Today’s inspiring Spotlight comes from M’lisa! While she doesn’t “desire” priesthood ordination she does see it as the only way for complete equality in the church.
M’Lisa was born and raised in the Church. She graduated seminary, even earning a medal for placing 2nd in scripture chase. She earned her YW medallion, “graduated” from Girl’s Camp which entailed meeting certain goals and attending all years, and she was president of her Laurel’s class. M’Lisa married her husband in the San Diego Temple. She followed the path set out for her in the Church.
Her favorite calling was teaching the (combined) 14 & 16 year olds. She enjoys teens and would love to work with them again. M’Lisa loves the sense of community she found in the Church – no matter where you live, there is a community to give you sense of belonging.
There have been many times that she has experienced gender inequality in the Church and the first was probably when she asked why girls couldn’t pass the sacrament. Later when she was the Laurel president there it was again. She suggested that the Young Women do some activities the Priests had done such as tour the new fire station or have a sports night, only to have the suggestions shot down as being inappropriate for Young Women. When she asked why, she was told that the Young Women were only allowed to do activities that focused on “Personal Progress” which meant, essentially, fashion nights and makeup parties which were o.k. M’Lisa reasoned that if the boys could do it, why couldn’t the girls? She was told that if the boys wanted to “Ignore spiritually appropriate activities” that was on them, but the girls were going to focus solely on the spiritual.
These were not the only, nor were they the last experiences M’Lisa had with gender inequality in the Church. She also found the temple very troubling. She felt alone in her concern and she expressed to her husband how alone she felt and how she thought she was the only one who saw and was hurt by the inequality she saw all around her. She remembers telling her husband that it didn’t matter if an angel appeared to her and told her that things weren’t meant to be this way. She would be powerless to do anything about it.
M’Lisa appreciates the Doves & Serpents “Equality is not a Feeling” series as it articulates many of the things she has experienced.
M’Lisa happened on a Salt Lake Tribune article about Ordain Women launch event and she followed the links to the main Ordain Women page and the Facebook page. That night she read through every thread on the Facebook page, she read every profile on the Ordain Women site, and everything else she could find. The entire time she argued with the Spirit; she didn’t want to join, she didn’t want to help because she didn’t want ordination to the priesthood at the time. She had the usual thoughts – too much work, right?! For three days she argued; she pleaded (don’t make me do this!) and finally she agreed to do things the Spirit was prompting. She submitted a hesitant profile and never looked back.
M’Lisa has attended every action except the first. By the third action – the second Priesthood action on Temple Square – she had submitted a new, stronger profile. She still doesn’t “desire” ordination but she does desire to have the power to make the kinds changes for equality that would require the kind of influence that only bishops and stake presidents have and that would require ordination to the priesthood. Although she was unable to attend the water bottle handout on the 24th of July, she plans to attend every action she can while she is living in Utah, because she doesn’t know if she’ll be in a position to attend any after she leaves. M’Lisa loves that she is setting an example for her daughter about standing up for what’s right and acting.
M’Lisa has been blacklisted for all intents and purposes by her ward for her activity in Ordain Women. Her bishop is a loving and Christ-like man who does what he can to help but he can’t make people like us. She’s been disowned by one aunt and another is obviously uncomfortable around her even if Ordain Women doesn’t come up. M’Lisa tries to be respectful of the discomfort of others and does not force the conversation on people. Her mother and many other family members just avoid the subject altogether. She does, however, have an ex-mo aunt who is amazingly supportive and even her ex-mo sister is supportive (even though she hates religion). Her other siblings are a mix of “don’t care” and “good on you.” Her Mormon friends are mostly supportive, her non-Mormon friends are mostly indifferent; they are glad that she’s standing up for what she believes but aren’t really otherwise interested.
M’Lisa has not seen any changes in the perception of Ordain Women in her ward members or family and friends but she hears of conversations happening and reads about them on facebook. She sees that progress continues and that the conversation isn’t going away. She sees some hope in the future in those conversations. People are asking and/or are being asked hard questions and rather than reflexive defensiveness, she sees some introspection and a desire to do things better.
Aside from ordination, the changes M’Lisa would like to see are callings that are not dependent on the priesthood opened up to everyone, such as Sunday School president and ward clerk. She would like to see equal hiring and pay practices between men and women in the Church jobs such as that recently implemented in CES.