In part 1 of a three-part series, we discuss the Ordain Women-planned event on 10/5/2013 to attend the LDS general conference priesthood session.  Participants include Heather Olson Beal, Ann Marie Whittaker, Tinesha Zandamela, and Lorie Winder Stromberg — all of whom participated in Saturday’s event.

P.S.  Here is a video attempting to explain what the Ordain Women think and feel, and what they are trying to accomplish.









  1. Bill October 8, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I listened to the first half on my way to work this morning and there is plenty of emotion to go around. It is a bit embarassing to show up at a construction site with crying eyes….Wish I could have been there! You have done a great job conveying the spirit of the event. Thanks for your efforts!

  2. Andy October 8, 2013 at 11:48 am - Reply

    John, thank you for doing this interview. This topic is something I’ve come to only recently and I applaud these women for their manner in approaching this issue. Many have accused them of being “militant” feminists, but I find that they have been respectful, thoughtful, and firm and that they have every right to ask their questions. Personally, the response made by the general authorities during this conference about the issue of women’s ordination puts the question to rest in my mind for now. I hope, however–especially now that I know how personal of an issue this is for these four women and how genuine they are–that the issue doesn’t die. Even though I may not personally get further involved for the time being, I surely will stand up if I hear undue criticism of these great women.

  3. Diana October 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you, John. I bristle when I hear “Mormon Feminist” and wonder how a feminist can be active in the LDS church. The doctrine is so sacred and dear to me that it feels like an ungrateful child throwing a tantrum when I think of the stereotypical way people often protest. That said, this podcast was heartfelt and I appreciate the respect and reverence with which they spoke. I do wonder, however, if these women gave a fraction of that effort in attending the regular sessions of General Conference or the Relief Society Session. I am curious about that.

    To walk away from the church over this issue would be a tragedy! I was happy to hear most are still moving forward with faith.

    • Ann Marie October 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Diane,
      Thank you for your response.
      I do make every effort to attend all sessions, and listen to all of them. Some years I make my way down to the Conference Center because I feel a desire to be there in person. Other years I like to stay at home with my family to watch the session.
      I think it makes sense that there had to be “more effort” put into trying to attend the Priesthood Session because women aren’t allowed inside. I take this Gospel seriously. If there was no effort at all, and it was just easy then what is the point of it all? Everything I do in life and in this Gospel is deliberate, prayerfully thought out, and I act upon the promptings I receive. Always. And that takes effort. Would you agree?
      I understand your discomfort with the phrase “Mormon Feminist.” My mother felt the same way when I first began to identify as a Mormon Feminist. As we talked together, and I explained to her that it was feminism that helped me truly appreciate motherhood and domesticity, and my individual role as a human being that she began to let her perceptions roll away.
      I am not attempting to change your views or make you agree with me. I hope this addressed your curiosity about me and my personal efforts in this Gospel.
      I’m interested, Diana, if you have to make more effort in one area of your life than in others to participate in the Gospel. For example, does it take more effort for you to go Visiting Teaching than it does to plan and give a lesson? I think we all have our struggles, and what is easy for one person might be difficult for another. That’s the beauty of the Gospel and all of us–we’re different and we lift each other up. Would you agree?

    • Ann Marie October 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Sorry, I misspelled your name, Diana.

    • John Kazinski October 9, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

      I am not sure you understand the meaning of the word “feminist”.

      A feminist is a person or activist who supports the notion of “equal rights for women”

      How is equal rights for women against Mormonism in any way ?

      • laren October 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm - Reply

        I’d disagree that feminism only means equal rights for women. One doesn’t have to be a feminist to support equal rights. Equal rights doesn’t mean equal roles or ability in the real world, lds church or the family.

    • Debra October 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      I also attempted to attend the priesthood session. I listened to every session and attended the RS session at my MIL’s stake building. I find conference to be informative and one of the best things for trying and refining my testimony of the gospel.

  4. Joe S October 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    As I saw these (or similar) photos posted on the SL Tribune site late Saturday night, I had one strong impression come over me.

    I feel strongly that if Jesus had been present at LDS Conference on Saturday Evening, He would have communed with you amazing, beautiful women on the OUTSIDE of the LDS Conference hall (rather than joining the throngs inside).

    • Daniel October 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      And then he would have said exactly what Neil A. Andersen said. And then there still would have been women who rejected the message.

    • Amy October 8, 2013 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      I think so, too, Joe.

    • Heidi October 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Amen Joe!

  5. DP October 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    The sincerity of those participating — their open hearts — will help everyone pay attention and realize that these are real people, real *active* *faithful* mormon women, who have a perspective worth considering. They are not making demands. They are simply asking to be heard and considered. They are willing to work with the leaders. I wish the leaders would acknowledge them and talk with them. I wish our leaders were more like Pope Francis who acknowledges the need for a better theology of women–who acknowledges that we humans do not have all the answers and that it would benefit us to think, pray, and consider on these things. Instead, I feel like our leaders respond by saying — “This is the way it is, we don’t know why, but asking why shows disrespect and a lack of faith. Know your place, sit down, and be quiet.”

    I feel like Jesus would sit, listen, and suffer with these women.

    At the same time I am energized by these women. There is no question that this action has been successful in raising the discussion. It has helped us articulate *why* we do it this way to a point where we are acknowledging that we really don’t know why. This will open the door for further light and knowledge.

    I for one desire further light and knowledge concerning gender, priesthood, families, and God’s power and love. I believe God desires to give it to us if we will ask and sincerely open our minds and hearts. I believe our Father has promised to send us further light and knowledge and I believe it can only come when we realize we are in darkness and we don’t have all the answers.

    I am grateful for the point that was made that “Priesthood” has become a linguistic problem. It means so many different things. The brethren have taught recently on at least two occasions by two separate apostles that “men are not the priesthood.” So why is it that “priesthood session” is the “men’s session.”

    Moses 6 teaches that when Adam was baptized he became a part of that order “of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.” He was told that he was thus a “son of God” and that “thus” through baptism “may all become my sons.”

    I feel that this was the same for Eve and all her daughters. I feel that when we are baptized we all become after the order of God, or the priesthood. And that we all become the sons and daughters of God in a priesthood sense.

    The Priesthood is larger than men. It is larger than gender. It incorporates the male and the female.

    I want to know why it is that we teach that the highest order of the priesthood is the Family where men and women are equal partners. Yet within the church we do not organize ourselves in this way. Ironically, men preside and we have a hard time hearkening to our women because we insist this is the “order” of heaven or the way God made it. Well, the only thing we sort of know is that the Family is the highest order of the priesthood organized in the temple and that men and women are equal partners together and together hold the keys of their own kingdom. They have this power only insofar as they fully love one another and are united. The man hearkening to the woman and the woman to the man. They both respect one another.

    Is this not mormonism? Why do we feel like acting in concert with women will compromise the order of God when the order of God as we teach it is for men and women to be equal one with another?

    If I can find joy in being fully one and united with my wife in my family and in the priesthood, then why can’t I do that in church? Why can’t I find joy in serving with priestesses? How is it that being a priestess causes a woman to devalue motherhood? Isn’t that what being a mother is? Blessing and administering the blessings of life and of the gospel to her children together with her husband? Isn’t that the image given to us in the temple when Adam and Eve receive the blessings of the atonement and then respectively pass on those blessings to their children: Eve to her Daughters and Adam to his sons? I see Adam and Eve presiding over the human family, being the first church, being the first priest and priestess in ministering to their children and passing on the blessings of the atonement. THAT is priesthood.

  6. Diane October 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you to John for hosting this. Great job to all of the courageous women on this panel. I enjoyed hearing about your beliefs and experiences on Saturday.

  7. Nick Perkins October 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    This was a very insightful discussion. While I still disagree wholeheartedly with the Ordain Women movement, I realize that there is a severe lack of compassion for the pain they feel, and those of us striving to be Christlike need to demonstrate more of it.

  8. Rodney Anonymous October 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    I have given up on the LDS church and Jesus as I feel it is another control and financial enterprise. The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will have the revelation to allow women to have the priesthood at the precise moment it is financially expedient to do so. Not a moment before. This is the GA’s club, they make the rules. Abide by them, or go join the Methodists or Anglicans if progressiveness is what you seek.

    I would love for the church to make the change, only for the chaos which would ensue. The leaders are not ready for the lost revenue which would result from such a “revelation”. My guilty pleasure will be rubbernecking as I drive past this train wreck as it unfolds. When it comes to the LDS movement, every one loses. At least for me, I’m glad that is over.

    Yes, I’m recovering from Mormonism, and my comments are directed at the organization, and not individual members.

    • Chicago OG October 16, 2013 at 11:09 am - Reply

      I agree with your comment. Ordain Women will affect change once they become an entity that wields financial power. Bring the masses together and convince them to not pay tithing for 6 months…the hand that rocks the cradle….

  9. laren October 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Too bad Joesph smith isn’t around. If he was he might say “I received a revelation today and the answer is no! Moving on to another topic”…. lol but we don’t do modern day revelation on the fly like he did. hmm i wonder why?

  10. Charlie October 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    This is so over the top. Women crying because they are denied entry to the men’s session? weird.

    For us men there are very few places where we can be in a boys club. Even Augusta is open to women also (shocking!) All we have left for our sisterhood is priesthood sunday mornings and at conference. Women have their session which I don’t want to go to off course. And since Monson is there presiding maybe the problem is that Monson and his counselors are there in the all-female session. Why not have signs up and advertise that you don’t want the man Monson and counselors to go to your all-female session instead of trying to get into the all-man session?, where speakers talk to men and tell men what men should be doing?

    Maybe you girls should be spending your energy and time in seeing an ‘Eve priesthood’ or something instead of trying to crash our all man session?

    • DP October 14, 2013 at 10:24 pm - Reply


      Sounds like you didn’t listen to what the issues are. I don’t think any of the women were crying because they couldn’t go to an all men’s meeting.

      What is tragic is that our church culture has conflated men with the priesthood. Women remain second class citizens within the Church. If you don’t think so, you may want to listen to those who have been treated that way as you are privileged to be one of those in first class.

      • Charlie October 16, 2013 at 9:34 pm - Reply

        second class citizens? yeah, several can claim that title: divorced men, single men over 30, men with speech impediments or difficulty with public speaking however a woman who is married to a stake pres or bishop or especially a GA is well above that second class citizen, or single divorced man, in our mormon culture.

        • DP November 1, 2013 at 9:07 am - Reply


          The hierarchy within the church on all levels is a problem. It is not what Christ taught. We are all one in him and there are no differences in status or gender etc.

  11. Chicago OG October 16, 2013 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Ordaining women into the priesthood would also become a release valve for the disaffected husband who no longer honors his priesthood. Instead of embarassing and belittling the father, the mother could step up and take the reins. I once gave a talk in a stake priesthood meeting and made a comment that some of the most organized and meticulous women I knew would make great ward clerks and executive secretaries and that maybe we should just give them the priesthood. The men I addressed that evening had that “deer in the headlights” look and seem dumbfounded. The 1st counselor in the stake presidency was upset with the comments and tried to detox me after the talk….he said, “I’m not sure what to think after those remarks”, I told him he had a right to think however he wanted and so did I. I am glad they put PH session on TV, because of my disaffection I do not take my sons to the PH sessions and they can watch it from home instead of having a surrogate father step in – let’s let Mom take them. Now that PH session is on TV for everyone to view and the contents are made public…who give a flying fig if they let women sit in….what is the difference? They should have escorted as many women into the center as would allow. There is no secret hand shake or decoder ring needed to get in (just a penis). The message spoken from the pulpit was the exact same as on TV…I say we let as many people in the sand box as we can…just don’t throw sand at the ladies.

  12. Anita October 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    I think this priesthood session event was counter-productive and just clouded the issue. The women were not given tickets because they are women, not because they don’t hold the priesthood. Similarly, men would not be given tickets to the women’s session because they are men. I don’t not see any problem with there being conference sessions specifically for men and women. Men and women are different so it makes sense.

    • Amy October 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

      Anita, men ARE allowed to attend the RS Broadcast. In fact, they not only attend, they speak and preside! We do not have gendered spaces in the LDS Church. We have male spaces where women cannot tread and female spaces where men are in charge.

  13. TC October 23, 2013 at 2:04 am - Reply

    I haven’t read the previous comments, but want to thank MormonStories for this conversation and subsequent one. My views reside with the “alternative” group of the other discussion, but I want to thank the participants here for sharing their stories. I cried as I listened and feel your pains. These are valuable conversations to have and I am proud of courageous men and women who trust this venue with their pain and sacred experiences. Thank you so much Ladies and John!

  14. […] John Dehlin interviewed—in his Mormon Stories podcast—Ordain Women leaders and participants (Episode 442) and then feminists with alternative approaches (Episodes 443-444). A lively discussion followed in […]

  15. […] John Dehlin interviewed—in his Mormon Stories podcast—Ordain Women leaders and participants (Episode 442) and then feminists with alternative approaches (Episodes 443-444). A lively discussion followed in […]

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