Mormon Women Project - faithful Mormon women share their personal stories about conversion, testimony, and overcoming challenges.

Our Cooperative Ministry

On August 2nd, 2012, the founder of the Mormon Women Project, Neylan McBaine, presented a talk at the FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) Conference entitled “To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm for Examining Gendered Participation Within Church Organizational Structure.” As part of the talk, she suggested a number of ways to increase women’s participation in church governance. The outpouring of response showed that many of you have your own ideas for increasing women’s participation!

The Mormon Women Project is planning to launch a repository of stories from Mormons about how women and men have successfully cooperated in church governance at a ward, stake or mission level. The purpose of publishing these stories is to draw attention to the many grassroots initiatives that are taking place around the world to make Mormon women more visible and involved in their local communities. We hope that these stories will instill hope and confidence that much good is happening, and will give specific ideas for how we can each improve in our own spheres of influence.

Guidelines for submitting a story or example to the Mormon Women Project collection:

Guidelines for submitting a story or example to the Mormon Women Project collection:

1. Your suggestion must be in line with the 2010 Church Handbook.
2. Your suggestion should not demean, criticize or express anger towards men or male church leaders.
3. Please email your suggestion to mwpeditor (at) gmail (dot) com

Please note that submissions are anonymous. The Mormon Women Project reserves the right not to publish a submission.

Gender Cooperation: General

A Girls’ Camp Miracle

It’s remarkable how answers come in the most unexpected ways, sometimes long after you’ve given up looking or hoping for them. I’ve struggled with eating disorders and seemingly intractable anxiety about my looks since I was 11 years old. Over decades, I’ve learned to sort of manage those feelings, but they’re never very far below the surface, and I’m particularly aware of them now as I try to guide my young teenaged daughter through those years that were so devastating for me. I have often worried about the ways Mormon culture can contribute to these feelings, with makeover night activities, and “modest” fashion shows and lessons about the importance of attracting a husband. I’ve never felt like I could adequately convey how painful it was to be a Mormon girl who isn’t especially pretty to any Mormon man.

But recently, a man whose name I don’t even know bore his testimony in a ward we both happened to be visiting for the day, and I found that hard, cruel knot in my heart unraveling a little. I was surprised when a man stood up and said he wanted to bear his testimony of Girls’ Camp. He went on to say that he felt a bit strange relating this story as a visitor in a ward where he didn’t know anyone, but that the experience was burning inside him and he needed to talk about it.

He said that he had been asked to give a talk at girls’ camp and felt sort of silly about it. He’s a Management professor at a business school and he didn’t know what he might possibly have to say that would be worthwhile to these girls. He remembered some recent conference talks about preparing by simply working harder to be able to perceive and welcome the Spirit, so he spent a lot of time trying to prepare without really knowing what he should talk about, reading scriptures and praying and finally just desperately hoping that it would be given to him “in the very hour” to know what he should say.

When he got to camp, he began by reading a page of quotations about light, and asked the girls to write down one sentence or phrase that really stood out to them, and then write a paragraph or two about it. And then he asked them to talk about what they had written. They spoke for several minutes about light and intelligence and love and truth — the sorts of things he was kind of expecting. Finally, one girl said “You know, I don’t think of myself as beautiful, but I feel really beautiful right now.” Seven or eight girls, he said, took up the theme of beauty, which would never have occurred to him in the context he had been thinking of, but he realized that this was the deepest need of their souls. He related, with deep emotion, how he had been given to understand that these girls are “pulverized” (his word) by constantly having crushingly impossible ideals of beauty flung at them from every side, and that this was the pain they needed to have healed by the Atonement. And then he testified that he had seen that healing happen, at least briefly, as they saw themselves in the context of the kind of light the scriptures describe. He expressed gratitude for wise counsel about receiving revelation if we will really love those whom we prepare to teach, and concluded that he was grateful for having had his prayer answered, having known without knowing how to open that door for the young women whose souls he had been privileged to glimpse that day.

I spoke with him briefly afterwards, to tell him how much I had needed to hear what he said–both because I needed the prescription for seeing myself and teaching my daughter to see herself in the different paradigm and different light provided by the gospel, but also because I desperately needed to know that a man can receive a strongly feminist revelation, without going looking for anything except what God wants His daughters to hear.

I wish I had asked his name.

Add your own! Send your submission to mwpeditor (at) gmail (dot) com.

Gender Cooperation: Home

A Grandmother’s Influence

I had the blessing of being raised by my grandparents who understood this division of labor perfectly I think… I am reminded of the numerous times my grandmother taught high priests at our house. My grandfather was the high priest group leader in our ward and he often deferred to my grandmother as the expert or last word on spiritual matters. Many people, both men and women, came to my grandmother for spiritual guidance. After every blessing my grandfather gave me, we would all site down together and my grandmother would lead a discussion about what God had said to me (through my grandfather).

Add your own! Send your submission to mwpeditor (at) gmail (dot) com. 

 

Gender Cooperation: Ward

Budget Negotiations, by Kathleen Hughes, Former General Relief Society Presidency

I particularly recall an occasion when the Bishop announced in Sacrament meeting that the young men in the ward would be given the opportunity to raise money for their activities by placing flags in the front yards of homes within the ward boundaries. All members and neighbors were invited to give a particular amount of money to the young men and in return, on special national holidays, the flags would be placed in their yards. I had recently been released from serving in Young Women and I well knew how little money there was available for their activities. I was upset. And during the week, as I thought about the announcement, I became more upset.  Finally, my husband said, “Kathy, go talk to the Bishop. He’ll listen to you.” So, I called his office at work and made an appointment to visit with him. I laid out my concerns and my rationale for why the planned money-raising activity for the Young Men seemed unfair. He listened, asked some questions, but made no commitments. I could do nothing more. I wondered if my meeting had done any good, and when I heard nothing from him, I began to think that the original decision would stand. But, a week later the Bishop sat down next to me before Sacrament meeting and said, “Kathy, I just want you to know that we are going to involve the young women in the project. And you were not the only woman who came to see me. I heard from several!” Courageously, but courteously advocating for those we are called to serve had made a difference. I have consistently found that to be true.

An Elders’ Quorum Initiative

Within a few Sundays of receiving his call, the new Elders’ Quorum president in our ward asked if he could speak to the sisters during the regular Relief Society time on Sunday. He wanted the entire lesson time. We, as attending sisters, had no idea what was on his agenda. I’m assuming the Relief Society president knew what was planned. He, along with his counselors, joined us after their Priesthood opening exercises. The Elders’ Quorum president thanked us for allowing him there and then asked us to advise him on how the Elders’ Quorum could better serve the sisters in the ward. He wanted to know what our concerns were, and what they could do better to serve and support us as women, as sisters in the gospel, as mothers and as wives. He had his counselors write everything down so as to be shared and reviewed regularly (and anonymously). As soon as trust was established in that meeting, I remember the sisters shared their thoughts freely and openly. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn into a gripe session with the airing of petty grievances, but it stayed within the spirit the Elders’ Quorum president established. I think if there are gender issues prevalent in a ward, perhaps based on traditions and practices of the past, this is an admirable way to bridge the gap and form a new level of cooperation and understanding. Fortunately, the Elders’ Quorum president was nothing but sincere in his efforts to do just that.

 

Teaching “Daughters in My Kingdom”

When “Daughters in My Kingdom” came out, my husband looked through it and said, “You know, I’d really like to teach this in the Elders’ Quorum.” He’s not currently called as an Elders’ Quorum teacher so he asked the Elders’ Quorum president for special permission to teach it as the 1st Sunday lesson each month for a year. The Elders’ Quorum president liked the idea, went to the bishop, who also liked the idea, and so since January 2012, my husband has been teaching the Elders’ Quorum the history of the Relief Society using “Daughters in My Kingdom” as the source text. Maybe next year, our Relief Society will take the cue and do it as well…

Add your own! Send your submission to mwpeditor (at) gmail (dot) com.


Gender Cooperation: Mission

A Mission Mother’s Influence

My wife and I just returned from [a major U.S. city] where we presided over the mission.  Right from the beginning I determined that it would be our mission and that my wife would be included in as many ways as possible. She’s a very capable person who’s been an early morning seminary teacher, YW leader, etc and mother of six. She’s also a convert with a different perspective than me. In nearly every training session with missionaries she was a teacher, not stuff like recipes and mending socks, but doctrinal or whatever she felt they needed to hear.  She regularly counseled with missionaries on emotional and motivational issues – both sisters and elders. When we had our meeting to decide on transfers and leadership callings she was there to give her counsel. She many times knew things or had impressions that hadn’t occurred to me. We didn’t have zone leader councils but changed them to mission councils and always invited four sisters to attend along with the zone leaders.  We made sure the sisters knew we wanted them to participate and give their counsel.  We found that there were many ways to include the sisters more and hold them up as examples of faithful, diligent missionaries (which they were). We had more sisters than most missions. I felt like we were blessed to have that many.

 

Add your own! Send your submission to mwpeditor (at) gmail (dot) com.

 

 

 

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