The Inaugural LDS Women’s Meeting–Part I

I have looked forward to this historic women’s meeting for many months despite sharing the concerns of some that the audience may be too broad. I arrived at my stake center, wearing my subversive purple dress, vowing to keep an open mind and to stand with my sisters, no matter what.

I will be sharing my thoughts on the first half on the session but I have to say, I loved every minute. I was moved and inspired by each talk, I found the videos and music uplifting and heart-expanding. I am grateful that I live in a time where a meeting like this can be held and that we can be taught powerfully by the women leaders of my own faith. I look forward to the time when my daughter can join me.

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Book Review: Mormon Women Have Their Say

Mormon WomenIt took me a long time to read this book, 1) because I actually read it one and a half times, and 2) because I read it almost entirely out loud. The first “half time” came on a long, long road trip across the United States, and was enough for me to know that I wanted every member to read it. The reason was both simple and personal: reading Mormon women’s experiences in their words facilitated the most amiable discussion on Mormon feminism that my traveling companion and I had ever had. He heard the women’s pain and joy, and he could not ignore them. Mormon Women Have Their Say birthed compassion and understanding.

The “whole time” came after my babe was born. I started again, and read a few pages at time, while I fed her. We finished just a few days ago, and it felt like a marvelous accomplishment.

The book begins with a preface from a woman at my graduate school that I do not know well, and then a longer introduction by Claudia Bushman, about the project the book stems from, and its history and impetus. One of the things she talks about is how we have few records on Mormon women, and fewer records on Mormon women that weren’t named Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Emmeline B. Wells, or so forth, and fewer records still on Mormon women in the 21st century. The Claremont Oral History Project begins to correct all three.

It offers hundreds of records on regular Mormon women. In Claudia’s words:

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Paper Cuts

Paper Cuts

Sunday after church, my children occupied themselves by making paper airplanes with scraps of paper while waiting for my meeting to finish. Monday morning, while tidying up, I found one of their airplanes, made from a copy of the First Presidency’s invitation to the General Women’s Meeting later this month.

First Presidency Invitation to the General Women's Meeting

Click to enlarge

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Notes From NYC: Claudia Bushman On Recording Stories

CLBMy Relief Society does something remarkable, that makes me rejoice about what Relief Society can be. We call it our Women of Faith Lecture Series. Every month or so, a different sister tells us her story of faith–which is just as often her story of doubt, and trials, and questions–and then the floor is opened for a very rich and intimate Q&A. I have experienced nothing else like it in Mormonism.

The first one I attended was by “East River Lady.” She spoke about some of the things she wrote about here. It was powerful. The second I attended was my own. I spoke about researching Heavenly Mother full-time, and some of the joy and sorrow that came. The third I attended was recently: it was by beloved Claudia Bushman. She shared her story of collecting stories, and of keeping her own.

One of the very first things that Claudia said is that while she fought keeping records for half of her life, she now thinks that it is the very most important thing we can do. She went on to explain that “if dates and names for your family are in the archives, you can access them, but there are other things that you know, that if not recorded will be lost forever.” I forget the specific examples she used here, but essentially they were experiences; they were stories.

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I’ll be Wearing Purple

The Purple Dress

Ordain Women supporters (including me) will be wearing purple as we join other Mormon women in attending the General Women’s Meeting on Saturday, March 29, in the Conference Center and other buildings around the world. By wearing purple, we want to show that we both love and support the church in its recent initiatives to make women more visible within our faith community and hope for a continued discussion about gender equality, including women’s ordination.

Last year, the church announced that the General Women’s Meeting, previously held once each year a week prior to the church’s semi-annual General Conference in the fall, will now also be held a week before the spring conference. In addition to providing another opportunity each year for women to hear from their female leaders, the church has also made other changes to give women more voice and visibility, including an emphasis on collaborative, gender-inclusive councils, greater encouragement for women to serve missions, and the opportunity for women to both pray and speak in General Conference.

Ordain Women supporters are active, engaged members of the church and we appreciate these initiatives. We pray leaders will continue to respond thoughtfully and positively to all those who share their belief in the possibility of a more equitable religious community.

Will you join me – and wear purple too?

 

 

 

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