Aspiring Mormon Women Events

written by Naomi Watkins

Awhile back we featured the origin story of the awesome group Aspiring Mormon Women, a non-profit organization that supports and encourages LDS women’s educational and professional endeavors. This month, AMW will host its first events outside of Utah—in Boston and D.C./Northern Virginia.  (Registration Links and Details below.)

One aspiring Mormon woman shared her experience attending AMW events:

“I have found a sisterhood of motivated, talented women who thoughtfully and passionately pursue personal excellence. I enjoy mingling, networking, and having spirited conversations with my AMW sisters. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to attend three Aspiring Mormon Women events. On February 25, at the AMW networking event in Provo, Utah, I enjoyed meeting and reconnecting with many inspiring women living in Utah County. In addition to the formal events arranged by Aspiring Mormon Women, the organization encourages women to organize meet-up groups in their area. I helped arrange a small AMW meetup in Provo on May 1; we had a delicious dinner at Guru’s Cafe and spent the evening strolling around downtown Provo, talking about our families, education, careers, frustrations, and successes. Finally, on June 4, I attended the Aspiring Mormon Women event with Ruth Todd, the VP of Public Affairs for Nu Skin International, and former news anchor and spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For me, one highlight of the evening was the group’s discussion about the importance of teaching young women to avoid limiting themselves with narrow notions about what women can or should do, and instead, helping young women pursue goals that match their individual strengths, talents, and interests. I love the fantastic discussions and delightful connections that always take place at AMW events!”

Sound awesome to you, too? Then, please, will you…

  • Share this post with your friends to spread the word
  • Join us at this month’s events if you’re in the Boston or D.C. area (see details below)
  • Connect with AMW online via our blog and Facebook discussion forum

 

Boston | Friday, June 19, 7–9 p.m.

AMW Boston Event

A Panel Discussion + Networking Event

We’ve assembled a panel of women from various careers, life stages, and paths to provide a stimulating, supportive, and enriching conversation about education and career as an LDS woman. Our first event outside of the Wasatch Front, this evening will provide a great opportunity to meet other Aspiring Mormon Women in the Boston area.

Register here.

 

D.C. | Saturday, June 27, 7–9 p.m.

AMW DC Event

A Night Out with Aspiring Mormon Women D.C.

Meet like-minded LDS women pursuing educational and professional goals. Come for an evening of support, encouragement, and networking.

The first hour will be an unstructured mixer. The second hour will include structured networking activities, including speed networking and discussion groups about career planning, nurturing the aspirations of young women, and other related topics.

Register here.

 

 

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The 5th Sunday Project

the 5th sunday projectIn today’s world of internet communication, we Mormons have access to a lot of information about our faith. [ ie – Websites are dedicated to our temple ceremonies, scriptures, and interests. The Bloggernacle is full of thoughts and attitudes about devotion, practice, and culture. And The Church itself puts out videos, article, recourses, and essays on lds.org.] Some of this information is troubling and difficult to absorb. Many are concerned. These concerns range from authenticity questions about LDS scripture to race imbalances.

My concern is for women in the church. I am concerned that in our patriarchal structure of governance, women have limited visibility and voice. I am concerned that in the exclusivity of male-only Priesthood, women have a reduced development in spiritual gifts and inadequate outlets sacred expression.

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#VisibleWomen Series: Please consider Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary Stake Presidency Members to have rotating speaking assignments as often as members of the High Council

Here is the letter I’m sending to general and auxiliary authorities, and (slightly revised) to my local leaders:

 

Dear Leader,

I’ve been a Relief Society member for almost 20 years.  During that time I got married, became a mother, graduated from two universities, began working in my profession, and held several callings in Relief Society, always including that of Visiting Teacher.  I’ve taught and been taught by my fellow sisters and received support in life transitions, and have appreciated the company of my peers and the wisdom of women farther along in life than I am.

I have learned something from each of my Relief Society Presidents and have regarded them as inspired women with stewardship for me.  I can name most of them and picture a talk or an event where they said something meaningful.  But as I think back on my years in Relief Society I realize I don’t remember any of my Stake Relief Society Presidencies.  I never even knew most their names.  I rarely if ever heard them speak.  Though I believe they had a spiritual stewardship over the women in our stake, I can’t think of anything I learned from them because I did not know them.  This has also been true of the Stake Young Women and Stake Primary Presidencies of my youth.  By contrast I’ve always known who the Stake President and his counselors were.

It occurs to me that this is a loss, for me personally, and I think for the majority of women in the stakes I have lived in.  There must be a way to benefit more often and more directly from the wisdom and spiritual strength of the women called to leadership positions in the stakes of the Church.

Would you please consider Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary Stake Presidencies to have rotating speaking assignments as often as members of the Stake High Council speak to the wards of the Stake?  Similar to how women in the General Presidencies of the Church speak in General Conference?  There are no doubt other ways to get to know our stake leaders, but this would have the benefit of allowing all women (and children and men) to hear their words, whether or not they attend Relief Society on Sundays, and whether or not they’re part of a particular auxiliary.

My stake is geographically large and diverse, and while I always appreciate the contact with the stake membership and the Stake Presidency that High Council speakers bring, I really feel the lack of contact with the women leaders of my stake, particularly the Stake Relief Society Presidency.

Thank you for your consideration.

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Series: #VisibleWomen: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: General Women’s Session

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(A similar letter to be set to my Stake Female Auxiliary Presidencies)
To: President Burton, Counselors, and General Relief Society Board
President Oscarson, Counselors, and General Young Women Board
President Wixom, Counselors, and General Primary Board

Greetings and warm wishes to you as we near the Easter Season.

The General Women’s Session is approaching and I praying for you: that preparations are going smoothly and that you feel inspired with words of counsel and love for the women of the church.

Thank you for the testimonies you have shared in the past.  It is obvious that you love the Savior and your testimonies of His grace have touched me.  I appreciate the way you have shared of yourselves in personal and vulnerable ways.

It appears that our church leadership values some same-gendered meeting time.  (ie: Priesthood Session is for men and General Women’s Session is for women – and – one hour each Sunday is set aside for women to meet in Relief Society and for young women to meet together.)  I see advantages to this approach as it allows us to explore our spiritual gifts, discuss concerns that may be unique to women, and most importantly, to be accountable directly to God for our stewardships.

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Coercion within a Church that Values Agency

Hester-marchingMormons believe that agency (free will) is fundamental to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our scriptures teach that agency is God’s gift and plan for us:

Moses 4:3

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him…I caused that he should be cast down.

Yet, several institutional policies and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormon) authorize or require local leaders to coerce members of their congregations. To coerce is “to make someone do something by using force or threats.” Reference A

Temple Recommends as Leverage

Article of Faith 11

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

A local, lay priesthood leader may threaten to confiscate temple recommends from their parishioners, which prevents them from attending any ordinance, including weddings, in any Mormon temple anywhere in the world. Essentially, local lay clergy have the authority to tell a member of their congregation, “Do what I say or I will not allow you to attend your son’s/daughter’s/sibling’s/best friend’s wedding.”

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