|from By Common Consent|
Remember that one time a year ago when I talked about being a Mormon Feminist Crazypants Manhater? This is something I said:
One thing I notice now is that there are some habitual practices regarding women's participation in church. They do not appear to be policies or rules--just habits. I do not think it would be a harmful thing for leaders to consider whether there are ways for the sisters of the Church to be better represented. My concern is that when women's voices are unnecessarily absent, not only do leaders miss out on an important perspective, but the resultant (and likely unintended) message could be that this is because their perspective is not important.
So. Here are some things I would squeak for:
How about asking a sister to give one of the prayers in General Conference? Doesn't it seem kind of weird that this doesn't already happen? And, to sweeten the deal, we promise not to do that whole giving-a-closing-prayer-that-is-really-a-talk thing that some of our dear brothers do.
Turns out I wasn't the only one who wondered about the GC prayers. Some folks organized an activity, encouraged by a 1978 statement from then-President Spencer W. Kimball, who said that it is "permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend." Those who wanted to express their feelings on the subject in a faithful and respectful way could submit letters that would be handed directly (along with the other letters) to several General Authorities who may be in a position to discuss and influence such things. (They were not sent through the postal service because mail is sent back to local leaders, who have no authority over what happens at General Conference.)
Here was the letter I wrote to Elder Holland. I also wrote a similar one to the General Relief Society President (Linda K. Burton).
Dear Elder Holland,
Thank you so much for your service, and for the messages of faith and love that have helped me so many times as a young woman, a young single adult, and now as a young(ish) mother. I thank you also for your special love and concern for the women of the Church and the world.
I am writing to ask that those who make the prayer assignments for General Conference consider inviting sisters to pray as well. Since I first noticed their exclusion (which does not follow the pattern of our other meetings), I have been puzzled and saddened by it. It would mean so much to me to hear a sister's voice offering the prayer at General Conference.
Thank you for reading this! I send my prayers and best wishes up for you and your family.
I have no idea if he read it or not, but guess what! Rumor is that sisters are being invited to pray in April.
This, to me, is a great example of a practice or tradition (whatever it is, it's not doctrine) of exclusion that can easily be examined and adjusted. I have no idea if this "adjustment" was already in the works or if the letters helped influence it and I don't really care.
What I do care about is that we will hear sisters pray and I will possibly do a fist-pump and maybe a Snoopy Dance right afterwards if I can't control myself.
(Note: And no, I don't consider it problematic or uppity or apostate to ask a question or to share my perspective or feelings as a member of my church. Studying and teaching the Doctrine & Covenants this year gives me a weekly reminder that you have to ask questions to get answers, and that members (and leaders) frequently must gather information before expecting inspiration.)