Latest from Mormon Land: Latter-day Saint chaplain breaks the gender barrier

Also: Top female Latter-day Saint leaders celebrate International Women’s Day, and “Under the Banner of Heaven” comes to Hulu.

Jenna Carson, shown at the Old South Church in Boston, is the first Latter-day Saint chaplain in the federal prison system.

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Jane Manning James, Eliza R. Snow, Martha Hughes Cannon, Chieko Okazaki. These are just a few trailblazing Latter-day Saint women.

Now you can add to the list Jenna Carson, the faith’s first chaplain in the federal prison system who carries the ultimate goal of becoming a military chaplain.

Armed with a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, Carson set out on a multiyear quest to change church policy requiring priesthood ordination to become a military chaplain. She reached out to the faith’s top brass and ended up writing to church President Russell Nelson.

“I ran that letter to the mailbox with so much joy. I remember skipping after mailing it,” she told Erika Koth Barrett in a Q&A with The Utah Monthly. “I had a good feeling, like President Nelson was going to respond well.”

He did. She was told “Nelson and the other apostles prayed about my request — and approved it. I was so excited.”

Trouble is, by then Carson was divorced, posing another hurdle. She was told it “would be really difficult” to be a military chaplain “as a single person.”

In the meantime, she became a hospital chaplain and then one for a men’s federal prison.

"The door is now open for women in our church to become military chaplains," says Jenna Carson.

She eventually was approved to work as a chaplain for the Air Force Reserve, a move she hasn’t yet made.

“I’ve agonized over this. Why did I work so hard for this and now I’m not doing it?,” she told The Utah Monthly. “But the Spirit gives me peace and I continually get confirmation that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. Most importantly, the door is now open for women in our church to become military chaplains. We have a few in the pipeline right now. They just have to finish their degrees.”

Oh, and single Latter-day Saints now can become active-duty military chaplains.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham gives the keynote address at the fifth annual International Women-in-Diplomacy Day symposium. The virtual event was held March 8, 2021. This week, Bingham celebrates International Women's Day.

In honor of Tuesday’s International Women’s Day, Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham — along with the other top female leaders in the church — saluted various women throughout history and across the globe on Instagram.

Bingham wrote about Julia Mavimbela, a South African schoolteacher who rose above personal tragedy and the systemic racism of apartheid, to create a community garden in Soweto.

She later co-founded Women for Peace, a multiracial organization dedicated to democracy in her homeland, and joined the church.

“Julia’s example demonstrates that the effort to forgive provides an increase of personal peace and happiness for ourselves and those around us,” Bingham wrote, using the #InternationalWomensDay hashtag. “..To me, Julia is an incredible example of a Christlike woman.”

Coming soon: ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’

Last year, we saw Netflix bring the sordid story of bomber-forger Mark Hofmann to the screen in “Murder Among the Mormons.”

Next up: “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Jon Krakauer’s bestselling look at Mormon fundamentalism and the gruesome killings committed by brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty.

Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield plays a fictional detective and a member of the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who investigates the murders and endures a trial of his own faith.

Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) created the series. Producers include fellow Oscar winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

The Hulu true-crime series starts streaming April 28, and FX Networks has released a teaser trailer.

Read more here.

From The Tribune

• Latter-day Saints across the United States overwhelmingly lean Republican, vote Republican and identify as Republican. Robert Taber is not one of them. Hear what the national director of Latter-day Saints for Biden-Harris has to say about politics, faith and more on this week’s “Mormon Land.”

Listen to the podcast.

• Donna Edith Smith Packer, a longtime school volunteer, dedicated genealogist and widow of the late apostle Boyd K. Packer, has died. She was 94.

Read the story.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Boyd and Donna Packer were married in the Logan Temple, July 27, 1947. Donna died Saturday at age 94.

• Latter-day Saint Charities is prepared to help those affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and committed to doing so — for as long as it takes, vowed Sharon Eubank, head of the church’s humanitarian arm.

Read the story.

• The fighting, fleeing and fears enveloping Ukraine are on virtually everyone’s minds right now, especially those who attend a Russian-speaking congregation in Salt Lake City where Ukrainians and Russians are not enemies but rather fellow Latter-day Saints.

Read the story.

(Saige Miller| The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of a Russian-speaking branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a picture in a Salt Lake City chapel last month.

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