Ordain Women has received an official response to our request for tickets, and has issued the following response as a general press release. The Church’s response is included below the text of the press release.
LDS Women Seeking Priesthood Ordination Will Try to Attend Church’s General Priesthood Session
Salt Lake City, UT – Supporters of the group Ordain Women gather together to attend the general priesthood session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Saturday, October 5, 2013, more than 200 women who are actively seeking priesthood ordination in the LDS Church will meet at City Creek Park (110 North State Street, Salt Lake City) at 4:00 PM MDT for a prayer and a hymn, followed by a short walk to the north gate of Temple Square, where they will wait in the standby line for admission to the male-only session held just across the street, in the LDS Conference Center (40 West North Temple, Salt Lake City). The session begins at 6:00 MDT.
Ordain Women, which was founded earlier this year, aspires to create a space for Mormon women to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. The group intends to put themselves in the public eye and to call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood. Its efforts are part of a decades-long campaign for women’s ordination inside the Utah-based faith.
Only men and boys are invited to attend the priesthood session. (In the LDS church, nearly all male members over age 12 are ordained to the priesthood.) This meeting is the only session of General Conference that is not open to all members and the general public; there is no corresponding session for women and girls. Past major announcements delivered at the priesthood session have included the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund, changes in temple-recommend policies and availability, and announcements of new temple construction.
Several women requested tickets to the priesthood session from their local leaders but were denied. A formal letter of request was submitted to the Temple Square events director, the LDS Conference Center Ticket Office, the LDS Public Affairs Department, and general authorities of the LDS Church. On September 24, Ruth Todd, a Church spokesperson, responded in writing to this request, officially denying it. According to Todd, “It is the hope of the Church that the priesthood session will strengthen the men and young men including fathers and sons, and give them the opportunity to gather and receive instruction related to priesthood duties and responsibilities, much the same way parallel meeting are held for sisters, such as the general Relief Society meeting. It’s for these reasons that tickets for the priesthood session are reserved for men and young men and we are unable to honor your request for tickets or admission.” Unlike the priesthood session, however, the general Relief Society meeting is not considered to be a session of General Conference, and male priesthood holders always preside over and speak at this meeting, whereas women have never been permitted to preside over, speak at (with one exception in 1946), or even attend a live priesthood session.
According to Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, “We are pleased that the Church has demonstrated its ability to change to be more inclusive by making the session available through live broadcast. This is an important step towards a future where Mormon women will participate side by side with our brothers in all areas of church leadership and life. We will be in the line for standby tickets to the priesthood session on October 5th to demonstrate our continued willingness and desire to attend. We are demonstrating our faith by standing at the door and knocking.”
For more information about the event, please visit www.ordainwomen.org/oct5th/. You can also visit Ordain Women’s home page (www.ordainwomen.org) to view the profiles of nearly 200 men and women who publicly support women’s ordination inside the LDS Church.