Today’s Sunday Spotlight comes from Andrea! Her experience of living abroad gives her a unique perspective.
Tell us more about your connection to Mormonism?
My parents are converts to the church and I was baptized at 12. I lived abroad for a portion of my childhood, so in addition to US-style church, I’ve also experienced “home church,” as practiced by members in extremely rural areas (there was one other member family in the country), and attending services held in languages other than my native language.
Aside from ordination, what are some changes you would like to see implemented in the Church?
I would really like to see women overseeing women and girls, backed by the authority to act. I’ve been deeply uncomfortable in some private interviews with male leaders. As a survivor of abuse, I would much rather be interviewed by a woman, or at least have a woman present. It’s been ingrained in me not to be alone with men, so I often find the interviews and private meetings to be awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t want to be alone with a man I may barely know, but I’m not given a choice.
What prompted you to put up your profile?
My profile was posted July 2014 (1 year!). I had wanted to submit sooner, but I delayed over fear of hurting people I care about. Finally, I decided that for me, at least, submitting was a form of self-care – something I had to do & be truthful about for my own well-being.
at Westminster Bridge, London
Have your feelings grown or changed since submitting your profile?
If anything, I feel more strongly that the church would benefit in many ways if there was greater equality. Members should not be limited in service opportunities due to their sex or gender.
Have you had the opportunity to attend any actions? If so, what was your experience?
I attended the April 2014 action and the vigil for Kate Kelly later that same year. Both experiences were very powerful for me. At the April action, as soon as I took steps into the park where we were meeting, anti-LDS protesters began hurling insults at me, yelling that it was my place to submit to men and calling me homophobic slurs. Peace reigned within the park as we listened & prayed & sang together. We had to pass through the protesters again on our way to Temple Square and their abuses increased. We had to pause at one point to wait for the lights to change to we could cross the street, and I was stopped right in the middle of the pack of protesters. Luckily, after only a minute, the police briefly shut down the crossing traffic so that we could pass quickly. I was so grateful to them. Some may have been LDS, and may have disagreed with our purpose, but they served us by helping us pass through those who would verbally abuse us.
in the stand-by line at the 2nd Priesthood action (October)
As many captured in pictures and on film, it hailed. The comparison has been drawn that we sought shelter and were turned away, and I think many of us felt that keenly at the time. Shelter was there, but we were not welcome to partake of it. I was grateful that we were each given the opportunity to ask for admission, even as we knew we would be rejected. As I waited in line outside the Tabernacle, I’m horrified to say that the insults continued. Members of our own faith, in the very shadow of the Temple of the Lord, yelled at us as they walked by. I heard that I belonged in the kitchen, that I didn’t belong there, and that there was no room for me in the church. I wasn’t welcome.
I came to ask to partake of the Lord’s bounty, and I wasn’t welcome. More than that, my brothers and sisters felt justified in throwing abuses at us as we stood a few feet from the Lord’s house. When my turn came, I asked why my opportunities to serve God were different inside the temple, where I, too, don the robes of the holy priesthood, than they were when I stepped outside. The woman at the door didn’t know, but I was grateful for the opportunity to ask. And I will keep on asking.
Selfie from the 1st Wear Pants (Trousers!) to Church Day.
How have people close to you reacted to your advocacy for women’s ordination? Do you see people’s opinions changing?
My sisters are very supportive. My friends, even before I submitted a profile, covertly ask me questions. They know me well enough to know that I would be involved or know people involve with this movement, so several have asked for my take on events, particularly after the April action. The events of the day were shamefully misrepresented in the media, and I’m glad my friends asked for my opinion so I could set the record straight – that we were peacefully assembled, even while being shouted at, and we simply took our turns asking for admission to hear the Lord’s words. And as we were turned away, we left. I think these types of conversations are the most productive; they’ve given me the opportunity to explain that I’m not demanding anything and that I don’t seek power – I seek opportunity to serve. And I seek answers to painful questions.
Do you live or have you lived outside of the USA? What impact do you imagine women’s ordination having on the church internationally?
I lived abroad for a few years as a child, and am currently living abroad again. I find the church to be very different outside the US than it is inside, and even within US, the church in Utah is quite different from the church outside Utah. It seems to me that the farther I get from Utah, the more tolerance and equality I witness.
at the Ganga River, Baranas, India