Today’s Sunday Spotlight comes from Donna. A wonderful peek into her life in which she shares personal stories, hopes and faith.
- What gives you hope for the future?
What gives me hope is that more and more people are speaking up, are obeying the Saviour’s commandment to ASK, to KNOCK. The drops of “asks” will soon become an ocean! I have hope that the Lord will hear our pleas and He will, according to his own time, ordain women. I hope it will be in my lifetime.
From the New Testament we learn that people must believe before miracles can happen. Jesus could not perform any miracles in Nazareth because, the scriptures say, of the “unbelief” of the people. We must rid ourselves of “unbelief” before this miracle can happen!
- Aside from ordination, what are some changes you would like to see implemented immediately in the Church?
I would like to see girls and young women treated with equality. When a 12 year old girl says to me “I want pass the sacrament!” I won’t say “Sorry, you were born a girl.” I will answer “I want that, too.”
If you want evidence of different treatment of males and females in the church, just compare the Eagle Court of Honor to the Young Women Recognition award. For boys, I have seen the following: banquets, special nights, speakers, out of town relatives fly in, live eagles flying around the room, Indian dancers dancing, a US Senator speaks, etc., etc., etc. For girls? We hand them a necklace. Usually in the hallway. If we remember. The message: boys are more important than girls.
One more anecdote: At a church history site, the man talking called up all of the young boys out of the audience and told them “You are so special because you will hold the priesthood.” A young girl just sat looking at the ground and asked later “Why aren’t girls special?” Again, the message couldn’t be clearer: boys are given special privileges just for being boys.
- Tell us more about your connection to Mormonism?
My mother’s family has been Mormon for many generations.
- What was your favorite calling?
I have been the president of the Relief Society, Primary and Young Women. I was an early morning seminary teacher for 12 years. I really enjoyed working with the young women, and they loved me, too, and often told the bishop how much they loved me. One young woman told me “You’re the only church leader I have ever had that didn’t treat me like I was a problem.” She was a feminist, are you surprised?
- What are some of the things you love about the Church?
I love serving others, and the church provides a structure for doing that in abundance. I miss that the most. I am thinking of volunteering with the Girl Scouts because I miss working with girls and I will teach them that they deserve the very best in life, and they deserve equal opportunities.
- What are some examples of gender inequality you see in the Church?
This would take many volumes to tell, but let me just say one thing. Leadership of the church has always been by only male priesthood holders. I believe the church would be a better, richer place if women had a part in leadership of the whole church and not just auxiliaries.
- How did you discover Ordain Women?
My daughter Kate Kelly said to me one night – “Mom, I am going to start an organization called Ordain Women. It will have a site where people can put up their profiles. Would you do one?” And the rest is history!
- What prompted you to put up your profile?
I have always believed that women should be ordained, and that one day it will happen. Just read D & C 76:95. It says all have equal power and dominion in the Celestial Kingdom. So if that is the most celestial way, why shouldn’t it be that way in the church right now?
I didn’t have the courage to speak up on my own (mea culpa!) but when I knew others would be making the same public statement, I knew I could do it. Ordain Women gave me the courage to open my mouth. I believe in the phrase “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” I know it is right to finally obey the Saviour’s commandment to ASK for what I have believed all my life. And so I – tremblingly – put up my profile.
- What has been the reaction of your ward/ family/friends?
My extended family is very divided on the issue of whether women should have equal opportunities, and so we don’t talk about the issue at all.
My ward members have mostly shunned me, except for a very few women who still speak to me. I can count them on one hand. Not one single person in my ward or stake has said “I am sorry for what your family is going through.” Not one. This has been one of the surprising blessings of being a part of Ordain Women – I finally know that these people are not my friends, and in fact many were secretly my enemies. It is very freeing to know that, to know how deceitful and hypocritical people can be. My ward leaders have punished us by not allowing us to do service in the temples, and by not allowing us to serve in callings. We have been called “disgusting,” and yelled at by ward members. Our mailbox has been bashed in many times – we finally gave up and just set it on a rock.
- Have your feelings grown or changed since submitting your profile?
I have not been to church since June 23, 2014, the day my daughter was trash-canned by the church. It is just too painful a place to be for now. The one time I went into the church building for a few minutes I was screamed at by a person I barely know.
I have grown spiritually stronger and stronger since my profile went up. I know without any doubt that it was the right thing to do. The people who oppose Ordain Women have reacted in such a hateful, petty, mean-spirited way, that I am glad I am not among such a group. We are standing on the right side of history, just as those brave souls did who spoke up for removing racial discrimination in the church pre-1978. God bless them! God bless us!
- Have you had the opportunity to attend any actions? How did they effect/change you?
I have attended many Ordain Women events. They have been universally uplifting, intensely spiritual and personally strengthening.
The most spiritual meeting of any kind that I have attended in my life was the non-denominational service “Equal in Faith” meeting held in March 2015 at the Community of Christ chapel. It was so powerful that I wept the entire meeting – tears of joy! Many women who are ordained ministers and leaders in other churches spoke. Their talks and their examples were so powerful, and provided a vision of what it will be like when women are ordained in the church. The whole room was filled with love and light and joy!
We sang this Hymn, and I sobbed so hard, it was hard to sing a note. That refrain about “Justice and Joy” just reverberates in my soul on an almost daily basis! It is my favorite hymn of all time.
A few excerpts:
For Everyone Born, A Place at the Table
For everyone born, a place at the table,
for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for everyone born, a star over head.
And God will delight when we are creators
of JUSTICE, and JOY, compassion and peace;
yes, God will delight when we are creators
of justice. Justice and joy.
For woman and man, a place at the table,
revising the roles, deciding to share,
with wisdom and grace, dividing the power,
for woman and man, a system that’s fair.
For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free.
- Do you have any examples of sharing your OW testimony to others?
I am recognized many places I go in Utah. “Are you Kate Kelly’s mom?” people often ask. They universally say “Thank you – to your daughter and your family, for what you are doing! Thank you for your courage!” They often say “I want things to be better for my daughters.”
I have never once tried to “convert” someone to Ordain Women. Our examples speak loudly, and the rest is up to them.
- How do you see the perception of OW changing with ward members/family/friends?
One of my favorite Ordain Women anecdotes is from a woman I spoke to in line at a priesthood session action. She stayed with her grandmother, and they had a very heated argument about whether women should have equal opportunities. Then they went to bed. When they awoke the next morning, her grandmother said to her “Why shouldn’t women be ordained?” and they hugged and cried.
One story from my own life. A non-Mormon co-worker watched the news coverage of the first priesthood action. He said he was brought to tears watching women who were so reverent, devoted and sincere. He said “A church that inspires such devotion, such righteous desire, deserves a closer look.” He asked about having the missionary discussions. Sadly, when Kate was excommunicated, he said “I am not interested in hearing any more about a church that would do such a violent and hateful thing.” Like many others, he was stunned at the hateful actions of church leaders and is no longer interested in the church. It is sad that it didn’t have to be this way. It could have been “Thank you, Sister Kelly, for caring about this issue. We are not making any changes right now, but we’ll call you if we do.” What would have been wrong with that?