After the disappointment with Kate Kelly’s excommunication, how did Nancy and Sara react? Are they still active in the LDS Church? What has their spiritual journey been like? Check out their answers!
Nancy: About 18 months ago I was confirmed in Community of Christ and I was one of the people that helped to create the group, the little congregation and that I belong to in St George and I’ve been doing that ever since and I’m very happy with that. In many ways my Mormon feminist experience has really prepared me to kind of claim a faith for myself that it wasn’t necessarily tightly defined by an institution.
Sara: I felt very scared and I felt I was having panic attacks whenever I would go to church. And so, I felt like I had to kind of take a step back and I didn’t go for a few months. I had intended to not go for longer. I was like, I need to take a break of a year. And, I’m such a Mormon girl. I’m such a religiously inclined person that I couldn’t even hold to my own expectations. I went back to church after just a few months and started attending again. And I had a very supportive ward at the time.
And I loved relating to the people there. But my journey since then has been, it’s just gotten more and more nuanced. And I’ve had to find a way to relate to the church and relate to my own Mormonism that was very different than how I expected it to be growing up.
Find out more about Nancy’s ordination, and how Sara relates to the LDS Church now! Don’t forget to check out part 1!
In 1992, Dr. Michael Quinn published an essay stating that women have priesthood, and have held the priesthood since 1843. It was one of the reasons church leaders cited in excommunicating him. This will be an interesting contrast to our conversation with Dr. Jonathan Stapley, who did not endorse the idea that women held priesthood. Both Stapley agree that women don’t hold priesthood office, but Quinn is bolder in his claims than Stapley.
Michael: Women receive priesthood when it’s conferred on them in the endowment, and I think that men do too, but they’ve already received it. They’ve received it separately as young men as 12-year-olds to prepare them for the endowment. Women don’t need that kind of preparation. They are already spiritually endowed.
GT: At least that is the stereotypical thinking.
Michael: That’s the stereotypical view. And I’m willing to adopt that because it’s convenient to help people understand this issue that women have a preparation that is separate for the endowment than men do.
From my conversation with Stapley,
Jonathan: there’s no question that men and women have equal access to the power of God. So, women are recognized healers, for example. They participate in the healing liturgy. Women perform anointings, and they seal anointings and they heal the sick and bless for comfort from the earliest days. Joseph Smith says this is of course, entirely appropriate activity for the Relief Society sisters to participate in, any women. Every church president after that says it’s fine. So this is a manifestation of God’s power. I would say that women receive liturgical authority to perform those acts, but Joseph Smith never characterizes that as priesthood.
Who do you think is right?
I asked Quinn what he thought about the Ordain Women movement.
GT: Ok, so what do you think about Kate Kelly’s movement with Ordain Women?
Michael: I understand it. I don’t support it.
GT: You don’t support it?
Michael: No, I understand it and I don’t think it’s necessary for women to be ordained to an appendage.
GT: Why not?
Michael: Women don’t need an appendage to have the priesthood.
GT: They’ve already got the priesthood.
Michael: They’ve got the priesthood.
GT: But what about the idea, why couldn’t a woman become a bishop? Lead a congregation?
Michael: If those who preside over the appendages of these offices, which is what the president of the church does, he’s the president of the high priesthood. He could change that.
This was a fantastic conversation, and I hope you check it out!
Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Quinn….
In April 2014, Elder Oaks gave a sermon on women and priesthood. Dr. Jonathan Stapley said this was no ordinary talk. He called it theologically groundbreaking! I was a bit surprised how revolutionary Stapley felt the sermon was. It seemed to me to be a response to the Ordain Women movement which was asking for women to be allowed to attend the priesthood session of General Conference. I saw the address under a different light than Jonathan.
GT: I remember just thinking, “Oh, this is just to placate the Kate Kelly people and to say, ‘Women, you’ve already got priesthood. You just didn’t know it yet.’” But you’re saying this is a theological change.
Jonathan: When Elder Oaks delivered that sermon, I was looking around like, does anyone else [recognize this?] This is mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe it. And everyone else was just like, “Oh yeah, this is just Elder Oaks.” Revolutions happen sometimes a very subtly apparently.
Jonathan: It’s certainly a linguistic shift and language frames our reality. So, it is certainly, for example, an interesting piece from Elder Oaks’ sermon was he was quoting in many parts from a sermon that Joseph Fielding Smith gave to the Relief Society in a general Relief Society meeting. And in this meeting Joseph Fielding was as I remember, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time, discussed women’s authority in the church and how they were heirs to a great heritage, but also heirs to authority and their capacity of the work in the Relief society and the temple. But he was quick to say, you have authority to do this work. You have authority in the temple, but authority is not the same thing as priesthood.
Jonathan: And Elder Oaks takes this sermon he talks about, he quotes Joseph Fielding Smith, how women have this great authority in the church and this great heritage. And then he stops and says, what else can this authority be except priesthood? Right? So, it’s this really wonderful kind of re-imagining of what these terms mean. At the same time, reaching to our past to grab hold of our past and make sure we’re still connected, but also in very interesting and creative ways, refashioning it in a way that makes more sense for the present.
Do you think Oaks talk was groundbreaking? Let me know! Check out our other conversations on women healers, Ordain Women, and click the video below to learn more about this conversation….