On March 17, 2013 I hit the button to launch ordainwomen.org. 22 women and men put up profiles explaining both their connection to Mormonism and the reasons they felt women should be ordained. It is hard to describe what it felt like at that moment. It was as if with one push of a button, I was free. Free to speak my mind and free to acknowledge the patently obvious fact that men and women are not equal in our church.
Many of those original profiles were my friends and family members. It took courage to stand up and put our personal information out there for all to see not knowing what the result would be. It takes courage to keep standing when so many things have transpired over the last two years with the express purpose of discouraging us.
Yet, here we are.
Far from shrinking into obscurity, Ordain Women has grown to a robust, diverse, worldwide movement. Those original 22 profiles have grown to over 600 Mormon women and men willing to take very tangible risks to tell their stories. I never, never would have imagined at the beginning that the call for female ordination would attract so many and inspire such unwavering authenticity. I did not predict that it was an idea whose time had truly arrived.
Our Catholic sisters at the Women’s Ordination Conference taught me a phrase that has defined for me the beauty in our struggle:
‘they can crush a few flowers, but they can’t hold back the springtime.’
In March, the season of renewal surrounds us in many parts of the world. Spring brings warmth and our thoughts turn to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ cannot be separated from the cross he bore. He taught us of hope, renewal and fearlessness in the face of great odds.
The seeds of gender justice were planted in the Mormon Church by women who came many, many years ago. And, like a crocus in spring, they are just now beginning to emerge. It’s essential that we celebrate each milestone, each victory. It’s also crucial that we stand back and see the life of this struggle and realize that it is in its infancy. Fresh, new and ready to take root.
I learned from another faith tradition, this time the Quakers, about our place in this vibrant, continuous, sustainable march toward equality:
‘Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justice now.
Love mercy now.
You are not obligated to complete this work, but neither are your free
to abandon it.’
Those who newly find their courage will join those original 22 saints in speaking up for gender justice. We will continue to find joy and rejuvenation in speaking truth and bearing witness to the sacrifices of others. This movement, though in its infancy, has already been a resounding success because we have found our voices and banished our silence.
Happy birthday to Ordain Women, and many happy springtimes to come to all women who seek parity in a patriarchal world.