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Mormon bishopric wants more time to decide Kate Kelly’s fate

“I feel a lot of hope,” Ordain Women founder tells throng at Salt Lake City vigil.

First Published Jun 22 2014 11:47 am • Last Updated Jun 23 2014 02:38 pm

Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly will have to wait at least one more day to learn whether she can still rightly call herself a Mormon.

Kelly’s bishop told her late Sunday — and an LDS Church statement affirmed — that her lay leaders in Virginia did not decide her fate during a disciplinary council Sunday evening on charges that her advocacy for women’s ordination to the faith’s all-male priesthood constitutes apostasy.

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"After having given intense and careful consideration this evening to your membership status, and after carefully reviewing the materials you sent to us, we have decided that we want to prayerfully consider this matter overnight," Kelly quoted her bishop as telling her by email. "I will notify you once we have a final decision, probably tomorrow [Monday] or Tuesday."

The news came two hours after a vigil in downtown Salt Lake City, where some 250 men, women and children gathered to pray, sing hymns, exchange hugs and wait with Kelly.

"I strangely enough feel a lot of hope," Kelly told the crowd, " …. because it’s not too late for them to the do the right thing."

Kelly faces potential excommunication or lesser penalties of disfellowshipment or formal probation from the Virginia bishopric.

The Salt Lake City vigil — one of dozens taking place in more than 50 U.S. cities and 17 countries — began at City Creek Park, where supporters listened to speeches from Ordain Women leaders and others for nearly an hour.

The throng then marched across the street to the LDS Church Office Building, where participants took turns walking up to the high-rise’s revolving doors on the south side, laying down a handkerchief and repeating the phrase, "I will not be silenced," followed by their own thoughts.

"I will not be silenced because it’s not in my divine nature to be silent," said one woman.

"I will not be silenced because you fear my voice," said another.

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"I will not be silenced because my daughter, Kate Kelly, is a renaissance daughter of the restoration, has committed no sin and has done nothing wrong," said Jim Kelly before dropping a handkerchief into the pile.

Many made their statements and then hugged Kelly.

Her husband, Neil Ransom, walked with his wife at the front of the crowd and laid down a photograph from their wedding day.

Kelly placed a copy of her Salt Lake County marriage certificate, an emblem, she said, of what she stood to lose.

Mormons who are excommunicated lose all their ordinances, such as the one in which she and her husband were sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake LDS Temple in 2006. She previously described excommunication as a kind of spiritual death. "You are being forcibly evicted from your eternal family."

Earlier on Sunday, in the park, the Ordain Woman founder said she felt "very sad and very hurt."

"But I also feel a lot of hope and a lot of faith," Kelly said. "... It’s not too late for them [her Virginia LDS leaders] to send a message that questions are welcomed."

Kelly recalled a story from her Mormon mission in Spain, where her fellow proselytizers once joked that she had been asked to join an LDS branch presidency. (All Mormon congregations — from wards to smaller branches — are led by members of the faith’s all-male priesthood.)

At the time, she laughed at the prank. But Kelly turned serious Sunday, remarking that "it shouldn’t be a joke in this church that women have the potential to lead."

One vigil participant, South Jordan resident Maren Jensen, said her heart breaks for Kelly, whose example inspired her to attend her first Ordain Women event Sunday.

"She is a beacon for all women like me," she said. "I’m grateful for her sacrifice. It’s a personal sacrifice for the church."

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