My name is Katelynd.
I was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1989 to convert parents in Baltimore, Maryland. At birth my father bestowed a blessing upon me of discernment, courage to follow my own path in this world and compassion to lead by example. I was baptized on July 12, 1997 in West Richland, Washington. We moved around a lot when I was growing up and I entered Young Women’s in San Antonio, Texas in 2001.
In 1997 my father fell ill and there were suspicions of Hepatitis C. My father was baptized in 1988, the year before I was born. He was a priesthood holder and gave me blessings before every school year and of comfort when I needed. He was very sick again in 2000 and a new test confirmed the doctor’s suspicions. He and I were were living in Topeka, Kansas when he started a new treatment that physically destroyed him. He was bedridden and self-administered his medication. Despite the pain he still took care of me and ward members took me to church every week. He had reservations about the church for some time but during this experience his faith was particularly shaken. For the next three years he took all of us to church and attended Sacrament meeting and then he would leave. Finally, in 2003 he told us he had formally resigned from the church in 2001. After serious consideration and prayer he had come to his decision. At this time he was traveling for work and I missed him dearly. My eldest brother was at home preparing for his mission. He and I studied the scriptures every day and prayed together. I was very much active and it confused me and broke my heart when I found out my father’s decision but even at the age of 13 I understood that it was not an easy conclusion even if I wholeheartedly disagreed.
Our bishop at the time called my father into his office and my father held firm. Shortly after I was called into his office. He told me he perceived I had a closer relationship with my father than my other siblings and that father had denied the Holy Ghost and was destined for outer darkness. He told me it was my responsibility to bring my father back from this fate. I experienced a sadness that to this day is hard to describe. I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father and Mother and was truly in the depths of despair. I would beg my father crying to get re-baptized and he said he would but that it would be for my peace of mind alone. I couldn’t ask him to do anything he didn’t believe in, even if it was the most precious belief of mine.
I was afraid, depressed and lonely. My brother had left to serve in Lisbon, Portugal. I sought comfort through prayer and study and was strengthened. I sought out my ward’s sister missionaries about a year later and asked them if I could join them proselytizing. Even though I wasn’t yet sixteen, these kind sisters could see I needed comfort and not only allowed me to they also let me sit with them during sacrament meeting and gave me rides to church. I found so much peace in serving with them and studying with them. My number one goal in life became to live in such a way that I would be worthy to serve a mission of my own when the time came. One day I finally told one of the sisters my deepest pain; what our Bishop had said to me. She became impassioned and told me that no one knew my father’s heart but Heavenly Father and that my father was a good man. In this moment, in my young mind’s eye she was glowing and my heart was finally at peace. Her words pierced through my sorrow. In them I felt my Heavenly Father’s love.
This was the first time I witnessed the power of a fellow sister. I had and have always seen the quiet, unwavering strength of sisters as mothers and wives and their grace in adhering to the principles of the church. My mother is an example of the dominion of motherhood and it’s work. I believed what I was taught in that we are divine by inheritance as daughters of God and have a great responsibility as homemakers and as the first line of defense for our families. I remember an anecdote that was popular among us sisters that men needed the priesthood to exercise their divinity whereas we were born with ours. It was told in such a way that they needed the priesthood and the process of attaining and maintaining it to help them stay the course. That in it’s own way it helped them become more like us. I never once thought of asking for it, because in my mind and presently in the minds of many beautiful souls, I believed that it would be disrespectful to not only our patriarchs but to our womanhood. I considered it a wild and rebellious thought. I feared it would undermine the power of Heavenly Father and that our family structures would crumble. I didn’t even allow my mind to follow these thoughts to their conclusion which now is as bright as day. To recognize a woman’s divine power and strength by allowing her the priesthood would strengthen families, communities and the church as a whole.
The testimonies I’ve heard while attending OW’s peaceful gatherings to ask for admittance to priesthood session fill me with joy. It may seem this body of people, men and women alike who stand for this cause are asking for just a title in order to prove an equality argument. There is no argument. These faithful people are indeed asking for a recognition of sorts but it is not just to prove a point to the world, but asking for the ability to live their faith. How moving that these obedient and faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints want to have both a mother and father bless their child into the world? Have a single mother baptize her children? Give the same blessings of comfort and love that a father can?
I have a testimony of this movement. It may seem strange coming from a woman who is not an active member of the LDS faith. I have my reasons for the choices I have made and have done so with respect and love. I would humbly add my voice to thousands who feel that the women of the church should be able to receive the priesthood. I am in no way voicing an ultimatum; that I would rejoin the ranks if this came about. I have my own journey and soul searching to do before I could even consider it. I will say that this movement has set a spark in my heart and I feel it is right. I also believe that this faith has helped define me. I am family oriented. I believe men and women have divine purpose. I believe in service to my fellow man and in fact that is my way of worship in this world. I also believe that my experience and sharing it adds strength to this movement and I am grateful to do so.
*Photo courtesy of Brandon Cruz Photography