Today’s Sunday Spotlight comes from Laura, who has some wonderful ideas for women in the Church, aside from ordination.
The things I love about the Church are that it fosters organizational leadership, public speaking, teamwork, community. I think the visiting teaching program is great when it works – which it has for me these past few years. I have a truly wonderful visiting teaching companion.
However, you walk into any ward building and the art on the walls portrays men, men preside everywhere, men do all the tasks of administering the ordinances and governance of the Church, men are featured in the lessons and stories we tell at Church, the scriptures are almost exclusively about men and when they are about women, it is glossed over, our Deities are all male; men are everywhere you look—women are invisible.
Changes I would like to see in the church beside the ordination of women:
- Removal of the Proclamation on the Family; consignment to the dustbin and denounced from the pulpits of General Conference as a misguided and utterly repudiated document. I would like to see the general authorities stand up in General Conference and state that every LDS family should remove that document from their homes and that it should be stricken from the pages of Young Women’s Personal Progress booklets and removed from any curriculum. I would like to see a letter sent to every ward and branch to be read from the pulpit stating that the Proclamation should not be in the homes of the righteous. I think that document has been the worst hate speech the Church has disseminated since they spoke of Blacks being cursed.
- I would like to see the Relief Society given complete—as in Chinese Wall separation—autonomy from the priesthood in their governance. I would love to see them given half of the gross receipts of the Church annually with no strings attached to develop and oversee their own programs, curriculum and calls to service. Then, stand back and watch us build the mightiest force for good the world has ever seen.
- I would like to see the Relief Society have half of the building budget for each building built by the Church to design their spaces. Relief Society leadership signatures should be required to sign off on all building plans of any kind before they can be built.
- I would like to see the Young Women brought entirely under the auspices of the above imagined Relief Society.
- I would like to see every calling that does not require priesthood to be open to and filled by women as often as by men.
I discovered Ordain Women on the web. I don’t remember how but I caught wind of that launch meeting, but I was going, and nothing was going to get in my way. I was the first person in the room. For a bit the women on the panel (all who were strangers to me then but are no longer!) and I just looked at each other. We wondered if it was going to be just us. The room gradually filled, and since it was the weekend of Conference, I reported on my Facebook page that I had just been to the most uplifting session of Conference I had ever attended. I left there euphoric that day! What a treat it was.
I take any opportunity provided me—including being assigned a talk in Sacrament meeting—to bear my OW testimony. I have engaged others one on one in any way they were willing (and then some!)
My ward found out I supported ordaining women when I told them from the pulpit in Sacrament meeting. My bishop already knew because I had told him and he was a bit blasé about it. I am sure it never occurred to him that I would have the courage to “mention” it in a Sacrament talk. (Don’t ask me to speak in Church unless you are willing to get the full story. Just a friendly warning.) I have never really connected with this ward. We moved back to Utah from Ohio and I was in such a state of exhaustion for so long that I fell right out of the habit of going to church. Months turned into years and Ordain Women tipped me into full blown can’t sit through it—just can’t keep my mouth shut and I don’t want to be “that person” who everyone wishes would just shut up already!
My family has been polite for the most part. I don’t hear what they say behind my back, but I really wish they would say it to my face. I am slow to take offense, and I understand where they are coming from—I’ve been there! Let’s have a conversation; I will be respectful and gentle with them as long as they are at least civil to me. If they cannot be civil, I will simply bow out of the conversation. My mother wrote me a letter explaining why I was being led into the wilderness. I was soooo excited! We were going to have a real conversation!! I wrote back and have not heard word one about it since. I became obnoxious on Facebook at one point and called out some people by name. I got a response from a male cousin in the form of a page and a half letter giving me all the explanations you have all already heard about the role of women in the gospel. I was thrilled! I wrote back six or seven pages in response. Well, that conversation ended with a well meant “I don’t want to cause contention.” Don’t we love that word, “contention” and all the healthy and respectful conversations it shuts down?
I have only grown more convinced that Ordain Women is a prophetic movement over the last couple of years. This was a conversation that was festering under the surface, and the first priesthood action was a much-needed lancing.
I have attended every action. Each has been ave two girls who just astound me. They are 18 and 21, and they are– well, astounding! They are smart, perceptive, bold, generous and have a sense of themselves that I didn’t begin to have until I was into my 40s. I also read reports on Facebook about children as young as eight and nine years old, girls and boys, looking around at church and asking penetrating and insightful questions about the inequality they see there. It just takes my breath away at how these future leaders are observing and commenting on things that I did not see for many years. Even then only in a way that I had a hard time grasping and putting into concrete terms. For those who see the Church in Ozzie and Harriet terms, there is a storm upon us that will sweep away the stultifying traditions of our fathers with the force of the last great wildfire that swept Yellowstone. In its wake will come a renewal that will be as exciting to some as it will be as terrifying to others.
It gives me hope that there is a large group of general authorities who are in their dotage and cannot live much longer. I have hope that those coming up behind them tilt more toward my daughters than toward my parents.