June 25, 2014

My reaction to Kate Kelly's {very public} excommunication.

I didn't write a letter to Kate Kelly's bishop.
I didn't join in any vigil.
The most outspoken comments I made (before writing this post) were in response to an inappropriate blog that criticized Sister Kelly's Stake President.

But, my heart felt for Sister Kelly and her Ordain Women following.
These are my family-- my sisters and brothers.
My heart also felt for her Bishop and those who were asked to be a part of her disciplinary counsel.

Contrary to public understanding, neither men nor women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seek offices of leadership.
Very few men serve as bishops or stake presidents and priesthood ordination is not something that men or women acquire because they petition, demonstrate, or are voted in.

I don't share Sister Kelly's opinion that women are 2nd class citizens in our church.  As one who is married to a righteous priesthood holder, and also as one who has sat in council with many priesthood leaders, I have always felt cherished and respected.  I have been called upon to lead and to govern.  I have felt God's power to do this without a need to be ordained to the Priesthood.

Unlike Sister Kelly, I find great power in my membership in the Relief Society Organization of the Church.  I feel this organization holds power and authority to administer and minister in God's kingdom.  In recent years, I have seen many changes in administration that has allowed sisters to serve in greater leadership capacities.  Public discord seems to undermine and not support these changes.

There is a fine line between inspiration and deception.  Often leaders use ideas that are good to justify actions that are wrong.  "Pro-Choice" for example, uses the idea of personal choice or agency (which is good) to encourage the murder of millions of children each year.  They advertise actions that belittle a woman's sacred role as a creator of life under the facade of "reproductive rights and empowerment".  This is not progress, this is deception.

In my humble opinion, Ordain Women uses the idea of equality for women to encourage rebellion and dissonance against ordained church leaders who have been called of God.  Sister Kelly pulled herself away from her church family as she used the Internet, media sources, and other progressive thinkers to condemn and criticize local and general leaders of the Church.

In my humble opinion, one who is so publically seeking the "ordination" of women, should be able to demonstrate an understanding of what it means to be ordained.  Sister Kelly doesn't respect the authority of the priesthood in her own personal life.  Why would anyone seek ordination to an office she does not respect or understand?  Sister Kelly is not seeking ordination, she is seeking to abolish the fundamental concept of divine authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She didn't commit apostasy because she asked questions; she removed herself from membership when she refused to acknowledge and respect those who are currently ordained to serve as her presiding authorities.

I am a woman in God's kingdom who is ALWAYS asking questions and pushing the limits of accepted tradition to understand truth.  A church is not a political organization.  Membership in the church is optional.  We choose membership in this church, because we believe (Articles of Faith 5) that it is led and directed by those who are called of God to lead and direct His Church.  Because I believe with my whole soul that God leads and directs the organization and administration of this Church on the earth today, the questions I pose are presented humbly as I seek to understand.

You can choose to believe in our church or not believe in our church, but you cannot choose to preach against church doctrine and leadership while claiming to hold sacred covenants you have made to sustain those same leaders you are protesting against.  Before you seek ordination-- seek to understand what that ordination means.  God will never allow men or women to be ordained to any offices they do not sustain, respect or value.

Personally, I hate the idea of excommunication.  I hate it.
But, I hate more the idea of false teaching and deception.

I believe that Kate Kelly is being deceived.  I believe that she THINKS she is being directed by God, but she is not.

God does inspire change.  But, He does it in an orderly way.  God uses those who are in authority, God uses holy men and women, Prophets, even Prophetesses, who have been given authority to rule and reign in His Church on the earth today.  Kate Kelly is not one of these women.  Kate does NOT have the authority to ask for changes in a church whose leaders she does not sustain.

I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of a prophet of God and apostles in our church.  As I saw these holy men, a strong, humbling, joyful feeling enveloped my being.  I knew then, and I know now, that these were holy men called to administer this Church in these days.

Recently, I sat in a meeting with local leaders, both men and women.  I felt this same power emphasizing to me again that these men and women were called of God.  I know that they are good people, I know that they did not seek the callings that they now hold to administer and minister.  I also know the love and respect these men in the Priesthood have for me and other women who sat in counsel with them.  Mormon men honor and respect women.

Months ago, I sat in a training meeting with a large group of women.  Sister Rosemary Wixom, the General President of the Primary Organization of the Church was scheduled to speak.  She walked into the room while I was talking with my friend.  She stopped at my congregational pew and placed her hands on my shoulder to shake my hand.  I was caught off guard, not realizing at first who had touched my shoulder, to feel a powerful confirmation envelop my being.  As this humble, holy woman held my hand, God spoke to my soul confirming that she was a Prophetess in His Kingdom.  This woman was called to lead in His gospel and she was endowed with great power and authority.  I felt it then and I feel it still today.

I felt the same confirmation that Sister Wixom was called of God that I have felt previously about President Monson, our prophet, and my local church leaders.  There are women on the earth today who are called and set-apart with great Priesthood authority.  Do not let limits on your ordination distract you from your access to His power.

Women-- we have a great work to do!  Never in the history of the world has God needed righteous women to lead and to govern in His church, in the communities in which we live, and at home.  God needs women to lead and to let our holy lights shine.  We can do much good in the world.  We were foreordained to this great work.  Let's start by discerning good and evil.  Let's start by being able to hear the voice of God and act upon it in our lives.  God does not inspire contention and discord.  God is love, God is order, God is authority.  

Yes!!  Yes, just like we feel with every fiber of our being that women have the responsibility and RIGHT to CHOOSE, we also feel with every fiber of our being that women are EQUAL to men.  Of course we feel that, because we ARE!!  We feel innately that we are called to be powerful workers in God's Kingdom-- because we ARE!!  We feel our ability to LEAD to TEACH to PREACH to MINISTER to HEAL to BLESS and to use the power of God for good--- because this is our calling and our mission.  Do not be deceived into thinking that we are less because we are different.  Our potential is limitless, eternal and divine.  Kate Kelly felt this-- but she mistook power for ordination.  We know better.  Women do not need to be ordained to have access to God's power.

I have access to God's power.  I feel it.  I am called of God to minister in my home, in my community, and in my Church.  My hands are full and my heart is stretched to capacity as I learn to serve as a member of His beloved Relief Society.  I honor my membership in this great organization and I strive daily to be the disciple of Christ He has called me to be.

We do not need to be Elders-- we are powerful Sisters with a great work to perform.
Come Sisters-- let's serve together to build the kingdom of God on the Earth.
We don't have time for distractions, we have a great work to perform.

Today, my heart is full.
I pray for a greater capacity to serve in the callings that I currently hold.
I pray for eyes to see the hand of God in my life, in the leadership of my Church, in the lives of those I love.
I pray for greater love, greater patience, greater power to serve and lead.
Today-- I feel the sacred mantle that we hold and I am humbled and eternally grateful.

43 comments:

Lori Moss said...

Fantastic! This is the right way, it feels right and has the right spirit. Thank you for articulating this in our behalf. Love You! Miss You! Lori Moss

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thought Jen. You have put into words how I have been feeling.
Nanci N.

Liz H. said...

I thought this article did a good job of explaining why there is so much hurt and pain on both sides of this story: http://www.mormoniconoclast.com/pain/

Carita said...

Hi Jenifer!
Well said! What comes to excommunication there are times when it the only way. I am thinking of the story of the Lehi's vision of the tree. There were five groups of people. The two last were the fourth group that made it through the mist of darkness all the way to the tree. They caught hold of and clung to the rod of iron. They were able to press forward through the mist "even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. But, as you know, they didn't stay. After they had partaken of the fruit of the tree, they cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed. etc. They slunk away and fell into "forbidden paths and were lost" The last group however they caught hold of the end of the rod and pressed forward, until they came forth and FELL DOWN and partook of the fruit of the tree. Unlike the group before who reached up to pick the fruit, who I understand stayed standing and looked around to see had pride, they fell down ( humility) and stayed. We need to go down before we can be lifted up where we can feel His love and have a testimony of His love. Excommunication as painful as it is will allow us to work our way back. It needs to be important enough for us. We need to be in a place where we have to feel the desire to go back. To know for ourselves how important it is for us. To have time and space to recognize the seriousness of our transgression or sin. To never want to do it again. To be down where we can work to be free of pride to be able feel His love and to understand and learn about the atonement... which will lift us back. Excommunication is used only in the most serious cases. Those who go through it with humility and understanding that it is a process of love not hate, will be back stronger. They understand it is for them. It is a process of change.

Amber said...

This is definitely a topic I need to study more. But as far as I understand now, and I have heard many arguments as to why men have the priesthood and women don't-- the only truly logical, good answer that makes sense is because the Lord said so, and we don't understand why. All the other reasons and observations can be refuted. There is no scripture basis for not ordaining women that I know of, in fact, a prophetess in Israel came and saw the Savior as a babe. Was she ordained? I don't know. Also, why do the elders/missionaries need the priesthood to serve a mission, but it is enough for the sisters to just be set apart when they are doing basically the same thing. Do sisters receive the priesthood power through the temple, if so, it would be nice to have more instruction on that, if not, that would be nice to understand also. How should women use their power, specifically? Anyway, I think it is a topic that I would like to understand better. I wish the church could have found a better way to deal with Kate Kelly as there are a number of women who feel the same way she does. I wonder if there is an underlying issue they think ordaining women would solve.

Dana Blake said...

Thank you, Jen. You are amazing!

Anonymous said...

God Damn you are such a stereotypical Mormon. Did you have another kid while you posted this?

Brianna Welker said...

Very well said! Thank you!

jenifer said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. No more kids for me, but I was barefoot, eating green Jell-O with my sister wife. Does that count? :)

Kailey said...

I loved this. Thank you for sharing. What great insight!

P Chambers said...

I so agree with what you expressed....here is a
GREAT little video by Sherri Dew...
"What do LDS
Women Get?"
A wonderful explanation of what privileges and blessings we
enjoy as sisters in the church.
Wow! So good.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QYlDLChzig&feature=kp

Amy Coons said...

To me it comes down to this: Do you love the Lord with all your heart and mind and trust in his ways? His ways are not always our ways. Have faith in his ways. All his ways.

cheryl cardall said...

I have to say I am grateful for Kate Kelly. Not because I agree with her or her tactics because I do not. But she has made me dig deeper and solidify my own beliefs and testimony. The difference I felt when I read Sheri Dew's talk from BYU women's conference and Kate Kelly's material was palpable. Sher Dew's was full of light and truth and Ordain Women's was confusing and dark. Women have access to priesthood power, we just don't hold offices in the priesthood. I find no joy in her excommunication, I feel great compassion for her and her family.

Anonymous said...

In our lifetime we will all face the refiner’s fire which is meant to purify and help us reach our potential. That can be said on an individual or at a ward, stake, or church level. This "controversy" will cause certain people to question the church’s teachings which isn’t a bad thing because if these people hit their knees and humbly ask for direction He will send a witness to each of us revealing His Truth. Glad to see so many of you have done just that.

Anonymous said...

Your response to anonymous about having another baby,green jello and sister wives made me laugh! I am not LDS but Jen, I respect your values, views, opinions, and faith, also the way you care for and love and raise your family. Your are a true inspiration to many. What you wrote in this post made a lot of sense. Love GrammaDonna

Wolf Teacher said...

Thank you so much, Sister Moss, for taking the time and using the power given you to articulate what some many of us are thinking and feeling but could not find words to define. We are all very grateful. I am very grateful.

Karen M. Peterson said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. A friend shared it on Facebook, which is how I found it.

Unfortunately, from some of the things I've heard about Kate Kelly, I don't believe she has been deceived. I believe she is simply out to subvert the church's teachings. It's really unfortunate, and it's sad that she decided to make her excommunication so public, but goes to show where her heart really lies.

Anonymous said...

Jen, as a mother who lost her first born because of church deception I.e. the adoption policy, that a child needs two parents(strangers)and not the mother, I disagree that women in the church are honored and cherished. I have felt otherwise. My husband sees the same lack of respect for women in the church as I. Until you are having the stones cast at you (which imo is far more humane than disenfranchised grief)it is easy to sit back and say everything is right in the church. Our history(church history in regards to blacks holding the priesthood)is indication that things need to be fixed so that women/motherhood are treated the way Heavenly Father designed it. It is hard for men to understand this.....

Anonymous said...

Excommunication is a form of mercy. After one is excommunicated they are held to a lower level of accountability.

Latter-day Jane said...

I knew Kate long ago and feel sad at her excommunication. Like you, I did not support the movement or agree with the agenda. Thank you for penning such eloquent thoughts. My thoughts on the situation are here: http://www.latterdayjane.com

Latter-day Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Latter-day Jane said...

Good thoughts, Cheryl! Much appreciated...
~Latterdayjane.com

Janina said...

I'm so sorry you regret your choice to place your child for adoption. That must be a terrible burden to bear. While your choice in the matter was not taken from you, I'm sure you felt very paired to make the "right" decision. As an adoptive parent, my heart grieves for the birth mothers if our two girls. I just want to give you the assurance that though the people who adopted your child may be strangers to you, they are not strangers to that child. We love our precious daughters and have spoken positively about their birth mothers' have choice from an early age. (We did not go through LDS, one was a relative placement and the other was international) I hope you can manage to find peace in this life. I am also sorry if you see women, or anyone, being mistreated especially within the church. There can be rude people, but that doesn't mean they are following church policy. We are taught to demonstrate Christ-like love to all, am I right? Anyone who is doing otherwise is not being obedient to God's laws.

Janina said...

*pressured, not paired!

Anonymous said...

Janina, it is interesting you use the word choice without knowing the full story. Coercion is very real that takes away any choice. Especially for young pregnant unwed mothers who are in a temp. situation. With my six other children I never made life altering decisions while pregnant. Women who are carrying are at their most vulnerable state and should be supported by society to keep their children. Not encouraged to relinquish. This is NOT in Gods organized way and is a direct attack on motherhood and it's sanctity.
I do regret because I trusted those in authority. I regret being young, neive and ignorant. To regret loosing my sacred bond with one of my children is human. Not only did I loose that bond in this life, but the promise of eternity. And my adult son has lost his entire ancestrial line. Human beings are not interchangeable.
If you have not given birth you can not understand the destruction of the adoption policy, put in place by man. Men who can not understand the spiritual bond a woman carries with her children.
Which brings me back to my original point. There are some things men do not understand. So, women's input is valuable.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...adoption is not in Gods organized way, as currently practiced.

Anonymous said...

I loved your thoughts. I feel the same as you. And, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that it's a compliment to be called a stereotypical Mormon! Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Just read Elder Oaks talk from the Priesthood session of the April 2014 general conference. He answers most of your questions there.

Molly Hickcox said...

I appreciate your thoughts and good sense of humor with such thoughtless, small-minded comments.

mkchilds said...

Perfectly said! And I just found your blog today....a) your family is beautiful b)just you family picture alone speaks volumes about you! I'm excited to read more about you and your thoughts.

Ryxi said...

I believe women already have the female priesthood authority under Heavenly Mother, we just don't know about it yet. I am excited for the day when it is acknowledged and talked about. Men and women using their priesthoods together is the most powerful instrument for good of the face of the earth!

jenifer said...

Interesting discussion. I'm sorry that you (Anonymous) felt coerced into adoption by the Church. I'm absolutely positive there are millions like you who are coerced into abortion in the same situation. Both circumstances would be difficult. Maybe someday (in this life or the next) you will meet your child and you will find healing.

Thanks Janina for offering the adoptive mother's perspective.

I'm not sure how I feel about the "there are some things men do not understand" idea. Sure, we need each other, but that doesn't mean a man can't "understand" a woman. Some of the most compassionate, empathetic people I've known were male.

Understanding supersedes experience. Empathy is not linked to gender. Often fatherhood is belittled as women discuss motherhood and Priesthood.

I believe there are many men who could empathize, even understand the pain you describe. (Especially fathers who have lost custody of their children.) Similarly, I believe women who have never been able to get pregnant might be able to understand your pain also.

This is an imperfect world- with imperfect people, of all gender and color. Mistakes are not only male. I'm certain women clergy would make just as many. Heaven help us!

Men do not need to be belittled for women to be empowered. I'm afraid your situation could have happened even IF women were ordained to the Priesthood. I'm not sure adoption would be less emphasized. It is sad. I haven't experienced your pain, but I can imagine it. I think you'd be an interesting voice for other girls in your same situation to hear.

God bless you. Wish I could go back to your lonely hospital room and change things, or cry with you. I believe all will be made right someday. Heaven will not be a place of mourning.

Thank you all for your heartfelt comments.

Amanda @ BedTime Quilting said...

“From Such Turn Away”
155th Annual General Conference, April 1985
http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1985/04/from-such-turn-away?lang=eng

Unknown said...

Love love love this post. I felt the spirit as I read it and the love that it was written with
We surely are living in Book of Mormon times!

carrie c said...

I really enjoyed this! Thank you!

Shannon said...

A beautiful post. I agree wholeheartedly. I just found your blog thru Facebook. I think you and I should be friends. You've already taught me by example as the comments were made on adoption. I was painted to read anon perspective but also immediately defensive of the adoptive mom who wrote. I am normally very patient in my replies but wanted to quickly and forcefully refute some of anon's comments. By I read your reply, which was thoughtful and had the spirit, and I erased mine! I already like you!

Shannon said...

I should also read my comments before posting to fix the auto correct errors. 😊

Bonnie said...

I just want to point out 2 inaccuracies in this post. There are more than 2, but these two stood out to me the most. First, you claim that Kate has condemned and criticized local and general leaders of the church. I have been following Ordain Women pretty closely and have never heard or seen Kate condemn or criticize individuals. She may offer a critical analysis of the current organization and inequities that exist. But she has always maintained that she believes that church leaders are called of God and that she sustains the leaders. She simply sees the pattern of how revelation has always worked in the church a little differently than others (ie: that revelation often occurs as a result of someone asking a question of the leadership). She has a firm grasp on church history and doctrine and sees her actions as being completely in line with scripture. But if you can find me a quote from her that condemns or criticizes any church leader, I would love to see it because I don't think it exists. Second, you claim that Kate has preached against church doctrine. Where in the doctrine is the prohibition from women being ordained to the priesthood? A church spokeswoman even stated that this doesn't exist. Nowhere in the doctrine are women prohibited from being ordained. It's true that women don't currently hold priesthood offices, but there is no prohibition anywhere in the doctrine. And no, Elder Oaks did not state that God prohibits women from holding the priesthood. In fact, there was quite a bit of *doctrine* stating that blacks were not entitled to be ordained, that God specifically prohibited them from being ordained. There is no such prohibition anywhere to be found in regards to women. Yet members have no problem accepting the fact that blacks are now ordained (and permitted to enter the temple) despite previous *doctrine* prohibiting it, while at the same time arguing that asking the leadership to pray about women's ordination is somehow obviously heretical...despite the complete lack of a doctrinal prohibition against it.

Adam Fox said...

This is perhaps, the clearest thought that I have read on this subject. I am constantly in awe of the power that women can have without being ordained. As a priesthood holder myself I often feel humbled that many women can have so much more power than I in carrying out the great works that happen each and everyday all around us. The women of the church often tower over their priesthood counterparts when it comes to exercising the power of God on the earth. Kate Kelley is indeed confused. I feel sorry that she has not been able to feel the great power that she once had as a member of the women of the church.

jim said...

It looks like "Anonymous" needs a hug...great response Jennifer :)

jenifer said...

Thanks for all of your comments. I really like people- I like to see how different people think.
Shannon- consider me your friend.

Bonnie-
We may have more than two differences of opinion, but I'm not willing to admit that my viewpoint is any more accurate than yours.

Perhaps our main differences of opinion surround the definition of the words sustain and doctrine.

I believe sustaining our local leaders means more than saying the words that we sustain them. It may not mean keeping silent when you disagree, but it must discourage writing letters to national and even international newspapers publishing your differences.

Kate's recent video interviews show a clear picture of her contempt for the leadership of the Church.
http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile3/58110298-219/kelly-church-women-mormon.html.csp

Personally, I believe both the organization of the Church and the teachings of the Church to be under the divine direction of the Savior.

Because I believe this, I am certain that God knows the role of women in His Church. Demanding the ordination of women, might not be in direct opposition to any specific doctrine on women. But, in my opinion it is in direct opposition to the doctrine of authority, prophets, revelation, and keys of administration. It is also in direct opposition to the current administration policies of the Church. I'm unsure how completely you can separate doctrine from administration.

I find little difference in the logic used by modern progressive Mormons, like Kate Kelly, and groups like the RLDS Church or the Fundamentalist Church. In my opinion, when you are publicly condemning the Church Handbook of Instruction, and are calling the basic structure of the Church abusive and chauvinistic, then you have distanced yourself pretty far from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The further you distance yourself from the religion and practices of Mormonism, the more you begin crafting your own religion. This is where "asking questions" turns into apostasy. Here is a blog post I enjoyed on this subject.... "Kate Kelly was NOT excommunicated for asking questions."
http://dallinkatieandco.blogspot.com/2014/06/heres-why-kate-kelly-was-not.html?m=1

jenifer said...

Honestly, I'm not even one who feels Ordain Women has brought the role of women to a healthy place of discussion and awareness. In my experience, LDS women were already talking about Women and the Priesthood LONG before Kate, and with greater insight and revelation.

If you are really wondering your role as a woman, read "Daughters in my Kingdom" that was published a couple years ago in response to the General RS Presidency asking questions about the historical role of women and how RS relates with Priesthood. There are chapters in this book "Blessings of the Priesthood for All" and "Live Up to Your Privilege." These women, working with male Priesthood leaders, already ordained, have been asking questions AND receiving answers. I have heard these answers.

Sheri Dew wrote a beautiful book "Women and The Priesthood" that everyone (Mormon or not, male or female) should read. It is a powerful book about the role of women.

IMO You can learn more from studying these faith-promoting resources than you will by focusing on internet rumors of misconduct and offering "critical analysis of the current organization and inequities that exist."

I have seen General RS leaders talking about women and the Priesthood for years. These are the women who will be called of God to initiate administrative changes for the church as a whole.

Here are a couple articles I have enjoyed. Both are written by formerly excommunicated members who have returned to the Church.

http://www.millennialstar.org/the-mormon-intellectuals-trojan-horses/
And
http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2014/06/one-does-not-simply-lose-ones-testimony-a-heartfelt-plea/3601/

Thanks for your comment, Bonnie. We disagree about a few things, but I imagine there are many things we would agree on.

Sher's Newzzzz said...

That was said beautifully.
I really appreciate your words and couldn't have said it better myself.
Thank you for the time and thoughtfulness that went into writing this.

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