My name is Shelley. I am the Great-Granddaughter of a polygamist and early pioneer. I understand now how lucky I was to come from a polygamist who grew to believe in a God that wanted women to be education rather than subjected to polygamy. He wanted the women of his family to be able to take care of themselves with or without a husband. He understood that by educating women, the church would thrive in the future.
How did my Mother’s side of the family come to such a belief when my father’s side felt otherwise without having polygamy? The answer is that my Father’s side owned plantations in the Carolina’s and came to Utah after the civil war. They had a history of unspeakable cruelty to humankind as slave owners. Utah was a slave state and Brigham Young was a racist and to join the Union slavery and polygamy had to go!
My Great-Grandfather was a critical thinker! He played several string instruments and wanted to go to Paris to be a serious artist. He made his living as a finish carpenter and felt privileged to work on several temples and Gardner Mill. He was a paid musician, playing at gatherings and dances up and down the state of Utah. He was privileged to be in the first Tabernacle Choir and has a plaque at the Pioneer Theater memorializing his time with the theater.
I served a mission to the South soon after Blacks were given the priesthood. I worked in mixing congregations. I returned home to start a business as an Interior Designer and a community worker. For years I spent my time traveling and listening to the many stories of abuse to women in the Mormon religion. I also recognized the horrible abuse of men in the Catholic Church. Soon other stories from other religions were brought to my attention. I came to the conclusion that women need to be ordained in ALL RELIGIONS. I stand with OW as I stand with other women in other religions asking for ordination, so that women and children will again find religion a sanctuary.
I have two main reasons why I want women to be given the priesthood. The first reason is to give power to women to be more effective in helping victims of abuse in an ecclesiastical position. Women have mostly done the work of dealing with issues of domestic abuse in churches, but without ordination they
are unable change the neglect and mismanagement of this issue. The second is to stop the bleed of money going to abuse lawsuits. The male leadership is only doing damage control. Though RS President Belle Spafford fought hard to keep a financial purse for the women’s organization, it was taken. The needs of women and children have gone unmet and abuse had flourished. President Spafford was correct in saying that taking the women’s budget would have serious consequences.
The legacy of my Grandfathers speaks to me in our day, telling me to help forward women in the church to equal standing– to help the religion they loved and sacrificed so much for stand stronger through balance and inclusion for all! My wish to continue their legacy of support for women and eliminate the idea of polygamy is being answered by movements like Ordain Women.