President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
“…the benediction will then be given by Sister Jean Stevens, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency…”
My wife and I had told our eleven and seven year-old daughters that a woman would be praying for the first time ever in General Conference. They were excited. Before General Conference had started, I had my daughters drag two chairs from the kitchen table and put them in front of our T.V.; I put the camera’s tripod in front of the T.V. . I was going to catch this moment on camera.
When President Uchtodorf announced who would be giving the benediction that Saturday morning, my heart jumped. I had my daughters hurry and run and jump on top of the kitchen chairs that they had earlier placed by the T.V. I placed the camera on top of the tripod. This had to be a perfect picture; nothing blurry. Sister Stevens walked up to the walnut tree wood podium, bowed her head and prayed for all of us. Click.
I smiled. My eyes burned. This was good. We rewound the recording. My daughters and I sat on the couch and cuddled and listened again to Sister Stevens pray for us. It started raining outside. My eleven year old daughter then turned to me and jokingly asked, “Dad, you know why it’s raining outside?” “No honey,” I replied. “God is crying because he is happy we finally let a woman pray in Conference.”
I wondered if a woman giving the benediction instead of the invocation was done purposefully to appease the more conservative members of the Church who might still hold onto the old idea that a Church meeting must be opened with a prayer by one holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Sunday afternoon session of General Conference would prove me wrong.
The chairs we set up on Saturday morning were placed back in front of the T.V. again on Sunday morning. The tripod placed in front of the T.V. again. We hoped that we would hear, once again, a woman’s voice praying for us to our God.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
“…The invocation will then be offered by Sister Carol M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency…”
Run. Jump. Click.
I want my daughters to find meaning in the faith in which my wife and I are raising them. I want them to feel the beauty, and the empowerment that our faith tradition can provide.
I am happy that my brothers and our wives played a small role that led to Sister Stevens and Sister Stephens praying in General Conference. I am proud that I can tell my two daughters that we and our blog helped make that happen – be that it was a small role. We did not stand around as if we were in a catechism just repeating written down words, playing our assigned roles. I do believe the eight-hundred letters that had been sent into the Church asking why a woman could not pray in General Conference played a role in what we saw on Saturday and Sunday . Some might refuse to see as I do. They perhaps feel that my view is equal to arm-twisting to get our way. I don’t see it as such. I see it as our Church leaders listening to us and responding to us. Doesn’t revelation only come when a question is asked? From where will those questions come if not from us?
Usually we say the reason we are called “Latter-day Saints” is to distinguish our church from the church that Jesus established in the first century BC; or, as some say, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Former-day Saints”. That might be true. Notice however that the last part of the name our church is called, “of Latter-day Saints”, not “of the Latter-days”. I think it is more true that our church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is our church, as well as Jesus’. It implies joint-ownership. God expects us to take stewardship of, and protect our church and not leave all to Him and our leaders.
So, when will we again,,,,
Run? Jump? Click?
…I hope it rains again soon.
I stumbled across your blog and must admit that I find many of the post amusing. This particular one caught my attention. I’ve removed myself from the church for reasons that only I know and understand but still keep my finger on the pulse. Why are these events such a big deal? Would the majority of the church know that a woman never prayed, or is it minority groups that try and make it such a big deal? Either way, I think it was a step forward.
I do think it is somewhat arrogant to pretend that you had a role in making this happen-be it a small one. Despite some of my questions and hang-ups I still believe that the church thinks these things through well in advance and relies on revelation. When has the church ever caved to peer pressure and changes policy beacuse of a minority group. I think that this idea was presented before you even caught wind of this idea and was well in the works. But if you must, take a little credit, it will further your reach with your blog.
I might suggest that it is ok to question. After years I finally began to and now still am as I try to find truth to my questions. But, there is a huge difference between questioning to know the truth and questioning to stir the pot and foster a revolution. The latter is what it appears you are headed towards. Be careful, as it almost always leads to misery.
I will continue to read your blog though as I find it very amusing. Thanks!
I find your comment to be somewhat condescending. You find people who are doing their best to interface their spiritual and religious lives with the deeply human need to understand with their minds and live according to their deepest moral convictions to be “amusing”? No one here is calling for revolution or simply to stir the pot. As far as I can tell, every contributor and commentator at this blog is simply making a sincere attempt, each in their own way, to negotiate the push and pull of living in a very complex world, where truth isn’t merely a given and a simple unquestioning attitude to matters of faith seems a betrayal of that faith and its core spiritual and ethical principles.
You’re right in the sense that Rational Faiths may not have had much of an effect on the decision for women to pray at GC. There is obviously a lot more going on. But cumulatively projects like this as well as individuals expressing their concerns about injustices and problems in the church to church authorities have had a substantial impact in leading to recent changes in rhetoric and policy at the broader institutional level (for example, the softening of rhetoric about homosexuality and the changes in church curriculum).
Contrary to what you may think, the church does try and listen to its members. Sometimes it may be slow to respond, and sometimes the members themselves need to awaken their brothers and sisters who may have had their senses dulled as a result of a creaky and somewhat ossified tradition so that the church authorities themselves take notice, but the process of agitating for change can be a deeply moral thing to do.
This is a great post. The photos are fantastic! And the rain imagery is one of the best things I’ve heard about the historic Women Pray in General Conference day.
What I love most about this whole thing is that regardless of whether or not these women were scheduled to pray before our leaders received letters from faithful Latter-day Saints suggesting, requesting this change — apparently the leadership, members and the Lord were all on the same page. This was a wonderful example of how things work together for the good for those who believe.
No doubt the heavens rejoiced with us earth-bound folks.
I love it but now I’m all weeping. I blame you.