#hearLDSwomen: Sister Training Leaders Are Not Given Remotely the Same Levels of Power or Responsibility as Zone Leaders
I brought an investigator to a Sacrament Meeting where the organist fell asleep at the keys twice creating loud noises during the meeting. The second counselor slept through the meeting. One speaker did an impersonation he called “Gordon B. Hinckley meets Yoda” as he spoke about Kolob. His wife said the word “poop” so many times the bishop texted us during the meeting that we should “fake a seizure” to get our investigator out. When we asked our investigator what he thought, he mentioned the word “sloppy” and he was so right. In the PEC meeting we had to fight to be allowed into, only because there were no elders to represent us, I mentioned during the missionary portion of the agenda that we should always keep in mind how we may appear to an outsider as we plan our meetings since we have so many investigators. A counselor replied to my suggestion by asking the bishop, in front of the group, “when can we get elders in here?”
I was so hurt because I felt I was exhausting myself to help build their failing ward and it was met with public disdain.
In one ward I served in, the bishop had previously excluded sister missionaries from PEC meetings because they were not men. We held the same calling and authority as the Elders, but because we were women, we were not welcome. He thankfully reconsidered his position around the time I got there, but I always felt like an intruder in PEC after that and had a burst of anxiety that my voice was not welcome any time I needed to speak.
“Are the sisters allowed to be here?” —a ward mission leader said this about me and my companion after letting the elders walk into a leadership meeting. We were all missionaries serving in that ward, we all had items to discuss in that meeting, but my presence was questioned.
– Carmen Sophia Cutler
For me the exclusions and silencing have been fairly subtle but clearly part of the built-in system that doesn’t include women as agents in the church. For instance, the times I felt silenced and invisible the most were on my mission when I was surrounded by male leaders and given lesser authority and responsibility simply because I am a woman. I was a sister training leader for a good portion of my mission, but even within that leadership position I felt powerless. There was nothing I could do that wasn’t already done by a male leader. I felt redundant and I knew that if I left or my leadership position disappeared, the mission would continue functioning just as it had.
– Julia Larson
Sister Training Leaders, though supposedly equal to Zone Leaders, were consistently given less time at meetings to speak. The Zone Leaders conducted the entire meeting and spoke the remainder of the time that they didn’t assign to other missionaries. Their section was always two to three times longer than the sisters’ and they usually covered the main theme while the STLs covered an appendage of that theme.
– Chloe M.
Pro Tip: Female missionaries hold the same calling and position as male missionaries, and their input and inspiration is every bit as valid.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)