LDS Church responds to Ordain Women initiative

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A view of the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City. LDS Church photo
A view of the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City. LDS Church photo

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the priesthood session of its annual general conference will be broadcast live for the first time, available on LDS.org, the Mormon Channel and BYUtv.

Tickets to the priesthood meeting will not be made available to women.

Leaders of Ordain Women, a group seeking priesthood ordination for women, requested tickets to the priesthood session in a formal letter to the Church. Several women also requested tickets from their local leaders but were denied, according to Ordain Women’s press release.

Members of the group said they will proceed with plans to wait for tickets in the standby line for the Saturday, Oct. 5 priesthood session at the LDS Conference Center. The goal of women involved is to request that the Church “prayerfully consider the ordination of women,” Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly said in an interview.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated in a news release published Tuesday, Sept. 24, that broadcasting the priesthood session online and on TV is “part of a continued effort to make general conference proceedings more accessible to members around the globe.” It is unclear whether the Church’s announcement that the priesthood session will be broadcast live is in response to the Ordain Women initiative.

Church spokeswoman Ruth Todd responded in a letter to the group by saying that tickets to the priesthood session are reserved for men and boys.

“It is the hope of the Church that the priesthood session will strengthen the men and young men including fathers and sons,” Todd wrote to leaders of Ordain Women. Todd wrote that the meeting will give men and young men “the opportunity to gather and receive instruction related to priesthood duties and responsibilities, much the same way parallel meetings are held for sisters, such as the general Relief Society meeting.”

Hannah Wheelwright, a BYU senior studying political science and a leader of Ordain Women, said she received the news with both excitement and disappointment.

“It’s certainly exciting that they have recognized the sincerity of our request,” said Wheelwright. “I think that’s important for a lot of people to see that the Church does not consider us ridiculous anti-Mormons.”

 Wheelwright also said the group still intends to communicate its message to the Church by going to the Conference Center.

“This is not the final solution,” she said. “Our request is that they prayerfully consider women’s ordination. We do still intend to go to the standby line and wait for tickets and to demonstrate our willingness to serve and our desire to be alongside the men of our Church in all leadership capacities.”

Wheelwright said she is grateful for the Church’s response to their request and the organization views the response as a step forward, according to their news release.

“I hope we can communicate gratitude to them for responding directly to us so speedily and for recognizing our sincerity, and that opening of dialogue in that they’ve directly responded to our organization,” Wheelwright said.

“I’m a little disappointed by the statement that women will not be permitted to attend but I am excited because they’ve been so open and transparent about that. I’m grateful at least we have some clarity on that,” Wheelwright said.

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