On Easter I saw a glimmer of greater involvement of our young women, and it was beautiful.

Posted by on April 9, 2013 in women | 44 comments

In Two Parts.

Part I: My perspective:

I was visiting my oldest sister in a nearby state, and we were spread out on a row of hard chairs in the gym seating. When the Sacrament tray came, my 8 year old niece accepted it, stood up, and personally walked to every single one of us, offering the bread and water. She was grinning. I thought, “This. This is what it could be like.”

It was one of the most lovely things I have experienced at church, and I started to think further about the possibility of families purposefully placing their daughters in the seat next to the aisle, so they could do what my niece did, and pass the sacred emblems to each person in their family, though admittedly the space between the pews may be a tad more limited than the space between the folding chairs.

azure & emmett crop

Then on Conference Sunday, the same sister who I visited posted a curious little picture on facebook, with a careful row of tiny Ikea cups of water, and an Ikea plate with broken bread. I quickly discovered that the same niece who joyfully passed me the Sacrament the week before, woke up early, and set it out for her family on her own initiative.

My sister, Cumorah’s words: “Knowing that we wouldn’t be attending our regular church service today due to General Conference, Azure, on her own, prepared the Sacrament for us to take here. It’s still sitting on our counter, and has led to quite the interesting discussion.” I wish I wish I was there for that discussion, and even more so I could have partaken of the bread and water.

Sacrament

I am also reminded of the hopeful words I read last Friday regarding the recently announced change in mission leadership, with its increased “role for sister missionaries.” Elder David F. Evans, the executive director of the Missionary Department stated that it “will be a blessing to both missions and missionaries throughout the world, and better employ the remarkable faith, talents and abilities of all missionaries.”

I feel so much admiration for my niece, who at 8 already strives to serve her family and ward in genuine ways, and finds such pure happiness in doing so. I pray that the church I love will give my niece lots, and lots of opportunities to serve, and thereby employ her remarkable faith, talents and abilities. I also rejoice in whisperings I hear of wards whose Bishops have utilized Young Women to serve as ushers or messengers, as well as the one ward I know of that (at least formerly) allowed Young Women to participate in the Sacrament by bringing or making the bread.

Part II: My sister’s (fuller) perspective:

Before my daughter passed the sacrament to our family on Easter Sunday, she and I had a talk about the possibility that someday, girls might be allowed to do just that.

The Priest who was blessing the bread had to repeat the prayer several times as he didn’t get it quite right. Azure asked me why he had to repeat it, and we talked in hushed voices about the importance of the words in an ordinance, which led to a discussion about the importance of our roles in the ordinance. We watched as the 12 deacons, all lined up and ready to pass the sacrament to the masses, waited for the Priest to receive the nod from the Bishopric that the wording of that sacred prayer was just so before they began fulfilling their duty.

I know Azure’s giving, passionate, dedicated heart, and I could tell she craved further understanding. I felt inspired to ask her a question, that I wasn’t planning on. I was never asked this question, but always wondered it when I was a little girl. I took a quick breath, then asked her if she had ever thought about why only boys bless and pass the bread and water. She nodded a silent yes. I whispered to her about the priesthood, and how this is an ordinance that is governed by it, and how boys and men have the opportunity to hold the priesthood. She nodded again in understanding, and then said, “Maybe someday girls can do that too.” I squeezed her tight and replied, “Maybe. Maybe someday.” And that was that.

We sat in silence as the deacon came to our row, and handed me the sacrament tray. I passed it to Azure, and you know what happened next. I watched her as she stood, holding the tray and offered the sacrament to every individual in our row. After returning the tray to the deacon, she snuggled up next to me and smiled. And I smiled back.

That next Sunday, as soon as my husband and I got out of bed, she asked Daddy to please come bless the Sacrament that she had prepared for all of us. He answered that taking the Sacrament is an ordinance that is supposed to be approved by the Bishop, and since we hadn’t asked for that permission, probably shouldn’t do it. He did turn to me awhile later and said that he supposed it would be fine if we wanted to. But by then, I was making breakfast, and Azure was off preparing the General Conference candy jar game, and we all kind of forgot about it.

It was a missed opportunity. We could have taken her Sacrament! I am certain this would have been one of the most memorable partakings of the Sacrament that she would ever have…(well maybe besides the time back in 2010 when she accidentaly dumped an entire tray of blessed bread on the gym floor, or the sweet times the priests came and hand delivered the Sacrament to our door when Calvin was brand new and troubled and couldn’t attend church for a few months) and I didn’t push for it.

I let her offering sit on the counter until the bread got hard, and we tossed it in the trash. Did I do that because it was prepared by a little girl? And not by a young man with the Aaronic priesthood? I don’t know. Did I do that because we should follow the rules to ask for Bishop’s permission first? I don’t know. I do know that I failed to take an awesome opportunity to build my daughter up. And I am still kicking myself for it.

When I posted that pic on Facebook, I was thinking it might spur some discussion on the ‘someday’ possibility of girls/women being able to prepare the Sacrament, but I mostly got comments, like “Adorable!” and “That is so cute!” It was both those things. It was absolutely adorable and cute. But knowing Azure, it was meant to be much more than that.

She is thoughtful and eager and above all, benevolent. She is the type of girl who comes up with a lesson and activity for FHE without being asked, and without any prodding or assistance, every week. The type of girl who created her own scripture reading chart so she could mark off her personal study daily. The type of girl who made me a “Go Mom! You rock!” poster after I taught my first real Zumba class.

The type of girl who created and implemented the “secret service” program in our home after she decided the kids needed to work on being kinder to one another. The type of girl who wakes up at 6:30am on a Saturday morning to do her own Saturday chores, and her sister’s Saturday chores before anyone else even rolls out of bed so we can spend the day having fun together instead of laboring the morning away. The type of girl who got online, found the lyrics for “If the Savior Stood Beside Me”, printed them off, and memorized all three verses because: “that song just really speaks to me, Mom. It really does.”

The type of girl who would take the responsibility of preparing and passing the sacrament extremely seriously. I love that girl. With all my heart. I failed her this last Sunday, but I’ll make it up to her, I promise. I am certain there will be more opportunities to encourage and empower her, and I will take and/or create those opportunities. Oh, that girl. She is a gift, and I treasure her daily.

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44 Comments

  1. So many of our girls and young women dearly want to serve. Lowering the missionary age to 19 is a wonderful beginning — I can only imagine that younger girls would be better prepared for a lifetime of service in the Church if they grew up feeling more connected to their ward families through service.

    • And there are SO many wonderful beginnings happening right now (as you have pointed out in your post on Spring!).

      I think that that feeling of genuine connection through genuine service is crucial, and that fostering it could go a long way in helping us keep our girls once they turn 18. Among other things, I love the suggestion I’ve read elsewhere about including Young Women age girls in Visiting Teaching. While it is a small thing, I believe it could powerfully and deeply help them experience what the gospel is and tie them to their ward (and real) family.

  2. This is what ideally I think all our kids and youth (and adults!) should feel. A really strong desire to be part of ordinances and to serve each other. When people say “I wouldn’t want the priesthood” I think it is because desiring the priesthood is fraught with so many overtones of rocking the boat. Yet this, to me, is what wanting the priesthood would be all about. Wanting to serve as fully as we are allowed to on earth. Wanting to take part in every ordinance, both receiving and administering it.

    Thanks for this post.

    • Exactly, Em. I really do understanding saying “I don’t want the priesthood.” Priesthood callings are time consuming and some of them require making oneself available and vulnerable to others in ways that must be difficult. And saying you think women should be ordained is almost universally panned as evidence of unrighteousness and pride and an utter absence of humility that to say it is to open yourself to some of the worst possible criticism in our culture.

      But this little girl’s desire is the kind of desire all of us should have. And I don’t understand why it wouldn’t also mean wanting to serve in priesthood capacities. Because doing so opens new opportunities to serve and build connection with one’s community.

  3. For some reason this post really hit me hard. As I have more time and distance from being a practicing Mormon, most of the cultural aspects and knowledge have faded. I embrace my new life and own the Mormon past equally. But one issue that stays just as alive as it ever was: Mormon women, girls, and feminism. I am Azure, thinking “maybe someday girls can do that too”. It still hurts. I am hopeful that it will different for the girls that are growing up in the church right now. I really really do.

    • I remember being a little girl, probably not yet eight, and lining up all my dolls and stuffed animals to serve them the sacrament. I had memorized the priests’ prayers and prayed the first one earnestly, then started to pass the bread to my toys, taking it “by proxy” for them. My mother saw me and told me to stop. I asked why and she said “It just isn’t nice.” Of course, I asked why it was “nice” when the boys passed the tray in church but naughty when I did it at home. She replied “you are a girl, and God only lets boys pass the sacrament.” I was devastated, but occasionally passed the sacrament in secret, feeling great reverence and joy when I did so. As long as I was Mormon, I felt great spiritual yearning that was never satisfied. Now I respect my Mormon heritage, feel spiritually satisfied in my new tradition, but yearn for the sisterhood of Mormon women, of which I am no longer a part. May God bless and keep Azure and her spiritual yearning. And may the Mormon church help her to fulfill it.

  4. I love the sweet innocence of your niece, her excitement about the importance of the sacrament, and her desire to serve and create a sacred experience for her family. As humans, we all love to create and serve and connect in our own ways.

    I also have thought about how passing the sacrament is not a priesthood responsibility, as I always pass and/or hold the sacrament trays each week for those around me and see women doing it all over the place. It’s so wonderful to see this eager young person claiming her ability to serve in these ways.

  5. This was so, so beautiful. I want this to happen someday. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Olive, thank You! And you are very, very welcome.

  6. I am so touched by the goodness of this little sister in the gospel, and the wonderful relationship between mother and daughter, to be able to have these conversations. I don’t ever remember asking the question as a child, but now I wonder why not. There is so much to do, that it seems a pity not to engage all of the willing. Like Azure, I hope, “Maybe someday girls can do that too.” Thank you so much for sharing.

    • “There is so much to do, that it seems a pity not to engage all of the willing.”

      This, for me, is a big reason the Church needs to examine it’s teachings on gender. The Millennials are the most un-churched generation in the last century, maybe ever. I’ve read that young people are leaving the Church in larger than ever numbers, especially young women. I think one way to keep women is to engage them better. And there really is so much to do. Women whose mothering years are behind them could be so much more utilized in serving and leading in the Church.

      • I am reminded of a fabulous quote from Chieko Okazaki that X2 Dora shared with me:

        “Another shift going on in America is a gradual change toward a more equal partnership between men and women in business, government, education, family life, and many other aspects of life. Many of our daughters and granddaughters will have very different opportunities to develop and use their talents than we have had, and they will encounter different expectations from women of our generation about the place they will occupy in the world. We need to make room in the Church for all of their energy, intelligence, and ability, or we may lose many of them. All the sisters in the Church need to understand that they share equally in the blessings of the gospel, including the spiritual strength that comes from a personal testimony of the Savior.”

        Amen, Chieko. And amen, Dora and Emily U.

    • I love that “Maybe,” and feel like it was confirmed by President Hinckley, when in an interview he was asked if women may one day be ordained to the Priesthood, and he answered, ‘Yes, it is possible.’

      For the time being, I love and admire Azure, and every girl and woman like her the world over who carves out her own opportunities to serve. There is room there, a lot of room, and we can take it.

  7. I am surprised by the way this post is affecting me. As I read her mother’s description of Azure, I saw myself. Not myself today, but myself almost 30 years ago when I was Azure’s age. At that time, my desire to serve was so strong and so were my faith and my love for the gospel. And much of that has been tainted, if not lost. Perhaps that is partially a natural result of losing the innocence of youth but I also feel like these qualities in me were intentionally quenched by my faith community. My church has denied my offerings, refusing my service because of my gender. When I have dared to express my desire for increasing responsibilities and service opportunities in the Kingdom of God, I have been scolded for my desire to serve, accused of murmuring and not understanding the gospel, even called power-hungry and apostate. I struggle to protect my faith against such attacks. I worry for girls like Azure, who remind me of myself. Will she ever be able to honestly say, “I don’t want the responsibility of the priesthood,” and thus fit in and avoid the censure of her Mormon peers? Or will she grow up like me, never able to understand how a desire to avoid responsibility in God’s work is a virtue? Always sad about missed opportunities, never fitting in with more content Mormon women?

    • My church has denied my offerings, refusing my service because of my gender. When I have dared to express my desire for increasing responsibilities and service opportunities in the Kingdom of God, I have been scolded for my desire to serve, accused of murmuring and not understanding the gospel, even called power-hungry and apostate.

      THIS. This is how I feel, too. Even though I am out.

      • We don’t lose our church-engendered religious insecurity or feelings of rejection just because we are out. I still feel the pain vividly, and I left the church in 1986. I am still culturally Mormon in many ways, but I celebrate having a relationship with Christ that doesn’t need the Mormon church as an intercessor.

    • That was my worry too, April, although not backed by personal experience like yours is. Azure sounds like a wonderful girl. But I fear that when she hits her teen years and gets hammered with the message that she counts to God only when she does things like covering her shoulders and getting ready to have children, her bright, energetic spirit will be broken.

    • April, this thought may be a little frightening to you, but hold to your faith in Christ, protect and cherish that. Don’t worry as much about your faith in the Mormon church. Any church is merely a vessel for God’s teachings and a vehicle to Christ. It is important to find a faith community that can support you in your pilgrimage to Christ, and to nourish you when you are spiritually hungry. That’s what I have sought and sometimes found post-Mormonism. Your community should ideally be a facilitator in your seeking the savior, not an impediment, or a means in itself. Blessings! I have had similar experiences and think I can relate to your pain.

  8. Rachel, your words are like shovels that dig deep into the minds of individuals. These shovels dig deep to see if people think what they really think, and it’s wonderful. I appreciate it so much! What I am about to say is not sarcastic or critical, I honestly want to say what I think (as a woman) and hear what other women might say who don’t agree with me.
    Elder M. Russell Ballard taught that, “Men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles…Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths” (April Ensign 2013, pg 22).
    This is a man that, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we sustain as our leader. Someone we are accepting as a special witness of Jesus Christ, so I trust him.
    What I learn from him there is an eternal truth about men and women who are different but equal. In that, literally, God gave His power as a gift to each sex in different but equal ways. The Family Proclamation To The World teaches me as well that, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” To me, this means my difference from males, as a female, is a big deal! The gift he gave me is my identity and purpose. The power from God to women: “bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths” is my identity and my purpose and my responsibility. For me to desire the gift and power God gave to males seems ignorant of a woman’s eternal identity, or selfish to want both when it was ordained for each sex to be responsible for one, or a bad case of “the grass is greener on the other side” ( in thinking one is more desirable than another).
    According to Elder Ballard’s teachings and the Proclamation To The World, I feel that when a woman thinks it’s her right to have the priesthood like men, it is actually turning her back on the power God gave her! And simultaneously lessening the value and significance of the power God gave to women. It feels like she is condemning her highly significant responsibility, and identity, to the garbage. It completely lessens the value of women’s gift from God because she wants a different one. A woman’s power from God is supposed to have equal caliber to that of a man’s power from God. I say supposed to because it seems like people aren’t recognizing a woman’s opportunity to work with God in creating life as a gift anymore. It seems like people are only recognizing a man’s opportunity to work with God in having stewardship over sacred ordinances as a gift. What is supposed to be as honorable and as powerful as the priesthood is now thought of as less because it doesn’t count…? God bestowed His power to women to have children, but it’s discussed like it’s a curse almost, or a bad chore, something women didn’t ask for so they have a right to the other power God gave to males.
    To think the power God entrusted women with is limiting a person from serving in God’s kingdom is wrong. The priesthood allows men to serve in a way that is essential for the immortality and eternal life of all God’s children. The “stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths” is as essential, but different, in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of all God’s children.
    To think the power God gave and entrusted women with is not as good as the priesthood is wrong. Having a child, caring for a small child, is hard, but it is greater than any good I’ve ever participated in on this earth. The priesthood is wonderful and men are blessed to have it, but so is ours and so are we. Don’t overlook the similarities of difficulty with each responsibility either. They volunteer and sacrifice hours of their time away from family, life, and careers in order to hold meetings, council with troubled people, and make hard decisions that don’t always end pretty.
    I feel one can feel convinced that “the grass is greener on the other side” here. When in reality both pastures are made to have great potential if there is sacrifice, service, and the Savior. Eternal life or bust.

    • My husband very much agrees with you, but I can’t say that I do. At least not fully.

      Part of it is simple: motherhood is not the proper binary to priesthood, priestesshood is (just as fatherhood is the proper binary for motherhood).

      Another part of it stems from my reading of the Nauvoo Minute Book. It lays out Joseph Smith’s very significant and very expansive vision of women and the priest(ess)hood. Among other things, he turned the keys to them, ordained them (rather than just set them apart), called upon them to call deacons and priests, encouraged them to give healing blessings with the laying on of hands and consecrated oil (and chastised those who were against it), and told them he would make them “a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day–as in Paul’s day.”

      And in Paul’s day there Were females who were ordained to priesthood offices. At least one was a deacon, and at least one more was an apostle. If we believe in the full restoration not only of Christ’s gospel, but of his organization, then it seems fit that women’s inclusion in the priesthood might also be restored.

      One more related part (for now) is that Joseph Smith also taught that many women Have the priesthood, right now. He taught that they receive it in their own Endowment, rather than through their husband or in the sealing ordinance as members today believe. Thus, talk about women’s role as being separate from the Priesthood is not quite accurate.

      But, what I am am most concerned about in this post (and in real life) is how women and girls might use their spiritual gifts. My niece is 8. She wants to be a mother one day, and I sincerely hope that she will have that opportunity, but there are many years between now and then. How can she serve God right now? She does it every day in her own family and with her own friends, she does, but how can she do it in her own ward? There are many opportunities in a ward setting where I believe young girls and young women can and ought to be included that don’t require ordination to the priesthood at all. I identified just a few of these, by mentioning some bishops who have seen fit to call young women to serve as ushers, etc.

    • Meagan, in all respect, your comments are insensitive and lacking in empathy. Also, this perspective is not Biblical. Sorry. I’m not going to say more because I feel myself wanting to attack your statements, when that is neither Christ-like or charitable. So, I agree to disagree.

  9. This post was so powerful – it hit me like a ton of bricks. THIS. THIS IS WHAT IT COULD BE LIKE. This is the pure desire that women (and girls) have within them.

    My husband has actually been searching in the scriptures to find any doctrinal basis for deacons passing the sacrament and hasn’t found any yet. The duties of the various priesthood quorums are laid out pretty explicitly, including having the priests prepare and bless the sacrament, but there is no reference to deacons being responsible for passing it. Could it be that this is one more thing we do out of tradition and not doctrine?

  10. The idea of proper binaries is logical, and I completely agree that we have much to learn about what Priestesshood actually even means. But to conclude, through means of binary, that Priestesshood for women must be exactly like priesthood for men (as we know it) is flawed. We don’t have ANY idea what it actually means! Priestesshood could be the title of the authority to hold God’s power to create life, for all anyone knows. We don’t have any idea what it means as a general public, and it isn’t logical to say that an exact parallelism to Priesthood is the only answer. (I am excited about this topic and am hoping for some light on this exact subject myself).
    And as interested as I am to read all of those things you cited (Honestly, not sarcastically), I raise my hand to sustain current prophets and in doing so I accept knowledge and information from what they say over past prophets. It’s a harsh claim, but in not doing so is precisely why the Jews only believe in the Old Testament. I, by no means, think I know more than you or anyone that has an honest desire to know their role in the Great Plan of Happiness, I am doing the same thing. My sister left the church over this exact subject, my father was excommunicated from the church over this exact subject. It’s important and we’re all trying to figure it out. But the talks in General Conference this weekend were enlightening to me (to say the least) about God’s power and the office of Priesthood, specifically Sister Dalton and Elder Ballard’s talks. Perhaps you don’t agree with them, that’s fine, but I sustained them as someone I trust as a special witness of Jesus Christ, and what they say is most important to me when gathering knowledge and making opinions. More important, in fact, than a much debated past. It’s an unfortunate thing, really, that it can be debated as greatly as it is. Unfortunate to me anyways.
    I know you said this post was about something different (how women and girls might use their spiritual gifts) but since several comments were about girls using or holding the priesthood I felt my interpretation of what you didn’t say was correct. I interpreted, like others, that on top of everything, your post also had to do with the ways women don’t serve in the Priesthood office.
    Thanks for reading my opinion and responding because I value your opinion as an intellect and friend. I’ve already learned a lot from you and the Spirit that you invite, even in our short friendship. :)

    • Meagan – it sounds to me that your bottom line is something like “An apostle said it this way, and that’s good enough for me.” That’s a legitimate form of faith. Where the discussion about the topic of male-only ordination gets really difficult for me is when people try to explain or justify it. No justification I’ve ever heard is satisfactory, and many are downright offensive. I am fine with “I accept current revelation on male-only priesthood as part of my faith.” But unfortunately many people who are content with the status quo do not stop there, but rather attempt to explain and justify it. Which is strange. Why try justifying something God revealed?

      For a fun, tongue-in-cheek run-down of the various and sundry “explanations” on why women aren’t ordained, see Allison M. Smith’s excellent post at Times & Seasons:

      http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2013/03/dumb-reasons-for-exclusively-male-priesthood/

    • The priesthood of all believers is just that – a holy priesthood bestowed on all believers in Christ. I attend a church where it is just NO BIG DEAL that women and men both serve as deacons and elders. And that women can be pastors as well as men. It is a non-issue; however, we take the commitment to be Christ’s manifestation in the world and agents of his service very seriously. That is our priesthood commitment.

  11. The Hunt sisters make a great team! What a great post! Thank you Rachel and thank you Cumorah.

    • You are welcome!

  12. One reason I find the binary of mother and priesthood so unsatisfying, other than not being a mother myself (and really, it seems unlikely to happen in this lifetime), is that being a child-rearing mother occupies so little of a woman’s life. In general, most women will enjoy 20-30 years of fertility. At some point, the ability to bear children will pass. And due to longer lifespans, women may reasonably expect to live 20-40 years after ceasing to bear children. This is in addition to the 16-30 years prior to bearing children, at the beginning of her life. If women concentrate solely on bearing and rearing children, that will encompass only about a half to one third of her lifetime. Is the rest to be spent in selfish living? Why *not* allow them to serve in ways that they find meaningful?

    I think that those women who feel like they don’t need or want to hold the priesthood, are speaking from very privileged positions. Of course, I could be wrong, but it seems that most are surrounded by a multitude of willing and able priesthood holders, and so do not feel a personal lacking. However, there are areas of the world in which branches and/or wards cannot be created, because there are not enough priesthood holders to run such units. If women were able to hold the priesthood, then it’s conceivable that missionary work would increase exponentially, as women would be able to fill in where priesthood holders are non-existent. I think that it is very important not to let our privilege stand in the way of those who want or need to serve.

    I do think that the historical precedents that Rachel mentioned are key to this discussion. There is not a blanket ban on women being ordained, or even performing ordinances. In fact, women perform ordinances every day, in the temple. If we look toward the temple as the most celestial places on earth, it makes sense that women hold the priest(ess)hood there, and administer ordinances. And aren’t we trying to make our daily lives more temple-worthy and celestial? In the temple, women are called to be queens and priestesses. I can’t imagine queens and priestesses saying that they didn’t want to serve in whatever capacity that they were able to. In fact, I would imagine that queens and priestesses would be as eager to serve as little Azure.

    Finally, I think that the binary of motherhood needs to be fatherhood. It’s not enough for fathers to provide the financial support for their family. Just as it’s not enough for a mother to physically bear children. Parents need to be involved in their children’s lives. They need to be available to love, teach, correct, guide, and encourage. Children need fathering as much as they need mothering. President Lee stated that the greatest work we will ever do will be within the walls of our homes. Not the walls of the office. Not the walls of the church or temple. But the walls of our homes.

  13. Rachel this is so beautiful. I love the Ikea cups as sacrament. Love that your sister knew to document it. If and when Azure is called to the 12, I will make raise my hand to the sky in support!

    • Thank you, Heather! She is a really great sister (and an equally great mother).

      Ha. Whatever happens with that “maybe,” I am confident Azure will do great things. I’ll even applaud if she’s the 100th women to pray at General Conference. :)

    • So sweet Heather, that sure made me smile.

  14. Dearest Cumorah,

    You are a truly remarkable sister and mother. I admire you so much for taking that quick breath and asking Azure the question you felt inspired to ask, that you wondered when you were her age, but didn’t have anyone address. That moment for me is already so beautiful, as is the moment when you squeeze her while offering a “Maybe,” and the smile you give her when she returns.

    I also love that maybe, both from Azure and from you, because it is a maybe. Right now we don’t know more than that, just that there have been changes in the ordination of the Priesthood before, and that our last prophet, President Hinckley, once said it is possible for women to be ordained sometime down the line, and that our first prophet of these Latter days, Joseph Smith, had a grand vision of that priestesshood.

    I love just as much (or more) that Azure is not afraid to look for, or create opportunities to serve, both in the beautiful instance on Easter, and in her preparation of weekly FHE lessons. She is a brave and incredible girl (and not only because she always jumps in the cold pool first!).

    You are brave too, because of the conversation you were willing to have, but also because of the example you set for your children and for me in constantly sharing your skills and talents. I am confident that that has helped set the precedent for Azure. Thank you most of all for looking for opportunities to encourage and empower your daughters (and your sons). I know that you will find them.

    I love you. Your words and your example (and your sweet Az) made me cry the best and happiest kind of tears.

    xo

    • Thank you for that sweet little love note, Rachie! I adore you as well, and am constantly amazed by your intellect and faith, which {we have personally witnessed} is not always easy to mesh. I suppose you may have mentioned that I am brave because I allowed my perspective to posted in full, using mine and my daughter’s real names {and let’s face it – there are not a lot of Cumorah’s out there who have daughter’s named Azure} When people who know me see this, they will have no doubt that it is, I, the one and only.
      Thank you for attempting to bring the focus to “how women and girls might use their spiritual gifts.” That is something that I am very concerned about: how we can serve God right now, with the gifts and talents we have been given, even within the roles which we currently have. I feel like there is much that we can do; I feel like there is much that we DO do.
      But, I suspect you may have endearingly entitled me “brave” because I also told you in the midst of sharing my perspective, that I am honestly not sure where I stand on the topic of the ordination of women, and was {slightly} nervous that this post would be seen as me championing it. I will admit that I am torn in this department. Do I believe the ordination of women could possibly happen in my lifetime? Yes! Have I personally felt called to lead the charge that it should happen? No. Do I feel that women are capable of being entrusted with the priesthood? Absolutely! Do I feel that it is necessary that we be entrusted with it? Not necessarily. This inner debate goes on and on for me.
      For example, I read comments like Meagan’s touting the ‘equal but different’ roles men and women are entrusted to, and can support that thought, as I am genuinely happy in my role. I read comments where you eloquently lay out the historical documentation of priestesshood in use, and see the validity of its call to reinstatement. I read comments like X2 Dora’s and realize that yes, I am privileged to be surrounded by a “multitude of willing and able priesthood holders”, one of which is my incredible husband, and perhaps I would think differently about its necessity if I were secluded from the blessings of the priesthood. I read April & Kendahl’s feelings that the church has denied their offerings, and it makes my heart cry for them, and truthfully makes me a little nervous that my own daughters may someday feel that same way. I visit the temple and internalize the words ‘Queens and Priestesses’, and wonder if that is possible now, and not just in the eternities. But I haven’t personally found my own answer yet. While I support and applaud those of you who have joined the Ordination of Women cause, because you feel called to do so, I can’t yet lend it my voice, as I have yet to feel that personal calling. Perhaps it’s because I have worked with amazing men who value, cherish and support the Sisters. Perhaps it’s because I have had so many opportunities to serve and teach and lead that I’m ok not being granted additional responsibility. Perhaps it’s because, of the men I know well, there are only a handful who are truthfully, 100% committed to & fully believe in this gospel – who are not just living the LDS life because it’s a good way to teach values to their children, or because it’s how they were raised and they don’t want to rock the boat, or because their wife, who they love, wants them to. A handful! I will admit that it is primitive and prejudiced for me to even entertain the notion that perhaps the men need the priesthood simply because it makes them feel needed, but a little part of me actually thinks that.
      Clearly, I have some soul searching to do. Until I figure out where I stand, I am open to and understanding of the idea that yes, “maybe someday girls can do that too,” because being a mama of some exceptional daughters has made me want to believe that they truly can do anything. I believe that they can. Passing the sacrament and playing football? Why not? Did I mention that Azure plays football? This is getting crazy long though, that’s a post for another day!

  15. This is moving and beautiful. It gave me chills. Thank you, Rachel and sister, for posting this.

  16. Thank you Rachel for sharing this. And thanks to your sister Cumorah as well for sharing her perspective. It is so beautifully written. I dream of the day women can pass the sacrament.

  17. Wow. I found myself crying after reading this post. What an amazing beautiful child Azure is!

    I’ve been thinking about how exactly the priesthood power works. Not the authority. I’ve come to the conclusions that if the priesthood is the power of God on earth, than the priesthood is powered through love.

    Azure sounds exactly like the type of person priesthood responsibility is for.

  18. This was such a sweet post. I had a similar experience with my recently turned 12 year-old daughter a month ago. She was missing sacrament so decided to have her own sacrament meeting while home alone. She found a conference session on LDS.org and watched it and she broke a piece of bread and had some water. She told me she said a prayer over it, but didn’t use the priesthood blessing because she thought perhaps she wasn’t allowed. (Which we said was correct.) She texted me a photo to show me her little sacrament set-up and I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. Happy to see that when left to her own devices, she tries to do what is right but sadness knowing that she will never have the opportunity to prepare and bless the sacrament for anyone.

    It has really hit me hard recently as I’ve witnessed my daughters and her friends turn 12, seeing the boys every week fulfilling their priesthood duty and seeing the girls, sitting in their pews watching. As much as everyone tries to tell us that we are incredible, we are spectators in so much of our worship. It makes me sad and has brought up memories of my youth, always watching and feeling a quiet hurt.

  19. This is so beautiful, Rachel, thank you so much for sharing. As I watch my daughters and their friends “play” sacrament (carry bread and water aound- trying to avoid the dog who will eat it- I see beauty, and learning the share, and service. And I can’t bring myslef to teach them that they aren’t allowed to do this.

    • I love that visual!

    • Good for you, Spunky. Please don’t !!!

  20. Great post, Rachel. Thanks for sharing this vision of what could be, and the story of your remarkable niece. I sure hope someday comes soon!

    • You are welcome, Ziff. And she really is remarkable.

  21. This post and subsequent discussion only proves what I’ve suspected–that the Hunt women are powerful spiritual leaders.

    I’m blown away by Azure’s desire to serve and her mother’s and aunt’s wise examples and counsel. Thank you for sharing this lovely story.

    • You are welcome, and thank you for your kind words, Emily CC!

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