A Dream of Hope

Guest post from reader Corianne Wilson

I had the most beautiful dream last night. In it, I was standing with a group of women and girls, and we were all wearing brightly colored dresses–like jewel-toned versions of the temple gowns. Off to the side there was a group of men, who were calling us forward one by one–starting with the young-women aged girls–and and anointing them with the Aaronic priesthood.

When the brethren became aware of me, they called me over, and I was anointed not only with the Aaronic but the Melkesadic priesthood as well. After the prayers, they embraced me and said “welcome, sister” and I could feel the love and joy that they had that I had finally joined their ranks. I was then asked to assist in the remaining ordinations.

When I woke up, I was feeling the spirit very strongly. And as I reflected on this dream, it wasn’t simply that women were being ordained that made it so beautiful, it was that men and women were working together to build up the kingdom, and that women were put in a position that was truly equal to the men.

My Stake Conference Weekend

Guest Post by Michael G.

I wish you all could have been in my stake this weekend. It was our stake
conference, and I just love the direction that the stake presidency seems to
be trying to go since they were called a little over a year ago.

I first have to say that my world got sort of rocked over the weekend, and I
am trying to come to grips with it. I got called in to the stake president’s
office and was told they wanted to ordain me to high priest. Technically, I
can’t say exactly why at this point, but let’s just say I’m getting a new
calling. It was a very enlightening meeting with my leaders (stake
presidency member and later my bishop). I was honest about my sustaining of
leaders (I don’t think sustaining means I have to agree with everything they
say or do). I was honest that I am not sure I have a 100% knowledge of all
of my testimony, but I am a believer, and I want to help people follow
Christ. They (the leaders) were perfectly fine with my feelings. So that
felt pretty good.  Just to give a little more background, I am generally a
liberal thinker politically, and I have openly questioned the church’s
stance on homosexuality, and women’s roles in the church.

Anyway, for stake conference my wife and I attended the adult session on
Saturday night, and the general session of conference on Sunday. It was a
beautiful thing. In the Saturday night session, a sister from our ward spoke
about how she got her children to go to the temple. She has 11 children (7
born to her, and 4 adopted). Of the 11, 6 are of temple-attending age, and 5
of the 6 have been to the temple, while one is completely out of the church.
I loved her talk. She openly admitted that she didn’t really do anything,
rather, she allowed her children to make sometimes wrong choices, but the
five of them eventually were married in the temple.  She even admitted not
holding a temple recommend when her first daughter was married in the
temple, and that she then resolved to not miss out on any other of her
children’s marriages.  I just loved the honesty.  In no way did she try to
imply or show that she “fit the mold.” And I think that was by design. Her
life has been a struggle, but she still has faith in God and in the church.

In the general session two more sisters from our ward spoke. One sister has
been through the death of her first husband, a divorce from her second
husband, and she is now on a third marriage. She gave an excellent talk.
She is a counselor in the primary presidency in our ward, and she is a
wonderful lady.  The second sister who spoke is married to a man who is not
a member of the church, so she takes her children to church alone. She
teaches the 12-13 year-old Sunday School class.  She did a wonderful job, as
well.  Both of them were honest about their struggles, and the less than
ideal challenges that they have faced over the course of their lives.

It just struck me that apart from talks given by ecclesiastical leaders, the
other talks were filled by women. This is the same stake that has recently
had a sister come to stake general priesthood meeting to address the
brothers on the importance of home teaching. It is exciting to me that I
feel like the stake is acknowledging openly that nobody – no individual, no
family – is perfect, and that we have amazing sisters in the church. I wish
we could carry this attitude over into the general church body. I know we
still have a long way to go, but it makes me optimistic about the future. I
at least feel like our stake is in the hands of excellent leaders who “get
it,” or at least are trying to think outside the box in some ways.

Thanks for letting me share. Not all Sundays are like this for me, so I am
happy when I am excited about Sunday once in awhile.


Guest Post by ifrit

Call for your Stories

My spouse and I are writing a book, and we need your help. Please read
the following description of our goals, and if you would like to
contribute, please contact us. Any help you offer will be greatly

On the whole, being a mom is a positive experience for most. However,
there is a stigma (both in the LDS church and the world at large)
attached to the idea that a mother might feel anything but happiness
and contentment regarding her child-rearing duties. It is completely
normal for a mother to feel dissatisfied when spending her time
cleaning up various bodily fluids and riding the wave of one tantrum
after another. A mother needs space, time to pursue hobbies unrelated
to children, church, and home, and the freedom to define herself not
just as a mother and wife, but as a person. We don’t talk about this
enough. We prefer to make jokes of the difficulties involved with
being a mom, or to ignore them in favor of painting a simpler, rosier
picture of a mother’s heart. In this, we do a disservice to mothers
and to their families. For the important work that mothers do, they
deserve more support, and a way to love themselves during the rocky
patches instead of feeling guilty.

Postpartum depression is another issue. It can include many symptoms,
from feeling down for an extended amount of time after giving birth,
to suicidal feelings and recurring disturbing thoughts about harming
the baby. Between 10%-20% of mothers suffer from postpartum depression
The mother has little control over whether it happens, yet when it
does, there is often too little support or understanding to be found
from those around her. Add to this general depression, which strikes
women at a higher rate than men (about 1 out of 8 women suffer from it
at some point in their lives), and we can see the importance of
addressing depression among LDS mothers. It is not enough to tell moms
that they’re doing a great job, that God loves them, and so forth. The
best way to help is to acknowledge and discuss the issue, publicly, so
that moms who suffer (and their families) know that they are not
wrong, or abnormal, or bad, and that there are many resources
available to help them.

Depression, isolation, and dissatisfaction are bad enough problems on
their own, but we make them worse by the way we handle them. Or don’t
handle them, as the case too often is. For a mother to admit
unhappiness is taboo, so mothers who experience difficulty often don’t
realize they are not alone. They feel abnormal, inadequate, or guilty.
These feelings can make depression and dissatisfaction even worse,
damaging the mother and possibly even her family.
Some would say we should not focus on the negative. Motherhood is
important and necessary. Sacrifice, and even some unhappiness, is a
natural part of being a parent, and the results are worth it.

Let’s say I’m making a cake. When it’s done, it’s going to be the
richest, most satisfying cake ever. If I want that batter to get all
cakified, I have to bake it, and for baking to happen, the pan is
going to have to get very hot. But for someone to say, “This hot pan
is the natural state of things; I can’t have my cake without it,” and
then grab the pan without an oven mitt because well, the pan is
*supposed* to be hot…what is the point? Yet how often do we approach
motherhood this way? “You have to sacrifice,” we say. “That’s the
natural state of things. Your kids are worth it.” Yeah. That’s true.
But does that mean we shouldn’t grab an oven mitt and, say, take time
to relax during the baby’s nap? Or tell the kids to fold their own
laundry? Or at least, for Heaven’s sake, acknowledge that the pan is,
indeed, hot? Grabbing it with your bare hands will not make the cake
turn out any better.

It is not just the mother’s feelings that need to be addressed. In a
church where many believe that motherhood is a woman’s highest
calling, even the purpose of her creation, imagine the sadness and
shame a mother would feel when, upon confiding in friends, family, or
church leaders that she feels unhappy, out of control, or dissatisfied
with her life, she might not get the response she expected:

“Motherhood is your divine calling; your unhappiness is a sin. You
need to repent, and then you will feel better.”
“You are crazy.”
“You’re a bad mother.”
“You must have done something wrong. God is punishing you.”

Sadly, these responses are real-life. I’ve run across all of them, and
many more, in my research on this subject. And where the mother does
not hear these things from other people, she tends to fill in the
blanks herself.

There is a real need for more education and more open discussion among
the LDS people when it comes to the realities of motherhood. There are
so many happy, fulfilling things about being a mom, and we should not
forget that. But when we ignore these very real problems, or gloss
over them in favor of presenting a simpler picture, mothers and their
families get hurt. We need to acknowledge that motherhood has real
challenges, and we need to talk about them openly so that the stigma
and the guilt are replaced by understanding and support. Husbands and
older children need to take an active role in making sure each mom
gets frequent time to be the woman she was before she got married and
had kids; to pursue hobbies unrelated to children, church, or home.
“Mother” is only one possible aspect of a woman, and however important
that aspect may be, a woman who is only a mother is not a whole woman.

The book my husband and I are working on addresses these topics and
more. Our point is to let mothers know they’re not alone (something
that came up as important over and over in my research), and to
educate the general LDS public. We’re including anonymous personal
stories and, hopefully, pieces of interviews from well-known LDS women
who are familiar with these issues in one way or another. We hope that
reading about familiar women who are known to be good and active in
the gospel and have experience with the more difficult side of
motherhood will help people realize that experiencing difficulty is
not abnormal or wicked. Many people are (understandably) reluctant to
talk about tough topics like postpartum depression or feelings of
unfulfillment and inadequacy. But the women and families of this
church need those with the knowledge to open up so that we can help
each other heal. If your personal experience or studies have given you
any insight into these subjects, please share it with us! We’re also
looking to discuss the distribution of household work, the importance
of exercise to a mother’s mental well-being, body image, (especially
relating to post-pregnancy and aging), and anything else you think
might be relevant to the happiness of LDS women and their families.
You can email me at mail.for.ifrit@gmail.com, or if you’d like I can
send you a questionnaire, or interview you. Or you can discuss right
Thank you so much for your time.

Waking Up, Deep-Down

Guest post by Merrianne Monson

After sensing that my bishop was “waking up” to some deep-down
struggles many women were having with recognizing and realizing their
own worth, and seeing him attempt to fix it by telling all of us that
we are wonderful,  I felt inspired to share my thoughts with him.  I
share it in part:

“There have been literally hundreds of talks from priesthood leaders
over the years telling women how great they are and that they are not
second-best.  For a long time, I always responded to these messages
with a question —- Why do they keep feeling the need to tell us  we’re
great?  What underlying issues are creating these feelings in women &
why aren’t they getting fixed?

There are many powerful forces throughout the history of the world  that
have repeated and accentuated the lie that women are second-best,
second-place, subpar.  The “pearl” of the doctrine of Christ teaches
that we, as women, are not second in any way and are on equal footing
with all of God’s children and have equal access to His love,  influence
and power.  I have come to know and fully embrace this “pearl” and it
has made ALL the difference for me.  This piece of truth about who  I am
lies at the heart of every single step I’ve taken toward healing,
growth, peace and spiritual abundance.

Though the truth about women is firmly embedded in the doctrine of
Christ, there are pieces of the church that give the message that we
are, at least in some ways, still in second place.  I speak from my  own
experience when I say that for a woman to overcome these often
unconsciously internalized messages to find the “pearl” of her true
worth and value and power in God’s eyes, she has to dig deep within
herself.  The spiritual knowledge of who she really is can only be
found within her own soul, and within the context of her own personal
and intimate relationship with God.  Yes, validation from those  around
her can help her along that path, but understanding and connecting to
her own God-given potential and power for good is something she
absolutely must do for herself.

I feel a great shift among the women of the church – a shift toward  the
discovery, realization and acceptance of our own worth and power, a
worth and power that all of God’s children share as his offspring,  but
something that women are finally ready to more fully embrace.  Women
are finally beginning to get, deep in their gut, that their worth and
potential is not tied to the many roles they play or don’t play  (wife,
mother, etc), but is simply tied to who they are as a child of  heavenly
parents.  I see many priesthood leaders (including yourself) who are
beginning to sense the tremendous pain caused by women not
understanding or embracing their inherent worth and power for  good.  I
appreciate your (and others’) sensitivity to the spirit and desire to
help women find help and healing.  That healing will come as  priesthood
leaders become more sensitive to and more validating of the needs and
unique gifts women have to offer but, more importantly, that healing
will come as women discover the truth about who they really are for
themselves.  It will come as they rise up and choose that healing for
themselves and for all the women around them. As I have seen in my  own
life, this healing blesses each woman, her family, and eventually all
those within her circle of influence. Nothing can match the power  that
is unleashed when a child of God finds out who they really are.

I pray you will receive these thoughts in the spirit they were given.
I hope something I’ve shared will help you understand, a little more,
how to best help the amazing women in our ward find their own  greatness
and live up to it.”

He thanked me for the email, and said it was very helpful to him.  I
absolutely know that experiences like this, of choosing to speak up  and
speak authentically, are what will create healing change.

Mother’s Day

For some wards, Mother’s Day is awesome, in others it’s not so great.

Check out the recent Exponent thread, Mother’s Day The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, about Mother’s Day 2011.

This thread can help articulate some of the reasons Mother’s Day is difficult for many women and some examples of success and failure that happen in the LDS church on this holiday.

Tracy’s Story

by Jessica

I’d like to highlight Tracy M’s story at By Common Consent about her experiences being a divorced mother in the LDS church.

You can read her story here and feel free to comment on the thread at BCC.


Censored: Mormon.org Profile

Guest Post by Jenne in response to the WAVE Call to Action to post a Mormon.org profile.

One of the questions available for members of the church to answer on Mormon.org is “What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?”

My answer:

“Mormons believe that God’s nature is that of the perfect parent. One of the greatest doctrines taught by the LDS church is that we believe we are loved by a Father and Mother in Heaven. Together, they love us with perfect knowledge of what we need to lead us to truth. They are patient, gentle, kind but firm and fair. Heavenly Father is attentive to our prayers and send the Spirit to guide and comfort us. He also sends his Spirit to others who will be guided to help and give us comfort in our struggles.”

Over a month later, it was still pending review.

I didn’t like the quandary that put me in. I didn’t feel like editing my response by cowing to the textbook answer; and it’s not something that I could argue with anyone. After a while, It seemed pretty clear to me that it was not going to be approved in that form and I wasn’t going to be hold the why’s behind it.

I toyed with the idea of leaving the answer the same but adding a personal experience to illustrate how I came to this belief and why it is so important to me spiritually. In the end that’s what I decided to do.

I did later find out that there had been a technical glitch with the system and my answer was never reviewed. In a way it was fortuitous, as I was given the opportunity to further reflect and add more detail and personal insight into my answer. It was a blessing to me to be able to bear testimony of Mother and Father in Heaven and to share my experiences of how I came to that testimony.

I’m pleased to report that my expanded answer was approved and is now available to view on my profile.

Mormons believe that God’s nature is that of the perfect parent. One of the greatest doctrines taught by the LDS church is that we believe we are loved by a Father and Mother in Heaven. Together, they love us with perfect knowledge of what we need to lead us to truth. They are patient, gentle, kind but firm and fair. Heavenly Father is attentive to our prayers and sends the Spirit to guide and comfort us. He also sends his Spirit to others who will be guided to help and give us comfort in our struggles.

Though I greatly mourned my father’s death, I had not had a good relationship with him when he was alive. Finding myself fatherless with no knowledge of my Father in Heaven, I yearned to know a father’s love. At first I thought it was very strange that Mormons called God “Heavenly Father” all the time. Then it grew on me when I realized that believing in a Heavenly Father meant I could come to know a perfect father and given the hope of the atonement of Christ, my father could become more perfect than he had been in life. I learned that God is a knowable, loveable personage that broke down my misconceptions about a Christian belief in God. Learning about the Mormon concept of the nature of God helped me embrace Christianity because Mormons reject the idea that God is a spirit, without passions, without body or shape.

Already having a nontraditional past and understanding of religion but valuing “truth wherever it can be found” the concept of Heavenly Mother, too, resounded strongly with me. Most Mormons first learn about Heavenly Mother in one of the LDS hymns which reads “In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason, truth eternal, tells me I’ve a mother there.” This concept made so much sense to me, and, I expect, to others who are coming from a pagan, earth-based religious background or who are familiar with the history of goddess worship throughout the centuries of the world. Its wonderful to me that neither gender is pushed aside for the other, but male and female reign together as divine beings.

In knowing about the existence of a Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father, I have a better understanding of who I am as a daughter of God. Though not much is taught about Heavenly Mother, I envision a womanly goddess who is capable, strong, intelligent and all-knowing, creative, hardworking and infinitely loving: the perfect woman and mother and equal to power and ability to God the Father. The vision I have of Heavenly Father is gentle, loving, compassionate, all-knowing, patient and sensitive: the perfect man and father. In both, I find the parents I need to feel loved, comforted, guided and supported. I am able to learn how to be a better parent and partner to my husband because of the example I envision my heavenly parents set for me.

I find this experience frustrating and confusing, though in the end, I was glad to have the opportunity to bear testimony of Heavenly Mother, whom I feel is missing from my spiritual life and understanding. At this point, I have to be content with the idea I have of her in my heart and mind and pray that someday she will be more knowable.  I have faith that I will see her just as Eliza R. Snow describes in her hymn: “When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by; Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?” Yet, it’s with a pensive wistfulness that I hope to know her before then. And I hope for a church that openly recognizes, celebrates, seeks information about and teaches of her.

Note: This post has been edited to remove suggestion that Jenne’s profile was censored without communication as to why her answer was withheld. A technical glitch had prevented review of her response.

Guest Post: Caring, Sharing, and Improving

by Sandra Jergensen

Sandra is a friend of several of the WAVE members and lives in Baltimore with her family. She was invited to share this story to illustrate how she helped create awareness regarding young women’s issues in the church.

Two months or so ago when Kathryn Soper’s article, “Why Standards Night is Substandard: Teaching Sexuality to Young Women” was published on Patheos, I read it and was really impressed. The article touched on things I experienced growing up but had never heard addressed in any standards night or lesson I attended. I then linked the article and posted it to my facebook account to share it with friends and family. The ideas were too important to keep to myself and I wanted to open a dialogue about a topic that I feel is really important and easily overlooked.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my dad asking for the link again, he had remembered the article and wanted to pass it along. My father is on the high council in his stake and works directly with the young women’s presidency, and they were planning their stake standards night. At the meeting when they, along with the young men’s presidency and stake presidency were deciding what to tailor their messages to fit, one person asked what do the young women need? It was quickly piped in that the girls are fine, and just need to watch themselves so the boys aren’t distracted. And that is when my father spoke up, recalling the article, saying that the young women shouldn’t be passed over in that fashion, and could he have everyone read an article his daughter had linked.
All agreed to read and reconvene.  My dad told me that everyone, the entire high coucil, stake presidency and young men and young women’s presidencies, had nothing but positive feedback. They were receptive, impressed and surprised, seeing the way sexuality and young women from an entirely different standpoint; something that was irrelevant at the last meeting.  And that was going to change the plans for the evening, something address that there is more to teen sex than just taming desire of volatile male libidos.
I was blown away; by my dad’s interest in something that concerns me, by his shared belief when he took the time to read the article, and his desire to pass the knowledge of the too often omissions in the way we teach chastity standards in the church. I am happy for the youth that will get the updated, improved and more applicable message in their standards nights.
I wish I could say I was responsible for all of the good that will come of this, but I’m not. I only did a simple thing: I shared something that mattered to me. It was a little thing that has meant so much.

Guest Post: Temple Music

by Neylan McBaine

I have a confession: the music in the waiting chapel of the Salt Lake Temple drives me nuts. There I am, sitting reverently in my white dress, waiting for the session to start, and instead of a quiet atmosphere in which to ponder the reasons I came to the temple that day or even say a silent prayer, I am subjected to the kind of piped-in electric organ music that one might expect to hear in a funeral parlor.

As I sit there, trying to meditate but distracted by the wrong notes in the familiar hymns (the music must be played live somewhere by someone, since I hardly think there would be wrong notes in a recording), I figure I have three choices: I could resent that my religious institution forces its musical aesthetic on my personal worship and conclude that since I want to run from the musical choice I should run from the institution; I could ask the temple workers to turn it off and make a stink to the temple presidency; or I could stick my fingers in my ears so I don’t hear the music anymore and continue with my silent meditation.

If I chose to do the first — let my resentment of the imposed musical aesthetic lead to resentment of the institution — there would be no end to that slippery slope. I would start resenting many more of our cultural characteristics, mistakingly equating the questionable quality I perceive in them to questionable quality in our doctrine. From canned ham at Christmas parties to the invariably adorable treats of Young Women’s activities, our culture includes scads of quirky middle-class mid-century Americanisms that sometimes obscure our stated goal of saving souls.

This is a slippery slope that many members succumb to, understandably confusing discomfort with the institutional experience with discomfort with our doctrinal cannon. Although the  earthly experience should as closely as possible mirror the heavenly home our institution seeks to represent, it doesn’t always succeed for reasons of human error, personal taste, imperfect judgement and private corruption. My quibble in the temple is with the execution and presentation of the hymns, not the content of the hymns (to which I am personally devoted). If we can choose to control what we can and let the other stuff go, our experience within our institution will allow us to focus on the Savior, not the Spam.

I had a poignant experience a few years ago that helped fortify my understanding of our culture versus our doctrine and gave me hope that our future generations can successfully make this distinction. As a Juilliard- and Yale-trained musician, I was asked to give a class at a New England stake youth conference on music in the Church. I grew up speaking and playing the piano at firesides where my mother, a professional opera singer, offered her thoughts on the power of music to convey the Spirit. Music is utterly vital to my spiritual life, so talking on this subject comes easily to me. I have dozens of talks I’ve written on the history of the hymns, the power of the hymns, the importance of the classical repertoire in our worship, the triumverate communion that occurs between an individual and the group and God with congregational hymn singing… I could go on.

However, with this crowd of teenagers, I chose to take a different approach. I selected about 15 musical clips — ranging from Kanye West to Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Little Richard singing spirituals —  and I played each clip for the class. As we listened, I asked the kids to write down silently on a piece of paper whether they thought the music was “Sacred,” “sacred,” “neither,” or “both.” The results were astonishing.

Suffice it to say that very little of the “Sacred” music was also deemed “sacred,” meaning that those musical works that are categorized within the genre of Sacred music in a retail catalogue did not feel holy, or “sacred”, to their unique spiritual personalities. Several youths deemed every classical work played as “contrived” or “inauthentic,” thus driving away them farther away from a sense of the Spirit which they found more readily in music they defined as “real,” “pure,” and “natural.” Kanye West’s song, “Hey Mamma” was rated the most “sacred” song I played because of its sincere lyrics of gratitude for the singer’s mother and its soothing beat.

As our discussion progressed, I learned that these youths find peace and divine communion in very different places than I would expect with my own classical music training. Electronic instrumental music, with its ordered, patterned progressions, seemed especially meditative to my crowd. They dismissed some rock songs for their meaningless lyrics and embraced others for their messages, a surprise to me since I myself rarely pay attention to pop lyrics. But regardless of what I thought about their taste or how much I bemoaned the demise of classical music (subjects of another article!), I couldn’t deny the fact that these kids found the Lord’s presence in these unexpected places. They were hearing beauty, and they were letting it draw them closer to God.

We concluded our discussion by talking about why the Church has settled upon a certain musical aesthetic to represent “sacredness”. After all, many other denominations attract patrons with varied worship styles. (I know of one evangelical congregation that gives its members three different musical choices for Sunday worship: a room with a choir, a room with a jazz band and a room with a rock band.) I was encouraged by the practicality of their answers: We are a worldwide church that can come together over consistent applications of the hymns. The hymns are a tribute to our 19th century pioneer heritage. Chaos would ensue if we tried to appeal to 13 million people’s varying aesthetic tastes. We can ponder the lyrics of our songs, all of which have uplifting messages even if the style of the music doesn’t resonate. And most encouraging: We can recognize that we are responsible for our own communion with the Spirit and we are not spiritual outcasts if the certain chosen aesthetic doesn’t speak to us.

I know in reality the line will blur for some of these kids between their personal relationship with God and their cultural experience in the Church and that they will eventually forfeit one because of the other. But I like to think most of our rising generation will understand that our cultural quirks are themselves not absolute truths and that to equate the two would be to miss the mark.

So going back to my fidgety discomfort with the piped-in organ music, what about the second option? you ask. Why didn’t I ask the temple workers to turn it off so I and the other patrons could just enjoy the silence? The answer is I’m simply not that much of an activist. I prefer to work within the system, performing and supporting quality music (and silence where appropriate!) within the Church where I can and hoping that standard will permeate others’ experiences over time. Perhaps some day I’ll get up the nerve so say something to a temple worker — although I fear tearing some octogenarian temple patron away from meditating on those soothing sounds that remind him of singing hymns at his mother’s knee — but I may just leave that up to those kids in my New England class. Maybe when they’re in charge we’ll all be listening to Kanye West.

Meanwhile, I’ll be the woman with her fingers in her ears.

Guest Post: Leaders Who Get it Right

by Kay Gaisford

(When I was at lunch with Kay I mentioned that we were looking for posts for the HOPE blog that demonstrate success with gender equality in the church. Here is a short story she sent me about her experience).

When we lived in Valley Forge Ward in the 1980s, I attended a New Beginnings evening with my teenaged daughters. Our bishop had been called to be bishop a short time before and was giving what I believe was his first talk to the young women. He was a thoughtful, reflective person with a teenaged daughter of his own, and I was surprised that he spoke to the girls in a way that portrayed them mostly in terms of having a secondary position to men in the church. He described their spiritual life in terms of preparing themselves to be married in the temple and support a husband in his priesthood. In fact, his talk sounded exactly like the talk I had heard Carol Lynn Pearson parody at Sunstone that summer in her presentation, “A Walk in Pink Moccasins.”

Although he was not a close friend of mine and I didn’t know him well, I perceived the bishop to be a “teachable” person, willing to consider new ideas and perspectives. Within a few days I gave him the audio tape of Carol Lynn Pearson’s Sunstone presentation, “A Walk in Pink Moccasins,” cueing it to the start of the parody. It was a transformative experience for him. He told me it gave him a new perspective on the young women he had been interviewing. He had been surprised to have a number of the girls tell him that they were feeling depressed. He made the connection that perhaps the YW organization should devote efforts to helping the girls realize their personal potential. Within a few weeks, he called Lou Chandler, a professional working woman, as YW president—definitely a new kind of role model for the girls!

Lou adds:

“I can’t claim to have been a model YW president back then, but this bishop was, indeed, a model of “righteous dominion.” He exhibited kind and caring service, intelligent leadership, good humor in all things, the zeal and humility for continued learning, and tremendous spiritual strength. His example was inspiring. Alas, his tenure ended all too soon as his work required moving is family to DC. But, to this day, I still consider his example when I find myself in leadership positions.”

We are looking for more stories like this about experiences where women find ways to advocate for equality in the church. Please submit yours to info@ldswave.org.