We were spiritually prepared:
In addition to our individual prayers and meditations, we came together for a devotional in which we sang inspirational songs and invoked the presence of the Spirit.
We were physically prepared:
We had water to stay hydrated. We scheduled times for lunch breaks. We had chairs for those who needed to rest for a few minutes. We had umbrellas to shield us from the sun and coats to keep us warm.
We were respectful:
We approached the building politely and in a very orderly fashion. We remained in the area where our permit from Salt Lake City allowed us to be. We did not obstruct traffic on the sidewalk. We did not create a disturbance. We did not leave any litter or damage any flowers or greenery.
YET, WE WERE STILL REJECTED!
On Friday, April 1, we began the in-person portion of the #ReadytoWitness campaign with a devotional at City Creek Park. After the devotional, we walked the short distance from City Creek Park to the Church Administration Building.
We then made our first attempt to deliver the cards and letters (Click HERE to see the video). We mounted the steps of the Church Administration Building with feelings of trepidation, hope, and even a little fear. We were not allowed beyond the foyer and Debra Jenson, our Board Chair, who was our spokesperson, was told, over the white telephone that is used to speak to the security desk, that the Church does not accept hand delivery of packages. When she replied that we did not have a package but we had cards and letters, she was told that we would have to mail them. She told them we would be outside (right in front of the building) until 5:00 p.m. in case a Church leader or an authorized assistant was willing to accept our cards and letters.
We stayed outside the building until after 5:00 p.m. on April 1. Despite the fact that all of the windows were covered by blinds and/or curtains, we could tell that there were people inside. At several points, people actually looked through the blinds or around the curtains at us, but no one came out to speak to us or to accept our cards and letters. We watched, in amazement, as several General and Area Authorities mounted the steps to the Church Administration Building, entered the foyer, used the security phone, and were not allowed to enter. Apparently, our leaders decided that since they did not intend to allow us to enter the building, it would look better if they did not allow anyone to enter the building (at least not through the front door).
We were back in front of the building by 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, and stayed there until after 5:00 p.m. We did the same thing on Sunday, April 3. Again, there were people in the building. Again, some of them looked through the blinds or around the curtains at us. However, no one came out to speak to us or to accept our cards and letters and, again, Church officials who clearly expected to be able to enter the building were routed to other entrances.
We then returned on Monday, April 4, and made another attempt to enter the Church Administration Building and deliver the cards and letters (Click HERE to see the video). On that attempt I, in my role as Board Chair-elect, was the spokesperson, only to be told the same thing that had been told to us on Friday. We then tried to deliver the cards and letters to the Relief Society Building, where it seemed as though we would be allowed to meet with one of the assistants to a member of the Relief Society General Presidency, at least up until the moment we told her we were with Ordain Women.
BUT, THAT REJECTION WAS NOT THE END OF THE STORY!
As we stood outside the Church Administration Building over a three day period, we had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of our fellow Mormons who were attending General Conference and a large number of non-Mormons who either visiting Salt Lake City or going about their daily routines. We collected more cards and letters to add to our notebook. We talked with people who were supportive of our efforts and we talked with people who were not so supportive of our efforts. We handed out water bottles and we passed out treats.
While there were people who viewed us with disdain and dislike, we could see in the faces of other people that we were dispelling some of the misconceptions that they had about who we were and our feelings towards the LDS Church and Church leaders. Over and over again, we were asked if we were Mormons and when we replied in the affirmative, we saw looks of surprise on the faces of those who had asked the question.
We were blessed with tender mercies in the form of people who returned our greetings with the same love and kindness with which we extended them. Moreover, at every point when we were feeling discouraged there was always someone who stopped or turned around and came back to give us encouraging words and (more often than not) to take some of our buttons, pins, and bracelets, etc.
Because our Church leaders would not accept the cards and letters from us, we had the originals delivered to the First Presidency via Federal Express. We had copies delivered to the Relief Society General Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, and the registered agent for service for the Corporation of The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also via Federal Express. We have received confirmation that those deliveries were made Thursday, April 7th.
To all of the women, men, girls, and boys who shared your stories with us, we say thank you for sharing and for entrusting us with your personal and precious testimonies. As we wrote in our letter in the Salt Lake Tribune:
It is our fervent hope and prayer that [the] messages [in the cards and letters] will be in the minds of our church leaders as they pray and seek revelation about ordaining women to the priesthood in the LDS Church.