Somewhere along the line, I must have identified myself as a Mormon feminist – for in the 24 hours that have passed since Kate Kelly's excommunication was announced, I have received multiple messages from various friends, asking, “Are you okay?”
Two things. First, I am not an Ordain Woman supporter. Never was. I don't agree that women need the priesthood in order to make great strides in having a more meaningful presence in the church. I don't support some of the methods OW uses to be heard.
Second, no, I am not okay. I am incredibly sad about this turn of events.
While Kelly's bishop laid out the reasons for excommunication rather well, and I can't say that I disagree with some of his logic, the question I ask myself is this: “Is the church better with or without Kate Kelly?” and I say it is better with her. She is an intelligent, faith-filled woman who wants to have a discussion about something I personally don't agree with but believe she has every right to ask about. Her methods might not have been what I would have chosen, but the issues she is bringing up in regards to equality are important. There has not been nearly enough dialogue going on about ways women can be more involved in the church.
In my opinion, there is so much talent and leadership that is not able to reach its full potential in the current policies and procedures of the church. Note I did not say in the doctrine of the church — but in the policies and procedures of the church. There are things that can and should change. We have discussed many of them here before.
Since disciplinary action against Kelly and John Dehlin was announced, I've had the words of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf's October 2013 conference talk running through my mind. This talk is often referred to as the “Doubt Your Doubts” talk, although its official title is “Come, Join With Us.” Uchtdorf speaks at length about an invitation to come, join with us, despite our warts and our challenges, despite our sins and our differences. True, he tells us to doubt our doubts, but that is such a small part of his overall message. I think it's safe to say that everyone I've ever known who has had doubts has doubted them, studied them, prayed and pondered and struggled over them. I would invite you to re-watch or re-read his talk and listen for all the many ways people might struggle, and an invitation to all to find a place in the church.
I want to quote just a few phrases from his talk. These are things that have stuck with me and continue to come to my mind as I hear this sad news about Kate Kelly's excommunication.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
We respect those who honestly search for truth. Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. There have been some things said and done that would cause people to question. My friends, there is yet a place for you here. Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result. We need your unique talents and perspectives. The church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted…if these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this church. Come, join with us. If you seek truth, meaning, and a way to transform faith into action, if you are looking for a place of belonging, come join with us. If you are tempted to give up, stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here.
I think we do a fabulous job in the church of reaching out to the widow, the poor, the investigator who is struggling with the Word of Wisdom, the single mom, the sick and afflicted. It is much harder to reach out to the doubter, the questioner, the activist, the person on the fringe because of their choices or their lifestyle.
I believe the church of the future will be much more accepting of these kind of people, but it is going to take some very painful conversations in order to get there. I am sorry that Kate Kelly is a casualty in this. I hope that someday she will again feel like there is a place for her here and come join with us again. We are stronger with her than without her.