I grew up in the Bible Belt, where there are few members of the LDS Church. Being Mormon was always an important part of my identity, and I cherished opportunities to be around other Mormons. I came to BYU at 18, where I was faced with creating a new identity for myself in a place where Mormonism was not unique. Experiencing the BYU/Utah Valley version of Mormonism, which to me felt more proscribed and inflexible than Mormonism outside of “the bubble” ever seemed, was incredibly disillusioning. There is so much beauty in the gospel, and so much hope in Christ’s atonement, yet my student wards seemed to gloss over those fundamental truths in order to focus on the gendered expectations that the older generation held for us students. I started to feel more and more alienated from my church environment, preferring to focus on my studies, especially my goal of interning at a human rights organization in Russia.
I was able realize this dream after my sophomore year of college. My first summer in Moscow was a time of great independence and growth, especially in my relationship with the LDS Church. I learned about how the gospel is preached abroad, about how the Church is set up and run in places where there are more female than male converts. I found myself wondering, over and over again, why the Church relied on missionaries with very little cultural training to run the church in Russia when there were so many smart, capable women who were eager to do more. They could not do more, because they did not hold the priesthood.
When a friend first mentioned the OW movement to me last fall, I admit I was a little bit shocked at the prospect. But now, I feel that ordaining women to the priesthood is the only way that the LDS Church can even begin to approach the idea of full equality (especially administrative parity) between men and women within the Church. I testify of the wonderful spirit of peace and inspiration that I feel when I am with other OW supporters. I fully support the ordination of women to the priesthood in the LDS Church.