Seven women and three men representing the Ordain Women group attended the priesthood session at the Marriott Center on the BYU campus Oct. 4.
“We’d explain the principle of there being a Women’s Conference, and we have a men’s portion of that,” said Michael Roberts, a Provo bishop who, along with his wife, met the group at the Marriott Center entrance. “(But if) you want to come in, then come in.”
The organized group met half an hour before the session began. They began with a hymn, a prayer and remarks from members including Jim Kelly, father of Ordain Women leader Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated last summer.
“We want to give those women everywhere an opportunity to participate that weren’t able to come to Salt Lake City today,” Abby Hansen, organizer of the Ordain Women event in Utah Valley, told The Universe. “Secondly, we want to make our leaders aware worldwide that these are questions we have in the Church. This is an international church, and there are women in every country who have this desire and who want … for this revelation, and for these questions to be answered.”
She said she has been very excited about recent events in the Church, including women praying in General Conference and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf referring to the Women’s Meeting as the beginning of General Conference for the first time.
Despite being denied entry to priesthood session at Salt Lake’s Conference Center the past two general conference seasons, official Church statements directing this issue and the recent excommunication of Ordain Women leader Kate Kelly, the small group was hopeful.
“First thing is, there are more than twice as many people here than at the first meeting of this Church,” said Jim Kelly in his remarks to the group. “So that’s pretty encouraging.”
When the group arrived at the door to the building, they were greeted by Roberts, bishop of the 241st Ward in the Provo YSA 17th Stake, and his wife, Karen.
When they approached Hansen said, “I’m sure you know who we are.” She promised they would be “reverent” and “respectful” and just wanted to watch the session.
Karen Roberts asked if they knew they could see it online but said, “We’re not going to stop you.”
The women and men entered the building. Many hugged Roberts on their way in. Karen Roberts said the couple had been told beforehand the group would be coming.
“We were just to meet them and nothing much, not to turn them away if they insisted on coming in,” she said.
The organization’s website posted a map of locations where groups of Ordain Women supporters might gather to view the priesthood session at local stake centers.