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Ordain Women tells top Mormon leaders: We sustain you

First Published      Last Updated Jun 30 2014 03:52 pm

Leaders in the Ordain Women movement, which is pushing to open the all-male Mormon priesthood, has affirmed in a statement that they "sustain the [church's governing] First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" and that they hoped the top LDS authorities "will continue to respond directly to the needs and desires of church members and take their concerns and questions to God."

The OW comments came Sunday in response to Saturday's statement by the three-member First Presidency and the 12 apostles spelling out the Utah-based faith's position on female ordination — that both men and women have access to the priesthood's "blessings," but only men can hold priesthood "offices."

The LDS leaders' statement came in the wake of last week's excommunication of OW founder Kate Kelly by her local lay leaders in Virginia for "conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church."

OW's executive board noted that the LDS leaders' message did not mention "why women cannot be ordained or that they will not be in the future" and repeated the request that Mormon higher-ups "prayerfully bring this question [of female ordination] before the Lord."

The women further noted that the statement "publicly discloses the official definition of apostasy from Church Handbook of Instructions [sic] Volume 1, a volume of church policy that is available to thousands of male leaders but restricted to only nine women in the church."

The LDS officials defined apostasy as "repeatedly acting in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine."

In their response, OW leaders declared that they "do not meet any definition of apostasy."

"We affirm that we are not acting in opposition to the prophet or the church," their statement reads, and "have not taught false doctrine and do not meet any definition of apostasy."

The statement was signed by Kelly, who is currently living in Utah, and other members of OW's executive board: April Bennett, Chelsea Strayer, Debra Jenson, Hannah Wheelwright, Heather Beal, Lorie Winder and Nancy Ross.

Peggy Fletcher Stack