More Ways for LDS Women to Be Empowered

In a very thought-provoking article in Sunstone (Mar 2013), Michael J. Stevens suggests two ways that LDS women could be more involved with the actual administration of Wards and Branches:

  • have women start filling the positions of ward clerk and Sunday School president (I assume counselors also); these positions do not require that one hold the priesthood
  • have 12-18-year-old young women join the young men in passing the sacrament trays up and down the aisles

Stevens also suggests a way to encourage change:

Another thing we can do at the grassroots level is to muster the courage to reclaim the Law of Common Consent by exercising our right to vote “no” when we feel moved by the Spirit and/or common sense to do so.  For example, we can decide that as a matter of principle and conscience, any time a male name is put forward to fill a calling for which women are by policy excluded, we should seriously consider registering a negative vote.  There is no formal Church rule or policy against exercising our franchise as members to cast an oppositional vote; we simply aren’t used to it.  And after the meeting, whenwe are inevitably taken aside by church leaders and asked to explain our dissenting, we can share our reservations about the practice of staffing non-priesthood callings only with males.

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5 Responses to More Ways for LDS Women to Be Empowered

  1. Allen says:

    Thanks, Roger, for bring these points to our attention. I agree with you in principle, but I think it will be difficult for the church to make such changes. Every organization sets up procedures and policies, and organizations are hesitant to change those policies. We did see a small change occur in the last General Conference, when two women gave prayers. I hope the General Authorities will continue to make changes to have women more involved in the administration of the church.

    One story about J. Golden Kimball pertains to sustainings. He supposedly was speaking at a Stake Conference in Nephi, and he noticed some of the members were sleeping. He proposed that Mt. Nebo be moved to such and such a county, and everyone raised their hands to sustain that proposal. Sustainings have become a ritual that has lost its meaning.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      After I read Michael J. Stevens article, I wondered if he has actually voted “against” any sustaining motion in church? In my 67 years in the Church, I’ve never seen anybody vote “against” anything. That aside, there will have to be continuing change in the LDS Church as it relates to women’s roles. The only question is “How fast?” Thanx for the J. Golden Kimball story.

  2. Allen says:

    Here is a story told to me by my sister that shows how little respect we give to the principle of sustaining. The stake leaders decided to make boundary changes to the wards. A few stake members weren’t happy with the proposed changes. Stake Conference came, and it was time to present the proposed boundary-changes. Presiding at the conference was Joseph Fielding Smith of the Twelve. When the boundary changes were presented, several people raised their hands to vote “no”. Elder Smith told them to lower their hands because the changes had already been approved. My sister said she was at the conference and heard and saw what happened. It seems that obedience to authority has become supreme.

    I’m not sure I would vote “no” if I felt a woman should be called to a particular position. I think I would trust the judgment of the PH leaders in the matter. This means that I don’t believe sustainings are the proper “vehicle” to give women more influence in church administration. The best way, I believe, is for General Authorities to realize and accept the fact that women need more opportunities to participate in church administration. Asking women to pray in Conference is a small step, but a step in the right direction, because it shows that current members of the First Presidency and the Twelve are open to changes in policies, in this case that persons giving prayers do not need the Priesthood.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      I like your JFS story. And I agree with you, I don’t think voting “no” is a good way to express concern. It seems like the current avenue to best effectuate change is to get broad coverage in the press (either intentionally or unintentially) and then wait for the Church leadership (or the PR department) to make a move. This happened in the “prof. Bott” case, in the “cola” case, and in the “prayer in conference” case. Women, using the bloggernacle, seem to be taking this course now. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  3. Susan says:

    I have never seen anyone “vote no”. I’m not sure the bishopric are even versed in how to handle it? I’d be curious to see how a “vote no” would actually be handled. I remember when Ezra Taft Benson was going to made prophet and my father (an avid democrat) told my mother that when it came time for the “yes” vote, he was literally going to have to “force” his right hand to sustain him. In fact, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he “accidentally” didn’t vote for that sustaining.

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