We have sent private communication through official channels. We have done so to demonstrate our sincere desire to engage the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in conversation about women and the priesthood.
We have been ignored.
Beginning on Friday, continuing throughout General Conference weekend and culminating on Monday, we tried again and again. During the course of those attempts, we carried a binder full of personal messages from women and men around the world expressing a desire to have women witness meaningful events in our faith. Those cards and letters are deeply personal and contain testimonies and prayers. Because of their intimate nature, we requested that an official church representative be present to receive them. We stated that we would happily deliver the letters directly to a general authority or a personal assistant.
The letters and postcards are stories of sincere desire for women to witness baby blessings, baptisms, temple sealing ceremonies and worthiness interviews — all non-doctrinal roles, dictated by policy, that exclude women.
They are stories of mothers who are not allowed to even hold their infant child as a name and a blessing are voiced.
They tell of women who, even as missionaries, were not allowed to act as official witnesses to a baptism.
They express a desire to serve by sitting with girls and women as they enter into worthiness interviews with men—an often frightening and intimidating prospect.
And they share stories like that of our board chair, of a bride-to-be struggling to find a role for the women in her life when only men are allowed to serve as official witnesses to a temple sealing.
These rules, which dictate and demand the exclusion of women at momentous events in our faith, are not based in doctrine; they are simply tradition. We believe that it is time that our policies mirrored the example of Jesus Christ, who chose women to be the witnesses of his resurrection. Mary Magdalene was the first to witness and testify of his return. Women today are also ready to witness.
These stories are important. They speak to four policies that could be easily changed with minimal work, but that would have monumental impact on the way women see themselves and each other.
We are disappointed that no church leader would meet with us to accept these messages. However, because we believe that these messages are important and that they will touch the hearts and minds of our leaders, we are having them delivered via Federal Express to the First Presidency, the Relief Society General Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric and the registered agent for service for the Corporation of The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Federal Express will deliver the messages on Thursday, April 7.
It is our fervent hope and prayer that these messages will be in the minds of our church leaders as they pray and seek revelation about ordaining women to the priesthood in the LDS Church.
With respect and hope,
The Ordain Women Executive Board
Debra Jenson, chair, Julia Murphy, Bryndis Roberts, Leah Marie Silverman, Mark Barnes, Joanna Smith, Christy Clegg, Natasha Smith, Kristy Money, Lorie Winder and Danielle Kristine Mooney.