701-704: Kim Sandberg Turner, Founder of WOCA – Navigating a Mormon faith transition as a grandparent

 

Kim Sandberg Turner is the founder of Women of a Certain Age (WOCA) – a network of support communities for 40+ post-Mormon women.  In this four part episode, Kim discusses:

  • Part 1: Her years growing up as a faithful Mormon in Salt Lake City, meeting and marrying Terry (her childhood sweetheart and husband of 42 years), and the many years her family lived in Bolivia as devout Mormons (Terry serving as a Mormon bishop twice, and Kim in multiple Relief Society Presidencies).
  • Part 2: How Kim and Terry’s Mormon faith began to unravel as their son Josh came out to them as gay, and as they began studying LDS church history in depth.
  • Part 3: Kim discusses how she and Terry navigated their faith transition as parents and grandparents, exploring topics such as how they dealt with their Draper ward once they decided to leave the church, how they have handled parenting and grandparenting through a faith transition, what they do and don’t believe today, and the importance of community in their transition.
  • Part 4: Kim shares the story of how she founded WOCA, how WOCA operates, and what WOCA means to her and to the other WOCA women.

Part 1: The believing years, including our time in Bolivia

Part 2: The unraveling of our Mormon faith

Part 3: Navigating our Mormon faith transition as grandparents

Part 4: Creating and co-leading WOCA

Comments

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26 comments for “701-704: Kim Sandberg Turner, Founder of WOCA – Navigating a Mormon faith transition as a grandparent

  1. Sherry Hunt
    March 6, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you Kim! I am a WOCA and have been looking for a community of women who have gone through similar experiences as I have. I left the church after 57 years as a TBM , after innocently stumbling on the truth in 2013. Where can I find more information on WOCA?

    • Kim Turner
      March 7, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Facebook message me…

  2. Bill
    March 7, 2017 at 5:38 am

    I was in Bolivia in 1984 and 1985 and was one of the recipients of the Turner’s love and hospitality. They are one of the rare couples who really walks the walk. Like Kim said, Bolivia is a tough mission and we were able to get a small escape several hours at a time by visiting their home. I have fondly remembered those times through the years. Thank you both so much! I am happy that we have all arrived at a better place in our lives!

    • Kim Turner
      March 7, 2017 at 7:20 am

      Message me on Facebook

  3. Kim Turner
    March 7, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Facebook message me a request

  4. Elsa LaBaw
    March 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Kim, I applaud you for following your soul. I left the Church twenty-three years ago and it never occurred to me to start something like WOCA. I am seventy-two now and can attest to the truths you have shared through Mormon Stories. I took notes and quotes. Always feel that you have an important ” calling” in the secular world. I can totally relate to your new “mission and I love your authenticity in honoring your truth. There are endless possibilities “out here” that could never be experienced within the “walls of Mormonism.” Best to you and your family and thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Jessica Albuquerque
    March 7, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    It was an absolute delight to listen to all 4 episodes. It was an honor to get to know more about you and your incredible journey, Kim. I look up to you for your bravery and your positive outlook on life. Thank you for your amazing example!

  6. Rich
    March 8, 2017 at 9:20 am

    This was wonderful to listen to. I would love to talk to Terry.

  7. Ben
    March 8, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I’m only through part II, but I need to thank Kim. Her story resonates with me very powerfully.

    I grew up in a very devout home, with parents in high level leadership callings, who lived in the 3rd world for a time, and represent the best of what Mormonism can be. I served a mission in South America full of love and miracles that I can still recount. In that regard, I feel like I could have been Terry and Kim’s son.

    Now I am a parent with children in the youth and primary. I finally sought answers to questions I had dared not ask and, over the course of a decade, no longer believe. I also wonder if one of my children is gay. Time will tell, but whether he is or not, doesn’t change the reality that the Church creates a toxic environment for our gay youth. Even still, we love our ward and friends and have no major complaints at the local level.

    Where our stories diverge is that my spouse and my family is believing and I don’t know how to bridge the gap with her, my parents or my siblings. I’m a closet non-believer to everyone except my spouse, which is a point of discord. So much fear and expectation is built into our family happiness, and these topics have never been up for open discussion. The status quo is very powerful.

    Kim’s story captures the dynamic that I’m dealing with so well. Thank you.

  8. Mike
    March 8, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    This was an excellent episode! (or 4) Thank you so much for sharing. I’m excited because I feel like this is an episode that I can share with my 60 something year old parents. I think your tone of respect and love for those in the church may very well open up the ability for me to have a conversation that I have felt wasn’t possible. Thank you for being loving and kind in your explanation of your faith transition!!

  9. March 8, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Kim
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. As I was listening I started to ask myself….Is this the Terry Turner that I used to know? Did you and Terry go to Valley Jr. High school? Then the split came and some kids went to Kearns and some went to Granger. I graduated from Granger in 1971. It’s so delicious to hear of people from my same background and age who were so faithful to the church take ownership of their own thoughts and actions. I love it! I left the church in 1994 and have never looked back. If this is indeed the same Terry from long ago please tell him hi from Heather Campbell……He probably doesn’t remember me. I was on the seminary council at the time and very righteous having my dad in the Stake Presidency. ( for 13yrs!.) Your story really touched my heart so from one 64yr old feminist, lover of all to another…..Peace, harmony and happiness in your newest life adventure!

  10. Blair
    March 9, 2017 at 9:39 am

    If you splice together the quote about “unladylike” with the later part where she mentions it again (including where she talks about going to the women’s march to set an example for her granddaughters), you’ll have a viral video on your hands.

    • Jayne
      March 11, 2017 at 1:36 am

      Agree! Someone savvy needs to do this. Something to post in response to some awful things being posted online by women who probably have no idea of the history of equality for women.

  11. Matt
    March 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I agree with the other comments. This was a great Podcast that showed the transition from happy and fully in, to a difficult transition, to happy and out.

    Kim mentioned that she has had a hard time getting men to organize socialization. I am not surprised. I think this is an effect of Mormon culture. The adult male organizations of the church will normally hold maybe one activity a year. The culture teaches you to put all of your time into your calling, your job, and church service. Anything is vain or robbing of those three.

    Most of us are children when it comes to organizing social events.

  12. Janice
    March 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Kim, so much of your story resonated with me. I understand the idea of mourning the life that was, but at the same time looking forward to all of the possibilities. Your feminist ideas are refreshing and I wish my mother-in law and sisters-in-law were able to feel the liberation that I can tell you feel. I was always hoping and wanting RS to be more authentic. I wanted to be part of a “real” organization where women could feel comfortable being themselves. You truely are an inspiration and remind me so much of my mother. Lots of love and good wishes coming your way!!

  13. Janice
    March 10, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I am so grateful for Kim’s willingness to share her journey, and as I listened I frequently thought about how many of her experiences and thoughts were identical to my own. This interview was the most relevant to me of all the Mormon Stories I have listened to so far.

    As I listened to Kim’s description of WOCA, I became envious of the camaraderie of those who live in relatively large concentrations of post-Mormons. I am so glad that groups like this are forming, and maybe eventually there will be something online for those of us who are scattered, including those of us who do not trust Facebook.

    This was a lovely and touching interview. Thank you!

    • Elsa LaBaw
      March 11, 2017 at 12:35 am

      Amen to all of that, Janice! Clarissa Pincola Estes said, in Women Who Run with Thw Wolves, (I think I read it there) that there’s nothing quite like the deep belly laugh that only women seem to reach when in the company of other women. I miss that a lot. I still have three LDS sisters who can share that with me from time to time but we are miles apart and I tried and gave up Facebook three times. If I were physically able, I would like to be part of a Woca group, but the closest is in Seattle, too far away. “Sister” Kim, I am a great fan of yours. Thank you for your courage.

  14. Elsa LaBaw
    March 11, 2017 at 12:37 am

    Correction: WOCA

  15. James T. Kirk
    March 14, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Oh oh. What a lovely woman. I’ve never met her, but I love her. I love her attitude and wish I had a few more people like her in my life, with that open and connected mentality. I wish there were WOCA-style meetings for men. I’ll bet your meetings are awesome. Married men transitioning on their own, those married to TBM women, need a group. It’s very dangerous talking to other men in your ward because you don’t know who’s gonna rat you out and ruin your marriage. Ever sat in a meeting with your bishop or Stake President and have them drill you? It’s terrifying when you know (given that your wife is in it for life) that any one of these “judges in Israel” could destroy your marriage and family. I live in mortal fear. I’m also terrified of getting a higher calling that will force me to jeopardize my marriage with a “no” response.

    I could listen to Kim talk for many more hours. More wisdom in these four .mp3 files than a years worth of sacrament meetings. Thank you! You were so NOT RAMBLING!

    • Elsa LaBaw
      March 15, 2017 at 12:28 am

      Oh, James! If ever there was being between a rock and a hard place, yours is it. In watching Mormon Stories, I am always looking for the word, “integrity.” You cannot compromise your soul by not following what is right for it. As John always says, and sings, “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” That is hard to do, but so worth it in the end. I wish you strength on your journey.

      • James T. Kirk
        March 15, 2017 at 12:56 am

        Elsa, I’ve asked myself “how can I respect myself following religious convictions that take me away from my family when my family is more important to me than religion?” The line “Do what is right…” doesn’t answer the question “what IS right?”

        It sometimes becomes a question of deciding what is the better choice between two imperfect options. Is it better to stay committed to your family, even if you can’t stand some aspects of their religion, or is it better to make a moral stand about their religion’s shortcomings and risk losing your family for it?

        That’s a choice that each individual has to make for themselves, but for me, I love my family and am coming to be increasingly indifferent to the religion, so I’m focusing on my family and doing my best to just see the good in the community and enjoy what parts of it I can. Maybe some day down the road things will improve.

        • Elsa laBaw
          March 15, 2017 at 3:20 am

          James, you are absolutely correct in saying that everyone’s situation is different and only you can weigh the pros and cons of yours. “Love” is so complicated, and ideally, if you have an honest and loving relationship, you could give your wife a blessing that included the idea of trust between you. I know this is not a forum for advice and I am only postulating an option for you. Plant the seeds of “Trust,” and see where it takes you. God is always with you, inside the Church and out. Trust Him.

        • Elsa LaBaw
          March 15, 2017 at 4:34 am

          P.S. James, I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I felt impressed to refer you to the Mormon Stories podcast with Tom Phillips. There’s a lot of “meat” in it. Also, I appreciate your sharing your story, as well. It is nice to hear a man’s perspective.

  16. Kelli Jones
    March 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I just started listening and was struck right off by Kim’s childhood experience. I too was raised in an inactive home and I too struggled listening as a child to what was being said about people like my parents. It caused a strange questioning inside me about my parents worthiness in life. Looking back on that as an adult I see how wrong that is for a child to be placed in a situation where they may have to sort through those feelings. I also struggle with guilt now as an adult for any judgments I may have made against them. The policy struck a nerve with me on many levels but this was one of the many reasons I found it deeply upsetting. If the concern is truly about the children, why wasn’t the same concern there for me growing up or for the many other children growing up now that may feel as I did? It is discriminatory in so many ways, no matter how you slice it. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Elsa LaBaw
      March 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Kelli, I did not grow up in the Church but did grow up with the social stigma of my schoolmates’ mothers discouraging their daughters from friendships with me because my parents were “off the grid” socially and were percieved as weird. The stigma of this judgement has stayed with me all my life and I guess the gift in this experience is that I am very sensitive to the inclusiveness others. Being a convert to the Church and not a “Daughter of a Pioneer” made me feel like a Mormon of a “Lesser God.” even though I magnifyied every calling, held a temple recommend and was a worthy member. I hope that member sisters are reading these comments and listening to the Mormon Stories Podcasts. There is much here for the learning. Thank you, Kelli, Kim, and John and team. These are meaningful discussions.

  17. Marianna Blake Taylor
    March 22, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    So grateful to meet Kim through this podcast. I hope to get to meet her and join WOCA, but also, the one for couples. I have loved being able to go through this transition with my husband and I am glad to hear that Kim was so lucky also. I will contact her through Facebook. Thank you John for sharing these stories. The power of these stories keeps us feeling more rational, sane and thoughtful. Thank you, Kim, for pointing out so many of the women issues that are present in the Church. It is so hard to keep women’s issues on the front burner in so many of these faith crises conversations. I find it somewhat unique that the conversation about gays (usually men) highjacks so many conversations when both women’s issues and homosexuality is brought up. I find them equally important, but am unable to get equal concern even though women are over 50% of the Church. I am so happy for your son. He is incredibly lucky to have had you both as his parents. I have a nephew who was gay who committed suicide. A heartache that is so painful I can’t imagine how something that should be as empathetic as a Church can be so clueless. Thanks again to you all!

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