The first time I ever interacted with Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women who was excommunicated from the Mormon church on Monday, I was using a Facebook group to plan a Mormon Stories conference in Washington. D.C.
It was the summer of 2011. A growing community of Internet Mormons had begun posting about our religion using our real names on Facebook rather than under the auspices of avatars in Internet discussion forums. We were also just beginning to use Facebook groups to coordinate projects and plan in-person events, a practice that is common today. Kate had joined a conference-planning group to assist with our Washington, D.C. event.
It was suggested in one Facebook thread that our venue be the mansion of a wealthy and prominent Mormon in the D.C. suburbs. Kate disagreed. She wanted the conference held close to a train station in the city so that those who couldn’t afford cars had an equal ability to attend. When the decision was made to use the home, Kate’s conscience wouldn’t allow her to continue to be affiliated with the project. She wouldn’t be part of a conference that favored the wealthy.
In the email informing Kate of her excommunication, she was asked, among other things, to "stop trying to gain a following for [her]self." I feel confident in saying that Kate’s incentive is not to gain a following. Her work at Ordain Women has been guided by the same values she fought for in 2011 while planning a conference in D.C. Kate sincerely and vehemently believes in equality.
Kate has taken it upon herself to lead in a manner that aligns with her values and professional skills in an effort to better the lives of women and girls.
Anne McMullin Peffer is the founder and president of Circling the Wagons, a nonprofit organization that serves minority Mormons. She has no affiliation with Ordain Women.
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