Friday, October 18, 2013

The Ordain Women Trip

Two weeks ago, I was in Salt Lake for the Ordain Women Action. I haven't blogged about it here for a couple of reasons: first, I wasn't sure what to say that hadn't already been said other places. Second, this is a highly controversial topic in Mormondom and I didn't want to alienate readers.

I was originally going to write about how I made the decision to go, but that's included in this Exponent post. I think instead I will write about the actual experience of going and maybe include any reactions from the ward (so far), which aren't many.

I was very excited and nervous to go. I took the train for expense reasons and because I swore I'd never drive across Nevada again. It was a nice ride and I spent it with Heidi, who wrote up her experience at Rational Faiths. For the record, I'm the one who took the picture of her reading Buffy on the train.

Donner Lake from the train
When it got to be bedtime on the train, I put the baby to sleep in the wrap and tried to sleep sitting up. Unfortunately, the baby stirred every 30-45 minutes and so I didn't get to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time. I also happened to wake up right when we passed big destinations: Elko, Wendover, the Morton Salt factory. When it got to 2:45am, I decided to officially "wake up" and gather my things. We got into Salt Lake City at 3:05. My friend April picked me up and after I got everything together, she drove us back to her house where a bed was waiting. Very grateful for that.

Linda decided to wake up early and so we got up and had breakfast. Linda and I were still tired, so we took a nap that morning and slept through the first session of conference. Oops. Lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich, Linda played with April's kids (whom she loved!) and in the afternoon, April and I got ready to go to the park where we were meeting everyone.

April and I did some chatting. She had been on the local news stations the weekend before. One of the complaints she heard about Ordain Women was that it was so public. She said, though, that OW didn't send any press releases out. They were contacted by the press for interviews only after the Church sent out a press release and linked to OW. If the Church had just ignore the whole thing, it wouldn't have been as big of a deal.

April's house has stairs! Our house doesn't have these.
I left Linda with April's husband and children. She was very tired because she hadn't had a nap since the morning, so I figured she'd go to sleep. April and I drove to downtown and found parking and made our way to the park where the OW people were meeting. I also got to take a picture of Salt Lake City's bike share.

There were opening exercises with a prayer, hymn, pep talk and then we lined up to walk to the Tabernacle where the stand by line was positioned this year. They passed out cards with names of women who said they wished they could be there, but couldn't. When I had dressed for the evening, I had written down names of my children and other people important to me that I was going to be there for and put the list in my sock. It actually stayed in my sock until Sunday afternoon when I finally got home (didn't have time to change out of the socks!)

I was there as the "official Tweeter" for the Exponent, so I was taking pictures and documenting the events as they were happening. The Exponent is dedicated to all women's stories, so I was careful to only document, not give my opinions. The next day, Mraynes at the Exponent put together many of the tweets and you can see what happened here.

Two weeks prior to going, I had a thought/impression and it said, "Are you prepared for the possibility that this is going to hurt and you're going to cry?" I had been so excited and upbeat about it that I was shocked that this came out of the blue. Then, when we were turned down as a group and it was decided we'd go up individually and ask, the thought came back with, "This is why you needed to prepare for this." I don't cry a lot. I didn't even cry at my wedding. As I got closer to the front of the line, I figured out what I was going to say to the usher: "Is there space for me?"

In all, the interaction with the usher was fast. I was near the end of the line, so all the media which had been taking pictures of each person at the line had gotten tired. I don't have a well-done professional picture of me up at the line like many of the other women. Almost on accident, a person walking by took a picture of my back at the front of the line and tweeted it. It got around to me.

I was one of the last ones to ask and so not long after, we had a "closing song" and then walked back to the park. Almost everyone listened to the session on their phones and other devices. April and I walked back to the car so I could get back to my baby and on the way we ran into some of McKay's family.

At April's, I learned that Linda had only a half hour of nap, so after getting out of our dresses and into comfortable clothes, April and I drove to dinner, hoping she'd fall asleep in the car. She didn't. At dinner, I was able to talk to Kate Kelly (who I have so much respect for- it's hard to be the public face of a movement!) and she told me that my profile was the very first one up on the website,, by about 15 seconds and that's why it's at the very bottom on the right. Also note to self: send in new non-pregnant photos of myself!

After a good meal, April dropped me off at the train station. The train left Utah at 11:30 and the baby still hadn't slept. It was cold and I got some criticism about my baby not wearing socks, but once we were on the train, it was ok. She ended up teething the whole way home and woke up every half hour crying. I felt bad for the other passengers on the train, but there wasn't much I could do. I think I got about 5 hours of sleep on the way home counting nighttime sleep and a small nap.

When we got home to Emeryville, I had to walk home with all my stuff because McKay and the kids were at Margaret's first violin performance. I happened to get home when they were arriving home, but I didn't get to crash and sleep until 11pm. I never made up the sleep and 2 weeks later I'm still tired. It hasn't helped that the baby was teething and then got a fever the Wednesday afterwards, followed by Isaac on Friday and Margaret on Saturday. I was lucky and got mastitis on Saturday, too! Then this week Margaret got food poisoning (we hope) Wednesday.

I think we're done recuperating. I was sad I didn't get a picture of me asking that included my face. I asked around and the guy in the Twitter picture with a camcorder and purple shirt, did catch everyone asking on camera, and while the footage isn't available for everyone to see yet, I got a chance to snag a screenshot. I was nervous to watch the footage. It felt a lot like watching the video Linda's birth: it's so different to be outside of yourself in such an intense moment. It happened so quickly on the video, but so many thoughts were going through my head. I showed it to McKay and if you watch my face, I smile through most of it, but once I turned away so the next person could ask, my chin immediately scrunched up, ready to cry. Watching it reminded me of how sad my kids look when they are sad. I know where they got it from now. Like the Spirit warned me, I cried.

I think the biggest testimony to me that this is what I should be doing is that while planning for this event and going to it, I've felt more spiritual promptings than I have in a long time. The small voice that I might end up crying was just one of many premonitions about myself and other people that turned into deja vu moments. The universe and God are looking out for me and I think we're on the same page.

It wasn't about getting into the session. I'm absolutely fine with separate meetings for men and women, but I'm not fine with automatically exempting good people from leadership positions and spiritual experiences because they are female. We were there to say, "Hey, we're ready to take on the extra responsibility of priesthood and we're not afraid of what that entails." I went because so many women could not without harming their own family or church relationships. McKay is supportive of me and so is my ward. I'm in a particularly blessed congregation in the Mormon world where they really do live Big Tent Mormonism and are inclusive of everyone.

I don't shout my opinions of Ordain Women everywhere. Heck, I wasn't sure I'd put it up here on my own blog. If I wanted to shout about it, I get the chance to every fast and testimony Sunday, but I don't take it. It is plausible that no one in my ward knows that I'm associated with Ordain Women. But I know they know.

On the Tuesday after General Conference, I went to our ward's Relief Society book group. One of the women came up to me and with great interest, asked me how conference was and if we got in. I had never mentioned OW to her before, yet she knew.

Last March on the day before the profiles went up, Carol Lynn Pearson announced to a room which included many people from my ward and stake, including the then-RS president and our current bishop, that there was this new site being launched the next day called Ordain Women and everyone should read the profiles. At the time there were only 20 profiles up, so if they did go to the site the next day, it's highly likely I was noticed.

Still, no one has said anything. In June when the Sunday School topic for the youth was "Priesthood" I was asked to substitute teach the youth for three weeks. The teacher who would be out of town on vacation knew I was on the OW website but still wanted me there to sub. I actually didn't ever talk about my opinions about women and the priesthood, though I guess I could have.

Later in July, during adult Sunday School, an older high priest commented that he hoped that women would get the priesthood someday. My ward is good people.

In the temple recommend questions, I think the hardest question is the one that starts, "Are you honest in your dealings..." I think it's a trick question; saying "yes" is obviously a lie! Interestingly, the question doesn't ask about being honest with yourself, just other people. Five years ago at church in Provo, I promised myself that if women get the priesthood in my lifetime and I am a 90-something year old woman making a comment in Relief Society, that I'll say that I hoped and prayed and fasted for the priesthood to be available to all worthy people and that I did everything I could for it. And I think that so far, I've kept that promise.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I wasn't able to go and it's really nice getting to read other women's reactions that were there. Also - I love that this is a "breastfeeding friendly blog" that's awesome. thanks.

  2. Heather, I loved reading your account. So much of it parallels my own journey. I thought I had made a quick trip, but yours was even a shorter visit and longer time in transit. I flew and left at 4:00 pm Friday, arriving at midnight in SLC and left again at 12:45 am Sunday and was home in time to see the first Sunday session. And I didn't have a baby with me. You have courage!

    I enjoyed meeting you at dinner and it is faith affirming to me to hear how similar both your physical journey and your faith journey to SLC was to mine. I felt that the entire experience was one of the most spiritual I have ever had.

  3. To me this seems like a simple issue. Either you believe Thomas S. Monson is a prophet who is guiding the church according to God's will, or you don't. If you do believe that, then why are you fighting against it? I'm pretty sure if Heavenly Father wanted women to have the priesthood, President Monson would be the first to know. And If you don't believe he's the Lord's spokesperson here on earth, then why are you even a member of the church?

    1. First, I really shouldn't allow this comment because it's against comment policy to question someone's testimony, but I'm going to address it. If you continue to question my testimony or dedication to the Church, you will be moderated.

      Why am I fighting against it? I'm not. Asking to be a part of a meeting is not fighting against it.

      We are studying the Doctrine and Covenants in Sunday School this year. In the heading of almost every section is an explanation on the lines of "So and so had a question and Joseph Smith brought it to the Lord." There is a tradition in place that members ask the leaders to as the Lord. That's all we are doing. No leader has said that women will never be ordained. I very much believe the leaders speak for God, which is why I stood in line, showing that I'm ready to hear the answer.

      Also, it's not a particularly good missionary move to question "why are you even a member of the church?" Would you like me to leave? Is your answer to questions to tell people to leave? How is that Christlike at all? If you think that I'm "lost" or not a true believer, why is your answer to throw me out?

      I do have a testimony and I love going to church. This last week I couldn't go because my baby had pink eye and it hurt me that I couldn't go. I can't go again this next week because we'll be out of town and missing two weeks in a row is hard. I love Church, I love the gospel. Don't act like I'm not wanted in the Church or that I'm not supposed to be there. Because I am.

  4. No one said you weren't wanted in the church, and my answer wasn't to "throw you out." I don't think you can really even say I questioned your testimony, but that is your interpretation. I simply stated that if you had come to decide that Thomas Monson was not a prophet, then the next step would be to leave the church, I would think. All of the conclusions you drew from that statement, as well as your questioning of my Christlike nature, are your words, not mine. Obviously, you do believe he is a prophet, so you shouldn't take offense at the hypothetical statement that doesn't apply to you. My first question about fighting against it when you DO believe he is a prophet is the one that applies, and you answered it.

    However, I think it's a little bit of a stretch to compare your desire to hold the priesthood to Joseph Smith's desire to learn more about baptism after coming across references to it in his translation.

    So, I guess your simple answer to this question would help me understand your cause a little more: If President Monson said that he had prayed to the Lord and received revelation that women were not to be ordained to the priesthood at this time, would that appease you? Would that be the end of the Ordain Women organization? Because, as it stands right now, the teachings of that organization (that women SHOULD hold the priesthood) run contrary to the teachings of the church (that women have other very important responsibilities that don't include the priesthood). I'm not sure how you reconcile that difference when that question comes up in your temple recommend interview.

    I am sincerely interested in your answer to the question I've posed, so I hope you'll post my comment as well as your response to it.

    1. You said, "If you don't believe he's the Lord's spokesperson here on earth, then why are you even a member of the church?" with the assumption that I don't believe in the prophet. The word "even" is colloquial to indicate frustration at a person. That's questioning my testimony according to generally accepted Bloggernacle comment policy rules.

      If President Monson came out and said he was presenting a revelation about this, no matter the outcome, I would do as I do for everything- pray about it myself. I'm not sure how disagreeing with something the prophet says is not sustaining the prophet. By that logic, even members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles would be found to not sustain the prophet! They disagree with each other on lots of things!

      I don't know about Ordain Women as an organization. I'm not their spokesperson.

      There is no piece of doctrine that says women will never hold the priesthood. There is current policy that states that, but I've never seen it written down as doctrine.

      Also, I wasn't thinking about JS praying about baptism, but about Emma Smith going to Joseph Smith about the tobacco on the floor of the School of the Prophets which resulted in the Word of Wisdom. Members of the Church went to the prophet with questions and he went to the Lord. That is all we are asking for.

      And I'm unsure what temple recommend question asks about gender roles. And the current teachings that "that women have other very important responsibilities that don't include the priesthood" also apply to men. They have fatherhood, for example. Having lots of responsibilities in different areas of your life doesn't preclude you from priesthood.

  5. Goodness. Well, I'm completely lost in your faulty logic, and I don't have the energy or desire to decipher it, much less respond to it. However, I will share 2 points as my end to this discussion. Feel free to share your response, but I won't see it.

    1. The difference with the brethren is that while they may have much discussion and varying opinion, once the prophet speaks, they align themselves with him. You will never hear one of them speaking against a decision he has made, much less forming or joining an entire group that opposes his and the Lord's decision as you have done.

    The temple recommend question I was referring to was the one that asks if you align yourself with any group whose TEACHINGS are contrary to those of the church. I think you know that you can't HONESTLY answer "no" to that question.

    Good luck in your quest.

    1. 1. How do we know they align? Have you asked them? Also, when is the last time the prophet has given a new teaching? From General Conference, I hear these sorts of things: be good to each other, forgive, love. I can't imagine any apostle saying they are against that.

      2. The OW group has no teachings. They aren't a church. Also, please let me know what you think is a "teaching" of OW that is contrary to the Church. From the website, I see they believe in continuing revelation and that God speaks to the Church through leaders and the hope that women's ordination will be a topic that is addressed in that.

      Also, for the record, that question is code for "are you a polygamist?" and was added to the temple recommend questions to weed out LDS-practicing polygamists. You can look it up. :)

      Also, you doubting my ability to answer a temple recommend question "correctly" is not ok. My bishop, stake president, God, and I know my good standing. I have a calling, I go to church regularly. In fact, I'm giving a talk On November 24 on any topic I want (that was the topic given to me) because "you are solid" (quote from the bishopric member who asked me to speak. That you want to defend myself and beliefs and goodness to you is something that you need to reconsider in yourself. What makes you think it's ok to call strangers to repentance?


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