In September 2013, the Mormon Women Project published an interview with Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women. As it has always been, our criteria for being interviewed for the Mormon Women Project is that the woman currently identifies as active in the Church, and that she has tried to work hand in hand with God to make choices in her life. We felt that Kate fit that description. Yet we still included an editor's note explaining that, like many of the women we feature on the MWP, publishing her interview was not an endorsement of those choices. In fact, I personally have spoken on a number of occasions in the media as the "counter" to Kate's call for the ordination of women. She wouldn't call me a friend, nor I her.
And yet, I've wept today at the news that she received a letter summoning her to a church court on charges of apostasy. Why? Because, despite the fact that I vehemently disagreed with the Ordain Women tactics and I've despised the meanspiritedness that's betrayed itself on all sides, I have loved the conversation we've been having about women in the Church. I believe women like Kate have prompted each of us to think deeply, to pray even, about how we feel as women in the Church or about women in the Church. She's forced us to ask questions that might have been uncomfortable but which, ultimately, I believe, have drawn us closer to being a compassionate, inclusive community.
I weep for Kate personally. She is a woman who has the possibility of spiritual banishment hanging over her. I would not wish that on anyone. Perhaps the realization that Kate is a woman and a sister who is truly sorrowing now will give each of us pause before we make that insensitive comment or refer to her in impersonal, derogatory terms. My hope is that today's news will allow us to put aside our differences, even briefly, and come together as brothers and sisters.
I also hope that today's news will not discourage us from recognizing the great strides the Church has made to increase the visibility and involvment of women over the past several years. Let's not stop our conversations, but, rather increase our dedication to seeing, hearing and including women more effectively in the local spheres in which we each move, working within our communities to explore options for increased women's involvement. In this way, we can be agents of peace and healing, not just today but for many years to come. I have been inspired by my friend, one of the few in the world who knows what Kate is going through today, Maxine Hanks, who herself was one of the September Six and has since returned to the Church as a mentor to many: "Now is not the time for rancor, when we've evolved so very far beyond past fears. Now is the time for healing, restoring, fulfilling our Church. I know that God is trying to heal this Church. And only we can make that happen. This truth will remain my focus. I pray for John and Kate, and for their Bishops, their Stake Presidents, and for any Seventies and Apostles who might be able to help them find a better way to resolve this tension."
Blessed are the peacemakers. That can be us.