The 5th Sunday Project
In 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.
There are many questions and few channels for discussion within church programs and curriculum. How do we engage our faith community in resolving these frustrations? Where do we find an environment of love and belief?
- I know of some Bishops who take these topics head-on in assigned sacrament meeting talks, but there are many who do not feel Sunday meetings are the place for such discussions because of the potential for division and disagreement.
- Private, local “study groups” have assembled in some areas as an outlet. Here again, however, many feel that difficult discussions outside “church structure” generate environments of doubt and discontent.
- Some take advantage of close familial and friend relationships to talk over concerns in private, but others are not blessed with open-minded or loving connections, so they feel alone and isolated.
I know of some successful undertakings and I applaud these faithful, creative ideas:
- Personal prayer and private meditation have brought resolution to some members with faith questions.
- I know of Stakes that have-created Sunday night firesides at the church with local leaders and trained facilitators engage concerns.
- Other Stakes have used non-Sunday Relief Society Meeting as a way to study and talk over hard topics.
In this same spirit of faith and creativity,
I propose another possible solution (which I hope can be successful):
“The 5th Sunday Project”
While, the 5th Sunday Project can be used for myriad topics, I have dedicated this facebook event page to the discussion of women in the church, because I consider it to be of critical importance. The page outlines what, why, how, and when – and also has a list of resource that can be used. [The resource list is a “living document” and I am open to suggestions of articles, blogs, scriptures, and books.]
In 2015, we have 4 opportunities to use this idea; the first 5th Sunday is just around the corner on March 29th.
I entreat you to consider this idea in your local area. Talk to other ward members and be thoughtful. If you are a member of the ward counsel, bring this idea to an upcoming meeting. Engage the views of all counsel members to discuss topics, presentation, and facilitation appropriate for your local area. If you are not a member of the ward counsel, draft a proposal with your ideas. Present to your Bishop and/or Relief Society President asking them to discuss in ward counsel. (Also, offer to come, yourself, to a counsel meeting and present the idea.) Follow up. And follow up again.
Finally, a word on urgency. The downside to our lay-ministry is that we can struggle with pastoral care when it comes to faith concerns. The upside to our lay-ministry is that we are all “in this together” and we have covenanted to lift one another. Some of our fellow Saints are hurting; many are leaving in frustration. I believe we must act. Our church is one of the platforms that help us individually to “know God”. Ordinances within our church help us find salvation. I believe we must strengthen this church platform.