Why I’m Going

As many people are aware, Ordain Women is planning an action on October 5:  attending the Priesthood Session.  (Details can be found here.)  I support the Ordain Women movement (see my profile here) – and I’ve been invited to attend.  I’ve struggled for weeks over the decision: to go or not to go.

I have personal concerns about the action.  I worry that in doing this, I will be disruptive to the spirit of conference; that I may disturb the peace of others who are attending to be enriched.  I also worry that many will misunderstand the intent and/or be angry about the action (and say harsh words to me).  The action is already being called a protest, so it concerns me is that I will be associated with other protesters on temple square – or other protests from the past.  I want this to be a peaceful, faithful action, but I wondered if the others attending will feel the same – or act the same.  Other questions fill my mind:  is it too soon, is to controversial, is it the right place?   Within my own family, I worry that my testimony of the church and the gospel will be devalued by my participation in this action.

These concerns have given me pause.  They have created an earnestness in my prayers and a focus in my temple worship.  I’ve given this much thought and had many conversations about this choice  I am seeking, I am asking, I am knocking.

In the end, I have decided to attend the action.  Here are my top 10 reasons:

  1. When I pray I feel guided to go.  I feel called.
  2. When I go to the temple, I feel peaceful about going.  I make covenants in the temple to use my talents and resources to build Zion.  I have unique gifts and talents  and I feel compelled to use them to work in this movement.  Equality feels like Zion and I am at peace when I work toward it.
  3. My conscience compels me to attend.
  4. I love conference.  I am uplifted when I attend and when I hear the words of the prophet. I know I would enjoy being a part of the Priesthood Session – in person.  I go because I would like to attend this session with my brothers.  And I hope when they see me there in line, they will see me as their equal.
  5. I love the scriptures.  I learn about Priesthood there.  And I feel a part of it.
  6. I want to be seen. When Jesus allowed a woman washed His feet, he was criticized.  His response was, “Do you see this woman?”  Like her, I want to be seen – for my gifts, for my worth, for my divine potential. And I want my leaders to hear my voice.
  7. This is the Church of Jesus Christ and I love the that. And I love Him (greater thoughts for another blog post).  It is also the church of latter-day saints – and that’s me.  And I’m here.  And I plan to stay and be an active part of my church.
  8. I know this will happen whether I’m there or not, so I’d rather go than not.
  9. I want to go because I can.  I know many others can’t go for a variety of concerns and constraints and I go for them.
  10. I am a Daughter of God.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.








Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents - and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

You may also like...

26 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Bonus reason to go: Sometimes my favorite apostle speaks at the Priesthood session and then doesn’t speak in the general sessions.

    I’m not going because I physically can’t. This means that I haven’t considered whether I would go if I could go. I share your reservations but for me they probably spell that I wouldn’t go.

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with separate male and female meetings, but they should be truly equal. So female meetings should not be led by men unless the reverse is also true. Women should have two meetings a year like men do. And the General Relief Society meeting should be part of General Conference, possibly alternating with men who has it GC weekend, and certainly the GC sessions should be numbered so as to include the women’s meeting.

  2. spunky says:

    Respect and love, Suzette. I am with you in spirit!!

    I’m with Em- I love the talks at the Preisthood session, and get so much more out of them service-inspirtaion-wise than I do from the Relief Society speakers. I often feel like I don’t belong in the church at all when I listen to the General Relief Society speakers, the talks are so very foreign to my life and experience.

    Back on topic- I would love to be here as I feel strongly about the movement, but being in Australia makes it too costly for me to attend. I am actually feeling anxious about this as my desire is to attend.

    But for those who are in a similar situation to me, but the cost isn’t so high- i.e. in California, or Arizona or otherwise, there is funding for you to travel and attend! And for those, like me, who for whatever reason cannot attend, you can make a donation.


  3. EdwardJ says:

    Suzette, I am so excited to see you there!

    This action feels very right for me, in my heart. My feeling is: This is not the Church of the Brethren or the Church of Popular Opinion or even the Church of Not Rocking The Boat.

    We are part of the Church of Jesus Christ, and I feel unshakeable conviction that He values all people equally and wants us all to develop our leadership (i.e. service) capabilities to our fullest in the church.

    I believe our faith in performing this action will be blessed—sooner or later—with more equality in the church, because that is what Jesus wants for His church.

  4. Melody says:

    This is beautiful, Suzette. God bless you and all the others who will be in attendance. I’ll hold a prayer in my heart specifically for Ordain Women on October 5th.

  5. Donna says:

    THANK YOU for sharing – especially the “I want to be seen.” I will be proud to stand with you!

  6. Truthseeker says:

    Women who want the priesthood are not the only individuals in the Church that wish for something more or something different from their current experiences. Do we really wish to set in motion a pattern of using protesting at worship services as a way to achieve one’s desired ends?

    What if is not women and the priesthood? What if it is a group of individuals who feel that there is too much emphasis on family history, or a group who feels that there is not enough emphasis on family history? Or who feels that we are not enough like our Protestant brothers and sisters, or who feels that we are too much like our Protestant brothers and sisters? Or a group that feels that we should be using the original version of the Book of Mormon, as published in 1830, or a group that feels that we should use a more poetic translation? Or a group that feels that 3 hours of worship is too long, and advocates the elimination of Sunday School, or a group that longs for the days when we would meet morning and afternoons on Sundays? Or a group who thinks that there are not enough hymns, or a group that feels that there are too many hymns? What if it is a group who believes that Bishopric Meetings and/or Relief Society Presidency meetings should be open to anyone who wishes to attend? Should all of the above-mentioned people follow the example of “Ordain Women” and start to stage protests during worship services to enact their desired change?

    What of those who come to worship services looking for an hour or two of tranquility, a place apart from the burdens and competition of modern society? Do we establish a new standard, where we determine that our passionate interests trump the desire of brothers and/or sisters to gather together for a moment of worship?

    Keep in mind that there will be men and boys attending the upcoming General Priesthood session with hearts weighed down by sin and sickness and addiction and discouragement and doubt, who find strength coming together as a body of men (just as the women of Exponent find strength in coming together as a body of women). To disrupt that gathering of your brothers in order to draw attention to one’s cause — no matter how sincere that cause may be — is an act that most assuredly will be devisive and hurtful to those who deserve something better for their sacrifice of worship.

    I wish — sincerely wish — that those who plan to gain entrance to a meeting to which they are not invited, that is dear to most who will be in attendance, would back off from their plans of what is, in the end, nothing more and nothing less than an act of public protest in the midst of a sacred gathering.
    Isn’t it possible to express interests and concerns in a way that will not result in the compromising of the worship experience of your brothers, as will surely be the case should this protest proceed as scheduled?

    I have such a high regard for so many who comprise the Exponent community. But this act of upcoming protest is one that, at the very least, will injure at least some in attendance, and, at most, may establish a pattern of protest that will make future unity in the Church a rare commodity, indeed.

    Please reconsider.

  7. Heather says:

    I believe that if a women really understood her true potential and her divine worth this would not be an issue. The fact that a woman doesn’t hold the priesthood in no way makes her lesser than a man who does. God created men and women differently- not lesser than one another- just different. The equality rights movements- of which I believe this protest stems from has gone far from what their original goal of equality was. It has become “we want to prove we’re better than men.” That is not the way God intended His children to live. We are equal- but DIFFERENT. And differences make the world go round. I once shared the same views- that not having the priesthood mean that i was somehow “lesser.” I got that vibe from men who didn’t understand fully the priesthood of God and the role His beautiful daughters have to play in it. I no longer share those views because I know that my worth in the sight of God has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I hold the priesthood. It is the man’s role to hold the priesthood and to exercise it just as it is a woman’s divine role to be able to create a human body and give birth to that baby. Why are women today so dead set on stomping men into the ground? Do we really believe that simply because we throw a tantrum God will give us what we want? The Heavenly Father I believe in doesn’t work that way. You don’t protest God- you petition him through quiet faithful prayer. The problem isn’t the asking- it’s the demanding. The asking is good- it’s what keeps our testimonies alive. Are you sure you’re ready to accept the answer of “No” from God on this issue? How many women involved in this protest will simply demand another answer when it’s given?

    I personally don’t agree with this protest. I think it’s very disruptive not only to the spirit of conference and the divine worth that you have. Please consider how much God loves you- without anything, with all your flaws and quirks and imperfections and individual strengths. He loves you more than you could possibly know and you can do so much good in your life.

    I firmly believe that this would not be an issue if women understood themselves.

    • TopHat says:

      It sounds as if you are questioning others’ testimonies, which is against our comment policy. I know many of the women participating and it is absolutely because they know their worth and value to God that they are doing this. Also, it is not a protest- no one will be there with signs or shouting, it’s a reverent petition.

    • Emily U says:

      Have you considered that it isn’t dissatisfaction with women’s status before God that is the motivation, but rather dissatisfaction with an earthbound Church that is led by inspired yet human leaders, who like all of us carry the weight of the traditions of their fathers?

    • Ziff says:

      “I firmly believe that this would not be an issue if women understood themselves.”

      I’ve heard this argument many times, but it still makes no sense to me. If women are really valued by God, but the Church is organized at every turn to exclude women’s voices from serious decision making, does this mean we should ignore the very real harm caused? Are women supposed to take consolation in the fact that God values them, so it doesn’t matter that the Church doesn’t? Isn’t the Church supposed to be a vehicle to help bring people closer to God rather than an organization that (inadvertently?) heaps more experience of being ignored on women? Shouldn’t we expect more of it?

      This sounds a lot like the infamous less-effective example of comforting single people who want to marry but don’t have the chance: “Don’t worry. You’ll be married in the next life.” To which the natural response is, “Gee, uh, thanks?” because telling someone they’ll only get what they want when they’re dead is cold comfort.

      To make a sweeping generalization, this seems to me to be an instance of a virtue of religion that can easily turn into a vice. Religion can be good when it helps us tolerate bad circumstances because we look forward to a better life. But it can quickly become bad when we decide that it means we shouldn’t make any effort to correct real injustices in this life because everything will be solved in the next life. This is wrong. Pain suffered in this life is real pain, and it’s wrong to not try to reduce it.

  8. Molly says:

    Anyone else getting a vibe that “Heather” is not a woman at all but rather a trolling ward clerk looking to put uppity feminists in their place? A speech giving such an underwhelming defense of the indefensible Separate But Equal doctrine seems a bit rich, even from the most traditional of Relief Society alpha females.

  9. Molly says:

    Though to bring the conversation back to the matter at hand, how, in the author’s opinion, does this event not qualify as a protest? Forming a group to go to uninvited to a closed event which specifically excludes them seems exactly like a protest to me. Would be interested in hearing a rationale for how this event could be considered anything other.

    • Ziff says:

      I’m not an organizer, so they can correct me, but in my mind, it doesn’t seem like a protest because the point of a protest is usually to make the point that the event that is happening shouldn’t happen. Examples might include protesting against the death penalty at an execution, or protesting at Conference by Christians who want to straighten all the Mormons out and have us join Protestantism.

      Of course, there are counter-examples too. People protest at meetings where they want issues raised that they think aren’t getting the appropriate air time, like at political conventions.

      I guess it’s maybe more an issue of connotation, then. A protest sounds to me connotes waving signs and harassing participants rather than trying to join in where you’re not welcome. Trying to join in is implicitly protesting the exclusion, but it doesn’t seem like an explicit protest to me.

      But I’m open to being argued out of my positions; these are just rough thoughts. 🙂

  10. Suzette Smith says:

    To respond –

    Truthseeker: As I stated in my post, one of my honest concerns about this action is the potential for disrupting sacred space. I know the organizers are seeking to make this a peaceful action which I respect.
    I think it is important for conference attendees to seek the experience they need. And I think this action is important. When prayerfully choosing between these two things, I have felt guided to attend the action.

    Heather: Let’s start with the thing we agree on: women are of great value to God and to the church. We have divine gifts and divine potential. We are daughters of God. Where (I think) we disagree is how we use our divine gifts and fulfill our potential. I see myself as a loved and valued daughter and I feel compelled by the spirit to use my resources and talents to build up the Kingdom of God by establishing more equality (to me, separate is not equal) and attending this action. You seem guided to use your gifts in other ways. Hopefully we can both respect the path we each feel is best.

    Molly: I do not identify this action as a protest, but as a faith-based action. I think we both understand what is going to happen. If you define that as a protest, then I leave you to your definition.

    • Truthseeker says:

      Suzette – But what if the family history buffs pray and feel prompted to disrupt Gospel Doctrine, or pick-a-sincere-cause pray and feel prompted to picket outside a Stake Patriarch’s home prior to his giving a Patriarchal blessing? Or truer to life, Westboro Baptist prays and feels prompted to picket outside of funerals?

      General Priesthood is manna to many of our brothers, who represent many generations, and as stated previously, some will come to Priesthood looking for healing, and will find the mountains steeper to climb because of this protest. It pains me to see sacred times and places invaded, whether it is Westboro Baptist at a military funeral or Ordain Women at General Priesthood.

      • EdwardJ says:

        As a priesthood holder, I welcome my sisters to priesthood session with open arms. I feel that the priesthood of God is incomplete without my sisters in Christ. Rather than regarding this action as a disruption, I welcome it as a source of healing.

        Although it is good to maintain reverence for sacred spaces, there is precedent for righteous disruption of sacred spaces. I am thinking specifically of Jesus, who brought chaos and violence to the most sacred space of all, the temple.

        You hypothesize that various groups of people might protest, based on this action, but those examples don’t work very well for me. None of those groups will feel as strongly as do Ordain Women and their supporters. I feel a warm witness in my heart that this is the work of God.

        You may remember that in the Acts of the Apostles, when some of the Jewish leaders planned to kill the apostles, Gamaliel said, “Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply he be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed”. 5:38-40

        If female ordination isn’t what God wants, it won’t happen. If it is what God wants, why fight against it?

      • Truthseeker says:


        The logical extension of your argument is that if female ordination is what God wants, it will happen. If it isn’t what God wants, why fight for it?

        Staging a protest at General Priesthood meeting seems indistinguishable to me from Westboro Baptist staging a protest at a military funeral. Both are sacred gatherings where people come together to find strength for the journey, and, in both instances, the peace of these gatherings is disrupted by the clamor of a group who has decided that their agenda is more important than the spiritual and emotional needs of those being impacted by the protest.

        I wish those planning this protest would reconsider.

      • EdwardJ says:

        Truthseeker, I hear what you’re saying. My understanding is that God sometimes does not give us gifts until we ask for them and even work for them, to show we really want them and are prepared for them.

        When President Hinckley was asked about female ordination, he didn’t say a categorical “no”. He didn’t say that would come with no effort on our part. He said that women of the church were not yet agitating for it. That seems to me like a prophetic invitation for women to show their willingness and seriousness about this issue.

        The difference between the Westboro Baptist protests and this action is that the protests are staged with the purpose of causing emotional distress. This action is about asking for a gift that God promised women through Joseph Smith (at the first Relief Society meetings) and seeking to join in joyfully with male priesthood holders. Also, a number of current priesthood holders welcome this action and female ordination.

      • Rachel says:

        Truthseeker, I might agree with you if the women (and men) planning to peacefully and reverently stand in line in their Sunday best were planning to do anything other than that, but as they are not, I have to disagree. I have waited in line at conference for General sessions, and while standing there, you see very few of the other individuals in line. What you do see is individuals and families walking by. I presume that that would be no different directly preceding the Priesthood Session, though admittedly, more of the individuals are likely to be male.

        If a female (or group of females), in Sunday dress walking by the line is not disruptive to those in the line seeking spiritual healing and uplift, it is difficult for me to imagine how a similar group waiting in line could do so. They do not plan to yell (or even speak loudly). They do not plan to wave signs. They do not plan to dress inappropriately for the sacred occasion. They understand the sacred nature of the space. They do. It is sacred to them as well, and they are also of the body of Christ and the body of this church. To use your example, they are family members at the funeral, not outsiders.

      • Truthseeker says:


        My understanding is that the protestors planning to gather on October 5th are not just coming to stand in line, but will also attempt to gain entrance to a meeting to which they are not invited. When turned away, the many (perhaps hundreds) of women denied access to the meeting will leave en masse, and that moment will not feel peaceful — it will feel like a moment of conflict, which is what it will be. The planned play to the media following the event seems particularly devisive.


        It is not just women who want the priesthood who feel strongly about their cause. Many have equally passionate concerns. Heaven forbid if we as a people decide that the way to address those concerns is by intruding upon the sacred space of others in an act of protest. Respectfully, what is scheduled for next General Priesthood meeting is qualitatively identical to what the Westboro Church does outside of military funerals. There may be quantitative differences, but the net result is the purposeful disruption of a sacred gathering, something that seems entirely inconsistent with the concept of a covenantal community.

        Rachel and Edward: Although we disagree about some important things, we appear to all be on the same page when it comes to the importance of kind and respectful dialogue. Thank you for the tone of your writings. Peace.

      • Katie says:

        “what is scheduled for next General Priesthood meeting is qualitatively identical to what the Westboro Church does outside of military funerals.”

        Truthseeker, respectfully, that simply makes no sense.

        The Westboro Church isn’t standing outside funerals because they want to calmly pay their respects to the dead/be part of the graveside service. The women in this group understand the reverence that is part of Conference, and they want to join in it, sitting quietly and reverently like all the men who are there.

      • Truthseeker says:


        General Priesthood meeting is a “men’s-only” gathering, an opportunity for the male members of the Church to get together and receive counsel about issues facing men, some of which are somewhat unique to men. Women are not invited, just as men are not invited to Relief Society Meetings. In order to preserve the value that the Church perceives comes from having a same-sex meeting, I suspect that the women who show up on October 5th will be politely turned away. At that moment, it is my understanding that the large gathering will, en masse, leave the Conference Center, and hold a press conference to discuss their experience. It will be a devisive moment, and one that will, for some, detract from the hallowed nature of this gathering of men.

        If women were invited to attend the men’s only gathering, then I would agree that the Westboro reference would be out of line. But if, instead, a group is attempting to crash (no matter how dignified the crashing) an event to which they are not invited, and this event happens to be sacred to the attendees, then I respectfully submit that the line between Westboro and this event becomes indistinguishable.

        Again, the play to the press is particularly devisive, and a horrible precedent for addressing future concerns in the Church.

        (Somewhat related: is the goal of the Ordain Women movement to make sure that women get the priesthood, or are they opposed to the idea of same-gender worship gatherings altogether? In other words, if women are given the Priesthood, will it then be acceptable to them to have male-only worship meetings, or will those who intend to seek entry to the upcoming general priesthood meeting still want to forbid future same-sex worship gatherings, and insist upon entry to those meetings, as well?)

      • April says:

        Truthseeker, I appreciate your question about the goal of this action. Women are attending Priesthood Session to demonstrate that they see themselves as potential priesthood holders and that they are willing to take on priesthood duties such as Priesthood Session attendance. Msny women are traveling from distant states and countries at great personal expense. We hope church leaders will notice their faithful sacrifice and prayerfully consider the ordination of women.

        There was a factual error in your comment. You said, “men are not invited to Relief Society Meetings.” That is untrue. Actually, men are invited to all General Relief Society Meetings. In fact, men preside over and give the keynote address at these meetings.

  11. Worn out says:

    I live far away so it is impossible for me to attend. I support your action whole-heartedly, but I am not sure I would attend if I lived there. On the one hand I would want to show support; on the other hand, there would be some major family repercussions. On the third hand, I recently realized that i have passed a mental point of no return. While i think women should have the priesthood and i still am curious about what happens, it no longer matters to me personally. Too many years of being discouraged and of trying to make it all make aense. Good luck.

  12. Props to you. I’ve been giving myself the excuse of being in China to avoid thinking about if I would go or not. I know many think it will be a quiet thing at the conference center, and then not-so-quiet within wards and stakes, but I wonder what will happen if women are simply barred. Will there be pushing? Will there be yelling? Would I be brave enough to do that?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.