#hearLDSwomen: “We don’t need you.”


By Lynne

“I’d like to know why you don’t have a current temple recommend.”

I sat across from my bishop, stunned. This is not how I envisioned this meeting. As one of the few visible musicians in the ward, I was certain that I was going to be called to replace the ward choir director. I had already mentally rehearsed my speech about how I did music for a living six days a week, and how my current work situation wasn’t going to allow for me to take on another huge project. I was sure he would say ok, and I would go back to being the primary pianist, my forever and ever calling in the church.

The bishop had clearly not read my mental script.

For years I have struggled with my relationship with God, with the patriarchy in the temple ceremonies and in the church, with the PoX, with not getting answers to prayers, with church culture, practices, doctrine, with the never-ending checklist of “things you have to do to be a Good and Acceptable Mormon Woman.”

I tried to shut the conversation down with “I am struggling with several things regarding the church and the temple, and I have deliberately chosen not to hold a temple recommend right now. I’m not comfortable talking about it with you, but I will let you know and schedule an appointment with you if that changes.”

He refused to accept that as an answer, and finally, in a gesture, of good faith vulnerability, I told him. I struggle with my role as a woman, I struggle with the eternal destiny of women, it physically hurts me to be in the temple and covenant to my husband instead of God, and hear the holiest and highest thing I can aspire to as a woman is a queen and priestess to my husband. I spoke of my longing for Heavenly Mother, and how was I supposed to proceed as a woman in the church when no one knows or speaks of the eternal role of women? I related how I was trying to learn who I was as a woman, and who I was to God, outside of being someone’s wife or mother. I said, finally, that if it weren’t for my husband and my children, I would no longer be attending church.

He had no satisfying answers for me. Of course, there were the usual platitudes of “I love and respect women and they have an important role in the church,” and “Sometimes I think people need to be in the temple, even if they don’t feel ready” and “I don’t understand what you mean about wanting to understand your role as a woman outside of being a wife and a mother,” along with the admonitions to be grateful, read my scriptures and pray more. As our meeting concluded, he said to me, “Just don’t wait too long. You should be in the temple.”

Two months later, a text message: “Would you meet with a member of the bishopric on Tuesday evening?” Curiosity got the better of me, this time I found myself face to face with a counselor in the bishopric, a man I had never before spoken to.

“We’re going to release you as primary pianist,” he said, “we don’t need you in that calling anymore. And we don’t have another calling for you. We thought you could use a break for a while.”

Once again, I was shocked. There is not an abundance of musicians in the ward, and as any musician in the church can tell you, once you’re in a music calling, you don’t get released without a really good reason. He may as well have said “There’s not a place for you here. Even if you’re one of 2 or 3 people in the ward that can perform this calling. Even if the primary program is in a few weeks. You don’t have a temple recommend. We don’t want YOU.”

My suspicions about what had been decided behind closed doors was confirmed the next week, when a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency was called as primary pianist, leaving a hole in the RS Presidency, that still, weeks later, hasn’t been filled. The message from my ward leadership couldn’t be clearer:

“You didn’t accept the call to repentance. We gave you time to reconsider and come back, and you didn’t obey. You aren’t worthy, You aren’t wanted, You aren’t needed. Even in this, the most minor of callings, we cannot allow you to serve. We would rather have a hole in the Relief Society presidency and release you than have you behind the piano.”

Today, the new primary pianist got up and shared her testimony about how difficult it was for her to be released from the Relief Society and to accept the calling as primary pianist.

I have struggled for many years to keep my metaphorical shelf intact. This experience has left my shelf shattered with the pieces of my former testimony all over the floor.  Because either this bishopric decided that I wasn’t worthy to serve and released me as a form of soft discipline, or God himself decided that He was done with me in the church, all with the message, said clearly as day: “We don’t need you anymore.”

Forty years I have given my best efforts, my time, my husband, my children, my money, my emotional energy, everything I am to this church. Now that I question, doubt, even when the questioning and doubting is done in the assumed privacy of the bishop’s office, the church no longer needs me. Now that I don’t fit neatly into the box of the believing, faithful, Mormon woman, I might corrupt the primary children through incessant repetitions of “A Child’s Prayer.”

If I were to walk in the door of any Christian denomination and say “I would like to come to your services every week. I will give you 10% of my income and I’m happy to play the piano free of charge whenever you need me. But I’m struggling with my relationship with God and Jesus, can you still accept me?” I imagine that I would be welcomed with open arms.

Mormonism, we have to do better.

Jesus never said, “Come, Follow me, but only if you already have perfect faith.”

The scripture doesn’t say, “Come unto me, all you that are heavy laden and I will give you rest, but only if you’ve served honorably and faithfully, and you never express any doubt about the gospel or temple or church administration.”

I’m not angry, though I was.

I’m hopeful.

For years as I’ve struggled through my faith crisis, I have continually prayed and fasted with one purpose in mind: “Please let me know that I have a place here. A place in this ward, a place in this church. Please help me to know that I’m needed.”

Sometimes answers to prayers come in ways you don’t expect.

So now, I move forward. To seek answers, peace, a place to belong outside the four walls of Mormonism. I couldn’t be more excited.


Lynne is a musician and mother of five who spends her days managing the chaos of five children, laughing at the joke that is balancing career and motherhood, and dreaming of a novel and the beach.

Click here to read all the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. If you would like to submit an experience, please do so here.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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30 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    Heartwrenching and hopeful. You managed to convey both beautifully in this post. I’m so sorry for your pain and send you all the very best on your journey to find peace and belonging. <3

  2. M says:

    Lynne, I am sat in my car waiting to pick up my children from school and weeping for you going through this. Except really, I’m crying for all of us that feel like this and are afraid to say it, or have said it and feel rejected by other people’s response to a personal struggle.

  3. Peter Priesthood says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry this has happened to you. I agree with every word and feeling you shared.

    I too, as peter priesthood, had a similar experience with my Bishop after sharing my concerns. Bishop, “then why do you come”.
    It didn’t take line before the high priest group leader said they same. Soon after, I was gone.

    I hope the Lord heals you and all of us that are longing for his help we were raised to expect and accept from our lost Mormon tribe.

  4. California Latter-day Saint says:

    I have serious issues indicting an entire group (“Mormonism, we have to do better”) for issues in a single ward or stake. That’s not to say that I discount Lynne’s experiences. These are heartfelt concerns she describes, particularly in the 6th paragraph, and of course they should be taken seriously.

    I also think that it’s incorrect to assume the change is punitive. It may be a stretch to assume that it’s even reactionary; things change in a ward all the time, and shuffling needs to happen, though I appreciate Lynne’s arguments that suggest this isn’t the case. But if a woman were to share these heartfelt concerns in my office, the last thought on my mind would be “Let’s seclude her in Primary!” I would look for ways to encourage engagement with other ward members, those who perhaps have similar concerns and had gotten through to the other side. In that way, a release and opportunity to be in RS makes lots of sense.

    • Amy says:

      I would think if that were the case, the Bishop could have respect for the woman involved and tell her as much. At least let know her know the decision making process or reasons for the change (in your example to be with other RS women) or heaven forbid, involve her in determining what can help and support her through her faith crisis.

      But just sending someone else to release her with no explanation and no care or concern to follow up after someone poured there heart out, does leave the feeling of being fired.

      It is creating a deeper wound and adding salt when she specifically mentioned being marginalized as a women and his response was to decide what was best for her without her input, and even without telling her that he was doing what he thought was best for her.

      • California Latter-day Saint says:

        Sure. I wrote below to a similar comment:

        “Sure. Fair point.

        “Ultimately, the bishop holds the keys to direct the work in the ward, which means that he can “tell” at his discretion, but this is a fair bit of criticism. There may have been space for him or a counselor to have a conversation that started, if not with “Do you want to stay in primary?” then at least, “How can I help?” or “What do you need from us/the ward?” ”

        Granted, all of us – myself included – are guessing at motives and circumstances. Maybe there were discussions with bishopric members, or Primary or Relief Society leaders, but perhaps there was space to include the individual to a greater degree in additional conversations.

    • Violadiva says:

      I was bewildered by why you think it would be okay to come into a feminist space and make this comment until I read “my office.”
      Oh. It makes sense you’d defend the bishop. You’re like him.
      Hm. Perhaps instead of siding with the men who behaved unkindly to Lynne, You might better ask, “Lord, is it I?”

      Additionally, when pleading for Mormonism to do better, Can you think of prominent teachings that most members are familiar with which instruct them how to kindly respond to members with concerns, doubts or questions without stigmatizing them or shaming them? The idea of the whole religion needing to improve the way we respond to people with concerns like this has merit. Too many people are being told to “stay in the boat” and that they’re being “led away by Satan” if they are outside the mainstream. Until there is a very clear narrative that all members embrace about how to show to love in these situations (because, clearly, “love thy neighbor” isn’t cutting it) then yes, “Mormonism” needs to do better.

      • California Latter-day Saint says:

        Hey, if you wanna gate-keep and decry male, or active, or non-feminist participants… have at it, I guess.

        But consider, maybe, that as you drive from this “space” all those with whom you disagree, you effectively yell into an echo chamber.

        Now, that may be what this site is for – venting and validation. But if you’re interested, really, in having the conversation you start in your last paragraph, then maybe gate-keeping isn’t the way go about that.

        I’m trying to be kind, sympathetic, open to conversation and discussion, but if your message is, ironically “We don’t need you,” that’s fine. All my best.

      • Ziff says:

        “I’m trying to be kind, sympathetic, open to conversation and discussion…”

        If this is seriously your intent, you need to *show* it, not just claim it. Your comment to suggest that of course it probably didn’t really happen exactly how Lynne thought, and that shuffling happens all the time in wards, and how it’s unfair to overgeneralize certainly convey a very different message. More that you believe your experience is more valid than Lynne’s, and she doesn’t really know what she’s talking about.

      • IA4 says:

        Adding onto this, I went to a SS lesson and the topic was how to keep your children from apostatizing. I sat and thought to myself that this entire lesson is how to keep your children from turning out like me.

    • Morgan says:

      But he didn’t ask. He told. It means zero if that wasn’t his intention, he assumed he knew best. He caused a great deal of pain and heartache that cloud could have easily been avoided if he’d just said, “hey Lynne, do you want to stay in primary?”

      • California Latter-day Saint says:

        Sure. Fair point.

        Ultimately, the bishop holds the keys to direct the work in the ward, which means that he can “tell” at his discretion, but this is a fair bit of criticism. There may have been space for him or a counselor to have a conversation that started, if not with “Do you want to stay in primary?” then at least, “How can I help?” or “What do you need from us/the ward?”

    • Violadiva says:

      CalLDS: take note of the way Ziff described the way you came in, mansplaining and gaslighting Lynne, then criticize me for gate keeping one more time….. If anyone wants to participate in this space, it will not be by bullying their opinions and telling the women here that their experiences are not valid because they must have misunderstood.
      Ironically, if your responses indicate how you typically listen to women (or rather not), you exactly prove the point Of why this series exists. If you still are in a church leadership calling, I would highly recommend the rest of the posts in the series. Guess what? There’s hundreds of them in the queue. You’ll need to come back every day and read until it starts to sink in. Dismissing women is not listening to them. Gaslighting it not listening to them. Something like “wow, I can see how that must have hurt you. I’m so sorry you felt like you weren’t needed. I know what it feels like to be not needed (hmm maybe you actually don’t, so this empathy exercise is pointless) and it hurts. I’m sorry.” – is listening to women. Open your ears.

  5. Scott says:

    Similar happened to my wife. She was teaching 7-8 y.o.’s in primary. Loved the children in her class to death and poured a lot of preparation into her weekly lessons to make them engaging and meaningful for the kids. Aside from skipping lesson material on Joseph Smith and not pressuring the kids into Mormon molds (i.e., leaving room for the kids to be themselves), she stuck to the curriculum and certainly wasn’t teaching anything controversial.

    Bishop found out about her faltering belief (due to polygamy, patriarchy, temple, etc.) and despite the fact that my wife clarified that she wouldn’t teach anything controversial and specifically asked to at least “finish the year” with her class, she was moved out of teaching within 3 weeks.

    They put her in the primary presidency with the assumption that her faith would be bolstered by serving around other faithful women. After making her best effort for six months she finally instructed (not asked) the bishop and primary pres to release her and call someone else.

    This, coupled with the clear lack of space for her doubting husband (me), led to our family quietly walking out the front doors one week after sacrament meeting and just not coming back. That was over three years ago and we’ve since discovered that life is more wonderful and peaceful and meaningful outside the four walls of Mormonism than it ever was inside them.

    Great post, Lynne.

  6. Stacy says:

    California Latter Day Saint, what you’re saying is the crux of this post. The bishop and his counselors have the power to determine how, where, and when the women serve, without obligation to consider any input from women. The fact that you don’t see that further proves the point of this entire blog series.

  7. Valerie says:

    This continues to be one of my issues with the church. Rather than spending money on malls and other frivolous things they should be investing in all the leadership positions of the church. Bishops especially need training in remembering it is not their church it is supposed to be The Lord’s church, when to refer people to counseling, how to develop active communication and listening skills among many other things. I am so tired of white privilege and leadership roulette being the excuse for a bishops bad decisions and judgements.

    And California lds – no one should ever be too busy to be kind, courteous and communicative. sadly your inability to see that is just as dissolve as the bishop in the post.

  8. wreddyornot says:

    Thanks, Lynne, for sharing your experience. I feel such frustrations myself and I abhor the experiences Mormon that women suffer, now and throughout the church’s history. I’ve recently started reading *Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism* and I recommend it to California Latter-day Saint as well as for him to read all that there is here, as has been suggested above.

    Thanks, also, to all of the wonderful women sharing their stories, thoughts, insights, and art, etc. here.

  9. Lily says:

    I hope what I say doesn’t sound harsh because I really mean to help you. I am an active Mormon, never-married, no children, female. But after 50+ years on this planet, I have to say I just don’t give a rats a$$. This is a voluntary organization, I can walk away at anytime and I will do pretty much whatever the hell I want. You want to take away my calling because I don’t do what you say? Go ahead. I can find PLENTY of good ways to spend my time. You want to pull my temple recommend for less-than legitimate reasons because of your ego? You can sit down with God at a later date and explain that one to him. My relationship is with God. Not with some middle man. This Priesthood-holder-as-gate-keeper BS is false doctrine. You always have direct access to God. I guess I have been an outsider in the Church for so long I’m used to it and really don’t care what the other members think of me, including the leadership.

  10. SC says:

    I have so much empathy for this post that it hurts. It hurts bad. And it would take a book-length post for me to share all the times that bishops unrighteously used callings to try to teach me and my loved ones important lessons, rather than as opportunities to serve. So I won’t even bother trying to share those experiences here—there are just too many and they’re too painful, all of them. Just know that you aren’t alone, we stand with you, unrighteous dominion of bishops IS a real and hurtful problem in the church, and the more they use callings as weapons of coercion and control and manipulation, the more they become servants of Satan (remember: it was Satan who proposed salvation via coercion; Christ wanted us to have agency)

  11. Lizzie says:

    “I’m not comfortable talking about it with you.” This is where it should have stopped. You should not have been required to give an explanation for your struggles. We owe priesthood leaders no answers to these questions. Trust and confidence is something that is given freely to someone who has earned it; we do not have to give it to someone simply because of the position that he holds. In this case, it would likely not have mattered what you said; clearly, the fact that you did not hold a temple recommend was an issue, no matter the reason. I’m angry that he didn’t respect you when you said you didn’t feel comfortable and that he didn’t care to really try to understand what you did have to say. I’m sorry you had to go through this, and I’m glad you are now finding peace.

  12. Jettie says:

    Super-hurtful how this bishop takes in a woman’s deep, innermost thoughts, “fires” her from her calling for it as if her thoughts are somehow sinful, and doesn’t even bother to discuss the matter with the sister himself, but sends a counselor to issue the firing order, as if he can’t be bothered. Super, super insensitive. Unbelievably cruel. And yet terribly familiar—I could share a dozen more stories just like this from friends and family. WHY is the church letting untrained, unschooled, non-clergy dudes determine our salvation and standing before God and the church without any training, credentials, or ecclesiastical expertise? They are destroying both our mental and spiritual health and driving people out of the church faster than the missionaries can bring them in!

  13. phbrown says:

    Sorry that this happened to you. GBHinckley famously said that everyone (or, at least, every new convert) needs [at church] a friend, a responsibility, and nourishing with the good word of God. (April 1997 conference). Bishop abruptly took away the responsibility, without substituting another. Shame on him: I don’t see how you could have corrupted the Primary children with your nuanced testimony while playing the piano.
    I can’t opine about a lack of friendship or spiritual nourishment, but a three-legged stool doesn’t stand well with just two legs. Or none.

  14. Lonely Saint says:

    I could have written this, except I moved to a ward and well over a year later still no calling. I won’t lie it stings each week when there are releases and callings or to be asked to sub for a class that has no called teacher. I admit to being a porcupine type person, but no one has approached me or asked me anything. Solidarity to you! May your journey bring you to the spiritual path that brings you joy, acceptance and unconditional love.

  15. lauracalcal says:

    You know, one of the saddest parts about this specific story is that music callings are one of the few callings in the church where one does not even need to be a member to hold them (much less a temple-recommend-holding member). One can even be an excommunicant and hold a pianist/organist calling.

    Some of the best organists, pianists and choristers I’ve worked with over years in the church have been the friends/spouses/individuals for whom music is the only connection they have to their local units.

    The only thing worse than being rejected from a community and told your service/gifts are no longer needed is being rejected without explanation (and then seeing others overly burdened because someone was “inspired” to kick you out.

  16. nonny says:

    As one pianist to another, I am so sorry this happened to you. I can empathize with how hurtful it is to have your gift and talent rejected. At this point in my faith journey, a music calling is the only thing I am willing to do in the church and the only thing keeping me engaged in activity.

  17. Ari says:

    This sounds so familiar. For years I participated in a church that didn’t value me, thinking that if I did my jobs well enough, I’d get my pat on the head from the patriarchy. Ultimately I learned that the pat on the head wasn’t coming.

    It sounds to me like you are struggling more in your relationship with the patriarchy than in your relationship with God and Jesus. The problem is that the patriarchy has made themselves into a stand-in for God and Jesus. Reject it. If there is a god, there is no reason you can’t have your own direct relationship with him/her.

  18. Dave C says:

    “If I were to walk in the door of any Christian denomination and say “I would like to come to your services every week. I will give you 10% of my income and I’m happy to play the piano free of charge whenever you need me. But I’m struggling with my relationship with God and Jesus, can you still accept me?”

    This should be framed in every Bishop’s office.

  19. Wondering Why says:

    This is simply appalling. No discussion, no seeking to resolve your issues. I am sad that you believe your place is now outside the Church, however I can see why you think that.

    In our ward we had an endowed sister who was divorcing her husband, before this was final she was engaged to another man (both husband and finacé are non members). Whilst there is no indication sexual sin, this is still not acceptable. She was a counsellor in the Young Women presidency in our ward, and she wasn’t released. The husband, unexpectedly, died and that resolved the issue. I think from this you can tell you would continue in your calling in our ward up until you asked to have your name removed.

    There are obviously callings in which a person has to be temple worthy, but there are a great many where you don’t. And my opinion, from what you have written, is that you seem to be except for your own concerns. So, shame on your bishop.

    Questioning in the Church has been spoken about in General Conference, and is not to be frowned upon.

  1. September 21, 2018

    […] today, when I visited the Mormon subreddit, I saw a link to this article using the headline, “Forty years I have given my best efforts, my time, my husband, my […]

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