Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Trip To Utah With Ordain Women, meeting Kate Kelly, The April 5th Priesthood Action, Church Shenanigans, And The Good Samaritan

 I hadn’t planned on going to Utah.

This blog has not been easy to write…Courage to stand up and say “I am here” to a church that doesn’t want you to stand up (and a Bishop that takes your recommend, spies on you through Google Circles where you toss him out, and then he tells you he's been reading your blogs as if you don't already know) but seemingly wants you to go away is painful. But once YOU stand up, suddenly, someone else is strong enough to stand where they may not have been strong enough to stand before. And with two, suddenly there are three, and before you know it, there is a whole sea of people who have strength to lean on each other where alone they may have fallen apart.

We need each other.

In October of 2013 there were 200 women who went to ask for admission to my churches Priesthood Session.

In April 2014, there were 510, and over 400 proxy (People who had submitted their names on paper)

How do I know there were that many? I was there.

I was handed a number as they were keeping tally. They announced the number.

That the number went from 200 to over 500 within six months is a tribute to a woman who I respect very much, Kate Kelly. In fact, I met her. A very warm and honest person, who gave me time to say hello to her and talk despite being busy getting ready for the action on Temple square. I love and revere, this brave, sweet woman who stood up when no one else would.

Now there are many.

My Journey to Temple Square had many detours…In fact; I hadn’t planned on going at all.

In the LDS church, we have conference twice a year. In that conference, we have Priesthood session which as of this moment, is only for men and boys. In October of last year, around 200 of my sisters from Ordain Women went to the Priesthood doors and requested entrance. I heard about it, I talked to my brothers and sisters online about it and I longed to be there, but I wasn’t able to go. I live at least 13 hours away driving.
What my brothers  and sisters did October 2013 in my mind is like bearing testimony with their feet. Telling them we are ready for the responsibilities of the Priesthood.

But my sisters were turned away. I wasn’t surprised. (Though I would have liked to be by them letting us in) BUT, with THAT said I was surprised at how the church treated my sisters. Telling them they were being divisive. di·vi·sive: tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people. As if they were trying to cause trouble to you know…just cause trouble?

With that said, Ruth Todd, the Public relations woman for the church at the time said "Even so, these are our sisters and we want them among us, and hope they will find the peace and joy we all seek in the gospel." (

The representatives of Ordain Women asked Ruth Todd if they could speak to a General Authority. She said she would get back to them. They sent several emails to Ruth Todd and they didn’t get an answer back. (Let me make it clear here that I am not a representative of ANY kind for Ordain Women… I just talked to them about it)

Then they learned that Ruth Todd left the P.R job and had a new job at New Skin. She was no longer the Public relations representative for the church.

Enter Jessica Moody (Jet on Facebook) and THIS

At first I felt I didn’t want to go after hearing about that nasty PR letter, then, this love I have for these women and how much I have been helped after everything I have been through just welled up in me and despite it all ,I just wanted to be with my sisters.

My daughter is graduating next year in the area, so I had thought I would wait and go the Priesthood action next April. But then I found out it might be the last time Ordain Women was doing it.

The LDS Public relations statement did two things to me…
At first, it made me want to stay at home MORE for Conference, in the comfort of my home. My husband and I sit on the bed, stay in our pajamas in the morning for a bit and watch conference on our big screen TV. We even have our own traditions. Breakfast in bed while watching conference, (How’s that for church?) Special traditions we have. It’s comfortable. It’s what my family has always done.

But I knew where I needed to be. So despite any fears I had, I went.

I hitched a ride with a woman and her family, driving to Portland from the Seattle area, and we drove to Utah from there. Many of the Ordain women troupe stayed at other O.W. members houses, who were generous enough to let us stay. After all, we were all standing together, why not stay together? 

Walking to Temple square I had many thoughts. So much had brought me here. So much pain. So much suffering. But I was not alone. 

First we went to the park across from Temple Square to meet and listen to the Ordain Women leaders.
As I listened to Kate Kelly’s speech, my heart just ached. For me, for my daughter, for all the women who know, and all the women who don’t know the churches history, and how as women we have moved backwards instead of forward. All because we have been silent. All because so many of we Latter day saint women haven’t dug into our past to see what has been taken from us. If we would only stop being so shallow and DIG deeper, we would see what we lost.

Kate Kelly’s speech

We have women and men from all around the country & all around the world. Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Virginia. (And I am going to add Washington here J)
We have sisters from Germany & Brazil & New Zealand & Mexico City with us today.

Welcome to those of you who have traveled SO far, and particularly to those who have paid a high social cost to get here today.

I founded OW in January of 2013 because I have talents, abilities and capacity that are underutilized in the Church.

Before OW I was afraid to speak my truth. I was afraid to say what I really think. I was afraid to point out the obvious fact that men & women are not equal in our Church. And, it occurred to me that if, as well-educated, self-confident woman I was unable to say what I think, it must be extremely difficult for every Mormon woman who thinks like me to speak out. It is so hard to speak up when you feel alone.

I realized, I owe it to my sisters to tell the truth. I realized I have no right to remain silent. 
 I have no right to remain silent, because I have nieces, and loved ones who will grow up in the shadow of men in the Church. One day they will look up at the stand in this General Conference that we are about to attend and realize that men are “authorities” and women are only “auxiliary” to them.

I have no right to remain silent, because young Mormon girls are prepared for motherhood alone, while young boys are prepared for leadership positions and careers in addition to their parenting roles.
I have no right to remain silent, because I love this Church. It has helped me to know my Savior Jesus Christ. I have learned who I am and my divine parentage. I feel the Spirit every Sunday, and it keeps me coming back every week. I love this Church and I strongly believe that any institution that under utilizes the talents & abilities of 50% of its members can do better.

I have no right to remain silent, because the pain and heartbreak of gender inequality causes SO MANY of my Sisters to leave the gospel.

I have no right to remain silent, because I can see the gender inequality that exists in our Church. It is not invisible.

I am not invisible.

Now I know that there are hundreds & thousands of other people who can see it just as clearly as I can.
We are not invisible.

THANK YOU so much for being here today. It means so much. To me. To young women. And to our Church.

As we walk to the Tabernacle today, we will be reverent & respectful but we will not be silenced!

Then we sang the hymn “Come Come Ye Saints” and afterword’s they spoke the words to the hymn “Do What Is Right” and I couldn’t help it, I teared up. I had posted on a site how I would love hearing that hymn on that action day, and whether they did it because I had asked or not, I felt buoyed up. 

I remembered the feeling when my Bishop took my temple recommend, and how I felt God with me despite his unrighteous and controlling actions towards me because that song had played right before that interview in an answer to my prayers that month.(See that blog here: was telling me that I was loved, that I was doing what in my heart I know is right…and his answer was in that song.

As I walked with a close family friend to the Priesthood session, I wondered what would happen.

We walked to where the “free speech” zone is, I saw signs…a LOT of them. (Interesting enough, I did not see ONE woman there)

Suddenly I was being barraged by yelling men. One man kept screaming “GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN!!!” over and over as if he was on autopilot and I was a little afraid. But there were police telling them to leave us alone and not touch us so I felt safe.  But it’s funny, despite all that craziness going on around me, I felt peaceful. I turned to one woman and said “I was in the kitchen a few days ago and made fettuccine and chili, but he doesn’t get any”. Ha ha.

I saw the face of one of one angry red faced man screaming at us and I wondered; what could have happened to that man to make him hate Mormon women so much? 

Someone else was yelling “Jezebel”!!! (Which is my cats name, co-incidentally:p) and something else I couldn’t make out.

Suddenly as we were walking, it started to HAIL! I suddenly I felt I understood what God was trying to tell us; you need to gather around each other… you are UNIFIED and are here out of love, even for those women who want to stand up and be counted but who aren’t strong enough. For them, for their children, for their daughters who frankly, deserve better. We ALL gathered under umbrellas, jackets, anything we could and the spirit of sisterhood (and brotherhood (Thanks guys!) hit me in such a strong , strong way. The sense that WE are ALL connected working towards this cause I felt this sense of protection in the storm, literally and figuratively. It was beautiful. (Buuuut KINDA cold.;p)

Suddenly a reporter was asking everyone “What do you think of this hail”? And I thought “why are you asking me this”? Why don’t you ask me “why am I here”? Being my silly self in the hail I somewhat cheekily said in a silly southern accent “Ordain Women is goin to haaaaaaaaail”! and giggled a little bit. Until I thought “oh boy…my comment might start getting used any time they wanted to slam us” :p
But amazing how warm I felt, regardless of the storm. I had my sisters beside me. Maybe that’s why I felt it was ok and so I was allowed to be…well…ME.

I was far behind Kate Kelly, but suddenly there was confusion…the gate was locked and someone stated for all to hear that the gate was locked. I heard something about us maybe taking another route around, but suddenly, the gate was open and we went through.

There would be many people talking about how the gate opened, (And I heard a few different stories.. NONE by the way of Kate forcing her hand) but when I found out from Kate Kelly herself what really happened, I started to see a pattern.

A stranger, passing by, had been walking through temple square, simply opened the gate; and walked out. There was no forcing, no big scene. Simply put;

God saw we needed him, and he sent a stranger.

As we got to the standby line (Many of us cold and wet) a man rode by on a bicycle yelling “You don’t belong here”!!  A man with a young boy stood by us in line… I was trying not to look at him, but I think I heard him also say quietly something once to the effect that we "didn’t belong there" either and then he stopped. We were wet, downtrodden, sad, yelled at, but NOT alone. There was this amazing feeling of being ONE, of standing up together, not loudly, not with malice, but with love and grace.

Later on, I heard that a man came by and started giving out towels to the women who were soaking wet after that hailstorm. At first I thought that maybe he came out from the temple and had towels, showing that even though he didn’t agree with us, that they loved us, as we are his brothers and sisters. My mind was really going and hopeful on that one. But sadly, no they said, this man was a stranger. This compassionate stranger bought towels from the mall across the street for us (The mall coincidentally that the church owns and paid a lot of money for with our tithing dollars that they could use for a lot better things say…helping the POOR?)  And showed us kindness.

Again, God sent a stranger.

I noticed someone I respect very much, Debra Jensen was there to tell us to make sure we were up against the wall and two by two in the line, and not in anyone’s way, again, we were respectful and quiet waiting our turn to ask to be admitted to the Priesthood session…not an easy feat as there were over 500 of us, and there were some of our guys, making sure we were safe. (Thanks Revo!)

As I got to the front of the line I saw there was a woman there whose name was Kim. I heard her talking to someone and saying in pretty strict terms, that we now had a women’s conference and something to the effect that they should have watched that, and did they? The conversation seemed pretty terse, so I decided that because I had seen the women’s conference I would make sure I made the point to tell her that I watched it. 

My friend went through the line, and then it was my turn. I told her that “my friend and I saw the women’s conference, and that it was beautiful” and then I told her “there are so many reasons I am here…One is that women who are in the military off in the middle of nowhere where there aren’t any male Priesthood holders can’t have a meeting or sacrament because they don’t hold the Priesthood”(At this point, I saw this look in her eyes, I got the feeling that maybe that she hadn’t thought about that before and I saw her start to tear up)  I said “that by doing this, I am bearing testimony with my feet that we are ready for the Priesthood if the brethren should so declare it. I have been an active member all my life and love the church.”
She said to me "I can see that you are an active member and love the church, but you know you can’t go in". (I figured that would be the answer, but I think that for someone living in a bubble, she may have heard things she never had before, who knows what it will do. Maybe something, maybe nothing)

I heard later that this same woman stayed and listened to all 510 of us ask to be admitted, even after a man telling her she could leave. To her credit Kim said “If they have come all this way, I can stay and listen.”
The feeling that I got from her was of love and compassion, even though it was painful, even as she was turning us away.

Even as we were asking to be admitted, a church P.R statement was released, before we were even finished asking…it was shocking after the treatment we got from Kim. It was the exact opposite of what I experienced.

The church’s Public relations statement was this…

"Despite polite and respectful requests from church leaders not to make Temple Square a place of protest, a mixed group of men and women ignored that request and staged a demonstration outside the Tabernacle on General Conference weekend, refusing to accept ushers' directions and refusing to leave when asked," said Cody Craynor, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"While not all the protesters were members of the church, such divisive actions are not the kind of behavior that is expected from Latter-day Saints and will be as disappointing to our members as it is to church leaders," Craynor said.”

NONE of us saw ANY ushers… (Everyone I spoke to said they didn’t even see an usher) we saw Ushers on the other side of the building, letting the men in. No one asked me to leave, so we didn’t ignore ANYONE telling us to “leave when asked” because we were never asked. And telling members "This will be as disappointing to our members" just gives anyone the OK from the church to treat us badly. (I can tell you that the message got across because since then, I have been treated worse at church than before by the members.)

The only thing I can deduce from this is that they wrote this P.R statement BEFORE we even got there.

I can’t wrap my head around them lying about it. Is this the church of my youth?  How could it be that this church that has taught me to be honest my entire life cannot be honest itself?

I fear that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand does…

When I lived in Rexburg Idaho, the local knowledge was they were always bringing in authorities and hiring them for a few years but actually the little guys were really in charge and directing things… and a few years later, they got rid of a clueless president and another one came in, just as clueless.

Is that the case here? (I am not saying that the Prophet is clueless…I believe he is called of God) but does everyone have all the information? Because from where I stood April 5th there was a LOT of love coming from Kim, but the exact opposite from that P.R statement. It was like a blow to the gut. Stabbed in the back. And we were stunned. All that love, and then, betrayal. It broke my heart.

Having the P.R. statement coming out AS WE WERE STANDING THERE is just odd…were they on their iPads, typing away? It was such a different experience than I had with Kim, the PR letter felt like betrayal…did Otterman write that letter and was it…deliberate?

A friend messaged me and told me I was on TV in Utah... that there was a major close up on my face hugging a friend who I haven't seen in years.... (This cheeky sister told me when we moved from our old ward that “you can't move... your vintage"! Seeing her again was like seeing a piece of heaven.)
 Then later my Sister in Law called my husband because she didn’t know I was involved in Ordain Women till she saw the news and me on it- and my father in Law called too…I guess I’m out. Now they know.

Not many weeks later and letters (2 of them) started coming with words like motherhood underlined in bold trying to put me in my place. Sorry, no man talking about motherhood can put me in my place, as, uh…you are not a MOTHER. (So, I wrote a blog)

This is NOT  the church Christ intended it to be. Throw someone out of church for having thoughts that were different than the status quo? Christ CHALLENGED the status quo. (And no, Kate is NOT done this, she has only ever been respectful and asked them to pray about it)

This is not the church of my youth. Bigoted, UnChristlike, unloving, judging each other from the length of your clothes to policing every little thought in your head.

Or maybe I was just young and didn't know any better.

And I don’t think God cares about your underwear; I think he cares about your HEART.

Which is why it hurts.

And Jesus said "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, 'Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.' Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?"He said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

These latest Public Relations statements (Along with Kate’s letter) from the church when so many are hurting is like throwing salt into a wound and digging in the knife. And then stepping aside, pretending you don’t see them, and acting as if you have nothing to do with it.

Even before April 5th the money came pouring in to help us all make it to the Utah action so those of us who could make it could be together. One man gave a very big sum to help us who wasn’t a member, a stranger..All together it was over $11,000

Like the Good Samaritan… God sent a stranger.


  1. I am reading some of this and am surprised to see such archaic bias toward women's ordainment. It would be pleasing to see our World move forward, instead of historical repetition. Heidi, I wish you many blessings in your movement to break the cycle.

  2. Thanks Shel! Heres to making the world a better place.