the spring of 2013… just a few days after finding out I was pregnant. I’ll never forget staring at that stick, and having one of the first questions that popped in my head be, “Can I raise a child in this Church?”

Ever since I was a teen, I struggled with the roles and plan for me prescribed by the LDS church. I couldn’t accept that my gender would determine what I was supposed to do with my life. And because I’m a woman, I was upset that I would always have to answer to a man when it came to church issues, even for procedural things. I couldn’t even find peace in the Temple.

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And the worst part, I seemed to be utterly alone in my feelings.  Everyone I knew seemed perfectly content and happy with the way things were. When I brought up gender inequality issues within the church, I was quickly dismissed. When I tried to get a hiking trip for my Young Women, I was told they were too weak to handle it. I couldn’t find anyone wanting or willing to make changes.

I worried for my future child. If it was a girl, she was facing a lifetime of being told no, modesty shaming, and limited church-approved options for her career prospects. If it was a boy, he was facing a lifetime of work piled on him that can’t be shared with women willing to help. Fatherhood would not be held in the same light as motherhood, and he would be told he needed the church to be a good man.

These were the thoughts that ran through my mind the day I logged on Facebook, and saw an article about Ordain Women. My interest was piqued, and I clicked on it.

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My heart was full as I read about women and men like me. I went on the website, and read their stories. For the first time, I didn’t feel alone. I cried as I read these heartfelt stories. I hadn’t heard of any of these people before, but I felt an instant connection to them.  I admired their bravery in something as simple as submitting a profile, and being courageous enough to speak up. An hour later, I wrote up my own profile and submitted it.

I’ve been cheering on Ordain Women from afar. Work and distance has kept me from attending the main actions (although I did have the opportunity to meet several members this last December at an event). I’ve found a wonderful online community where I can share my thoughts on women and their place in the church. I’m strengthened by the stories shared, and I love that there are people brave enough to talk about these issues, and make a difference for those who want to remain in the Church.

I hope women become ordained, and I truly believe it will happen. I believe the church will grow stronger if men and women work together, and not just in the roles prescribed to them.

Seeing Through My Daughter’s Eyes

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

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Just before 5:00 p.m., January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, the capitol of Haiti. In seconds, 250,000 homes and 30,000 buildings were reduced to rubble, and hundreds or thousands of people lay dead or dying. The poor quality of Haitian construction ensured that the number of crush injuries was off the charts. With the infrastructure gone, those who escaped death soon faced thirst, hunger and disease. As images of horror flashed on television screens around the world, a twenty-one year old college student in Utah was moved to action. Within a few short weeks, my daughter Tracy was on the ground in Haiti conducting triage and assisting Haitian orphans.

Tracy has long been my inspiration. Born with an unusually compassionate heart, she embodies the true meaning of the word ally. When a tornado hit Joplin, MO in May of 2011, Tracy was there to help. She has traveled the world serving the poor, the hungry and the oppressed. Were it not for her example, I would never have become a male ally.

As unusual as Tracy is in the wider world her compassion is shared by many people I have met through Ordain Women. The common denominator is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another. While some claim that supporters of Ordain Women are “power hungry,” and “in it for their own gain,” this is not true. The women I know through Ordain Women are allies in other causes. They advocate for LGBTQ rights, volunteer to help the poor, run youth programs, fight for civil rights, and stand up for the marginalized. Likewise, the men of Ordain Women are involved in numerous causes, in addition to promoting equality within the Church.

Ally ship is the road to a higher morality. In the tribal world of the first century C.E., Jews and Samaritans we rivals. To Jews, the Samaritans were “the other,” “the lesser,” “a people to be despised.” In this context, Jesus explained the true meaning of “neighbor” to an expert in the Jewish law by telling the following story (Luke 10:30-37):

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

We become a true ally, when we can see the world through another’s eyes. We become compassionate. We learn to truly love.  We are able to follow Jesus’ admonition to “Go and do likewise.”

Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.


Mark Barnes, the author of this post, is on Ordain Women’s Executive Board and is the Chair of the Male Allies Committee.

Mormon Male Privilege

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Love-Hand-Free-WallpaperMormon male privilege begins with the patriarchy that exists in the Mormon hierarchy. Patriarchy literally means rule by fathers. It has existed in most civilizations for centuries, but has persisted in many Bible based traditions because the Bible’s narratives encourage it such as, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (1 Tim 2:12 KJV).”[1] Today, the word patriarchy describes a system (not a group of people) in which men hold most or all the power, in other words, rule by men. As described in the previous section Origins of Privilege, systems like this promote and propagate power for specific groups. Therefore, patriarchy promotes and propagates privilege and power for men. So, how does this manifest itself in Mormonism?

Similar to other positions of privilege, recognizing the ways in which we men inhibit and discourage women from reaching their potential can be difficult. Because privilege brings with it advantages of greater access to resources, those that don’t benefit from it have a harder time achieving the same equality in life. That is manifested financially, emotionally and socially. It is important to note that Mormon men generally try to be Christ-like in their relationship with women and the type of patriarchy that exists in the church is therefore often called a Benevolent Patriarchy. Most men are not conscientiously trying to subjugate and demoralize women, but the system unfortunately does. The following paragraphs are some examples of male privilege in Mormonism.

One of the most obvious is that positive female role models in the scriptures are almost non-existent and completely drowned out by the male roles. This may have been a product of the time in which those scriptures were written, but it continues today where there are many more male voices heard in meetings and leadership positions. Men speak in Relief Society general meetings, but women don’t speak in priesthood general meetings. This makes members expect male leadership and feel more comfortable being led and counseled by a man. Conversely, it makes women feel more comfortable taking positions of subjugation and hesitant to take on authority, or speak up and voice their opinions.

Even if only men hold the priesthood, there are many positions of leadership that do not require the ability to perform ordinances, such as Sunday School Presidency and Ward Clerk positions. Currently no women are given the ability to deal with finances and grow in this area. When a woman does have a position of authority like Relief Society President, she is referred to as Sister Johnson instead of President Johnson, whereas men who are presidents are referred to by the title President. Female auxiliaries are always overseen by male priesthood leaders, and are commonly required to obtain permission from male leaders to do things. Auxiliaries led by men receive less oversight. Like pouring salt on an open wound, women have no female voices in church discipline, and are left to confess sexual sins, or seek help in cases of sexual abuse in a room alone, with a man.

In their religious lives, LDS women are relegated to the role of mother, while men can be fathers priesthood holders, and are encouraged to pursue higher education and lucrative careers. The most public portion of a baby’s birth in the church is the all-male ritual of a baby blessing where the mother is not allowed to participate in the blessing, or even stand for recognition. Female employees of CES[2] and temple workers cannot keep their positions if they have young children or are not married. The same is not true of men.

As time has passed in the Mormon Church, women have seen their autonomy restricted rather than enhanced. As women in many countries have made strides toward equality with men, in the LDS Church, women have lost ground. For example the Relief Society started out being financially and authoritatively independent from men. Eventually, it was pulled into the main Church structure as an auxiliary of the priesthood. They also raised and controlled their own money, published their own magazines and materials, and managed their own business activities. This authority began to decline in the early 20th Century as male priesthood authorities pressured the Relief Society to disband its publication, the Women’s Exponent, confiscated and sold its massive store of grain, and ended lifetime tenure of Relief Society presidents. Also, under the consent of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young women used to be allowed to wash, anoint with oil and perform blessings for healing the sick. Unfortunately another blow came in 1946, when women’s healing blessings were prohibited in a memorandum drafted Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

These disparities start when girls are young and impressionable, and form the basis of their worldview. As young as 8 years old, girls see the boys become cub scouts and engage in activities with much larger budgets than the activity days allowed for girls. This results in more involved activities for the boys. This continues through boy scouts where the young women programs usually receive much less funding. This makes many girls grow up thinking it is normal and acceptable for boys to get more, do more and be more. Many Mormon girls internalize this treatment, which makes it harder to make changes to the system, because those girls who remain in the church often see their subordinate roles as natural and defend the system. Those girls who do not accept their inferior role in the church frequently leave church activity by the time they are young adults. This system of internalization and resistance to change has been so effective that no woman had been allowed to pray in General Conference until the spring of 2013.

Mormon male privilege extends to the holiest of Mormon buildings and ceremonies, the temple. There, women covenant to hearken unto their husbands while the husbands only have to hearken to God. As Joseph Smith[3], Brigham Young[4] and Elder John D Charles[5] have said, temple goers receive a sacred new name that women have to share with their husbands but the men can never share theirs back. Though polygamy is not technically practiced anymore, the doctrine has not been rescinded, and actually is still practiced in a way. When a woman dies, her husband can be married to and sealed to another woman for time and all eternity. Women on the other hand can only be sealed for eternity to one man. If her husband dies, she cannot be sealed to another man, ever. In other words, in the eternities, Mormon men still expect to have more than one wife. The very fact that we ever practiced polygamy and still have teachings that it will be practiced in heaven, puts women in a soul crushing position of being on a lower level than men.[6]

When all these examples of male privilege are combined throughout the life of a Mormon boy, he expects more out of life than his female counterparts. He is encouraged both consciously and unconsciously to be a leader and make choices that will lead to a fulfilling life according to his personal desires. In contrast, women are encouraged to take the path of motherhood and dependence on a man for their temporal needs. When women do pursue higher education, they are often encouraged to major in areas that will enhance their skills in the home, and to end their studies once they marry and have children. This leaves Mormon women who follow this path with fewer opportunities for growth beyond motherhood, and with fewer abilities and resources to deal with the challenges of life on their own.

Well, you have all this privilege, what do you do now? Keep in mind, that you did not create the system; you are not personally to blame for the system. You can use your privilege in a positive way. Recognize that it gives you certain abilities that you have not earned, and use it for good. Use the leadership benefits of your privilege to influence others, especially those in your same privilege group. Use your money-making ability to support gender equality. Use the authority benefits of your privilege to enact more gender equality wherever you can.

 

Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.


Carson Calderwood, the author of this post, is on Ordain Women’s Male Allies Committee.

[1] This verse has long been used to justify female subordination in Christianity. However, it is helpful to recognize that most scholars do not believe that 1 Timothy was written by Paul. “While seven of the letters attributed to Paul are almost universally accepted as authentic (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), four are just as widely judged to be pseudepigraphical, i.e., written by unknown authors under Paul’s name: Ephesians and the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus). The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament by David E. Aune, p. 9.

[2] CES stands for Church Educational System. CES employees teach seminary to high schools students, institute classes to college students, and run other church educational programs.

[3] Journal of Discourses, v. 19, p. 250

[4] An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, Introduction, Signature Books, pp. xxxvi-xxxvii; see also pp. 204-240.

[5] John D. Charles. (2004). Endowed from on high: Understanding the symbols of the endowment, p.64

[6] As mentioned in the prior section, access to women is a reward for elites in a limited access system. This was definitely true for Mormon patriarchy from Joseph Smith through the end of the nineteenth century. However, sever pressure for the United States government eventually brought polygamy to a halt for the main stream LDS Church. Thus, current doctrine does not allow the practice during life, but holds out the promise of greater access to women for faithful men in the eternities. D&C 132.

 

[1] CES stands for Church Educational System. CES employees teach seminary to high schools students, institute classes to college students, and run other church educational programs.

[2] Journal of Discourses, v. 19, p. 250

[3] An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, Introduction, Signature Books, pp. xxxvi-xxxvii; see also pp. 204-240.

[4] John D. Charles. (2004). Endowed from on high: Understanding the symbols of the endowment, p.64

[1] This verse has long been used to justify female subordination in Christianity. However, it is helpful to recognize that most scholars do not believe that 1 Timothy was written by Paul. “While seven of the letters attributed to Paul are almost universally accepted as authentic (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), four are just as widely judged to be pseudepigraphical, i.e., written by unknown authors under Paul’s name: Ephesians and the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus). The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament by David E. Aune, p. 9.

[6] As mentioned in the prior section, access to women is a reward for elites in a limited access system. This was definitely true for Mormon patriarchy from Joseph Smith through the end of the nineteenth century. However, sever pressure for the United States government eventually brought polygamy to a halt for the main stream LDS Church. Thus, current doctrine does not allow the practice during life, but holds out the promise of greater access to women for faithful men in the eternities. D&C 132.

Sunday Spotlight – Debra

Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s  Sunday Spotlight comes from Debra. Through her bravery and faithfulness she helps other women find their voice and continues to focus on the Savior through service and work within her community.

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What gives you hope for the future?

Well, when it comes to the Church, the fact that younger women and girls see the inequality and do not accept it. This is also true of many of the younger men I know. I have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of many, especially younger members, to honestly think about and consider gender inequality and how it can change.

But the thing that gives me hope when it comes to the gospel is that I truly believe in the 9th Article of Faith and the idea that Heavenly Parents will guide this Church if the members prepare themselves and the leaders only ask.

Aside from ordination, what are some changes you would like to see implemented immediately in the Church?

I would love to see young women and girls included more from top to bottom. I’d like to see a more robust Activity Day program and a YW program that focuses on developing well-rounded women who are prepared for this world.

I would love to hear more about Heavenly Mother. Even if it is to say “We don’t know about Her, but isn’t it a beautiful thing that we know She is there?” I long to hear anything about Her.

Tell us more about your connection to Mormonism.

I was raised by divorced parents: a non-member father and inactive mother. My beloved paternal grandparents are devout Catholics; my maternal grandparents are faithful Mormons. My mother’s mother decided, for some reason, that I should go to church with them and be baptized, which she never pushed with my sister. I had no interest until I was a teenager and then I decided I wanted to go to girl’s camp. You can read in my journals that as I moved through my teen years I decided to accept the frequent challenge: I read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it and Joseph Smith. A testimony grew and I could not deny that this was where I found the truth. I recall being drawn especially to the thought of Heavenly Parents and the YW values of Individual Worth and Divine Nature. The idea that these people knew me and made me exactly who I am supposed to be resonated with me—probably because of the experience of growing up a child of divorce—it meant feeling like I was part of a larger family.

What was your favourite calling?

Funnest calling: I was YW president for one year. It was so much fun and so much work. But I L.O.V.E. girls camp!

Best calling: I taught Gospel Doctrine for three years and I am not ashamed to say that I rocked at it. I loved planning the lessons and engaging with adults on gospel topics. My testimony has never been stronger than when I taught that class.

 What are some of the things you love about the Church?

The focus on service and community. I find the Saviour in these principles. We are a people who rally around others in need and we are supposed to be a people who welcome and love all who need support. When done right, it is a truly beautiful thing.

What are some examples of gender inequality you see in the Church?

I would not know where to start. I see them everywhere. Just today, I sat outside the clerk’s office and watched the men move around, shuffling paperwork, and realized that I would never be allowed to do that.

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How did you discover Ordain Women?

I saw it on Facebook the day it went live. I can’t remember if someone sent me the link or if I saw it on Feminist Mormon Housewives; but I will never forget the post. It simply said, “Have you seen this??”

What prompted you to put up your profile?

OW came along after I had been quietly living with the hope of women’s ordination for more than 20 years. I gave the party line, made little jokes about it, but never seriously advocated because I was terrified that people would realize how much I really wanted it. I had been participating in FMH for 7 years, and had been a vocal supporter of Wear Pants to Church Day.

But the genesis of my participation can be boiled down to a Sunday in March 2010. The hardest day I ever had at church was the day my son was ordained a Deacon. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all there. We entered the bishop’s office and the women—my mother, my husband’s mother, me—were all shunted to the side. My son, for whom I had ironed countless white shirts, was surrounded by men he mostly didn’t know. I had never felt so useless or unnecessary.

This story is also perfect example of the gender inequality I see in the Church. Women are not necessary for anything that happens, other than making new priesthood holders. No women were involved in the interview, the ordination, the training, or the setting apart of my son.

What has been the reaction of your ward/ family/friends?

Most of my family is not LDS so they have been supportive. My friends have been largely supportive. My ward has been a mixed bag. I have lost some people I considered trusted friends.

Have your feelings grown or changed since submitting your profile?

I am more convinced than ever that this is the beginning of a long process required for revelation to be received. We have the responsibility to demonstrate our desire and readiness to receive greater blessings. This is how we do that.

 

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Have you had the opportunity to attend any actions? How did they effect/change you?

I have attended them all. I have been deeply moved by the women and men who have attended. They are sincere and loving and I consider myself lucky to have stood next to them.

I did not realize, nor was I prepared for, how powerful and painful it would be to be denied access to a sacred space in my own faith because of my gender. I have also been deeply disappointed in the reactions of members of the Church to these actions. The messages of hate and vitriol I have received personally following each one have probably been one of the biggest challenges to my testimony.

Do you have any examples of sharing your OW testimony to others?

I hosted an OW Conversation at my house. One dear friend who attended expressed, for the first time that I know of, that she has always wanted to be ordained but that she has also always known that she was not allowed to say that publicly.

How do you see the perception of OW changing with ward members/family/friends?

I have received several private messages from women in my ward who have thanked me for what I am doing. They have expressed hope that they live to see us successful.

MALE ALLIES Conversation Seven

Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 10.57.53 AMOrdain Women is excited to announce the 7th Conversation, Male Allies. The 7 OW Conversations are not about conversion but conversation and the hope is that they will be used to both educate and help others understand differing points of view. The Male Allies Conversation was compiled by men who also hope for the ordination of women and it is specifically geared toward LDS men who love Ordain Women supporters and are looking for ways to further understand their trials. You can download the 7th Conversation here: OW7MaleAllies. Please join the Men of Ordain Women on Sunday, April 26th at 4:00 MDT in a live Google Hangout as they discuss Ordain Women from their distinct perspective.

Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.


Joanna Wallace, the author of this post, is the Chair of Ordain Women’s Social Media Committee.

Sunday Spotlight – Lori

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s spotlight features Lori, who finds hope for the future in the changes she has already seen in the church and in the answers she receives to her prayers assuring her that more is yet to come.
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Tell us about your connection to Mormonism.

On my mother’s side, my ancestors joined the church mostly in Kirtland and then all came west to Utah in the 1850s. They stayed out west. On my father’s side, my grandmother from Georgia was the first to join the church as a teenager. My grandfather joined before my father was old enough to be baptized. So, I’ve always been LDS. I grew up in Arkansas, where my local congregation was very small. So small, in fact, that we called it not a branch, but a twig. I was the only Mormon in my high school and almost could not believe it when I got to BYU as a freshmen and saw thousands of Mormons walking around campus.

What are some of the things you love about the Church? Have you had a favorite calling in the church? 

I love the striving for good and the sense of being part of something bigger than any individual. I’ve held just about every calling available to a woman in the LDS Church and I’ve liked a lot of them. What I like best is working with good people and having autonomy in what we do. Serving in Relief Society Presidencies seems to provide that opportunity most often. I have been in Primary and YW presidencies at both the ward and stake level, but the RS presidency operates a bit more independently than Primary or YW, so I like that better.

Aside from ordination, what are some changes you would like to see implemented immediately in the Church?

I would like to see more women in leadership positions. We need women in positions not just to give counsel to male leaders, but to be the ones making decisions, either independently or jointly. Men and women have different strengths; I believe the LDS Church would be a much stronger institution if women and men made more decisions jointly.

What are some examples of gender inequality you see in the Church?

Real leadership roles are all given to men. Starting with the bishopric, then the high council, stake presidency, and so on, there are variety of ways for men to be part of real decision-making, serving, and connecting with other church leaders. None of these same opportunities exist for women. I have also seen how I am not treated as an equal partner with my husband in many instances in church.

How did you discover Ordain Women?

I have known one of the original board members for several years and was one of the first people she approached to submit a profile. I hesitated initially, because even though I have believed my entire adult life that women would one day be ordained, I had never discussed it publicly and wasn’t at all sure that going public on the internet was the right choice. Once I read the initial profiles and realized just how Gospel-centered they were, I quickly added mine.lori2

What prompted you to put up your profile? 

My father and I discussed ordination of women from the time I was a teen. I remember him specifically telling me that in all his scripture study, he had never found any more evidence prohibiting ordination for women in the scriptures than what had been appropriated to deny black men the priesthood prior to 1978. He was sure that women would one day be ordained, though it appears from some discussions I have had with priesthood leaders who served with him at that time, that he did not discuss these thoughts with any of them. They were private and shared only with his family. But he convinced me that I would only need to be patient and that ordination to the Priesthood would one day happen for women. The answers to personal prayers about female ordination were always met with the admonition to “be patient”. At least until Oct. of 2013 when the answer was that the time had come to act.

How have people close to you reacted to your advocacy for women’s ordination?

I have been lucky and most reactions have been positive. I have no family or close friends outside of LDS feminist circles who have posted profiles, but they are mostly supportive of me and what I do. Some agree with me that women will be ordained, but do not believe in activism. Others see inequality that needs to be addressed, but do not believe ordination to the priesthood is necessary to achieve it. And others are just fine with the way things are. With the occasional exception, I have received support from my family.

Have your feelings grown or changed since submitting your profile?

I am much braver about speaking what I believe. I no longer pretend I do not believe women will be ordained and I am convinced that part of my role here on earth at this time is to be a voice for change in this area. It has been difficult at times to maintain full church involvement when accusations from strangers and some friends and even church leaders have been judgmental and harsh, but I am continually blessed with reassurances from my heavenly parents that I am where I should be and that this church is the right vehicle for salvation and that they understand my difficulties. I am the recipient of lots of tender mercies, for which I am very grateful.

Have you had the opportunity to attend any actions? How did they affect you?

I attended the first priesthood session action in Oct. 2013. It was an amazing experience from beginning to end. I wrote about it on the OW blog when it happened, so I won’t detail it all here, but I felt the love and support of my heavenly parents the entire journey encouraging me. What to me was the most incredible part was that though I was apprehensive about flying halfway across the country  to Utah and then showing up at a public park that I wasn’t even sure how to find to be met by mostly people I had never before met face-to-face, the minute I arrived and met others I felt at home. People seemed familiar.

Do you see the perception of OW changing with ward members/family/friends?

I’m not sure that the perceptions of OW have changed much, but the awareness of inequalities for women are noticed more and more people are willing to discuss those and how to change them. I have many friends and family who are working on eliminating these inequalities in ways other than being involved with OW.

Executive Board Announcement

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

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Ordain Women is envisioning our future. We would like to formally announce our newest Executive Board Members. Kera Boaz and Sean Carter are both strong, smart, loving and hardworking souls who are committed to see religious gender equality within Mormonism. This Easter Season we proudly stand with them and add our testimony to theirs….

 

Easter has always symbolized a beautiful renewal to me. No matter my failings, shortcomings, or insecurities, I can start anew. What a beautiful, healing gift for me to realize I have the capacity to become better each day.

Kera Boaz, Voice of Narrating Ordain Women Podcast and Communications Committee Co-Chair

 

In this difficult season for many in the OW family, it should give us some solace to know that our Savior paid the ultimate price for the “crime” of apostasy. He was crucified for speaking a truth that His people were not yet ready to hear. And as we pick up our crosses and follow Him, let us gather strength from His example. And let us act in love towards each other, and even those who oppose us, as we are ALL beloved children of Heavenly Parents.

Sean Carter, Co-Chair of the Intersectionality Committee

 

When I was in elementary school I was very proud of a ceramic, pastel colored pin I had that said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I think as adults it’s helpful to remind ourselves, during this time of miracles and rebirth, what being ‘Christlike’ entails. To me it means knowing the expansive design of God’s plan, but never giving up on any single individual. Never giving up on their inherent worth, not because they are an adherent, but because they are human worthy of love inspite of ideology. I take this lesson from Christ and am striving to give others the space he gave me to grow, and just be. 

Kate Kelly

 

I have faith in the ability of religion to liberate rather than subjugate woman. As we approach this season of rebirth and renewal, which will we choose?

I believe the fundamental tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints support gender equality, including the ordination of women. Indeed, in Mormonism spiritual empowerment is the sum of God’s hope for us as men and women.

New Testament scholar Scott Bartchy asserts that Jesus offered a radical critique of power, traditionally wielded through patriarchal authority, dominance and coercion. In its place, Bartchy suggests, Jesus provided a paradigm of power based on empowerment. Power used to coerce, dominate or control others will always burn itself out. Only power used to empower others is everlasting. This paradigm is foundational to the LDS doctrine of deity and priesthood. How can it not include women?

Lorie Winder 

 

Perhaps my favorite part of the Easter story is the empty tomb when Mary of Magdalene arrives to care for the body of her beloved Teacher and finds his grave empty. I think of that moment. Already heartbroken over the crucifixion, Mary must have been devastated by the apparent theft of Jesus’ body. I imagine she felt horribly lost in those moments, robbed of even the brittle comfort of a mourning ritual. The small cave may have seemed to expand and darken around her as her heart throbbed in her ears and her eyes burned with tears, though she had already cried so many.

And yet. In this moment when her final hopes had fled, Mary turned to find Jesus. And, truly, don’t we all? When there is nothing left before us, we still have Christ waiting with His miracle.

Danielle Mooney

 

A few years ago, I was blessed to spend one Easter season in Jerusalem. I swam in Galilee and walked by the olive trees in Gethsemane. I stood in front of Golgotha and spent time in the Garden of the Tomb. These moments are special to me because they were a chance to see what my Savior may have seen, and to wait where Mary waited. 

But what I love even more is that I do not need to travel thousands of miles to feel my Savior’s love. I can feel His presence in a moment of service freely given. I can hear Him in the laughter of my friends. I can feel His touch in my grandmother’s hands. And I can see Him in everyone – as long as I look long enough. 

At Easter, I am grateful for the gift that is a testimony of Jesus Christ and of His teachings on love and service, on justice and faith, on courage and gratitude. May we keep these gifts with us all.

Debra Jenson

 

Betrayal. Suffering. Pain. Hope. Joy. Love.

There are many words that come to mind during the Easter season. For me, the most important one is love.

Jesus Christ loves each one of us. We see the evidence of HIS love in his willingness to die for us.

Let us follow HIS example and HIS great commandment by loving one another.

Bryndis Roberts

 

This Easter, my heart turns to the teachings of Jesus. My favorite scripture is Matthew 22:36-40:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

This is such a beautiful and simple statement of how we should focus our lives. There are no exceptions or caveats to this law. We are simply to love others, as we would like to be loved. Male or female, black or white, straight or gay, rich or poor, we are simply to love. On this most basic and beautiful principle hangs all of God’s law.

May God be with you and bless you and your family during this Easter season.

Mark Barnes

 

Each September, while the rest of the world is hunkering down for the cold, we Down Under are laying our last fires of the year, we are heading to the pharmacy for our allergy medications, we are enjoying the burst of purple, white and pink along our avenues, and we are beginning to turn our thoughts to the warmth of summer and its promise of lazy, hot January days at the beach.So all of this April talk of renewal, Spring, Easter and re-birth needs to be refracted through the exigencies of geography that sees me on the other side of the world enjoying nature’s opposites. During Easter we in New Zealand are often required by our Northern Hemisphere counterparts to think of renewal, rebirth and resurrection during our own season of nature’s silence, sleep and death. Easter in April belongs to the North, not to the South.  

I’ve become accustomed to living in a different polarity to the cradle of Christendom. It requires me to make leaps of logic, to live with the contradiction between what I am seeing and hearing from the North, and what I am feeling in my bones and in my body. As a result I have come to rely more heavily on my deep physical and spiritual encounter with the divine rather the voices that tell me every April that Spring is nigh, and every December that it is all snowballs and Santa. I have had to cultivate a faith that culminates in one simple message that transcends the seasons; I am loved, we are loved – infinitely, profoundly and absolutely. 
 

I’ve also learned that my capacity to bring spiritual renewal to the world is irrespective of the nature’s rhythms. I’ve learned that my most important identity in the heavens is my spiritual identity and I feel certain that my divine nature is regardless of the body I wear, the discourse of the day, or even Earth’s seasonal orbit.

Gina Colvin

 

This Easter brings back beautiful memories for me. On Easter Sunday 2 years ago, I held my baby Rosie in my arms, at home, for her naming and ceremony. My husband blessed her that she would remember her namesake, Mary, who was the first to the tomb and first witness to the Savior’s resurrection, and also Mary, sister of Martha, whom the Savior himself taught in a culture where women weren’t students of Rabbis. We also named her after my grandmother, that she may look to her, read her life stories, and learn how to be strong in the face of trials. Wanting to hold Rosie launched me into this life I never would have imagined. If you told me in April 2012 I’d be a board member of a group faithfully agitating for the priesthood, I would have said you’re crazy. Yet here I am. And as I reflect on how my testimony of the Savior has grown, I am so grateful for these last two years. All my life I have leaned on my relationship with him to get through tough times, but these last two years especially I have felt His unconditional love for me, exactly as I am, unorthodox feelings and questions notwithstanding. I stand all amazed at the love He offers me, and how he descended below them all through the Atonement, that we might have life everlasting as an eternal family. I am so grateful for that knowledge, that I can be with Rolf, Evie, and Rosie forever, all because of Jesus Christ. I owe Him everything. And I will do my best to live my life as He would have me do, to use my agency for good and social justice as He did.

Kristy Money

 

Easter is healing to me. Emotionally, physically and spiritually. I am renewed with hope and promise, restoration and faith. This Easter I am especially thankful for the renewal in me over the past year. Never in my life have I grown so much spiritually, never have I felt closer to The Divine. I am filled with hope for the coming years. I am excited about the continuing light and knowledge that I can see and feel, filling the earth.  I am aware of the love my Heavenly Parents have for me and that gives me a calming peace in my life that I hadn’t ever fully realized. I am overflowing with promise and positivity that the Restored Gospel gives all of its members. I honor my relationship with the Savior and look forward to building that connection and becoming more like Him. I take great comfort in realizing that when Christ emerged on the first Easter morning, he appeared to a woman… that was alone in her grieving… searching for a connection to Him. I believe Christ still does that to each and every one of us, in our hours of need.  I have faith in our community, members and leaders to continually learn, to grow and to strive to understand one another, as Christ would.

Joanna Wallace

Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.


To find out more information about Ordain Women’s Executive Board Structure please click here.

Sunday Spotlight – Sarah

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s Sunday Spotlight features Sarah. As a faithful Latter-day Saint, Sarah expresses her love for the gospel, her Heavenly Parents and her hope for the future – not just for her children but for her, personally, as well.

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My name is Sarah and my journey to openly asking for women to be ordained to the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has most likely been like many others’ journeys. I’m probably what most people think of when they think of a Mormon woman: life-long member, raised in a very active LDS home with lots of siblings, seminary graduate, married in the temple at a fairly young age, worked until my babies started to arrive, and now a full-time parent to six amazing kids. Our family attends church weekly, we pray over every meal, our kids remind us if we forget Family Home Evening, and our hopes for our children include missions and temple marriage. I’m really just a regular Mormon.

The first time that I considered gender inequality in the church was during the fall of 2012, when the first Wear Pants to Church Day was coming up. Some family members and I were discussing how the people participating were women who wanted to be ordained to the priesthood (which is actually not the point of Wear Pants to Church Day, but none of us knew that at the time).

I remember wondering why anyone would want to be ordained to the priesthood if they didn’t have to! I’d seen my husband, dad, and grandpa serve in bishoprics, callings that demanded many hours of their time and much of their emotional energy. As a person who had already spent many, many hours in church meetings throughout my life as I have always had a calling since I was 18, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want the opportunity to spend even MORE hours sitting in meetings. I walked away from that conversation full of questions as to why someone would feel that way. However, the seed had been planted, and the Holy Ghost started to work with me from that time forth on the subject.Jones2014_web-58

As time passed, I encountered people and ideas that challenged my long-held assumptions. I had long assumed that motherhood and priesthood were equivalent, but reason clearly shows that motherhood and fatherhood are equivalent. Many say that men need something special to help them to be righteous and women don’t. I now find that idea offensive and demeaning to men. Slowly but surely I began to awaken to the fact that gender inequality in our church is ever-present. I’m a devout member, and this information was brought about so lovingly by the Spirit that my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Christ and the love my Heavenly Parents have for me was never a question in my mind. I’ve never expected perfection from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As an avid reader of church history, it’s clear that there have been many times that our church leaders have got it right, and many times where they have got it wrong. We currently live in a very patriarchal culture (within the church and outside of it) and this is something that each and every one of us was born into. I place no blame to any of the inspired leaders for the unequal system we currently have. Even though we didn’t create this broken system, it has fallen on this generation’s shoulders to fix it.

A crucial time came for me in the summer of 2014. My eyes had been opened to the deep inequalities that exist in our current system, and also to the pain and hurt that is being caused to both women and men because of these inequalities. I felt strongly prompted during this time to submit a profile to Ordain Women so that my voice could be added to the many other brave people who were asking our leaders to plead with God on behalf of women in the church. This was a fearful time; I would make a decision to write my profile, and I’d feel peace, but then I’d let fear and worry get the best of me. What would people think? Would my family reject me? Would my neighbors refuse to let their kids play with mine? Would I lose my calling? My temple recommend? My membership in the church I love? These fears almost overwhelmed me, but what kept me moving forward was the calm assurance from the Spirit that God knew me, knew my talents and strengths, and would like to be allowed to use my gifts to further this cause. If I was willing, I could be an instrument in the hands of God to do good.

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There was a point in my life before the birth of my sixth child where I was drowning in depression, awash on a black sea of suffering. I was saved from that by Christ, freed by the power of His atonement. After that defining experience in my life, I covenanted with God that if I was prompted to do something, I would do it. I became intimately acquainted with the comforting power of the Holy Ghost during this time, and very familiar with how its promptings work in my heart and mind. When I was prompted by the Spirit to post my profile, I knew that I had to let go of my fears and trust God. When I pressed send to submit my profile, it was a freeing, hopeful, and happy moment! I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders as I shook off the fear and followed God. I have encountered opposition, but I have never denied the promptings that came to me.

As time has gone on and I’ve began to envision more what our church would look like with complete gender equality, I’m so excited for the future. My five oldest children are girls, and they look forward to serving missions. I hope that they will be endowed with priesthood power and have the ability to baptize, offer blessings, and serve shoulder to shoulder with their devoted brothers. One of my daughters hoped that women would be ordained in time for her baptism, so that I could baptize her and her dad could confirm her! I’ve worked with youth (either the young women or primary) for the past 13 years in my callings, and the girls of this generation are amazing. They know what they want and they are not afraid to ask for it. I have seen the incremental changes that the church leadership is making, and it gives me hope that they are listening and pleading with the Lord on our behalf.

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All of this time, I had never really considered at all that I would one day hold the priesthood. As I stated earlier, it was never something I’d hoped for. My hope focused on my daughters and the younger generation. However, just the other day I was driving with my husband and we were discussing the ordinance of the sacrament. The idea hit me with force and weight that in my lifetime I may have the opportunity to bless the sacrament. There are no words to describe this moment. I am so eternally grateful to Jesus Christ for his atoning sacrifice, and the thought of being able to prepare the emblems of that sacrifice and offer them to my fellow ward members is overpowering to me. In that moment, female ordination became so real and so tangible. I honestly have not been able to partake of the sacrament now without that hope and desire burning within me and giving me hope for the future. What an amazing day that will be, when devoted female disciples of Christ throughout the world break the bread, prepare the water, and offer that sacred prayer for the congregation!

One of my goals for 2015 was to be more open about my desires for women to be ordained and for full gender equality in the LDS Church. I’m a faithful Mormon and I’ve realized that it’s okay for me desire additional light and knowledge. It’s okay for me to state aloud that I hope for more for us as a people. I had the opportunity to be featured in Ordain Women’s photo illustrations of what female ordination could be, and it was a moving experience. When the opportunity came to be an Ordain Women spotlight, I was grateful to participate. I feel good knowing that my particular gifts and talents are being used in some small way by God to bring more awesome truth to the world.

The Women in Jesus’s Life

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Leah Marie Pickren Silverman, the author of this post, is co-chair of the Ordain Women Social Media Committee.

Every year as Easter approaches, I find myself pondering more the life of Christ. This year, as in years past, I study the New Testament and work out how these scriptures apply to me and my discipleship. I love this process because it is where I learn about the role that women played in the life of Jesus. I learn about the women that surrounded him, the way he treated them, and—most importantly—the social mores that he dismissed.

Mary Marth JesusJesus’s interactions with Mary, sister of Martha, in Luke 10 are meaningful to me. Unfortunately, people often use this story to define further the role of women by exploring a false dichotomy between Martha and Mary. I think that conversation misses the most interesting and crucial point of the story. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, and he taught her. In a time when women weren’t allowed to be scholars or students, when women’s voices and minds were considered sub-par and worthless, Jesus taught Mary. He believed that her understanding of the gospel was just as important and that her mind, heart and soul were just as capable, as any man. The progression of her knowledge was a part of His mission, and He didn’t ignore her.

Another significant, and also overlooked, moment is in Luke 13, when Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath. He refers to her as a Daughter of Abraham. It is the only place this phrase is used in the Bible, of course. The phrase Son of Abraham is common and often used to establish lineage and reputation, and to indicate the promise of God’s blessings. At this moment, Christ speaks to the woman’s worth and her right to be blessed by Him.

Then there is the pinnacle moment in the scriptures. The moment we celebraThe_resurrection_day_te this Sunday because it represents for us the salvation made possible through Christ. It is the moment we learn that He lives. And who is the first to hear this Good News? In John 20 we learn that it was a woman. In a culture where women would not have been called as a witness to much of anything, Mary Magdalen was chosen as the witness. He chose her to deliver the message to the others. Who can deny that Jesus has called on women to be His special witnesses? It was His first choice.

As I ponder these women, and the way Jesus addressed them and involved them, I appreciate what this means for me. I am valued and loved as an individual—not because of the role I play in society or whatever social mores I am called to live up to. Jesus has shown he doesn’t care about that. What he offers me is hope and salvation apart from all that.

Happy Easter.

God denies none that come unto Him

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Restoration-of-the-Aaronic-Priesthood

I am tremendously grateful for the blessings of the priesthood in my life. I can scarcely count them.

But, in spite of the phrase’s popularity, I could never realistically claim that I have “the fullness of the blessings of the priesthood.” There are several reasons that I could never make this claim, principal among them is that the priesthood continues to bless my life in new ways constantly. Every week when I take the sacrament, I experience a new blessing of the priesthood. When I receive wise counsel from a bishop or stake president or general authority, I am experiencing a whole new blessing of the priesthood. When I give a blessing to a sick loved one or participate in any priesthood ordinance, I am experiencing yet another blessing of the priesthood.

I have read and heard many commenters say that the fullness of the blessings of priesthood are available to both men and women. I appreciate the sentiment. It is certainly true that some of the richest blessings of the priesthood are available to both men and women. Baptism. Confirmation. Temple endowments. Temple sealings. Priesthood ordinances and their associated covenants have blessed my life tremendously as they have blessed the lives of countless men and women in the Church for nearly 200 years in this dispensation and thousands of years of scriptural history before that.

But really the problem with the claim that “the fullness of the blessings of the priesthood are available to all” is so basic as to be almost tautological: Priesthood ordination is one of the blessings of the priesthood.

Under current Church policy, women do not have access to this blessing of the priesthood.

And it is a blessing. There are incredible powers, experiences, and gifts that are only available to those who have been ordained to and to those who serve in the priesthood. I think that in many instances when I gave a blessing of comfort or health, it was more of a blessing to me than to the person to whom I ministered, strengthening my testimony and my connection to the Divine above anything that the recipient received (though I certainly can’t speak for them). Blessing my two little children (as they screamed and screamed) in sacrament meeting was among the most precious and sacred experiences of my life. I have never felt a greater reverence for the sacrament than when I blessed it or passed it. Some of the most profound experiences I have had to affirm that God leads this Church came as I knelt in prayer during bishopric meetings seeking confirmation before the bishop extended that calling.

I know I am not alone in this feeling. I have heard countless men speak reverently and tenderly not only about their experiences in receiving priesthood blessings or ordinances, but about performing them. In fact, I wager to say that many Mormon men are more eager to share their experiences exercising priesthood authority than they are to discuss times when a priesthood leader ministered to them.

Even for Mormons who are not ordained to any priesthood office, this should be no surprise. Sacrament meeting speakers and Sunday School teachers regularly express that their lives were blessed in greater measure by preparing their talk or lesson than it could have been by hearing it. (Often expressed in a fashion such as this: “I got more out of preparing this talk than I think you could ever get out of hearing it.”) Upon their release, every bishop of every ward I have ever been in expressed deep and humble gratitude for the blessings he received from his service in that calling.

When counting the blessings of the priesthood, nothing could be less grateful than to exclude the magnificent blessings that are available to those who are ordained to and serve in the priesthood.

And gratitude is very important. God has instructed us that “in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” (D&C 59:21)

Perhaps more to the point, though, gratitude is one of the keys to revelation. One of the most famous scriptures in the Book of Mormon is Moroni’s Promise, which states that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5) In my experience, the key to receiving a testimony through revelation is found two verses before that passage:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. (Moroni 10:3, emphasis added)

Remembering “how merciful the Lord [has] been” from the time of Adam until today includes a lot of things, to say the least. It includes pondering the sacred teachings in the scriptures; contemplating Jesus Christ’s ministry, atonement, and resurrection; reflecting on the restoration of the Church and priesthood through Joseph Smith. It also includes counting the ways God has blessed your own life. Thinking about the people who have touched your life, giving thanks for the opportunity to learn the gospel, reflecting on the covenants into which you have entered through priesthood ordinances, and – if you are a priesthood holder – the blessings of priesthood ordination and priesthood service.

When we confess God’s hand in our lives, the windows of heaven – of revelation – swing wide open.

This was the case with me. I did not always believe in or advocate for women’s ordination. That is not to say that I advocated against it or held a strong contrary opinion. I simply didn’t think about it all that much. (As a person unaffected by the policy, it was my privilege not to think much about it.) I reasoned that since this is God’s Church and this was Church policy, ordaining only men to the priesthood must be God’s will. When I heard about people who believed women should be ordained, I often dismissed them and their concern, reasoning that there must be something they simply don’t understand about the priesthood or gospel that I do understand. (Though I never really bothered to figure out what special bit of gospel knowledge or testimony I had that they didn’t.)

 

But when I truly contemplated the rich blessings that have come to my life not just because of the priesthood, but because I hold the priesthood, I could no longer hold back. My heart swelled with gratitude for the blessings that priesthood ordination has brought into my life and with empathy for anyone kept from these blessings. That is when a surge of revelation came to me. That is when I gained a testimony that in order for the priesthood to bless the earth in its fullest measure, it can not be withheld from God’s daughters based on gender.

When I truly made an honest accounting of the ways that the priesthood – its restoration to the earth, my ordination in it, and the service it has helped me perform – has blessed my life, one of my most immediate reactions was to wish those same blessings for others. (Enos 1:9, 11) I thought about so many wonderful women in my life and the incredible honors and privileges I have had and they have been denied only because of biology. As I have “let [my] bowels be full of charity,” and empathized with women who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) I feel as though the “doctrine of the priesthood [has] distil[led] upon [my] soul as the dews from heaven.” (D&C 121:45)

And what I have learned about the priesthood through my gratitude shouldn’t come as a surprise to any priesthood holder: Priesthood is about service.

The Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods are not clubs that draw value from their exclusive nature. They are God’s power on earth, entrusted to us only for the purposes of blessing God’s children. And accompanying them comes a charge to spread the gospel, to build the Church, and to share every blessing God has given you with others.

God “doeth that which is good among the children of men… and He inviteth all to come unto Him and partake of his goodness; and He denieth none that come unto Him.” (2 Nephi 26:33)

As a priesthood holder, I am a representative of God. And if God denies none that come unto Him, who am I to do so?

Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.


Zachary Noyce, the author of this post, is on Ordain Women’s Male Allies Committee.