Account from Colorado
I watched General Conference at my mother-in-law’s and debated whether to attend the priesthood session. An unexpected change of plans, however, made things more complicated. The prompting to attend was so strong–and it only intensified when I tried to ignore it–that I managed to arrange transportation, despite the complexity, and went to the session.
I arrived about 20 minutes late, so no one was in the foyer when I entered. I stepped into the chapel and was welcomed by the one other woman who attended and a bishop friendly to our hope for ordination. I enjoyed all the talks I heard, and I made sure to belt out the alto part during the congregational hymn. I was glad to get to listen to President Monson speak, and overall the session was a good experience.
After President Monson concluded his talk and the choir began singing the closing song, one of the ushers asked us to step outside with him to talk. I was a little uncomfortable, but I felt that as representatives of OW, we should show that we were reasonable and agreeable, so we went with him. He assured us we were totally welcome to attend any session but then asked us why we were there. He asked if we were trying to cause contention and if we knew we could watch it on the Internet. I told him that we had come to worship and hear the words of the prophet and that the feeling of conference was much different when you are in a room full of believers versus hanging out at home on the couch with your kids.
He bore his testimony that President Monson was a prophet and that he received the direction needed to run the Church. He also bore testimony of the appropriateness of an all-male priesthood. He asserted that it wasn’t exclusionary but reflected the belief that men and women have different roles. Another usher joined him. They both told us they had daughters and that they loved serving in the Church. They explained to us that we could get to the Celestial Kingdom without the priesthood, and wondered why we worried about it. They concluded by telling us that we should ask our bishops about these things, because they had the keys necessary to deal with members’ questions.
Before we left, they also asked us about our callings in the Church and whether we were part of OW. We were honest with them and said we were. They then asked which stakes and wards we attended. I told them, but I kind of regret doing so …
As we left the building and headed out to the parking lot, the friendly bishop we’d met inside caught up with us and assured us that we had done nothing wrong. He wanted to make sure we were okay after our experience. The other woman was more shaken than I was and a bit teary. The bishop asked if we needed anything. We said, “No,” but I was super grateful for a male ally after what felt like an interrogation.
Reflections from Los Angeles: