Reflections on 10 Years of the Mormon Women Project
By Meredith Marshall Nelson
A decade after Neylan McBaine founded the Mormon Women Project, we have collected 265 long form interviews of Latter-day Saint women from 47 different countries around the globe. These along with four years of Gospel commentaries written by women, and hundreds of personal stories submitted to our collections, reveal an incredible diversity of thought, faith, and experience among women who consider themselves to be active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I joined the project five years ago, drawn to the idea that storytelling can shift our hearts and minds as members more effectively than any other means. I did not expect how much I would be challenged and changed by the women whose stories we have told. As I have learned about my sisters around the globe, I’ve grown to accept people I had previously misunderstood. I gained compassion for our general Church leaders trying to steer and steady a ship whose crew is as diverse as all the earth’s people. I drew strength from the struggles of other women; I felt less alone. I was filled with love.
I draw from ten years of MWP stories in this meditation on 2 Nephi 26:25-30.
Doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
Not the woman fighting an eating disorder.
Not the divorced twenty-year old.
Not the young mother in forced labor, permanently separated from her home.
Not the woman who faces social stigma for her faith.
Not the primary president struggling with infertility.
Hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold I say unto you, Nay.
Not the daughter of two mothers.
Not the refugee.
Not the woman who doubts.
Not the gay jazz artist.
Hath he commmanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay.
Not the bishop’s wife betrayed by her husband.
Not the woman who lost her husband to mental illness.
Not the women who had no children, who had few children, who had many children.
Hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay.
Not the betrayed and widowed mother of five.
Not the woman whose body doesn’t fit the mold.
Not the athlete who escaped poverty and abuse.
Not the scholar fighting cancer.
Not the grieving mother who broke down racial barriers in her industry.
Not the mother of four who took twenty years to finish her graduate degree.
He inviteth all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; He denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
The Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing.
The Mormon Women Project invites you to join us at our 10th Anniversary Celebration on July 20, 2019! The evening will be hosted at Neylan McBaine’s home in Holladay UT, and will include live interviews of remarkable women, and a celebratory program of MWP stories from across the last decade.
Meredith Marshall Nelson lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband and two children. She is co-editor of the Mormon Women Project, and believes that stories are our greatest teachers, that women’s lives and voices should be presented in true balance as half our history, and that every woman’s story is meaningful as both a measure and a guide for our progress as a people. She is a lifelong violinist with an MA in Middle East Studies/Hebrew. Professionally Meredith supports women through pregnancy, childbirth, loss, and parenthood as a consultant, doula, and alignment/movement specialist.