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The Prayer Thing: Why Women Aren’t Worthy to Open Meetings

Autumn of 1999 was typically humid. We still had a month or so before hurricane season ended and the weather became bearable. Sacrament Meeting in the Boca Raton Ward found me in the foyer serving my shift in the Smith Family Toddler Reverence Training Rotation. I was actively encouraging Monica to fold her arms and to realize that the hard pew and monotone voices in the chapel were way more fun than sitting on a soft couch watching other toddlers do somersaults.

Suddenly the chapel doors burst open and another frantic mother carrying an equally frantic, screeching toddler joined the foyer fray. It was my friend, Kelly.

Upon seeing me, she struggled her way to my post and said, “You will not believe what happened to me this morning!”

The amazing event, it turned out, was that she was asked (by the executive secretary, whom we’ll call “Jim” to protect the innocent) to give one of the Sacrament Meeting prayers. She agreed, upon condition that it was the opening one “because I’m usually out in the foyer with my son by the end of the meeting.”

Jim wrote down Kelly’s name on the roster, only to have a counselor in the bishopric whom we’ll call Mike because that’s his name and I don’t protect perpetrators of non-doctrine “correct” him by telling him that “only a priesthood holder can invite the Spirit into a meeting.”

We’ll set aside Mike’s ability to completely overlook the fact that he had just declared that the Spirit was absent at all Relief Society meetings, Young Women meetings, and many Sunday School and Primary meetings. Just relating her story to me had Kelly’s head bursting at the seams and smoke coming from her ears. And I was mouth-hanging-open stunned.

My husband had been in this same ward’s bishopric a few months earlier and I knew this wasn’t something they had enforced then. So Kelly and I decided to take the issue to higher powers.

First, we read the handbook. Nothing there, it says both men and women can pray in meetings. Period. In desperation, we moved further. We called our parents.

I called my dad, which might not mean much, but he has served as a bishop four times and in a stake presidency and, at the time, was the executive secretary of his ward. He said it wasn’t policy.

Kelly called her parents, too, which also might not mean anything, but her dad has been on the General Young Men Board, a mission president, president of the Missionary Training Center, a bishop, and a stake president. Oh, and did I mention that her mom was, at that very moment, serving as the General Primary President? They also said it wasn’t policy.

My husband, who happened to be the high counselor serving over our ward, asked our bishop who had only recently moved to Boca from somewhere up north about it. His response? “Not here, too!”

Sam took the matter to the next high council meeting and asked the stake president. He took the matter further up the food chain to the general authority responsible for our area, Elder Monte J. Brough of the first quorum of the 70.

On November 14, 1999, Elder Brough said that a few weeks before his death, President Ezra Taft Benson made a comment about prayers that was misinterpreted by a few to mean that only men could open meetings. Unfortunately, some of those disseminated this information. Although this was officially retracted “within weeks” it had spread far enough to become “policy” to some who had heard various versions of it. Elder Brough was “adamant” that it was not policy, was not ever given as policy from the first presidency, and simply wasn’t true. He said that the church policy is that it doesn’t matter who gives prayers ?just as it is written in the handbook.

He then asked that the message be disseminated by the high council throughout the stake so that no further misunderstandings would occur which is how I came to hear the information.

So, to answer the title statement: Women aren’t worthy to open Sacrament Meeting with prayer because someone made it up.

Glad to have a definitive answer, the Boca Ward went on it’s merry way. Until we moved, two years later, women were allowed to open Sacrament Meeting with prayer. Except when Mike was conducting when entirely by coincidence, I’m sure men always gave the opening prayer.

Of course, Mike also chided other leaders if they ever said, “Young Women and Young Men” or “Relief Society and Priesthood” instead of the “correct” way, which always named the men’s organization first. Ahem.

When we left Boca, we lived briefly in the Sunset Heights 2nd Ward in Orem, Utah where only men gave opening prayers. I asked my dad, who asked his friend, the stake president who confirmed that it was correct policy to have men give all opening prayers. My dad told him what had happened in our Florida ward. He reconfirmed it was correct policy. Sigh.

Move again, in 2002, to Eagle Mountain, Utah. We’re in the Cedar Pass 1st Ward where can you guess? only men give the opening prayer. After a couple of years my husband and I approached the bishop and asked about it. He said he had no problem with women giving the opening prayer. But they were never asked to do it, so I assume someone had a problem with it.

One Sunday soon after, I got the Sacrament Meeting program. It listed “Kim Southworth” giving both the opening and closing prayers. You see, Sister Southworth is a Kim, and Brother Southworth is, as well. I watched to see what would happen.

After the opening song, Kim and Kim looked at each other and the female Kim got the nod (seemingly because she was closest to the aisle). As she walked up to the stand, there was some murmuring and rustling in the congregation. The man sitting directly in front of me (who had only been released from the bishopric a few months earlier) looked over in alarm, looked toward the bishopric, whispered to his wife, and began to stand. Then he sat down again, apparently after having suffered a coronary infarction at the heresy of it all.

Sister Kim walked to the pulpit, gave a lovely invocation, and sat down barely escaping the lightning strike.

In the five years I’ve lived in the ward, the only other time I’ve witnessed a woman open Sacrament Meeting with prayer was about a year ago when the bishop’s wife prayed. I have no idea what prompted this, but perhaps it’s related to the Law of Adoption, and she was deemed worthy to pray due to her close connection to the ward’s ranking officer.

From experience I’ve already learned that this home-spun “policy” is not enforced universally. We can rejoice in that. But it’s perpetuated often enough that it follows me from state to state and ward to ward.

Here’s hoping that all counselors, bishops, and stake presidents will become enlightened enough to read the current handbook ?and follow it.

{ 274 comments… add one }

  • agardner June 18, 2007, 3:47 pm

    Mike sounds like a real peach.

  • east-of-eden June 18, 2007, 4:54 pm

    You are making more sense to me now Alison. I never understood why you’ve always said that women could not open meetings or where this idea came from. Now I know.

    Unfortunately, this happens more than you think with all sorts of things in the Church. It’s too bad that Mike and his kind are so stuck on little things like this. I think when leaders, male or female get their heads wraped around an idea like this, it’s bad for everyone.

    I’ve given the opening prayer in Church more times that I care for, so if you want to pray first come to our ward.

  • SilverRain June 18, 2007, 6:19 pm

    It sounds like you are prayer missionaries, being sent into borderline Pharisaical apostate wards to spread the Truth of the Prayer.

  • Rachel June 18, 2007, 8:02 pm

    Yeah, what SilverRain said!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2007, 8:06 pm

    LOL to all. Now you know the story. :shocked:

  • Deborah June 18, 2007, 8:59 pm

    Interesting post. I’ve always connected this supposed “policy” to the now (thankfully) rescinded policy banning women from praying at all in Sacrament meeting in the 1970s. J. Stapley gave the back-story to that in a post at BCC:

    “That prayer rule actually appeared in the 1968 version of the CHI (no. 20). It wasn ?t there in the 1963 (no. 19) edition. I understand that it actually started with the Priesthood Bulletin (July/August 1967). I don ?t have the CHI no. 21 and am unaware if there was a letter that obviated the policy. . . . . President Kimball formally rescinded the policy in 1978 as not being doctrinal/scriptural.”

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2007, 9:09 pm

    Welcome, Deborah, and thanks for the info. So from 1968 ?1978 women couldn’t pray at all in SM? I thought I remembered something like that. But I also seem to remember that they couldn’t speak, either. Or remember my mom telling me it had changed. Perhaps it was only prayers and not talks?

  • mollymormon June 18, 2007, 10:54 pm

    In our ward, they never ask married couples to say the opening and closing prayer in the same meeting. What about that?

  • mlinford June 18, 2007, 10:59 pm

    they never ask married couples to say the opening and closing prayer in the same meeting. What about that?

    I don’t have chapter and verse, but my sense (or something I think I heard) is that since there are many who aren’t married, having married couples give the prayers could be unnecessary potential insensitivity for those who don’t have a spouse to pair up with for prayer.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2007, 11:43 pm

    Yes, there was actually a letter in the past couple of years that said leaders should avoid making a habit of doing the husband/wife (or should I say wife/husband, Mike???) pairings. My ward does the pairings fairly often, but has also mixed it up in this arena.

    FWIW, Mike is actually (honestly) a nice guy. He’s just a few decades slow.

  • daisy June 19, 2007, 8:47 am

    I’d like your take on what happened to me a few years back. Especially if anyone can get down to the “policy” of the whole matter.

    I was camp director for young women’s girl’s camp. I did that for three years and it was my very favorite thing I’ve ever done in the church, partly due to the fact I never got to go to girl’s camp as a young woman.

    During my first or second year, when it came time for night time prayers, my assistant camp director (terrific lady who knew how to have fun, I chose her so she could train me) suggested that we stand in a circle and hold hands. It sounded like a good idea to me. MInd you we were just holding hands, this was not the “cirlce of prayer” and it’s symbols and what not that happens in the temple. ONe person offered prayer and we were done. I remember having similar experiences before youth conference as a young woman myself.

    ANyway, I quess it put our bishop into shock. So the next night before we prayed he had this whole discourse ready about how it was wrong and it was some sort of mockery or something of what happens in the temple. That we were toying with sacred things. It left me feeling like by drawing closer to one another we had somehow unwittingly done something wrong. It upset me that he had made my girls feel this way. ANyway all these years later I have wondered if that was policy or just his take on it.

    ANyone know?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2007, 10:44 am

    I’ve seen this kind of prayer many, many times in church settings. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s correct, but it’s at least commonly allowed.

    I’ve pretty much devoured both handbooks. I can’t recall anything at all prohibiting praying while holding hands or praying while in a circle. (I suppose about 99% of family prayer would be a violation if the latter was really inappropriate.)

    Sounds to me like he was overly-sensitive for some reason. In a case like that, I probably would have asked him privately to substantiate his position. It wasn’t just a suggestion or counsel, it was an accusation. “Mockery” and “toying” both REQUIRE intent, which obviously was not part of the mix.

  • ChanJo June 19, 2007, 4:55 pm

    daisy if a woman did something like that the men would say she had PMS.

  • spitfire June 19, 2007, 10:08 pm

    It’s funny that this is a topic as someone just mentioned this to my dh & I recently. We had never heard of it. I found it amusing as well as utterly rediculous. In our ward, they ask couples all the time to say the prayers & usually defer to us as who gives which one. By default, I usually say the opening prayer. My dh is a convert & although he offers beautiful prayers, he needs to “get his thoughts together” to pray in public. Since I recently heard of this “cultural” policy which has prolificated itself, I have probably said the opening prayer in Sac. Mtg at least 3-4 times & have even given the opening prayer in Stake Conference. Go figure…

  • mlinford June 19, 2007, 10:47 pm

    Since I recently heard of this “cultural” policy which has prolificated itself

    Thing is, I really am not sure how prolificated it is. I think Alison may have just hit every last ward that is still doing it. :bigsmile:

  • Alison Moore Smith June 20, 2007, 1:35 am

    Actually, I wrote up the notes about this incident so specifically because it comes up with some regularity on the internet and has for over a decade. I wanted to be able to respond accurately when it did come up.

    A friend in Las Vegas currently has this situation. I also received the following email through an LDS list:

    My husband was just called to be Bishop 3 weeks ago. Right before he was set apart, our Stk Pres was telling him things certain things we do, & one of them was to have a Priesthood holder open Sacrament mtng with prayer. So I’d be very curious if this is just a “tradition” kind of thing in certain stakes, or if there has been some kind of memo from SL?

    A quick google found these:

    Just a couple years ago my wife and I were asked to give prayer in sacrament. We were told that I would open and she would close. She was in the Primary presidency and liked to sneak out during the last hymn to prepare the room and she asked if she could say opening. We were told that only priesthood holders can give opening prayer in sacrament meeting. Again, this may have only been our bishop, but we moved last year and I’ve notices women don’t say opening prayers and I’ve noticed it in every ward I’ve visited. Since I’ve started watching for it, I’ve never seen a woman give opening prayer.

    I know that in my wife ?s parents ? stake the ban on women and opening prayers is still, regrettably and astonishingly, in place. I guess they never got the second letter.

    A lot of stakes/wards still follow the old policy as part of the so-called unwritten order of things. ?

    our stake (or at least some of its leaders) has determined, informally, and at this time, that the unwritten order ? is that opening prayers in Sacrament meeting usually be offered by brothers holding the MelchizedeK priesthood.

    Our Stake President has advised Bishoprics in our Stake as recently as three years ago that he has received instructions from somebody in authority over him (I don ?t know remember it was an Area Authority or General Authority) that women were not to offer opening prayers in Sacrament Meeting.

    I was very embarrased when I conducted my first Sacrament meeting and was chastised for asking a sister to give the opening prayer. This had been no problem in my previous ward/stake, so I was pretty confused.

    Men offer all the opening prayers in my ward.

    We were asked to give the prayers in sacrament meeting on a day when my wife had to leave early. We told the counselor that my wife would have to give the opening, and I would give the closing prayer.

    They found someone else.

    In nearly four years, I ?m confident that a woman has not said the opening prayer in sacrament meeting.

    He discussed this with the executive secretary and the executive secretary told him that wouldn ?t work because only a priesthood holder can open a sacrament meeting.

    My husband is a Nazi about only men giving the opening prayer.

    We practiced this in my ward until recently.

    Our current ward generally has a male give the opening prayer.

    Oh, and the right to say the opening prayer in sacrament meeting.

    I think the First Presidency should send out a letter instructing bishops to have women do the invocations for a couple of weeks, just so everyone can get over that silly tradition.

    Can we please put to rest once and for all the idea that it’s just me? If you don’t experience it yourself, hallelujah. But the non-policy is still enforced elsewhere–even in places where I don’t live.

    So, Molly, do women open with prayer in your ward in actual practice? (She now lives in the Sunset Heights 2nd Ward that I used to live in (we didn’t live there simultaneously). The stake president I spoke of left to serve as a mission president soon after I moved to Eagle Mountain–but he still resides in Molly’s ward boundaries. (And, btw, is a great guy.)) Have things changed?

  • Lewis_Family June 20, 2007, 10:11 am

    Glory, that is crazy that it is so apparent elsewhere, and I have yet to been in a ward that follows it. I was just out at a Sartoga Springs ward this past Sunday, and a woman gave the opening prayer, so I was glad to see that it wasn’t an over on that side of the lake thing :) Seriously, it is horrible how man interpretation can make things so screwy. Kind of like how they don’t administer the sacrament in the foyer in my current ward, because non-members or unworthys might sneak it… the brain storm some people have :jumping: this was the closest smiley to crazy you had :smile:

  • zmg June 20, 2007, 11:32 am

    I’ll have to make note but I don’t think that women give the opening prayer in our ward either.

  • mlinford June 20, 2007, 1:16 pm

    Alison,
    OK, OK. :wink: (As a side note, you were pretty much the only person I had run into who had experienced this to such an extent, and I still can’t believe how consistently you have run into it! :confused:) I am glad that there are also plenty of examples where it isn’t an issue. Hopefully little by little this can be weeded out once and for all.

  • mlinford June 20, 2007, 1:19 pm

    p.s. I think this is a good example of why we should stick to the Handbook, rather than creating new rules and things that aren’t Church policy. I understand some leaders might have their things they feel they should address (think of the discussions on dress, for example), but making up policy where it is not written is one of the problems that arises, IMO, when people don’t stick to the handbook. I once had a bishop who explained why he stuck with the Handbook: “So I don’t have to remember what I made up the last time.” :)

  • Alison Moore Smith June 20, 2007, 4:04 pm

    Posted By: mlinford“So I don’t have to remember what I made up the last time.”

    A wise, wise man. :)

  • Sharilee10 June 20, 2007, 9:10 pm

    I was surprised when my sister came onto the site and this is the first thread she saw. She was discussing it with her husband who had been a High Councilman and he insisted that it IS policy because he personally read the letter straight from the First Presidency – – – so, Alison, you are right that it is still ‘policy’ in some people’s minds– even very wonderful men’s minds– all over the Church.

    Interesting!

  • partone June 21, 2007, 1:06 pm

    My ward only lets men give the opening prayer since I’ve lived here (Texas). But I don’t really care because i don’t want to give the opening prayer anyway. Who cares?

  • Oregonian June 21, 2007, 2:06 pm

    My ward has women give the opening prayer now, but that has only been for about the past two years. Until then someone thought it was policy. Don’t know how the change happened. I’ll ask if someone knows.

  • Oregonian June 21, 2007, 2:08 pm

    partone, I don’t like to give prayers either, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. I’m not black and I cared that blacks couldn’t have the priesthood. If women are allowed to pray and some men aren’t letting them, that’s overstepping the bounds of their authority. We should all care about that.

  • agardner June 21, 2007, 2:34 pm

    After reading Sharilee’s post, I asked my husband what he understood the policy to be. He too thought that it “used to be” policy and no longer is.

    It’s kind of funny, when I told him about Alison’s research on it, he said – “Yeah, I guess I never really saw anything in writing”. It’s just one of those things that seems to have traveled by word of mouth and turned into this monster.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 21, 2007, 2:41 pm

    I appreciate the feedback from you all, particularly with finding what other people think.

    In the article I said “Unfortunately, some of those disseminated this information.” I have no information about how this was passed along. Someone might actually have written a letter to pass it along, so some might have seen it in writing. Far more, it seems, have heard it passed by word-of-mouth. The important point to me was that Brough asserted that, not matter how it was passed along, it is not policy.

  • zmg June 26, 2007, 9:31 am

    After reading this discussion last week I paid more attention to who did what in our meeting. A man opened and a woman closed. Maybe I just need to be more observant about what is going on around me.

  • deeby June 26, 2007, 11:04 am

    When you make an argument it is always best to take on the strongest opposition to your position. Mike, if he really said what you claim, is the weakest example of why a bishopric might not ask women to open a sacrament meeting with a prayer. A stronger argument to take on is the fact that in many wards it has become the ‘unwritten order of things’. There are many traditions that Mormons have that are not prescribed in the handbook. Bishoprics are regularly criticized for almost everything they do. Our’s has been criticized for making too many announcements before the opening prayer in sacrament. Others later complained that they don’t get enough information from the bishopric during the announcements and they miss ward events. In many wards, based on unwritten tradition, men give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. Sacrament meeting is an Aaronic Priesthood meeting. A priesthood holder presides. If a bishop maintains this tradition it does not indicate a slight to women. Is there no room to have a special job for men? For a Priesthood holder? This is highly hypothetical, but what if young women could pass the sacrament. They would quickly take over this very special job for the young men. They would get there earlier, they would be better organized, they would dominate this special job for the boys. It is the nature of boys and men to let others do stuff for them. Boys would have nothing special left for them in sacrament meeting. If the church, and it’s women, want to have strong men there needs to be a reverence for the special nature and uniqueness of men and a male priesthood. Religions who let women enter the priesthood have seen a steep decline in men enrolling in their seminaries. The once male dominated prieshood of other churches is dying. Women are taking over the clergy of these churches. There are a number of books written for evangelical leaders wbout how to get men involved again. This is a major problem in religions that don’t reserve certain things for men. The very great majority of bishoprics do not plan to shun and insult the women. In fact we regularly acknowledge how we wish our men were as diligent as the women. If they felt like they were needed for who they are they might be more active. The tone of arguments like yours are discouraging to leaders and men. Most leaders give in to the grinding gripes of women. We are not all male chauvinists. We are trying to do our best. We are trying to make the men feel like they are wanted and needed. Men’s attitude, right or wrong, is ‘if a woman wants to do it let her.’ I think of the women in the church who are married to inactive husbands. Men who don’t feel needed at church ultimately sadden the women in their lives. It is a good thing for women to allow certain special things for men. Many men don’t feel wanted or uniquely needed anymore. If a man in interchangable with a women he fades away and goes somewhere where he can be a man, like in front of the TV with the ball game on. Hopefully my case is a little stronger than Mike’s. I’m sure though that complaints and criticisms like yours will ultimately change this unwritten policy throughout the church. Saying the opening prayer in sacrament will no longer be something special for men to do.

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 11:09 am

    If men need to be able to be the only ones to do something in order to secure their status in the church then their testimonies do not seem to be built on the right foundation, sorry. Ego stroking is not a part of our church, atleast not one that I was aware of.

    To comparre passing the sacrament to saying the opening prayer is like comparing apples to oranges, one is a sacred ordinance one is a prayer for goodness sakes.

  • deeby June 26, 2007, 11:29 am

    I tried. I realize I am a dinosaur and that my way of thinking is the minority. Your side usually wins on these things as my side retreats.

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 12:32 pm

    There shouldn’t be sides, there is right and there is wrong. There is gospel and doctrine and then there is false doctrine. To enforce a policy that doesn’t exist is wrong, it is as simple as that. And I still can’t get over the comment that men need to feel needed in order to go to church… I thought the purpose of going to church was to learn and also a way to show Heavenly Father how much we love Him and are grateful for all that He does. Apparently it is a mistake on my part.

  • agardner June 26, 2007, 12:42 pm

    “Is there no room to have a special job for men?”

    Deeby, I think there are a *lot* of special jobs for men in the church. Men pretty much do everything in the church, and the things they don’t do, they direct.

    I agree with Lewis_Family. There is doctrine and there is traditions of men. It was never doctrine or policy that men should open Sacrament Meeting. How does that emasculate men or take away their priesthood responsibilities?

    And Alison’s argument wasn’t against “Mike”. She was only stating the history of how this came to be an issue with her.

  • SilverRain June 26, 2007, 12:52 pm

    There is no special job for me in the church, and yet I seem to manage to go every week. There is no special job for 90% of women in the church, and they all seem to go. If men are feeling bowled over because a woman wants to participate, or because they have no “special job” the answer is not to keep women from participating, the answer is to motivate men to be adults and step up to the responsibility. There comes a time when all men and all women need to do something because it is the right thing to do, not because someone is holding their hand and patting them on the head.

  • jennycherie June 26, 2007, 12:56 pm

    you know, the thing that I think bugs me the most about this is that it feeds into the ridiculous notion that things must be identical for men and women. I have no idea if I have ever been in a ward where only men gave the opening prayer. I don’t miss out on any blessings if I give the closing prayer as opposed to the opening prayer. I don’t really understand why it would be unwritten rule any more than I understand why anyone would care, frankly. I think that we can look for little things like this and miss out on more important things that we should be focused on.

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 1:02 pm

    I think it is important. It wouldn’t matter if it were just happening, but the fact that people proclaim it to be a policy from God, that is when it becomes important, because it is not.

  • mlinford June 26, 2007, 1:34 pm

    Deeby, while supporting something that isn’t policy isn’t a good thing (men only giving opening prayers is not policy and so shouldn’t be enforced as such, written or unwritten), I think I understand what you are driving at, and I think it has some merit — not that men should only come to Church because they have something to do, but I do think there is some validity to the idea that if women were allowed to be in charge of everything, the men could end up fading into the background. I don’t know all the reasons for why men have the priesthood, but I think that there is this assignment of roles and responsibilities for a reason, and that plays into our different traits and characteristics as men and women (generally speaking).

    And I’d like to say that I think we ought to be gentle with each other’s points of view, even when we don’t agree. :)

  • Diana June 26, 2007, 2:18 pm

    I don’t know… this seems, for lack of a better word, trivial when there are so many more important things we could be worrying about. I figure if it doesn’t pertain to my individual salvation, it’s not THAT important. I’ve been asked to give opening prayers in my ward before, but if that were to suddenly change for whatever reason, who cares? It’s not as if my value as a daughter of God is somehow diminished because of it or a man’s value is enhanced. I love my Father in Heaven and I know He loves me. As long as I’m doing everything in my power to manifest that love (see Mosiah 18:9) everything else is peripheral.

    Perhaps I’m being too simplistic in my approach. I also apologize to those who feel so very strongly about the subject.

  • Sharilee10 June 26, 2007, 2:33 pm

    I actually was impressed by Deeby’s pattern of thinking and agree with much of it. While there are many other good points to the responses, I can certainly see the point of woman, especially strong women like what I am seeing here (and which I know I am a part), getting in there and doing it up right. Of course men’s testimonies shouldn’t be dependent on having a special role, and shouldn’t fade into the background over something like whether or not women are allowed to say the opening prayer. By the same token— we need to remember also that OUR testimonies shouldn’t be dependent on something like not being allowed to say the opening prayer.

    I completely agree with Deeby’s comment that

    If the church, and it’s women, want to have strong men there needs to be a reverence for the special nature and uniqueness of men and a male priesthood.

    I’m not sure how much this fits into the prayer issue, but it certainly is a true statement.

    FWIW, I do appreciate the thoughtful responses and the opportunity to discuss such a variety of topics with other LDS women. It’s like having RS all week long– but in a format that we are able to be really open and honest. I do, however, agree with mlinford’s thought that we ought to be gentle with each other’s points of view, even when we don’t agree. It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in awhile I feel a little uncomfortable with comments that could be very hurtful.

    Love ya all–

  • mlinford June 26, 2007, 2:53 pm

    Diana,
    I tend to agree.

    Sharilee,
    Nice thoughts. Thanks.

  • agardner June 26, 2007, 3:49 pm

    I agree with much of what is being said here, by everyone actually. To agree with Deeby, I certainly don’t want to want to take anything from the priesthood that is their rightful role. I also agree with Diana that praying in Sacrament meeting is not the most important issue, but it has been interesting to discuss. To be honest, I never really noticed who was praying in any ward I’ve been in – it just seemed that both women and men gave both opening and closing prayers. I probably would never have thought anything of it.

    I also agree with Deeby about not being too hard on the bishopric. They do have a difficult job and as the wife of a bishopric member I do want people to be gentle. They aren’t perfect but I know they do try to do their best.

    I guess where I am disagreeing with Deeby is that women are somehow usurping duties from the priesthood. I don’t feel that a woman giving the opening prayer is taking away anything from the priesthood or how we regard priesthood holders. I respect and honor the priesthood and know that those who feel strongly about this prayer issue do as well. It’s not taking anything away from the men in my eyes. I think most women do a pretty good job of finding their role. Pretty much everything women do in the church is under the direction of the priesthood. If we speak or pray in church, it is at their invitation. If we serve in a calling, it is at their request. If we lead an organization, we do it in close counsel and under the direction of our priesthood leader. I don’t think that makes women weak, and I don’t think it makes the men weak to allow women to do some of it either.

    Bottom line for me is that it doesn’t really matter to me who says the prayer in church. But it does matter to me that we are respecting one another in our various roles.

  • deeby June 26, 2007, 4:25 pm

    I am the first counselor in the bishopric of a ward with 691 people. This is the third bishopric I have served in. (I know the handbook better than most. Mine is ragged from use and it is only a few months old.) We average 230 people attending. We have 99 prospective elders. That is a nice way of men who never received the Melchizedek Priesthood who are usually major projects for us. There is 1 of those 99 who is attending regularly. There are at least a dozen families where the wife and kids are very active and dad is missing. True, who says the opening prayer in sacrament meeting is a minor issue. Also true, men in this country are suffering spiritually. As a leader in our ward we are desperate to meet the needs of the men in our ward. It’s not because we want a men’s club at the expense of the women’s needs. The women in our ward need the men to be strong, or maybe you don’t. These are tough times. We all need each other. Many men do not feel welcome or needed. They need a place where they can come and learn and exhibit the best qualities of masculinity. Another truth, people place unnecessary burdens on leaders when they complain and nitpick over minor issues. Ironically my attitudes about women are much more modern than many older men in the church. Being brought up alongside feminism, I am only 35; I am in many ways sensitive to women’s issues. Coupled with that I know what it is like to be man. And yeah we need our egos stroked. Smart women know that.

    The instant that someone complains that a bishop has only men give opening prayers they have won the argument. We look like bullies when we dig in on these sorts of things. Either we take on strong willed women over these things or we submit to their gripe. We don’t need the aggravation. We don’t have the time, energy, or will to tackle every issue in the face of constant criticism, and it is constant believe me. We have so much more important work to do, like reactivating our prospective elders. As the years come and go bishoprics will go out of their way to make sure men and women open the meeting equally because of these complaints. They will have a chart because there are people who will count who prays. Where is the victory ladies? What have you really won?

  • agardner June 26, 2007, 5:08 pm

    So Deeby, having said all that – what do you propose women do to make the men stronger? (Other than not complain about things that don’t matter, obviously). Close to all of those prospective elders are moms, wives, girlfriends, and sisters who wish more than anything that the men would meet their priesthood responsibilities and be active in the church.

    It seems to me that most of the women on this forum are married to men with church callings that demand a lot of their time and energy. We (I guess I can only speak for myself but I’m assuming this about the other women as well) try to give the men in our lives every opportunity to serve and lead. We teach our children to honor the priesthood. My husband sounds very much like you – was called into the bishopric for the first time when he was a young dad of 26, married for a little over a year with an infant. He too is now in his mid-30’s and on his third run in the bishopric. I guess I am missing what you think we (women) should be doing differently to support the men in our lives.

    I’m just not sure what exactly it is you are wanting the women to do. Our different needs do not need to trump one another. I’m not speaking of prayer here because I think that is such a minor, minor issue in the eternal scheme of all of this. I’m speaking of the larger issues as to why you think men are struggling so much and how that is somehow tied to what the women are doing.

  • SilverRain June 26, 2007, 5:12 pm

    Posted By: DianaPerhaps I’m being too simplistic in my approach. I also apologize to those who feel so very strongly about the subject.

    Just to clear things – I don’t feel strongly about the prayer thing and I’m not trying to be hurtful. Frankly, I didn’t care that much. It didn’t bug me until I read that men need something special to entice them to go to church but women are somehow so good and so motivated that they don’t need any special enticement. It bothers me when I read that because I think it is just an excuse to neglect women and an excuse for men to not motivate themselves on their own. It is no easier for women to come to church and be faithful than it is for men. Women are suffering just as much spiritually as men with low self esteem, depression, a drive to look perfect, or a need to act as model Mormon women, its just that those sufferings are often overlooked because they are quieter, internalized sufferings. It condescends and belittles both men and women to say that men need the priesthood (or the right to close the meeting) because they are, as a group, weaker in any way. Even if women were better, it would be because they had worked at it. They would have studied the scriptures, prepared and participated in good Sunday lessons, scheduled and attended their meetings, communed with the Lord in prayer and pondered His words. If they have not done these things, they are not any more spiritually attuned than men. If men were to do these things, they would be just as attuned as women. There is nothing stopping men from stepping up to the plate and hitting a spiritual home run, and the attempts to paint the men as naturally weaker and thus naturally in need of the priesthood only gives them an excuse to continue as they are. Women need the same spiritual nourishment and encouragement to attend church as men. We may be different, but I don’t think we’re as different as all that.

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 6:07 pm

    I don’t understand why men are feeling so uneeded or not welcome? I am very supportive of the priesthood and never question it ( see my comments in the blacks and priesthood discussion ) I am incredibly grateful for it in my life, and so appreciative that my husband and my father in law are worthy holders so that is can enrich my life and my families. I don’t know where men are getting the idea that they are not needed, maybe it is just in your ward? I don’t think the issue is to be nitpicky, the issue is practicing false doctrine. Like I stated before, if it were just happening, so be it, but since people are claiming it is God’s will that is when we need to step up. It starts with the so called restrictions on the opening prayers and ends where? Are we supposed to be a passive people and just go with the flow because that is the easy way of living life? Because apparently we need to be more worried about others’ feelings than that of God’s? No, I don’t think that is what the Lord intended life to be like.

  • mlinford June 26, 2007, 6:09 pm

    If they have not done these things, they are not any more spiritually attuned than men.

    I think this may be a bit of a simplification. Our leaders have said more than once that women have a natural inclination toward these kinds of things (again, generally speaking). Some may disagree with this, but I think it’s worth considering. Of course, the prescription for increasing spirituality is the same for all of us, but if we start with a different inclination or wiring or whatever, it may not be exactly the same in practice for men and women. Just a thought.

    Deeby, I appreciate so much your perspective. What I hear you saying (paraphrasing in a big way here) is perhaps that local leaders need the space to make decisions that they feel might be good for their particular wards’ situations. If we were in your ward, we could help you perhaps in this way: rather than assuming that men giving prayers is a sexist, women-slighting effort and complaining about it, we could give you the benefit of the doubt and not make such a big deal out of it. We could recognize that you are doing your best given all the many constraints and concerns you have. It’s a reminder to me that often what we see on the outside isn’t what is really happening. (This has crossed my mind many times in discussions as of late.)

    It’s so easy to approach these issues with metrics or some effort to measure what women do vs. what men do rather than all trying to contribute in whatever way we are asked, and support each other in our respective roles and responsibilities.

    That’s what I’m hearing and thinking and feeling. I think we set ourselves up for trouble when we pit men and women against each other arbitrarily, like keeping track of who says prayers. Sure, there probably is some sexism against women here and there, but I think it’s really sobering to see a flip side of the issue which is a deep concern for families that don’t have men at their heads and an effort to try to do things to help them.

    This sums it up in my mind:

    We all need each other.

    Indeed, Deeby. Indeed. It’s not supposed to be a contest between men and women. We are supposed to watch out for each other, to help each other. This goes both ways — men not shutting women out of things, but women not demanding so much, either. It’s a fine line because improvement can often be made all around, from all of us. But I wonder if we give each other enough benefit of the doubt along the way?

  • mlinford June 26, 2007, 6:11 pm

    Lewis_family,
    Do you think, though, that it’s unreasonable for a bishopric to see the struggle of elders in their ward and try something like letting the men pray to see if it helps? Not to declare as policy (which it isn’t) but to make a local decision that might be helpful? (The question remains as to whether this would make a difference, but I’m still interested in your thoughts. Do we hold so tightly the other way that we don’t give local leaders some room to make decisions based on the dynamics in their units?

    Just musing a bit….

    It condescends and belittles both men and women to say that men need the priesthood (or the right to close the meeting) because they are, as a group, weaker in any way.

    I think that it’s probably overstated that men “need” to pray in the meetings in general, but maybe this would help in their particular ward?

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 6:18 pm

    And for the record, my comments thus far have been as gentle as they are going to get. I have had to proofread them, because it is turning into quite the touchy issue and if you knew me personally, you would know how much I have “niced” down my comments.

    In regards to “Where is the victory ladies? What have you really won? ” I find that to be quite the demeaning comment to make. The many men I have discussed this issue with over the past weeks( two of which work for the church, and are high preists ) agree that it is a false doctrine that should be done away with.

    Yes, I know some men need their egos stroked, I didn’t know that was seeping into our church systems. Maybe we should add it to the YW motto, get the training started early, then you won’t have to deal with all these minor issues being brought up.

  • mollymormon June 26, 2007, 6:19 pm

    I haven’t kept up with this thread, but I thought I ought to reply to Alison’s question.

    So, Molly, do women open with prayer in your ward in actual practice? (She now lives in the Sunset Heights 2nd Ward that I used to live in (we didn’t live there simultaneously). The stake president I spoke of left to serve as a mission president soon after I moved to Eagle Mountain–but he still resides in Molly’s ward boundaries. (And, btw, is a great guy.)) Have things changed?

    Because I do the Sunday program, I can actually give real statistics. Except that all the programs are on my old computer and I just don’t have time to look at all of them. So I’ll look at what I’ve got on this computer. The first three I looked at had priesthood holders saying the opening prayer (and one was even your dad, Alison!) and two of those had priesthood holders saying the closing prayer as well. The fourth week I looked at did indeed have a woman saying the opening prayer. I can even send proof if you want. ;)

    BTW Pres. H is still in Hawaii as mission pres (but should be returning any time now!) I know they left three years ago in July.

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 6:26 pm

    To mlinford, I don’t find that an issue, honestly it didn’t offend me this week when I gave the closing and another brother gave the opening, it didn’t offend because I know that my ward doesn’t follow this policy because last week a sister gave the opening. It wouldn’t be an issue if it hadn’t been made one? It just is frustrating when people are claiming to do the Lord’s work in the name of policy when it is not.
    LOL, i know that is why I was asked to prayer was to get me to church :) Since my hubby was called to primary he is the one who “has” to go to church while I stay home with the baby where as before we took turns. So maybe in their ward it is a needed thing, if they need to use prayer to get men there, then why not have men do both prayers? Then you are getting double attendance.

  • deeby June 26, 2007, 7:10 pm

    Look at the title of the original post, “Why women aren’t worthy to open meetings” The very title is divisive and mischaracterizes every ward that has men open sacrament meeting. NO bishop, I repeat NO bishop, says women as a whole are not worthy to open meetings. The title is a dishonest mischaracterization of such a policy irrespective of whether or not it is right or wrong. It is meant to be provocative and it misrepresents bishops who have this policy. The tone of the whole thing smacks of feminist gripes against a male priesthood. I honestly do not care about the issue of opening prayers. What is of concern to me is the unnecessary and burdensome pressure from women to dictate to a bishop what they think is right. It is not the purview of the members of a ward to train or correct a bishop. That is the job of his leaders. It is quite a stretch to call it false doctrine too. Criticizing leaders is wrong and I might add more wrong than a policy of having men say the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. Women can help men by letting them do their callings without the criticism.

    There is the other issue of men and them not feeling welcome when they are interchangable with women. Some here see this as a flaw in men. I won’t say here whether it is good or bad I do know it is real. A few decades ago feminists began to sue all male golf courses, gyms, clubs, etc. They felt that such places gave men an unfair advantage in the business world. Many men just left the clubs. Why is it that men have to understand women and be sensitive to their unique needs and women refuse to return the favor? Mocking male ego (see previous posts) and portraying priesthood leadership as anti-woman is exactly the kind of thing that discourages men.

    Lewis_Family, How can my questions demean? They weren’t rhetorical. Answer the questions. I sincerely want to know what you think you will win if you ‘correct’ this so-called false doctrine.

  • agardner June 26, 2007, 7:23 pm

    lol, with all due respect deeby, I don’t think there are many women on here who are feminists – at least not in the sense of demeaning men to uplift women. Good ladies, all, from what I can tell.

    It will be interesting to hear from Alison once she gets on. I’m sure she is more than capable of explaining and defending her own position. I sincerely didn’t get from her or anyone else that this was an anti-male or anti-priesthood thing at all, just that it’s a tradition that some people have carried on that really has no basis in doctrine or direction from church leadership.

    This just feels like a really “us against them” stance and I don’t think it needs to be that way.

  • SilverRain June 26, 2007, 7:42 pm

    Our leaders have said more than once that women have a natural inclination toward these kinds of things (again, generally speaking).

    Yes, I disagree with this in the sense that women have an inherent, natural inclination. If there is any inclination, I believe it is a result of societal acceptance of a lack of spirituality in men. (Take our discussion of the difference in YW and YM programs.) My reason for believing this is that the few men I have met who devote themselves to righteous scripture reading and genuine worship are some of the most spiritual people I have met. To say there is a natural ability in women to be spiritual diminishes the hard work, devotion and constant effort they put into spiritual matters. It does not come naturally. Women operate under the same “natural (wo)man” tendencies as men. They are just as subject to the temptations and snares of the Enemy. I think that the snares they fall prey to may be commonly more subtle, such as depression, criticism and gossip, but they are just as difficult to fight as love of war, tendency for a lack of attachment or disinterest in spiritual matters that men commonly struggle with.

    And deeby – you may want to be careful saying NO bishop says that, since men (even bishops) are varied and some have.

  • mlinford June 26, 2007, 9:23 pm

    What is of concern to me is the unnecessary and burdensome pressure from women to dictate to a bishop what they think is right. It is not the purview of the members of a ward to train or correct a bishop.

    FWIW, I happen to be one who agrees with this. But, you say:

    The tone of the whole thing smacks of feminist gripes against a male priesthood.

    Please be careful about making generalizations as I know many of us here don’t feel this way AT ALL.

    Alison has a way of getting titles out there that get attention. But her purpose in this was to try to debunk a policy that has been perpetuated without the blessing of the Church. Try to realize the bounds of the discussion. It might help. (I think you have valid concerns and it’s clear that you have run into difficult opposition, but I’d really like it if you not see everyone here as such opposition. Give us a chance, eh?) My heart actually goes out to you a lot, because I don’t envy leaders who have to put up with constant griping. I think the Church would be a lot better if there was less of it. But the griping can go both ways, ya know? ;)

    I think these kinds of discussions require us to be willing to listen and seek to understand, rather than making broad sweeping generalizations about each other.

    Remember – we are all on the same team! :)

  • mlinford June 26, 2007, 9:27 pm

    And, Silver, we might have to agree to disagree on some of these points. I agree that spirituality is often a result of hard work and choices, but I also believe there can be some natural inclination toward spiritual and emotional things as well. I find it hard to find compelling reasons for men having the priesthood if there weren’t some inherent differences. To me, acknowledging those differences helps make a lot of the role and responsibility differences between men and women make more sense to me. But that’s probably a discussion for another day…. :)

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 10:22 pm

    So why are you lurking? I see that you have commented on three other posts, and yet not here? I will respond to deeby but not tonight, I think I need to cool off and re-compose myself first :smile:

  • Alison Moore Smith June 26, 2007, 10:28 pm

    LOL Saved the best for last. :) I just barely started reading this thread since it was the longest to go through. :)

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 10:35 pm

    Well enjoy, it is quite the thread :wink:

  • Alison Moore Smith June 26, 2007, 11:56 pm

    First, welcome to the forum deeby. Glad to have you here.

    When you make an argument it is always best to take on the strongest opposition to your position….A stronger argument to take on is the fact that in many wards it has become the ‘unwritten order of things’.

    That might well be a stronger argument, but it wasn’t the argument I was GIVEN by my counselor. I’m not going to change his position to make the piece a more interesting debate.

    There are many traditions that Mormons have that are not prescribed in the handbook.

    Yes, and they need to be identified, appropriately, as traditions. There is, frankly, a lot of harm done in the church when the distinction between doctrine, policy, and practice (i.e. tradition) is not clearly understood. That doesn’t necessarily mean we throw out everything that is “only tradition,” but we understand it’s changeable nature and do not elevate it to either policy or doctrine–particular not to serve our own biases. We also need to understand the changeable nature of policy.

    Bishoprics are regularly criticized for almost everything they do.

    Yes, they are. And–I can tell you from personal experience–so are Relief Society presidents and any other ward/stake/community/political etc. leaders. I have been a great defender of men for years. (Check out some of the articles on the old site for a few examples. Or you might note that I was one of the stronger supporters of The Proper Care and Feeding of Men in the book club.) I have also been a great defender of priesthood leaders, including my husband, my dad, and those not related to me.

    But this point is irrelevant to the discussion. It does not mean that particular thoughts, suggestions, or even criticisms aren’t valid and shouldn’t be, at very least, taken in to consideration.

    You model very clearly exactly what I have experienced repeatedly from SOME church leaders. If a man takes seriously what a woman points out, it couldn’t possibly be that she had a valid point or made a connection he hadn’t considered. Instead, the men are beaten down wimps and pansies who “give in to the grinding gripes of women.” Or they “submit to their gripe” because they “don’t need the aggravation.”

    I’d love to know the last time you described a man’s concerns as a “grinding gripe.”

    Saying the opening prayer in sacrament will no longer be something special for men to do.

    Because it isn’t SUPPOSED to be “something special for men to do.” I guess I should create a policy that says only women can use the gymnasium (because “only women can invite basketballs to the church”) and then, when the men want to shoot hoops I can just cry and pout and say, “Having exclusive use of the gym will not longer be something special for women to do!” Would that sway you somehow?

    Holy cow, aren’t there enough “something specials” for men to do in the church without fabricating more by disallowing women to do things the handbook says women can do? Shall we make a list of all the special things exclusively preserved for men and those exclusively preserved for women?

    Honestly, I’ve always found the “men need the priesthood because they are weak” argument very patronizing. My husband isn’t weak. My father isn’t weak. My brother isn’t weak. Neither are my male in-laws. (Where are all these wimpy men?)

    The instant that someone complains that a bishop has only men give opening prayers they have won the argument.

    I wish.

    We look like bullies when we dig in on these sorts of things.

    Of course you do, because there is no authoritative reason to “dig in” over something that is NOT policy, but is apparently (from your statements) someone’s attempt to exclude women from something they are supposed to be allowed to do, in order to give men another “something special” to do. (Because it’s only “special” if woman can’t do it…)

    I hardly think the general female populace of the church looks at leaders as bullies whey thy follow the actual, gender-differentiated POLICIES.

    We don’t have the time, energy, or will to tackle every issue in the face of constant criticism, and it is constant believe me. We have so much more important work to do, like reactivating our prospective elders.

    deeby, let me tell you what I find interesting about this comment. First, you don’t have time to tackle the “constant criticism” from women (who are actually attending and serving in the church) who want you to follow the handbook, because your have the “more important work” of activating men who don’t bother to come. Second, I am unsure what major time and energy drain is caused by noting that the handbook allows women to give prayers and ceasing to discriminate in your prayer choices. It seems that the real drain would be trying to enforce and defend a fabricated policy. That’s what gets tricky.

    I’ve had about a billion people disagree with my leadership decisions. I was a (probably) excessively “by the book” RS president. The decisions that were the least draining were those that I could simply point to in the handbook.

    NO bishop, I repeat NO bishop, says women as a whole are not worthy to open meetings. The title is a dishonest mischaracterization of such a policy irrespective of whether or not it is right or wrong.

    worthy = having adequate merit or claim; adequate justification for position

    According to my leader’s argument, the fact that women do not have the priesthood meant they had no power, authority, claim to invite the Spirit. You can take it up with Mike.

    I honestly do not care about the issue of opening prayers.

    That’s already quite clear, although I don’t understand why. As a leader, I thought it was my responsibility to see that the administration of things in my stewardship was carried out according to the dictates of the general leadership. If my auxiliary did not align with the handbook, I corrected it. (Even if it was “minor” and even if it didn’t personally bother me.)

    What is of concern to me is the unnecessary and burdensome pressure from women to dictate to a bishop what they think is right. It is not the purview of the members of a ward to train or correct a bishop. That is the job of his leaders.

    And we’re back to the same old discussion. Women have a voice. Women have influence. Women are not oppressed! But if you actually USE your voice or try to influence in any way (other than, I suppose, cooing sexily to your spouse–which I do very well, thank you) your behavior is “unnecessary and burdensome” and your are completely out of your place because you are “dictating” to the man in authority. Who–of course–can only take any input from his MALE leaders.

    Sheesh, deeby, it’s comments like yours that make this raging man-lover start to sound like a raving feminist. So, to all those who so vocally defended the idea that women’s ideas are actively considered in the church–this is what I’m talking about!

    For the record, let’s please just note that the whole discussion was not dictating my PREFERENCES to the bishop. They were pointing out what actual church POLICY is. The policy said that both men and women can pray. MIke wasn’t trying to help men come to church. He wasn’t just choosing randomly. This counselor explicitly insisted that only priesthood holders could open with prayer because women COULD NOT invite the Spirit into a meeting.

    You know, deeby, I might go so far as to say that if you are NOT correcting a practice that conflicts with policy, you are, in fact, DICTATING to the general church leadership “what you think is right.” So why is it bad for ME to “dictate” to my bishop, but it’s OK for a counselor to “dictate” to, by his actions, to the first presidency? More to the point, why does only the first cause you concern?

    Lewis, I am just laughing at your posts. You “nice down” very well. :) Keep it up. :)

    Molly!!!! You had a WOMAN open. I’m so proud of you! And I’m equally proud of Daddy.

  • heather June 27, 2007, 12:08 am

    hello, this truly is a fun run of reading!

  • Rachel June 27, 2007, 9:36 am

    I have wanted to post my feelings on the topic, but I’ve felt so jumbled and frustrated by the arguments I was afraid I’d sound idotic. Really, I think Alison said everything I was thinking better than I could have. Thank you for your clarity and writing ability, Sister Smith! I am truly in your debt.

  • deeby June 27, 2007, 9:39 am

    I’ll try to answer some of these things and then I think I will move on from this discussion. Sister Smith, you began the original post by going after a policy generally based on the individual and specific reasoning of one man. You did not just go after Mike and the policy in your ward. You went after any bishop with the policy so I stand by my critique of your attack on the weakest argument since you did not acknowledge that another Mike somewhere out there might have a very compelling reason to have such a policy (lol, my bishop happens to be named Mike). I think it is fair to ask you to acknowledge Sister Smith that your very title is unduly provocative and is even inconsistent and more extreme than Mike’s alleged comments. You did not say that Mike said that women are not worthy. Also I think your definition of worthy is very unfair, Worthy = having adequate merit or claim; adequate justification or position. You know all to well that in a discussion with Mormons ‘worthy’ means something entirely different. Mormons use ‘worthy’ invariably in the sense of personal worthiness; temple worthy, worthy to hold the priesthood, and so on. I think you should admit that your title is overly provocative and a mischaracterization of even the seemingly absurd statement of Mike. Your title is a straw man and I suspect your quote attributed to Mike is as well.

    While I am on the subject of Mike, did you ask Mike if he would like to defend himself or explain his comments in this forum wherein he has become a target? The definition of hearsay is, “Hearsay in its most general and oldest meaning is a term used in the law of evidence to describe an out of court statement offered to establish the facts asserted in that statement. Hearsay is generally not admissible in common law courts because it is of suspect value… I myself am suspect of the quote attributed to Mike. He may well have said it but my words have been taken out of context and discussions have been had about me without me having the opportunity to explain, clarify, or even apologize if I was wrong or if I misstated something. If it helps I will agree with you that Mike is wrong if he really thinks women cannot invite the spirit. I never defended that notion.

    Next, on the matter of the handbook. It says, “Men and women may offer prayers in Church meetings.” That’s all it says regarding gender. The only policy concern the handbook expresses regarding prayers is, “The bishopric should avoid the pattern of having a husband and wife pray in the same meeting. This may convey an unintentional message of exclusion to those who are single.” Please take this next point in the spirit it is given; technically a bishop who has men open the meeting and women close the meeting has not violated the handbook. A bishop is given the latitude to make such a policy in his ward. I add here that if he does have such a policy that it may be poorly conceived, wrong headed, anti-women or whatever BUT he is given that latitude in the handbook. The handbook is often a general guideline with occasional hard and fast rules. The handbook used to be as thick as a phonebook. The have whittled it down over the years to contain only the most essential guidelines and policies giving local leaders wide latitude in many cases to meet the specific needs of their wards and stakes. Your loose reference to the handbook, not the actual policy I might add, is a naturalistic fallacy namely the fallacy of trying to derive the conclusion that this policy is bad because of the fact that it is not prescribed in the handbook. What you did not point out is that such a policy is not forbidden in the handbook and because of that a bishop, based on the needs of the ward and inspiration, does have the latitude to implement such a policy. I say all this not to defend a bishop who has the policy rather to defend his right to have it without the second guessing of the saints. Elder Oaks said in the documentary on PBS recently that it is wrong to criticize church leaders even when you are right. Amen. It is not the job of the members of the ward to quote policy to bishops. Sorry. It is wrong. That is why God gave bishops Stake Presidents and that is why the members do not have handbooks, it simply is not their place. For me this is not a male/female thing rather it is a leader/member thing.

    Here is a list of words I am wont to use about the complaints of men; gripes, murmuring, second guessing, criticisms, nagging (no man likes to think he nags), and my favorite backbiting. Whatever the term they all sow the seeds of discord and they are rarely if ever helpful. These movements often become pyrrhic victories. The trials of your sisters in the third world make what you consider a slight seem ridiculous. I have been in wards on three continents and you seemingly have no idea how sensitive Mormon men are to women in this country compared to the rest of the world. I have said this many times, criticizing leaders is more wrong than the thing you are criticizing.

    And finally to the discussion I tried and failed to initiate, that is the interchangeability of men and women. If you read my post I was not saying that men need to have this opening prayer thing to feel needed. I was using opening prayers as an example. I doubt men only opening prayers will make a difference in a man’s life. I was trying to state the importance of having certain things set aside just for men, things like leadership and the priesthood. This was a much larger point, a point which I count as largely lost on this group. This is my argument, when men feel that they are interchangeable with women they recede. When women and men members counsel their leaders they put themselves as equals authoritatively. I will add here that of course women are equals with men leaders, they are just as smart, just as capable and all that stuff (Don’t misquote me please). I put myself at risk when I say something so controversial but coming from women criticism has an added affect on the male psyche. Yes, it may be a weakness of men that they need to overcome, but Sisters take it from a man – what I say here is real. I will add this personal anecdote, it is personal so it may not necessarily apply to the general; when a man has a grinding gripe for me as a leader I feel much more comfortable having a vigorous, robust, fierce discussion with him about it. I feel like I am walking on eggshells when I have to handle a criticism from a woman. I don’t not feel comfortable having a vigorous, robust, fierce discussion with another man’s wife (I am beginning to feel that way here). My wish is that women would recognize this power they have over men and how men begin to resent them when they overuse it. This is all something I hold very true – If there is an environment where men have certain duties that fall only on men they are more motivated. If men become interchangable with women they are less motivated. When women intrude into that environment, in this case leadership and priesthood, the men lose their sense of being needed as men and become less motivated. Some here seem to see this as something to fixed about men. I see it as an inherent quality of men that should be wisely fostered by women. You sound like a cliche when you mock fragile male ego and talk about changing men. What I am trying to point out is a way to stimulate the best qualities of men. Look at this part of manhood as a strength. Leaving the priesthood and leadership to men motivates us. Dismiss what I am saying if you must or perhaps take this hint from a man in a rare moment of openness. Criticism of leaders is wrong altogether so it shouldn’t matter, right?

    Sisters, this has been fun. I look forward to stirring the pot again sometime soon. Since I am pointing out logical fallcies today I must admit that I have crossed over into argumentum ad nauseam. I have repeatedly made my points and they are repeatedly oversimplified, mischaracterized, and dismissed. I will watch this discussion silently; I will follow, ponder and consider closely what you have said. If I am to be lured back into the discussion it would be because I think people sincerely want to engage what I am trying to say. I am not weasling out of this. Perhaps you would like to check out one of my favorite books entitled Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. Adieu.

  • SilverRain June 27, 2007, 10:12 am

    when men feel that they are interchangeable with women they recede.

    Why is that, do you think? Men feel diminished when they are interchanged with women, and yet women (according to many) feel empowered. If this is true, is it justified? May there not be something done to change the attitude of men in this regard rather than simply justifying the attitude and letting it continue?

    In addition, is there not a difference between criticising a leader and expressing dissatisfaction with a policy or practice? If that dissatisfaction is never expressed, how is the leader to know it may be a problem? I don’t think the solution is to tell anyone to “sit down and shut up” but to coach people in how to question or express concerns in a positive way.

    I can’t express how much more useless in the Church it makes me feel to be told that speaking my pain, my confusion and my heartache is not wanted. Indeed, that it is not only unwanted but also a sign of my unrighteousness. Why even bother participating in this Church, if this is the way our leaders feel?

    And by the way, saying these things and then refusing to comment further is a cop-out. I can’t see any purpose in it. No one has attacked you directly (I don’t think.) Feel free to point out where I’m wrong, if I am.

  • deeby June 27, 2007, 10:29 am

    I do not feel inclined to engage further because people reduce my words to “sit down and shut up”. I may be entirely wrong but I think I was a bit more eloquent than that. Again a gross oversimplification of what I meant. I am not one to cop-out I just don’t think anybody wants to really explore what I am trying to say.

  • sarah k. June 27, 2007, 10:32 am

    Ugh. It’s things like this that make me wonder how the church has perpetuated itself. I’m always shocked to find out there is still gender discrimination in the Church where there is no possible excuse. As if who gives the prayer could possibly make a difference. Wasn’t there a statement made a while back to the effect of discouraging people from requesting priesthood blessings from “higher” leaders, as in “if I get the bishop/stake president/general authority to give me the blessing, it will be more likely to work” and encouraging us to look to those immediately in our sphere, like husbands and home teachers? The prayer cannot be more efficacious if it’s given by a male. And does that stupid rule also preclude new members from praying? The idea makes my blood boil.

    And re: SilverRain’s above comment, I totally agree. It’s not a big contest to see who gets to sit at the front.

  • facethemusic June 27, 2007, 11:42 am

    My, oh my. I can’t leave you kids alone without a babysitter, can I? :)
    Hee hee, just teasing. It’s just amazing how this conversation swelled up so much in last 24 hours! And honestly, I think it’s been a very honest and fascinating discussion. (Lewis_family, your “niced-up” comment gave me a smile…you crack me up!)
    For the record, I’ve never been in a ward where only men could say the opening prayer, and was shocked to hear that such an idea even existed. I’ve been in, I think, 14 wards, all across the country and overseas, and I’ve never or heard of such a thing until these boards.
    I’ve never felt like the church, it’s policies, or even my local leadership ever displayed or expressed any sexist tendencies. I’ve never felt slighted in regards to the priesthood, have never felt like my concerns as a woman have been brushed aside, and in fact, have always felt like the women in the church have been put on a pedestal, not only by “the church” but by the men especially. Of all the chivalrous men that still exist on the planet, I’d say that 60% of them, if not more, are those who are LDS, priesthood-bearing men, and that when understood properly and truly embraced, the priesthood instills in men, a reverence and respect for women and womanhood, that no other power or idea can give them.
    I agreed with SO much of what you said Deeby, and have seen with my own eyes how many women (even some women in the church) have emasculated men, making them feel unneeded and unnecessary in their unique roles as men. And I totally agree with your assessment of what might happen if women started passing the Sacrament. (Eventually, those plain white table dressings would be replaced with lace, the Sacrament tray handles would be adorned with ribbons in all the colors of the Young Women values, and the tablecloths could only be removed to pass the Sacrament once the flower arrangements and beautifully framed pictures of the Savior were taken off the table.)
    I’ve also heard people (men AND women) make silly and whiny complaints about leadership. (Male AND female leadership), BUT I honestly didn’t see how pointing that out, had anything to do with saying opening prayer in Sacrament meeting. You sort of made it sound like the women gripe about stupid and petty things and the Bishoprics are just these weak and pathetic guys who cave in under the duress of a bunch of whiny women demanding equal rights. I think that’s why you’ve felt misunderstood here. That IS how it came across at times, though I do understand that trying to put feelings and thoughts into words through fingertips on a keyboard, and in a technical forum like this, minus eye contact, inflection, etc can sometimes interfere with what we’re really trying to say. So maybe you didn’t mean it the way it came across.
    Your last post gave a little more insight– I think maybe you were really talking about one thing, trying to tie it in with the “opening prayer” issue, when really, they weren’t very connected. At least, I don’t really see the connection.
    I totally agree that men and women are not interchangeable, and I’m confidant, that Alison feels the same way. Certainly, there ARE things that we can do interchangeably (like saying opening prayers) but our roles as men and women, certainly are not interchangeable. And I agree that women trying to bully their way into men’s clubs, and even into the priesthood are being ridiculous. Believe me, I went to family night at Scout Camp last week and was seroiusly irritated by the number of female BOYscout leaders there.
    And Silver– a few leaders who feel this way is not indicative of the Church as a whole.
    Come now, and let us reason together… :)
    But to that point Deeby, do you see how your comments have now made Silver, a woman, feel less important, and unneeded and unwanted? It goes both ways. Maybe you were misunderstood by her, and maybe a man who would suddendly feel “less important” or emasculated by a woman saying the opening prayer would also be misunderstanding.
    The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with telling a Bishop our concerns, asking questions about policies, or even pointing them out if we happen to notice that they’re not being followed.
    What’s wrong is unfairly criticizing him when we may not understand his reasons for doing things the way he does. We can ask. We may be given the answer and say “oh– I see. I undersatnd now.” We may be given an answer we disagree with. We may not even be privvy to the reason. But there’s nothing wrong with asking.
    Certainly, any direction of what Bishoprics MUST do comes only from higher sources. But I don’t recall anyone here saying anything about waving handbooks in Bishops faces and demanding or dictating anything.
    What we’re discussing here is much of the reason for ward and stake councils. We discuss what’s working, what isn’t, the concerns we have, and we make improvements, change things that aren’t working, or continue to implement things that are working. Ultimately, those changes come with Bishopric approval. What matters is HOW we discuss things with our Bishopric, HOW we handle any disagreements we have with their methods, and how we respond, to any leader for that matter.
    Every sister isn’t given a copy of the RS handbook either. But if she has a question, concern or yes, even a gripe, about Visiting Teaching, who she reports to, who she visits, what constitutes a “visit”, etc, she’s not violating any sacred cow rule about not expressing concerns to her leaders.
    We touched on this in another discussion, but it would do good to remember that the entire Word of Wisdom only came when Emma “griped” about having to clean tabacco spit off the floor.

  • facethemusic June 27, 2007, 12:14 pm

    As if I hadn’t rattled on long enough– I want to point out two other things.

    If there is an environment where men have certain duties that fall only on men they are more motivated. If men become interchangable with women they are less motivated. When women intrude into that environment, in this case leadership and priesthood, the men lose their sense of being needed as men and become less motivated.”

    I totally and completely agree with this. 100%.
    I think though, the problem with this comment in THIS discussion, is that the discussion is about saying the opening prayer in church. So, the comment doesn’t apply here. Saying the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting is not a “male thing, not to be shared with women”. This isn’t a “case of leadership and priesthood”. I understand Deeby’s comment that though having only men say opening prayer is not policy, it doesn’t mean that it’s against policy either, since somethings are left up to the Bishopric to decide. But, since the opening prayer to sacrament meeting is NOT a “priesthood matter”, like giving a blessing, ordaining someone, blessing/passing the sacrament, etc, deciding that only men should give the opening prayer is obviously something that could be interpreted as sexist.
    And honestly, since it IS only men who can bear the priesthood, give blessings, bless the sacrament, ordain, set apart, conduct temple worthiness interviews, etc and since everything the women do, we only do under the direction of the priesthood, because we’ve been called and set apart by the priesthood, (and please understand, I have absolutely no problem with this)
    I find it very hard to believe that a man could possibly feel “less than” just because his wife is asked to say the opening prayer.

    And as to this comment:

    Also I think your definition of worthy is very unfair, Worthy = having adequate merit or claim; adequate justification or position. You know all to well that in a discussion with Mormons ‘worthy’ means something entirely different. Mormons use ‘worthy’ invariably in the sense of personal worthiness; temple worthy, worthy to hold the priesthood, and so on.

    Actually it’s EXACTLY that definition that applies to what Mormons believe that “worthy” means.
    How is it that we’re deemed to to be temple worthy? We’re found to be temple worthy when a member of the Bishopric and Stake find that we have “adequate merit or claim” to the blessings of the temple by virtue of our faithfulness in keeping the commandments, paying tithing, attending our church meetings, having a testimony of the Divinity of the Savior, etc. Someone who’s found worthy to hold the priesthood is deemed so because he’s found to have “adequate merit or claim” by virtue of his faithfulness, to bear the authority and power of God on earth.

  • mlinford June 27, 2007, 12:18 pm

    First of all, I think it’s essential to realize that this discussion has gone beyond the prayer thing, so I think either we start a new thread or not try to argue over prayers anymore. :)

    I can’t express how much more useless in the Church it makes me feel to be told that speaking my pain, my confusion and my heartache is not wanted. Indeed, that it is not only unwanted but also a sign of my unrighteousness. Why even bother participating in this Church, if this is the way our leaders feel?

    I think there can be a significant difference between expressing concerns and pain, and criticizing. Elder Oaks gave a very clear talk about this and he said there are many options when one has an issue with something a leader has done. Some options involved quietly moving on, forgiving, etc. However, one of these options was to take the concern between one’s self and the “offender” in a private setting. It’s all about the HOW, I think. To translate a concern about criticizing inappropriately into some notion that women can never say anything in any way is simply a mistranslation.

    Also, as Tracy said, we have the council system which is designed to include women. We are not and don’t have to be silent partners in the Church. It simply isn’t true. And we do have direct access to our local leaders, but I think soooo much depends on HOW we approach them. If Deeby is saying that women should never say anything, anytime, anywhere that might raise questions or concerns, he’s simply wrong. But I am not sure that is what he is saying. I think he takes issue with criticism of a specific person (?? I’m guessing here) who has no recourse to defend or explain himself, which I think is a valid concern. Or about griping that doesn’t accomplish anything but put unnecessary pressure or demands on a leader. And perhaps he is reacting a bit (perhaps overreacting a bit) because it simply hits too close to home, because he has received undue criticism as a leader and feels frustrated. It seems to me that’s at least worth considering. No one likes to feel that their best efforts could end up as the topic of a public discussion board. :)

    FWIW, I have gone directly to my leaders wtih concerns and have been heard. Again, I think there is a difference between expressing thoughts and personally criticizing. FWIW, I have made suggestions and they have been implemented sometimes, other times they have been overridden. Either way, I have been heard. I don’t feel diminished as a woman in the Church. When things work as they should, men and women feel valued and as partners in the work, not trying to protect or advocate their own sex’s interests. The fact that both “sides” are protecting their interests suggests that both “sides” have things to work on. There aren’t supposed to be sides at all. We only have ourselves to blame if this is the case.

    Sister Dew gave a fantastic talk about this idea of us needing to work together.

    I think Deeby’s points are worth noting – that how we as women approach men and interact with them can affect them as much as how men dealing with women can affect women. I think it’s imperative to realize that we ALL have things we can do to make the interaction of the sexes better in the Church. It’s not just the women who suffer as a result of gender issues, and it’s not just the men who are at fault.

    I think, too, however, that often our perceptions create problems, perceptions that may not be grounded in reality. We can’t always blame the actions of others for how we feel. This can apply to men and women.

    All of this can go both ways. In the ideal world, nothing anyone did would affect us because we would all be secure enough in God’s love, but in the meantime, we need to reach out and help each other, rather than continuing to divide ourselves, which is often how these kinds of discussions feel to me.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 12:29 pm

    Posted By: deebyI’ll try to answer some of these things and then I think I will move on from this discussion.

    I think we call that a “hit and run.” :shocked:

    Sister Smith, you began the original post by going after a policygenerallybased on the individual and specific reasoning of one man.

    Actually, no. I went after a created “policy” based on the statement made by Elder Brough who had the authority to make the declaration he did. It came to my ATTENTION based on the individual reasoning of Mike.

    You went after any bishop with the policy so I stand by my critique of your attack on the weakest argument since you did not acknowledge that another Mike somewhere out there might have a very compelling reason to have such a policy

    Because bishop’s do not have the authority to create church policy, whether they feel a compelling reason or not. They can implement practices, but those practices should not counter official policy or doctrine. And they shouldn’t ever be elevated to policy–not even in the minds of the creators.

    Mormons use ‘worthy’ invariably in the sense of personal worthiness

    Perhaps you aren’t the only Mormon on the planet who gets to determine appropriate word usage? (In other words, I suggest there is, in fact, variety in use of terms.)

    While I am on the subject of Mike, did you ask Mike if he would like to defend himself or explain his comments in this forum wherein he has become a target?

    Nope. If I had used his full name I would have, if I could track him down. You’re welcome to invite him.

    I myself am suspect of the quote attributed to Mike.

    So.

    If it helps I will agree with you that Mike is wrong if he really thinks women cannot invite the spirit.

    I’m glad we agree.

    Please take this next point in the spirit it is given; technically a bishop who has men open the meeting and women close the meeting has not violated the handbook.

    I agree. And have no problem with men giving prayers. (BTW, I know what the handbook says.)

    A bishop is given the latitude to make such a policy in his ward.

    Here, I disagree because, again, bishop’s can’t create church policy. And creating a policy that says, “Women cannot open sacrament meeting” is creating a policy that counters what is in the handbook. By your argument, a bishop could create “policy” that says:

    (1) Women cannot give opening prayers
    (2) Women cannot give closing prayers

    and, because the handbook only says women “may” give prayers, not that they HAVE to give them, that the bishop is perfectly aligned with the handbook. Hogwash.

    The official policy says they MAY pray. The created policy says that they MAY NOT.

    Elder Oaks said in the documentary on PBS recently that it is wrong to criticize church leaders even when you are right. Amen.

    Easy to say when you ARE a leader, as opposed to knowing you can never be one. So, again, women can never say anything to anyone, because unless it’s a glowing report, it is “critical” and, therefore, unrighteous and inappropriate. You go! (And, as I said, this is exactly what I was talking about earlier.)

    Here is a list of words I am wont to use about the complaints of men; gripes, murmuring, second guessing, criticisms, nagging (no man likes to think he nags), and my favorite backbiting. Whatever the term they all sow the seeds of discord and they are rarely if ever helpful.

    And so why is it, again, that you’ll use them about the complaints of women and how are they helpful?

    The trials of your sisters in the third world make what you consider a slight seem ridiculous.

    And guess what? The trials of your brothers in the third world make YOUR slight (that of, gasp, being criticized!) equally so. Shall I grab the logical fallacy handbook on that one?

    I have said this many times, criticizing leaders is more wrong than the thing you are criticizing.

    Thank you for carefully ranking sins by order of importance for us.

    I doubt men only opening prayers will make a difference in a man’s life.

    But apparently it’s still important enough to create “policy” over?

    I was trying to state the importance of having certain things set aside just for men, things like leadership and the priesthood.

    I might not disagree with you on this particular point. But, as I asked, aren’t there already about a billion things in the church that ARE set aside for men? Why would you need to prevent us from saying opening prayers? That is, after all, what this thread is about.

    What I find interesting is that your post, to me, indicates that the things “set aside for men to do” must be of a particular type in order to meet the needs of men. All of our callings are “special things” that are set aside for us, alone, to fulfill. But those won’t do. It seems that you are saying men NEED to be in a dominant position–with women submissive–in order to even be motivated to get off the couch.

    If this is true, then why would this not be seen as a character flaw, rather than as something to be accommodated by requiring women to sit back and shut up?

    when a man has a grinding gripe for me as a leader I feel much more comfortable having a vigorous, robust, fierce discussion with him about it. I feel like I am walking on eggshells when I have to handle a criticism from a woman.

    Amen. I actually agree with you wholeheartedly on this point. And I do believe this is a character flaw that WOMEN need to get over. Particularly if we speak up, we need to be willing to be treated as those who traditionally spoke up got treated. We can’t go off and cry because the man we spoke up to actually spoke back on equal footing.

    I don’t not feel comfortable having a vigorous, robust, fierce discussion with another man’s wife (I am beginning to feel that way here).

    Why is that? Honestly, deeby (sheesh, wish you had picked a different name. I keep typing “dweeby”), is it because you expect women to back down once you have spoken in the authoritative voice? At least recognize that when you speak strongly to a woman, she might appropriately speak strongly back at you.

    My wish is that women would recognize this power they have over men and how men begin to resent them when they overuse it.

    In the context of this discussion, what is the “overuse” of power you speak of? Pointing out to a bishop that the handbook does not require men to open with prayer is an overuse of power? I don’t even see how it’s critical.

    You might note in my case in Florida, the bishop and the stake president didn’t dismiss the question–nor did they deem in inappropriate, wrong-headed, or out of place. They looked into it and then they clarified to others within their stewardship.

    You sound like a cliche when you mock fragile male ego and talk about changing men.

    I agree that male egos are fragile. Probably as fragile as female egos. And mocking them doesn’t help. But I also don’t think that pointing out how church administration is effected BY the male egos is synonymous with mocking. If they are fragile, then let’s be honest about how that fits into the working of the church and when/if it might be an inappropriate effect.

    What I am trying to point out is a way to stimulate the best qualities of men.

    Fair enough and I do appreciate your candor. But can you at least consider something? WHAT IF the best way to stimulate the best qualities in WOMEN is to allow them to do things they are capable of, rather than creating gender-based barriers? Particularly those that aren’t prescribed by official policy?

  • mollymormon June 27, 2007, 12:41 pm

    Molly!!!! You had a WOMAN open. I’m so proud of you! And I’m equally proud of Daddy.

    As if I had anything to do with asking the woman to open! I just type what I’m told! (Well, when it follows the handbook. I must admit to not following certain non-handbook advice from a priesthood leader simply because it was a matter of aesthetics and it would’ve taken me an inordinate amount of time that I don’t have to implement it. And I told him that too. ;) )

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 12:49 pm

    It was the collective you. The Sunset Heights 2nd Ward you. But I’m proud of you for typing it in.

  • SilverRain June 27, 2007, 1:07 pm

    I find it interesting that that is what you think, since there have been many who have agreed with you on several points, that we should avoid criticizing our leaders for one. The disagreement is whether or not this instance is criticizing. I think there is merit on both sides of the issue, but the part of your argument I dislike is the part that suggests that women have no right to speak up about the things that bother them without having their eternal salvation called into question. Especially when those things aren’t even policy.

  • SilverRain June 27, 2007, 1:28 pm

    May I say that I enjoy it when you, as we say in our family, “get your Irish on?”

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 1:44 pm

    Now that’s a phrase I can really get into. :bigsmile:

  • syncbaby June 27, 2007, 2:16 pm

    deeby I hope you really look at what you write. You are telling us exactly how you feel, even though most men won’t say the same things to our faces so directly. You think our concerns are just whining and griping and we have no justification for them. (Your complaints are important, though.) I would say your attitude is really, really common but not all leaders share it.

    Honestly, it’s really hard to stay active when I have leaders like you. You don’t have to say it for us to know some of what you think of us. We’re just a pain in your butt and if we’d just learn our place and let you run things “the right way”–making sure men get to do lots of things women don’t so they feel important–then there wouldn’t be any problems. We get it.

  • east-of-eden June 27, 2007, 4:11 pm

    Holy cow, finding the end of this thing was a hassle!

    Ok, so I thought about this on Sunday in SacMtg–as a sister gave the op. The more I thought about it, I realized that sisters always give the op in our ward–Alison the next time I get asked to give the op, I’m inviting you to take my place!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 4:49 pm

    I’m there. Totally.

  • facethemusic June 30, 2007, 10:35 am

    I know this conversation pretty much fizzled out, but I found this interesting quote this morning in the July issue of The New Era.

    “We’re not against honest inquiry in the Church. (Emphasis added by Tracy) We welcome it. The apostle Paul said, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “One of the grand fundamental pinciploes of “Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may” (History of the Church, 5:499) As we search for truth in Church teachings and history, we should remember that it is faith in Christ that helps us to “lay hold upon every good thing” (see Moroni 7:15-25). And we should keep everything in its proper perspective and context. ”

    This comment was made in reference to anti-Mormon literature, explaining that the Church doesn’t want members or non-members to feel like they can’t ask questions about the church’s history, past policies on polygamy etc. But I don’t think it would be taking the comment out of “its proper perspective and context” in order to address the issue of members asking questions about current policy. It would seem odd to say “it’s okay for members and non-members to ask about what we used to do, just don’t ask us about things we do NOW”

  • becklit July 3, 2007, 1:14 am

    I would just like to say I find this whole discussion rather funny (well, pretty ridiculous actually)
    Who cares? There are things going on in this world that really matter. We
    just had the funeral for 2 of the daughters of a family in our stake that were killed in a car
    accident last week. (an 23 year old and an 8 year old –tragic) Those parents having aching hearts
    and empty arms tonight. I’m pretty sure they could care less who said the opening prayer yesterday
    in sacrament meeting. Perspective, people. Perspective. Discussions such as this so “trivialize” the weighier
    matters in life. Will you stand before the Lord and argue this one? What would He say, do you
    think?

    And just so you know . . . I’m female and have really never even noticed
    to what “gender” saying the opening prayer. The thought to pay attention
    to that (or even care) has never even crossed my mind. Why let it bother you?
    Why even spend the time discussing it?

  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2007, 2:29 am

    Welcome becklit.

    Posted By: becklitWhy even spend the time discussing it?

    I don’t know.

    A couple of hours ago one of our kittens died. My nine-year-old daughter, who had been nursing it for days after it’s mother abandoned it, cried. I suppose I should have pointed out that, it’s ONLY a cat. Perspective! How ridiculous to cry over a stupid CAT. Trivial!

    Today the church’s website actually features the 2007 PAGEANTS, of all things. And my sister is in Tennessee touring around with her choir (you might have heard of it, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) actually SINGING, just, you know, songs and stuff. Why aren’t we dealing with the weightier matters! Like polygamy and the native American DNA! There are things going on that REALLY matter.

    Two people in a family died? Buck up, for heaven’s sake. Don’t you know there is GENOCIDE going on right this minute? Some people have lost every known relative. I bet they’d be GLAD to have lost only two family members.

    Or, maybe it’s OK to talk about the purpose of life AND talk about potty training and the best food storage casserole. Maybe it’s OK to struggle with incarcerated, drug-dealing family members AND a difficult visiting teaching companion. Maye it’s OK to discuss the Holocaust AND the Trolley Square Killings.

    Life is made of all sorts of degrees of joy, struggle, pain, and growth. I don’t think God has a problem with that. He allows our most venerable leaders to address everything from essential ordinances to how many earrings to wear. He seems OK with it.

  • partone July 3, 2007, 2:34 am

    Great answer! I’m sure beckiit never talks about anything but hte most serious stuff.

  • partone July 3, 2007, 2:35 am

    Or maybe she’s just in a sad mood from the funeral and isn’t making sense. Sorry about your friend.

  • agardner July 3, 2007, 7:52 am

    Alison, would it be threadjacking to ask what you think about the order of speakers in Sacrament Meeting? It seems that the “keynote” speaker (i.e. the last speaker) is always a man – unless there are only women speaking – regardless of their church calling.

    I just happened to notice it the other day when they had a youth speaker, the RS president, and a guy from the ward speak (in that order), and I wondered if that’s something written or tradition? I’ve also noticed on my husband’s outline that the final speaker is given about double the time as the other speakers (at least on the outline our ward uses). Just curious what others think about that.

    It’s not the biggest deal in the world to me (nothing compared to losing a family member, for example), but I do wonder if I wouldn’t like to hear a little more from the women more often.

  • mlinford July 3, 2007, 10:24 am

    It seems that the “keynote” speaker (i.e. the last speaker) is always a man – unless there are only women speaking – regardless of their church calling.

    I’m living proof that this isn’t true. :) The last time I spoke, I was the last speaker. My ward has had this happen more than once.

    Becklit, I agree with you that this is not a big deal for most people, but 1) for some it is (when I read topics like this it at least helps me understand others’ points of view) and 2) sometimes discussions topics are for the sake of discussion, not necessarily the most important or serious topics ever. (This tends to be what blogging is sometimes like, for good or ill.)

    But I hope you will find that we try to discuss other topics as well, those that affect our day-to-day and/or spiritual lives more.

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss in your ward. Trials like that are hard.

  • agardner July 3, 2007, 11:22 am

    Michelle, were there male speakers as well? If so, good for your ward! It’s not the biggest deal to me, but I just find it interesting that we seem to have this hierarchy of speakers. Which is kind of funny because by the end of the meeting usually I’m not concentrating much anyway because my kids are getting restless, and also it seems like the last speaker gets their time cut short a lot of the time (at least if they don’t take the meeting over the time schedule).

    I just wonder where this all started or if it’s written down. I guess it’s kind of not just in the church but in any setting that the keynote speaker is last. Just wondered what the hierarchy is. When my husband and I speak together, he is always last. When we spoke as a Primary presidency, I was last (assuming because I was the president). It seems like if it’s an umarried male and female speaking, the man always goes last despite their callings. Just curious, it’s nothing I’m going to lose sleep over.

    Thanks for your input.

  • SilverRain July 3, 2007, 11:49 am

    I always thought the only tradition was to let the presiding speaker speak last. That’s so they can refute any major doctrinal diversions.

  • heather July 3, 2007, 11:59 am

    Becklit,

    I personally have lost children of my own. I do not believe discussing these “lighter” issues have overshadowed my true perspective in life nor the life of my family. To simply discuss and share issues like these are very healthy. In fact, we are not proposing to confront nor propose these issues to church leaders or the Lord. We are simply trying to make sense of issues for ourseves only in good spirit! I choose to focus on the relationships of sisters and my family to keep any level of mourning to a minimum. So you see, this type of forum is also for the healing of others. I applaud these women for speaking on issues with only the best intentions. It’s really quite harmless to have healthy opinions and make sense of them. Honestly, my little ones would want me to live a vibrant and sharing life. It does not mean I pull any further from the gospel. Instead, I have learned that we are all here for each other living earthly and spiritual experiences! I challenge you to participate in finding true happiness of sisterhood by embracing these and others opinions and only react with kindness and healthy debate.

    alison: sorry about your kitty. Your to be commended for discussing things we have all thought one time or another.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2007, 5:09 pm

    Michelle, heather, thank you for your posts and your civility. :) I haven’t mastered that last part yet.

    agardner, interesting question. I have discussed this before, although maybe not here. Yes, the tradition has been to place the man in the “keynote” spot. MANY years ago this was explained to me as being “so the man could correct anything the woman said that was not correct doctrine.” (No, not just presiding leaders.) I have not, however, heard that “explanation” in decades, so it’s not bugging me so much.

    I was actually asked ONCE, to speak last in a meeting when a male adult was also speaking. It was by my dear friend, our bishop. It was Easter Sunday and I was to speak about…Easter. HE was the male speaking. The difference was that he had just been diagnosed with brain cancer the day before and HIS talk was going to be to tell the ward about it. He intended to give just a brief update, to be followed by the music and my talk. I said no way, no how am I going to talk after the brain cancer talk. It wasn’t funny except that it was, but you have to understand the relationship that Robes and his wife had with Sam and me. You can’t even believe the phone call he made to tell us about it just a few hours after he found out.

    Anyway, the only time I’ve ever been asked to speak last (by my liberal, democrat, journalist, buck-the-system bishop), I refused. :)

    My personal story aside, I think this is one of those things that leaders should THINK about before they just follow the pattern of forever. But I’ll deal with that after women get to open with prayer and I abolish scouts. :devil:

  • SilverRain July 3, 2007, 6:29 pm

    “so the man could correct anything the woman said that was not correct doctrine.”

    Really?! I was being facetious.

  • agardner July 3, 2007, 6:52 pm

    My personal story aside, I think this is one of those things that leaders should THINK about before they just follow the pattern of forever. But I’ll deal with that after women get to open with prayer and I abolish scouts.

    lol! If you want some help abolishing scouts I’m on your side. (I know that makes some people really upset and sad….sorry).

    Your story about your bishop was so sad. There is no way I would be able to get up after a good friend had given a talk like that, and then a musical number!! I do poorly enough just after the music alone!

    I can see the presiding thing. But when it is just any man from the ward, I do find it a bit odd.

    The time it caught my attention was when it was the RS president (who was giving an excellent talk and I really wanted to hear more from) who preceded a man in the ward who wasn’t really in any position of presiding (I think he is an assistant clerk or something). Anyway, like I said, it’s not that big of a thing to me but I was just curious what you all thought.

  • facethemusic July 3, 2007, 8:34 pm

    I always thought the only tradition was to let the presiding speaker speak last. That’s so they can refute any major doctrinal diversions.

    Oh Silver, I WISH!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just about left the chapel because someone was up there saying non-doctrinal stuff. That really burns me up. Thankfully, the 2 worst offenders in our ward moved. But it seemed like everytime they stood to bear their testimony or gave a talk, they were spouting false doctrine, and I kept waiting to see the Bishop lean over and tap them on the shoulder and whisper something, but it never happened.
    Honestly, the ONLY time I’ve ever seen someone be bold enough to correct someone when they were saying something was that false doctrine, or non-doctrinal was one of my Relief Society presidents. The amazing thing is, she did it so calmly and so gently so as not to offend.
    I’m not sure how she did it. Because frankly, I wanted to stand up, shake my finger and put my hand over their mouths! That’s probably why SHE had the calling, and I didn’t!

  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2007, 8:35 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainReally?! I was being facetious.

    Oh, I wish I was joking…

    I should clarify. Robes was my bishop in Florida. He was two bishops before Crazy Mike was made a counselor. If Mike had been Robe’s counselor, Robes would have forced him to bake a souffl for the Relief Society in penance.

    And, again, I really do like Crazy Mike. And he’s not totally crazy. Just about some things. Or lots. Whatever.

  • jennycherie July 9, 2007, 8:43 am

    Posted By: agardnerthe order of speakers in Sacrament Meeting? It seems that the “keynote” speaker (i.e. the last speaker) is always a man – unless there are only women speaking – regardless of their church calling. . .I’ve also noticed on my husband’s outline that the final speaker is given about double the time as the other speakers

    okay, I’m not being totally silly here, but I thought they let women go first so they would be sure that the woman’s entire talk was heard so if someone had to cut theirs short, it would be the man. ;) I was speaking yesterday in sacrament meeting and realized that I never asked if I was going first or last, I just assumed I would be the first speaker. Yesterday, I happened to be VERY glad I was first because I figured the second speaker could fill in all the space I was going to leave since my talk was too short!! Incidentally, we were both asked to speak for 12 minutes.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2008, 11:13 am

    Just to let you know that I’m still not worthy. Sam and I were asked to give the prayers today. Sam was specifically asked to open. I’ll be spending the morning trying not to be bugged so that I can give a remotely beneficial prayer. Maybe I should recuse myself.

  • Lewis_Family June 22, 2008, 2:02 pm

    Out in Eagle Mountain they have this rule? Sam should have shown up late, just so you would have a “legitimate” excuse to switch :smile::devil::smile:

  • delmar June 22, 2008, 2:11 pm

    Alison- I wanted to ask do you know any Gibsons in your ward? One of my best friends in-laws (and 2-3 older children) relocated a while ago from Chico and I think its to Eagle Mtn. When we moved into our Chico ward I couldn’t find them so I finally asked my friend (who I had lost contact with for a couple of years) where they were. She said they moved to “something” Mtn in Utah. I guess a huge amount of their neighborhood are all Cali transplants. Do you know them?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2008, 4:29 pm

    Lewis, it’s an ongoing saga. I think it follows me wherever I go. Unfortunately it’s in other places, too.

    Nope, don’t think I know any Gibsons, delmar, at least not by name. They aren’t in my ward (I’m in Cedar Pass 1st). They might be in the stake, but we have three stakes in the city now.

  • facethemusic June 22, 2008, 6:17 pm

    Lewis, it’s an ongoing saga. I think it follows me wherever I go.

    It’s YOU Alison. It’s following you because they don’t want YOU to say the prayer, but in order to avoid hurting your feelings by singling you out, they just say “no” to all the sisters in the ward. :fingersear:

  • Tinkerbell June 22, 2008, 6:46 pm

    Alison, do you know any Woodfields?

  • delmar June 22, 2008, 8:40 pm

    oh and about this women saying the opening prayer thing. I hadn’t started noticing till it was mentioned here. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever hear a women give the opening. But I may have in my old ward. I keep trying to think back. Anyways, we went to a Baptism tonight and a WOMAN said the opening prayer there! I though that might be nice to know.

  • davidson June 22, 2008, 8:56 pm

    Gosh. Maybe we are apostates! In our wards, women usually say the opening prayer, and men say the closing prayer–I think it’s a “woman first” thing, out of respect, and that is true of all the wards I’ve been in my whole life. I just asked my husband if he were aware of any guideline about that, and he said the only guidelines he was aware of were one saying that it shouldn’t always be husband and wife that are asked to say the prayers, because it would eliminate the opportunity for so many good single brothers and sisters to pray in meetings, and one that said when husband and wife are called upon to speak in Sacrament meeting, the sister should go first. My husband shared my opinion that that “rule” is ridiculous and not in keeping with the respect the brethren have for the women in their lives. In fact, I’ve heard many priesthood brethren say they deliberately like to have the sisters “open” the meeting with prayer, exactly for the spiritual strength they have to offer, the tone it sets for the meeting. Alison, if you were in my ward, you would be called upon to pray first! You are not in any way a lesser influence for good or less worthy to speak to our God. I am sad that tradition exists anywhere in the Church. The risen Lord appeared to a woman first. It was not a gender thing, or a priesthood thing; it was a people thing. He loves His children equally.

  • nanacarol June 22, 2008, 10:17 pm

    In the grand scheme of things is it really important who gives the prayer first? Is this a pride thing? After listening to our lesson in Sunday School today on Alma 5-7 would this count towards if we have the Saviors Countence in us if we are so worried about who gives prayers first. I think some meditation on this fact needs to be considered.

  • Ray June 22, 2008, 10:20 pm

    The incorrect traditions of their fathers are hard to break.

  • facethemusic June 22, 2008, 10:32 pm

    In the grand scheme of things is it really important who gives the prayer first?

    I don’t think so nana. On the other hand, I don’t THINK that’s the core issue though. I think it’s the reasoning BEHIND it– the idea that only a prieshood holder can “invite the spirit”– which is the reason Alison was given. (If I’m remembering correctly without reading back through the entire thread)
    If I knew that this was an official policy thing, and for some reason, the Church wanted priesthood holders to open the meeting, (maybe because it’s a meeting with a priesthood ordinance???) I wouldn’t have an issue with it. I don’t think the reason would be ‘because only a priesthood holder can invite the spirit– otherwise we’d need priesthood holders to open RS, YW, ward activities, etc, etc. The point was made earlier in the thread that only priesthood holders open conference sessions. I checked online, and that IS true. Not sure why that’s the standard, but it’s fine by me. When I know it’s something the prophet approves of, and something the Church has a policy, I don’t have a problem with it.
    So if there was something similar for Sacrament meeting, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.
    My only problem with this is that it ISN’T a universal thing, yet some Bishops claim it’s a policy thing, when it doesn’t appear to be so at all. And the reason Alison was given doesn’t seem “kosher” to me.
    So in the end, does it matter who says the opening prayer? Not to me. My only issue would be if Bishops are claiming there’s a policy that says so, when there isn’t, or if they’re saying that only priesthood can invite the spirit, which we already know isn’t true.

  • Tinkerbell June 22, 2008, 10:38 pm

    I was asked to give the opening prayer a few weeks ago, and I was so ticked. That meant I HAD to be there on time! :tongue:

  • nanacarol June 22, 2008, 10:45 pm

    Face-again you are right. My husband was in a Bishopric and I asked him if it was Church Policy to let the men open the meeting. I know-it was a trick question but I wanted to get his reaction and he said it was church policy!!! I corrected him. But he seems to remember a letter from the First Presidency on this issue even though it does not apprear in the handbook. I feel the same way when it comes to certain things and does it come from the First Presidency. Last October in our Stake Relief training maining, our Stake Relief Soceity President went off on a tangent about something that really upset the women. When I heard her say it I thought-oh no she has gone over the deep end. It started quite a stir in the room. Even the Stake President said he would not even bring this issue up with his wife!!! One lady finally stood up and said if it doesn’t come from Salt Lake she wanted nothing to do with it!!!! When our little RS Presidency left to come home later we made a pact not to mention what was brought up. It could have started quite a rebellion among women if it had been taken to the Wards. Funny thing, two months later we had a new Stake Relief Soceity President!!! So again we have to be careful what we take for gospel!!!

  • Tinkerbell June 22, 2008, 10:47 pm

    Okay, now you have to tell us what it was, nanacarol!!

  • jennycherie June 22, 2008, 10:56 pm

    Quote: “In fact, I’ve heard many priesthood brethren say they deliberately like to have the sisters “open” the meeting with prayer, exactly for the spiritual strength they have to offer, the tone it sets for the meeting.”

    This is a lovely sentiment, but it really isn’t any different than “only priesthood leaders can invite the Spirit”, is it? Women and Men both have a specific role, we are told, but I don’t think we can automatically hold one up at having more spiritual strength by virtue of gender. Our actions, our testimony, our obedience and our humility have so much more to do with whether or not we are allowed to invite the Spirit into a meeting. And please know, davidson, I’m not suggesting that you were saying that–it’s just something that occurred to me. I re-read an earlier comment I made, tongue in cheek, about why women seem to always be the first speaker in Sacrament Meeting and then I read that bit I quoted above and then had that thought.

  • nanacarol June 22, 2008, 11:08 pm

    Okay I will tell-we all had to wear panty hose!!!! If you live in Red Bluff, CA. in the summer you don’t wear panty hose. It gets way to hot here!!!!! I think it does go along with the discussion of Light and Causal. Our poor Relief Society President was sitting there no panty hose on and she was mortified. However, all the Relief Society Presidency today had no panty hose!!! We do agree that flip flops for church and temple are too causal.

  • Tinkerbell June 22, 2008, 11:37 pm

    If you have to wear pantyhose to church then I am really in trouble for wearing knee-highs to the temple!

  • davidson June 23, 2008, 8:43 am

    They sell knee-highs at the distribution centers right along with the other temple clothing.

    Appreciate your thought, Jenn. It does seem to be lop-sided even among the General Authorities. Maybe they are trying to correct a perception, but they have been very careful in recent years not only to tout the virtues of women, but to point out that women are generally BETTER at perceiving spiritual things than men. (Read President Hinckley’s One Bright and Shining Hope, or any talk about women by Jeffrey Holland.) Those are sweeping generalities, aren’t they? Surely it is true that there are men and women who are spiritual giants, and men and women who are spiritual pygmies. But they must have their reasons for saying what they say. I am one who is quick to defend men when the men-bashing starts in any meeting of sisters, and I agree that mutual respect is probably the only attitude worthy to be found in Christ’s true church.

  • facethemusic June 23, 2008, 9:03 am

    My husband was in a Bishopric and I asked him if it was Church Policy to let the men open the meeting…..he said it was church policy!!! I corrected him. But he seems to remember a letter from the First Presidency on this issue even though it does not apprear in the handbook

    And he may very well be right… it’s very possible that at one time, it WAS a policy. But I READ a document (can’t remember if it was a letter or just one of those print outs of policy updates and changes) that indicated that women could say the prayer as well. My husband who’s in a Bishpric NOW showed it to me when this discussion first came up and I asked him about it.
    I’ll see if I can nail it down.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 23, 2008, 9:56 am

    No, Tinkerbell, don’t think I know any Woodfields.

    Posted By: davidson.. and that is true of all the wards I’ve been in my whole life.

    Actually, it hasn’t. We did figure (didn’t we?) that you are a bit older than I am? And it is true that when we were kids, women didn’t pray at all.

    I just asked my husband if he were aware of any guideline about that, and he said the only guidelines he was aware of were one saying that it shouldn’t always be husband and wife that are asked to say the prayers,

    Your husband is right. The handbook says something very simple like “both men and women can pray in meetings.” But there was a letter about the couple thing. I don’t really think it meant you can’t ever do that, but just that it shouldn’t be the practice, for the reasons you stated.

    one that said when husband and wife are called upon to speak in Sacrament meeting, the sister should go first.

    Do you have a source for that? If you read back in the thread, this came up as well. I can’t recall any official statement that specifies that order for speakers.

    You are not in any way a lesser influence for good or less worthy to speak to our God.

    You are sweet. But to be sure, I’m kidding about it. Yes, it bugs the heck out of me, but I don’t REALLY feel unworthy, I’m just annoyed when people take perfectly simple policy and add their own extensions.

    Posted By: nanacarolMy husband was in a Bishopric and I asked him if it was Church Policy to let the men open the meeting. I know-it was a trick question but I wanted to get his reaction and he said it was church policy!!! I corrected him. But he seems to remember a letter from the First Presidency on this issue even though it does not apprear in the handbook.

    nanacarol, see if you can get him to read the article this whole thread is based on. See if that changes his mind. That article has been linked all over the internet and discussed on other blogs and Sustain’d, etc. People “remember” all sorts of things, but no one can produce a document. From the feedback I’ve gotten, my guestimate is that this fake policy is enforced in about 10% of wards in the US.

    As for the silly pantyhose “policy,” we got to church early yesterday (for the prayer thing) and I ended up in the foyer with a sleepy, cranky boy. As I stood there, I decided to count pantyhose. :devil: (You see, I really am a spiritual giant.) I think I was compelled by the fact that I almost always wear pantyhose (due to the blinding whiteness of my legs), but my last black pair got a run–and that’s all that matched. By the time I went back into the chapel, I had counted 60+ pairs of legs. An entire ONE had pantyhose on. That included the stake presidencies wives that I saw, RS presidency, Primary presidency, YW presidency, etc. (The ONE wasn’t in any of those groups.)

    So, unofficially about 1/60th of the women in my ward wear pantyhose. If I don’t post again, you can assume we’ve been translated to the lower kingdom.

  • nanacarol June 23, 2008, 12:06 pm

    Believe me, I sat in that meeting and I was steaming and had made up my mind the lady was not her self and I was not going to heed the counsel!!!!! I know, not being obediant but that was just a bit too personal and reeked of Hitlar!!!!! The stake president resides in our ward and I have not seen his wife with panty hose yet!!! Who knows, maybe he never told her. I can be a bit rebellious at times. Right now I am on the Bike Helmet kick. I just don’t know How we ever grew up when we did without getting killed. When I was 12 I was riding my bike to the Library . A huge collie ran out to get me, I hit him sideways, flew over my bike and broke my tail bone!!! Does that mean we all should wear pillows on our bottoms when we break them!!!! Sorry I just could not help myself!!

  • delmar June 23, 2008, 12:30 pm

    Ah nylons and flip flops. This is all too interesting for me. First of all nylons can go in the trash bin. California summers are not (is this the right word?) condusive to wearing things that melt on your body. I already feel like I’m melting whether I’m preggo or not. The other day at our house it was 108. About the flips flops….After 10 months of recovering from my broken leg and 3 surgeries, I tried yeseterday to wear heels. Um, well….hahaha. I couldn’t find the right color flip flop to match my outfit so I changed just before running out the door and slid on a pair of my cute sandal heels. Um, let me tell ya this was a horrible mistake. I haven’t walked on heels in those 10 monhts first of all, so that was interesting. I love heels but I felt darn off balance. It was nice being tall again. However the heels kicked my butt. After the 3 hour block I literally took off my shoes (after prying them off because my preggo feet are starting to swell a little) and I walked to the car in bare feet. Let me tell ya that I changed outfits and shoes before we went to a baptism last night. I was in flip flops! Maybe after the baby is born and I can practice walking in heels aain then and only then I’ll give up my flip flops. But I don’t plan on wearing nylons in the summer in Cali….EVER, and they will most likely be knee highs in the winter.

  • davidson June 23, 2008, 1:39 pm

    Hmmm, Alison, I don’t remember that women weren’t allowed to pray in meetings when we were children. Now you have me wondering. For as long as I can remember, men and women have said opening and closing prayers in Sacrament meeting. If I lied, you can chalk it up to my feeble, aging memory, but NOT mention it out loud. GRRRRR. :bigsmile:

    Just looked in my husband’s handbook, and that’s where I found the statement about not following a PATTERN of having only a husband and wife pray in Sacrament meeting; there should be no pattern. Men and women should be invited to pray. Period. The bit about the sister going first as far as speaking in a meeting isn’t anywhere to be found in the handbook, but I know my husband said that was the direction he received–maybe from our stake president? Don’t know. I’ll have to ask him.

    As far as nylons and flip flops go, maybe the best answer, if there isn’t a directive, is to kneel down and say, “Heavenly Father, I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided that wearing nylons to Church isn’t crucial to my spiritual development; is that in keeping with Thy will for me?” Or “Heavenly Father, I’ve given it some careful thought and have decided that it would be all right for me to wear flip flops to Church; is that in keeping with Thy will for me?” If we are counseled to pray over our flocks and herds, surely we can pray over our nylons and flip flops! And expect an answer! I’m sure there IS an answer, we just have to seek it and be willing to accept it. If we receive no answer, we act on our best judgment and wait, either for the seal of approval or the spirit of doubt and confusion, which can further guide our actions.

  • Ray June 23, 2008, 2:17 pm

    Again, incorrect traditions of their fathers are hard to change – which is why they often last to the 3rd or 4th generation.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 23, 2008, 3:21 pm

    Posted By: RayAgain, incorrect traditions of their fathers are hard to change – which is why they often last to the 3rd or 4th generation.

    So, just tell me how long that will be. I guess my granddaughters can say opening prayers?

  • Ray June 23, 2008, 6:31 pm

    Depends on the ward, Alison. :angry: Many of them are through it already.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 24, 2008, 10:37 am

    davidson, it is my understanding that it was first Sonia Johnson–in the 70’s–who made an “issue” of the fact that women couldn’t pray in Sacrament Meeting at all.

    Yea, but remember Ray, I’m cursed. So it will probably follow me to the bitter end.

    We’re having the survey done on the new lot today. That means we might actually start building soon. I have high hopes for the new ward.

    I do want to reiterate something, though. My bishop here is an AMAZING man. My annoyance at this issue is just annoyance at the issue and, yes, to the sometimes-pervasive gender issues in the church. But our bishop has blessed the ward and my family in particular so much. And the stake president (who is also my neighbor)–who may have directed this, as if often the case– is also someone I love and admire. I wouldn’t have missed either of them just to say an opening prayer.

  • partone June 24, 2008, 11:25 am

    I think I posted on this way back when it was new. My ward still doesn’t allow women to open here in the heart of Texas. My brother is back home in Ohio. I’ll ask him.

  • naomlette June 24, 2008, 9:18 pm

    I think that the issues about gender roles and where women and men exactly fit in and how will start to change more drastically in the church as those who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s will become the main group of leaders. At least I hope so. I think that time period changed a lot of people’s attitudes about things and hopefully it will start to reflect more in our church.

  • shanant June 24, 2008, 10:53 pm

    I think our ward might be a victim of this “tradition” too. I was called to see if my husband and I would say the opening and closing prayer. I said that would be fine as long as I could say the opening prayer.

    (I did this because I refuse to say the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting again. The last two times I have stayed seated with folded arms, bowed head, and closed eyes and waited for the prayer to start!! The second time it happened my kids and friends started laughing very loudly (I still didn’t get it, they had to poke me and tell me it was my turn!). I don’t want to be disruptive again (or embarrassed!) and I know I will forget next time too!)

    However they said that they wanted my husband to say the opening prayer and me the closing. I declined saying I would rather give a talk! So I will be watching to see if our ward has this prayer problem too.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 24, 2008, 11:03 pm

    See, I’m not the only one who’s cursed! :wink:

    If it turns out to be true, shanant, I will wag my finger at your bishopric for giving full disclosure! :devil:

  • spande2 June 24, 2008, 11:44 pm

    I know I’ve said the opening prayer in SM. I remember because I groaned about having to be on time.

  • facethemusic June 24, 2008, 11:57 pm

    SPANDE!!!!! You’re back!!!! Yay!!!!! :swingin: :swingin: :swingin:
    Did you see my “Where’s spande” post on iperceive??

  • Michelle D July 3, 2008, 5:04 pm

    Partone, you said your brother is “back home in Ohio.” What area of the state? We are in SW OH.

    Welcome back, spande2!

    No comment on the thread… it’s already been well covered! :smile:

  • Ray July 3, 2008, 9:02 pm

    Fwiw, I was attending church in a ward in our stake last Sunday – the first Sunday for a brand new Bishopric. (and I mean brand new – 3 years previous experience in bishoprics for all three of them combined) The first opening prayer under their tenure was offered by a woman, with a man saying the closing prayer.

    I immediately thought of this post, then forgot to mention it until now.

  • diogenesblair July 8, 2008, 3:56 pm

    I can add that not only do we have the tradition of “priesthood opens sacrament” out here, but I’ve also been instructed that it had to be a Melchizidek Priesthood holder on top of that. This was the first I had heard of it, as the other units I have lived in didn’t have anything like that that I could remember. I found out about the Melchizidek rule after I had asked one of our priests to give the opening prayer.

    Of course, that didn’t stop my fellow counselor from asking his wife to give opening prayer last Sunday. A member of the district presidency was there and didn’t say anything, so we got away with it, I guess.

    I’ve also been instructed that priesthod holders should be the last speaker in sacrament. And this is from my branch president who is trying to do things by the manual instead of tradition, and has even been chastised for trying to follow the manual (paintball is not a proper activity for youths, especially at a youth conference, but he was told to leave it alone).

    I’ve been taught that after the presider speaks, no else should (meaning that when I conduct I need to make sure I do the ending announcements before the presider speaks). I can understand the reasoning behind that one, though it does make conducting a little tricky on occasion.

    As much as possible we try to stay with the manual, but there are a lot of old traditions out here that die hard. We felt like rebels almost when we changed out the RS Presidency and called a single sister as the president. We had been inspired to do so, and no matter how much we discussed other possibilities, it always came back to this same sister. We felt comfortable with it after praying, but we still ended up running it by the district president “just to be sure.”

    Hopefully when the new edition of the handbook comes out “soon”, it’ll cllarify some of these issues, especially since we’re being told that we need to read the new manuals cover to cover and study them because of the amount of changes.

  • Ray July 8, 2008, 4:08 pm

    “ending announcements” – I haven’t heard ending announcements in years.

    That same new bishopric I mentioned in my last comment? Next week a couple is speaking in Sac. Mtg. The concluding speaker will be the wife.

  • Tinkerbell July 8, 2008, 5:12 pm

    Wow, a woman being the concluding speaker? That NEVER happens in my ward. I need to talk to my husband . . .

  • Lewis_Family July 8, 2008, 5:15 pm

    Went to a PG ward this last week, opened with a sister ended with a brother. Good times :smile:

  • jennycherie July 8, 2008, 5:46 pm

    Posted By: Lewis_FamilyWent to a PG ward

    OKAY, this is clearly an abbreviation for a town but which one? I see PG and I think it’s a movie rating or an abbreviation for pregnant. . .

  • Lewis_Family July 8, 2008, 6:00 pm

    lol, sorry, Pleasant Grove, Utah ward :smile:

  • Ray July 8, 2008, 7:19 pm

    A PG ward is one where couples don’t kiss 41 times during Sac. Mtg.

    Adventures in Arizona

    (I am the unofficial shill for this thread. I probably have posted it here already, but I just can’t read it too much. Funniest. thread. ever.)

  • Lewis_Family July 8, 2008, 7:35 pm

    Posted By: RayA PG ward is one where couples don’t kiss 41 times during Sac. Mtg.

    Adventures in Arizona

    (I am the unofficial shill for this thread. I probably have posted it here already, but I just can’t read it too much. Funniest. thread. ever.)

    shill?

    And yes, it was quite enjoyable.

  • jennycherie July 8, 2008, 8:20 pm

    Posted By: RayFunniest. thread. ever.)

    I agree–I loved that one.

    Posted By: RayA PG ward is one where couples don’t kiss 41 times during Sac. Mtg

    :rolling:

  • Alison Moore Smith July 8, 2008, 10:07 pm

    Welcome to you diogenesblair!

    Posted By: diogenesblairbut I’ve also been instructed that it had to be a Melchizidek Priesthood holder on top of that.

    Well, I guess it should make me feel better not to be outranked by a deacon.

    I found out about the Melchizidek rule after I had asked one of our priests to give the opening prayer.

    Rather than “rule” I like to call it “false doctrine.”

    I’ve also been instructed that priesthod holders should be the last speaker in sacrament. And this is from my branch president who is trying to do things by the manual instead of tradition,

    So, where in the manual is this?

    paintball is not a proper activity for youths, especially at a youth conference, but he was told to leave it alone)

    And where is THAT in the manual?

    We felt like rebels almost when we changed out the RS Presidency and called a single sister as the president.

    Didn’t Sister Dew’s calling pretty much bring that tradition out of the dark ages?

    Hopefully when the new edition of the handbook comes out “soon”, it’ll cllarify some of these issues, especially since we’re being told that we need to read the new manuals cover to cover and study them because of the amount of changes.

    I’m salivating.

  • kiar July 8, 2008, 11:17 pm

    oh. my. gosh. Ray thank you for making every bad mood I have had for the past few days fly away! I look forward to tomorrow, when I can share these with my DH!

  • tspack July 9, 2008, 7:21 am

    I’m so glad my ward doesn’t do the whole thing of a certain type of person must be the last speaker or say the opening prayer or closing prayer. It’s all open to whomever. Our bishopric even asks teenagers (of either sex) to say the opening and closing prayers in sacrament meeting.

    When a husband and wife speak, it tends to be the wife who goes first. I wasn’t sure if that was just tradition or a rule in my ward. Since I do the sacrament meeting program, I get informed who the speakers. Sometimes I’m told the order, but sometimes not. Thus, one time when I was told just that the “Smith’s” were speaking, I made Bro Smith first and Sis Smith last to see what would happen, whether the person conducting would switch them or let it go. He let it go and there was absolutely no response from anyone indicating it was odd. Unfortunately, the couple had actually planned their talks so that the second one built on the first one, and they’d assumed Sis Smith would be first. I kinda screwed them up. Oh well.

    I love my current ward. I hope the ward I’m moving into in a couple weeks will be like this and not have these non-rule rules.

  • facethemusic July 9, 2008, 7:29 am

    Oh my, Ray!! That link was a RIOT!!! I think the comments were even better than the article!!
    What a crack up!!!

  • Michelle D July 11, 2008, 4:10 pm

    This link is the one that brought me into the world of blogging. Ray shared it with me, and then I had to go back to check for updates… Then I started reading the blog it was on, and that led to other blogs, including MM. Then I started my own blog, and here we are!

    Lewis, I knew what you meant by PG but that’s because I grew up in Orem! That really would throw someone unfamiliar with the abbreviations for a loop, huh?!!

  • TheWallruss August 12, 2008, 1:26 am

    I grew up on the “Other Side of the Mountain”. In Tooele County, about 40 minutes west of Salt Lake City. I am in my mid 50’s now and I have never heard of women not being able to give the invocation at sacrament meeting or any other meaning. I remember my mother and my pals mothers giving the opening prayer many times.

    However when I was working and living in California I attended a ward that would not let Aaronic Priesthood holders administer to the sacrament unless they were wearing a white shirt and tie. Some of these poor kids only had “school clothes”, and what ever they were wearing to church was the best they had. Well I took it up with the local bishop and was quickly put down. So knowing personally many of the GA’s I put a call into one and let him know what was going on. About two week later the policy was abruptly changed, and I got a letter thanking me for bringing this to his attention. There were a lot of very well of members of this ward. There were many not so well off members also. Seems the bishop was one of the well off.

    Wally

  • Alison Moore Smith August 12, 2008, 2:25 am

    Hi Wally, and welcome.

    Have you been a lifelong member? If so, then you must not have been paying attention!

    The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have determined that there is no scriptural prohibition against sisters offering prayers in sacrament meetings. It was therefore decided that it is permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend, including sacrament meetings, Sunday School meetings, and stake conferences. Relief Society visiting teachers may offer prayers in homes that they enter in fulfilling visiting teaching assignments.

    Thats from Marvin K. Gardner, News of the Church, ? Ensign, Nov. 1978, 100. That would have put you in your mid-20’s when the original declaration was rescinded, right? It was in officially force from 1967 until 1978. :smile:

  • delmar August 12, 2008, 10:07 am

    Alison…just wanted to comment that the last 2 weeks women have opened our sacrament mtg and men have closed. i honestly only think i notice because of this thread.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 12, 2008, 10:16 am

    Woo hoo!

    We’re moving this week. We’ll visit the AF ward for a couple of weeks (to get to know the neighbors), then see if the bishop in Lindon will let us attend the new ward while we build. I’m curious to see what the new wards will be like.

  • mormonmom August 16, 2008, 7:19 pm

    I just read the main article for this thread and found it quite interesting. I asked my hubby about this, and he, like other husbands mentioned, said he thought he had heard there was a document long ago from Church headquarters saying that only men could offer the opening prayer in sacrament. So, I just printed out the article for him to read and even printed out the portion of the article from the Ensign that had been referred to above.

    The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have determined that there is no scriptural prohibition against sisters offering prayers in sacrament meetings. It was therefore decided that it is permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend, including sacrament meetings, Sunday School meetings, and stake conferences. Relief Society visiting teachers may offer prayers in homes that they enter in fulfilling visiting teaching assignments.

    Thats from Marvin K. Gardner, News of the Church, ? Ensign, Nov. 1978, 100. That would have put you in your mid-20’s when the original declaration was rescinded, right? It was in officially force from 1967 until 1978.:smile:

    I also sent all this info to our friend who is a Bishop in our stake. I know our ward does not allow women to give the opening prayer and I’m not sure about the other wards here. This ought to be interesting indeed. I’ll let you know what happens! =-)

    BTW, I absolutely LOVE reading answers to questions I have always had! What makes it even better, is when you give the actual articles from church officials to back it up!! COOL!! :shades:

  • Alison Moore Smith August 18, 2008, 7:52 pm

    mormonmom, be sure to update us.

    I went to a new ward Sunday, but missed the opening prayer and there was no program. Caleb hid his dress shirt and sweater in a storage bin and since it was the only Sunday outift we have moved to the new house…

  • Sharilee10 August 23, 2008, 1:25 am

    This is so funny that this thread has been going now for over a year!! Maybe the topic will be addressed in the upcoming General Conference (which ALL current bishopric members and anyone who may be called to serve in a bishopric in the coming year or so should be listening to, right!?!) and put to rest for good!

    BTW- women say the closing prayer in our ward all the time.

  • nanacarol August 23, 2008, 4:30 pm

    Here is a new one for you. Our stake won’t allow the sacrament to be taken out to the hall. If you aren’t in the chapel for the sacrament—too bad. Why do we have to be so ridged. A mom with a very cranky baby brought this matter up.

  • marathonermom August 23, 2008, 4:37 pm

    My first stake in Colorado did that. I had a really hard time with it. I think I understood the rationale: we don’t want to diminish the importance of the sacrament by administering it to people just hanging out and chit-chatting in the foyer. But I felt like it put me in a bad situation when I had a cranky child. I could either stay in the chapel with the screamer and possibly ruin the spirit for others, or I could leave the meeting and not partake of the sacrament myself. I did NOT like that policy!

  • Lewis_Family August 23, 2008, 11:20 pm

    Posted By: nanacarolHere is a new one for you. Our stake won’t allow the sacrament to be taken out to the hall. If you aren’t in the chapel for the sacrament—too bad. Why do we have to be so ridged. A mom with a very cranky baby brought this matter up.

    I mentioned this like back on page one I think? But yes, our ward/stake? is the same way.

  • Lewis_Family August 23, 2008, 11:41 pm

    Ok, I reread the entire post ( oh glory :smile: ) but it wasn’t in this thread that I posted about the fact that they wouldn’t pass to they foyer, I apologize for my mistake.

  • delmar August 24, 2008, 1:46 pm

    Again today….in our new ward. A woman opened & a man closed.

  • Sharilee10 August 24, 2008, 6:06 pm

    In our ward almost EVERY week a man opens and a woman closes. Happened again today and, thinking of this thread I went back through the bulletins I still have in my bag (6 of them) and it’s been that way every time.

  • Lewis_Family August 24, 2008, 6:37 pm

    Posted By: Sharilee10In our ward almost EVERY week a man opens and a woman closes. Happened again today and, thinking of this thread I went back through the bulletins I still have in my bag (6 of them) and it’s been that way every time.

    Must be policy there… :devil:

  • Sharilee10 August 24, 2008, 7:07 pm

    LOLOL

  • Alison Moore Smith September 14, 2008, 8:10 pm

    Just to update you. Today we attended our new ward. We got permission from the bishop to attend the ward where we are building our house, even though we aren’t done building yet.

    As the meeting opened I looked at the program–where the invocation was to be given by SISTER _______. Had I not been in a room of strangers, I would have thrown myself prone in the aisle and praised heaven.

    And it just got better from there. :bigsmile:

  • davidson September 15, 2008, 8:26 am

    So glad, Alison! Yippee!

  • agardner September 15, 2008, 9:19 am

    Alison, I would love to see the reaction of your new neighbors when you throw yourself in the aisle and praise heaven! What a way to make an impression, I think you should try it next week!

    So glad to hear that your first visit to your new ward was a positive!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 15, 2008, 12:00 pm

    I’ll have to think about how early on I’m wiling to alienate the people who have to worship with me for the rest of my natural life. I’ll let you know what I decide. :devil:

    I could probably nauseate you all by gushing about the people in this ward. I only know ONE of them–the woman who was my stand partner and tour roommate in Orem High’s orchestra my sophomore year (when the school split, I went to the new school, we toured together our junior year and then were concert master’s at our respective schools our senior years)–and she is one of my favorite people in the world. Had lost contact with her after high school, but have always really admired her deeply. But I can honestly say that I have never attended a more friendly ward anywhere. Almost overwhelming in their welcoming and acceptance of a stranger. The whole block of meetings just seemed “bright” to me. Don’t know how else to explain it.

  • taturner September 19, 2008, 12:45 am

    I just prayed in my ward last week. I’m glad to know that at least we don’t have a problem there. But I have tried moving the piano or the podium in the primary room (or RS room) from one side to the other, or set up the chairs differently, and people usually freak out. In one ward I attended, the piano fit the room set-up much better on the opposite side from where it was. So I moved it. The next week it was back in its original position. I did this week after week, and week after week some person moved it back. They probably thought it was doctrine that the piano be on the south side of the room or something.

  • Lewis_Family September 19, 2008, 9:42 am

    Posted By: taturner They probably thought it was doctrine that the piano be on the south side of the room or something.

    Hilarious!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 19, 2008, 10:05 am

    taturner, welcome!

    I’m guessing from your post that you live in…ahem…”the mission field”? Where there is only one ward in a building? Otherwise I’d just assume that those using the room from other wards just had a different preference.

    OTOH, I’ll have to check the handbook on “piano placement.” :wink:

  • agardner September 19, 2008, 11:50 am

    As a pianist, I believe the correct piano doctrine is that the piano should be to the right and slightly behind where the chorister stands. I think that’s in the handbook, for sure. :bigsmile:

  • taturner September 19, 2008, 1:35 pm

    At the time of the piano moving issue, we lived in Provo, UT, of all places. I think that is not surprising, actually, since piano and podium doctrine is really deeply ingrained in the minds of those residents at a very young age. I’m sure that the piano had not been moved for decades. Maybe it wasn’t just doctrine. Maybe it was so important that the piano stay in that very place that it was in because it was the actual center of the universe. How do I alert modern science of my discovery?

  • Alison Moore Smith September 19, 2008, 3:54 pm

    I think a peer-reviewed journal article is in order taturner.

  • Ray September 19, 2008, 4:01 pm

    taturner, Just our of curiosity:

    Is your name Tina?

  • Lewis_Family September 19, 2008, 9:06 pm

    Posted By: Raytaturner, Just our of curiosity:

    Is your name Tina?

    Where is that cyber smack option?

  • Ray September 20, 2008, 1:17 pm

    :fierce: (That might be the best option.) :angry: (or that one)

    :bigsmile:

  • nanacarol September 22, 2008, 4:55 pm

    Alsion-just a quick question-I have always pondered this question-just what are the boundaries of the mission field?

  • Alison Moore Smith September 22, 2008, 5:18 pm

    I say it’s anywhere you don’t have released-time seminary. :devil:

  • Alison Moore Smith September 22, 2008, 5:21 pm

    In case you want to know, that came from an experience a few years back. We were visiting my brother-in-law, Ned and his wife, KJ, in a suburb of Portland. KJ had raved and raved about how glad she was to be away from Utah and in the “mission field.” One evening Sam and I left with them to go out to dinner. She pointed out two other families in her culdesac who were LDS and a bunch more as we drove just a short distance. As we passed the school, she pointed out the seminary building. My response?

    “What the heck, KJ! You DO live in Utah!”

  • mormonmom September 23, 2008, 6:44 am

    Allison, so glad to hear that your new ward seems so great! YEA!!

    Update, if you can consider it that: Tradition is tradition here, and only men will be opening sacrament meeting until further instructed or new bishoprics with “new” traditions come in. They just figure I want to argue another point of trivial matters. Whatever… (I’m not one who is noted for being one of the quiet sweet sisters in the ward.) :confused:

    Now about the piano doctrine, we have the exact same issue here! And, of course, we are in the “mission field”, to boot! :shocked: I am so sick of looking at the back of the piano! It is soooooooooo ugly! I have turned that thing around probably 20 times, and each time I do, it magically turns itself back again!! Hmmmm…Miracle?? Nah…Obstinance.

    BUT, they did finally move it to the other side of the room! Only because our roof leaks directly on the piano! haha…We were sitting in RS just about to start a lesson when, trickle trickle…Water just began to slowly pour from the roof onto the piano and the first row of chairs! After two weeks of this, they finally fixed it. NOT. It still leaks enough to get the ceiling tiles wet, but not drip through. And oh yes, the ceiling looks so very pretty now too – Instead of
    REPLACING the tiles, they patched them. Yeah…Ugh… :neutral:

  • jennycherie September 23, 2008, 7:07 am

    Posted By: mormonmomI am so sick of looking at the back of the piano!

    molly – are you talking about looking at it when you are sitting in the “audience” of the room? If you turn it the other way, how will the pianist see the chorister?

  • Alison Moore Smith September 23, 2008, 1:13 pm

    Pretty easy. The chorister can just stand back in the pianist’s peripheral vision. That said, the SOUND comes out the back better, so it’s not that crazy, even if it’s ugly. Still, who puts an upright piano in their house facing outward like that?

    Mormonmom, you have my permission to print out the article and send it to your bishop. At least he’ll see that you aren’t the only woman on the planet who gets really annoyed at having MORE things put off limits.

  • mormonmom October 30, 2008, 6:41 pm

    Update: A new ward was formed at our Stake Conference and I’m in the new ward! WOOHOO!!! My husband is in the bishopric. And guess what?? On the very first Sunday, they had a SISTER GIVE THE OPENING PRAYER!! I about fell out of my pew!
    My hubby said that in bishopric meeting, they decided who to ask to give the prayers. It was a man for opening and a woman for closing. My hubby asked “Is there a reason a woman can’t give the opening prayer?”

    The bishop said, “No, not at all. Let’s swap them around.”

    My hubby then said, “I know my wife will be VERY happy when she hears this over the podium on Sunday. You’ll make a friend for life.” hahaha…

    Let me tell you something, that prayer was the first prayer in our new ward and it was absolutely one of the most wonderful prayers I have ever heard. Everyone was talking about her prayer after sacrament! The whole thing was GREAT!!

  • kiar October 30, 2008, 6:44 pm

    Yeah! good on ya! that is cool. Its kinda funny, but most of our speakers lately have been female. I don’t know if we have just run out of men to give talks, but heck, the talks have been fantastic, and spiritual to boot!

  • agardner October 30, 2008, 7:08 pm

    I forgot, I was going to post a couple of weeks ago. My husband was conducting, and you could tell that they had forgotten to get the prayers, because he looked at me and said, “Sister Gardner will give the opening prayer”…so I did. Not great planning on his part (actually the exec sec gets the prayers in our ward but I guess he wasn’t there that day), but noone flinched that I could tell.

    Anyway, we quite frequently have women give the opening prayer. It’s one of the few things that my ward does well.

  • davidson October 31, 2008, 8:10 am

    I wondered when this thread would pop up again. Two weeks ago we had a brother and his wife speak in Sacrament meeting. He was the second speaker, and he stood up and said how he thought it was so unfair that the women always spoke first and were allowed to “waste” five minutes of their assigned talk time introducing their family and telling a little about them. So he wasted five minutes chatting about drivel, then gave a good talk for the remaining ten minutes. I thought of this thread and giggled. :bigsmile:

  • angcarrig October 31, 2008, 8:33 am

    I have never heard of this. Wow.

    Weird.

  • Lewis_Family October 31, 2008, 9:15 am

    Posted By: davidson. He was the second speaker, and he stood up and said how he thought it was so unfair that the women always spoke first and were allowed to “waste” five minutes of their assigned talk time introducing their family and telling a little about them. :bigsmile:

    You better believe if my hubby whined like that, in such a public place, he would have a week reservation at le couch :wink:

  • Alison Moore Smith October 31, 2008, 10:30 am

    I refuse to give the obligatory “let me introduce our family” thing. Mostly just because I think it makes it sound like the women have nothing relevant and doctrinal to say.

  • spande2 October 31, 2008, 7:50 pm

    SPANDE!!!!! You’re back!!!! Yay!!!!!
    Did you see my “Where’s spande” post on iperceive??

    Thanks, face. I didn’t see this until just now. No I didn’t see your note on iperceive. Did anyone tell you? Over there I’m “fairydogmother”. (It comes from when the dog of a family I lived with had puppies and I helped the mama dog take care of them.) :)

  • davidson November 1, 2008, 8:54 am

    HA! I agree with you, Lewis! I’m sure this young brother hoped to be “entertaining”, but really, it was kind of uncomfortable and such a waste of important time.

    You know, I actually think the family introductions are vital. I wouldn’t mind seeing the brethren take that opportunity occasionally though. In a church where we baptize people one by one, and endow them one by one, and love them one by one, it doesn’t seem to me to be inappropriate or a waste of sacred time to come to know them one by one. We have three new housing developments in our ward, and new people come to church in droves every week. An introduction in Sacrament meeting seems to be the fastest way to well-acquaint the most people at one time. Caring about other people–isn’t that at the heart of the gospel? A basic doctrine? (The word “doctrine” simply means “a teaching”, and loving other people was a very basic teaching of the Savior’s.) Isn’t that deeper than policies and programs and procedures? To my way of thinking, a Savior who said, “If ye are not one, ye are not mine” would surely approve of the effort to unify a congregation of Saints by making a brief introduction of families regularly.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 1, 2008, 10:59 am

    davidson, did you think someone said the introductions were inappropriate?

  • Michelle D November 1, 2008, 7:46 pm

    I could see how Davidson might think so…

  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2008, 1:34 am

    If you think it was me, let me clarify. I hate giving the “Here’s the Smith Family!” portion (and don’t do it) because I think the assumption that the woman will do it makes it look like I (and other women) don’t have enough doctrinally relevant gospel knowledge to fill an entire talk. If Sam thinks we need it, he’s welcome to do it. And I like listening to other people do it…well, most of the time.

    The first time we spoke in our last ward was after we’d lived there for five years–when we put the house on the market. Two funny things happened (1) Sam gave the intro even though, by that time, we were some of the “old-timers” in the growing area–too funny–and (2) all the bishopric members came up to say something like, “Wow, you’re a great speaker.” And I’m thinking–well, I AM a speaker. That’s what I do! :surprised:

    To me it would be like listening to a medical class from Dr. Jones and going up after and saying, “Wow! You’re good at medical stuff!”

  • nanacarol November 2, 2008, 7:28 pm

    About three weeks ago my husband was called to be the exective secretary and now he has the privledge of getting the prayers for Sacrament Meeting. Because I let him know what we speak about here at times he knew of our discussion on who should give the prayer first. So today he asked the question- and the answer is—–Because the Priesthood Presides over Sacrament Meeting, it is the Priesthood who should open the meeting. Go figure!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2008, 8:20 pm

    :fierce:

  • Ray November 2, 2008, 8:31 pm

    *Sigh*

  • Ray November 2, 2008, 8:31 pm

    Nanacarol, just out of curiosity:

    How old is the Bishopric in your ward – and have they served before in Bishoprics?

  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2008, 8:35 pm

    Of course, that means woman can’t open Sunday School either. Or combined meetings. Or any stake meeting. And boys can’t open Primary.

    Come to think of it, women can’t even open the General Relief Society Meeting, because the 1st presidency presides there. Someone better write a letter.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 2, 2008, 8:35 pm

    But nanacarol, at least you’ve given me a new excuse to add to the list!

  • Ray November 2, 2008, 8:45 pm

    Well said, Alison. Very well said.

  • nanacarol November 3, 2008, 4:37 pm

    Ray it is a new bishopric and yes two have been couselors before. Hubby says that recently a letter was read from a area authority on this matter but it comes from our Stake President too. So I tried to say, why is there so much diversity in the church on this matter and his answer to me was-why does it matter who prays first-will this keep us from the eternities and why have we got our panties in a wad over this!!!!! Typical dh response!!! He thinks we have more important things to worry about!!!

  • Lewis_Family November 3, 2008, 5:28 pm

    Have him read this thread, it will explain why it is important. If it just happened then it wouldn’t matter but when it happens in the name of God, when it’s not, it becomes important. What could be more important than addressing people who are practicing and preaching false doctrine?

  • Alison Moore Smith November 3, 2008, 8:40 pm

    Amen, Lewis. nanacarol, ask him to produce the letter. There may be a new one I’m not aware of, but I’ve been hearing about the phantom letter for over a decade and no one can seem to find it.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 3, 2008, 8:43 pm

    And I’d like to ask why men get their jocks in a wad over who says the prayer. Seriously, who’s got the issue? The women who want the handbook followed, or the men who make up authoritative letters?

    It’s beyond belief to have someone who has CREATED the issue responding that someone ELSE has the problem. If it DOESN’T MATTER, then why are they making restrictions??!!!

  • nanacarol November 4, 2008, 7:35 am

    Amen Alison!!!!! My husband will be asked to read this later today. I want him to respond!!!!

  • ChanJo November 8, 2008, 4:41 pm

    nana did your husband ever read this? I’m so tired of this stuff I just want to shove some guy in the face. Does God really think of us like these men do?

  • Alison Moore Smith November 8, 2008, 8:54 pm

    nanacarol, I’d love to discuss this with your husband. Has he had a chance to read it yet?

    After reading your post, nanacarol, I went on the church live chat thing on mormon.org. I asked the guy if there was a new directive or policy that superseded the handbook. He didn’t know of one and said he didn’t think it was policy. To be fair, I think he was a missionary, not some authoritative voice from on high.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 6, 2008, 5:58 pm

    nanacarol, did you husband ever read this? I’d still like his take on it.

    Seriously–for all the put-downs and dismissals we get over this issue–can you even IMAGINE what would happen if a Primary president declared that boys could not say the opening prayer in Primary because the meeting is presided over by a woman?

    OK, it’s time for “the rest of the story.”

    I told you all that the first week we attended our new ward, the program said the prayer would be given by a “Sister _____.” That was what the written program said. But a women didn’t actually give the prayer that day, a man did. I had assumed it was because she got sick or hadn’t come on time or something and so they got someone to fill in. I assumed the program reflected the intent of the bishopric and just gave them the benefit of the doubt.

    Well, we’ve been attending the ward for three months now and no woman has opened with prayer. And no more on the program. I’m not sure how much longer I can hope it’s just coincidence. It looks as though whoever did the program (or extended the prayer invites) was “corrected” by replacing the woman with a man.

    I’m afraid the curse has followed me after all. :cry:

  • facethemusic December 6, 2008, 7:30 pm

    I know this is off-topic– but since it got discussed a little earlier in the thread (and I JUST got caught up with this one) I thought I’d throw this out for info’s sake, regarding the “piano” issue.
    The “proper” position for a piano in a “public” setting, is the same way it’s situated in a concert setting- which happens to be the way it’s set up in all the chapels as well. It should be set up so that the pianist is looking at the chorister’s profile, and the congregation is seeing the pianist’s profile, and the SIDE of the piano. Not the back, not the front.
    The piano should also never be against an outside wall. (This could be another reason why someone kept moving the piano, as per Taturner’s post.)
    The problem in the church buildings, is that sometimes, the way the classrooms are set up, (where the builders put “the front of the room”, the chalkboards, etc), it’s sometimes impossible to have the piano in a good position.
    Just thought I’d be a “know it all” at throw that out there. :tooth:

  • Alison Moore Smith December 7, 2008, 9:50 am

    That means that the chorister should stand on the side OPPOSITE the instrument being played.

  • facethemusic December 7, 2008, 12:32 pm

    yup!

  • Alison Moore Smith December 7, 2008, 4:43 pm

    Today we attended the Rosepark 6th Ward in Salt Lake. (My brother and his wife were blessing their darling little baby.) The opening prayer was given by ?a woman.

  • delmar December 7, 2008, 7:41 pm

    ooh Alison. I haven’t responded to this in a while. Hello….letters from area dudes (love my terminology today?) don’t specifically mean its something passed from on high….aka SLC. I heard that a specific stake dude in a Utah Stake wrote a letter to all his Bishops which asked them to address all the women. This letter asked the women to no longer wear denim, nylons or pantyhose are a must wear and flip flops are a no=no. Is that an issue passed from on “high”? I think not…..but the priesthood actually addressed the issue and talked to the women about it and act like its a church wide policy.

    Just to make you like me more….my ward seems to have the exact opposite counsel when it comes to prayers. Women open sacrament and men close…..about 90% of the time. I think since we’ve lived here a man has opened 3-4 times in 6 months. In sunday school it varies.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 7, 2008, 7:54 pm

    Like you more???? delmar, I love you all!

    Yea, I know that local policy isn’t church-wide. But in every instance I’ve encountered those making the local counsel claim that it’s general counsel. Look at what your father-in-law said?

    But you bring up a related issue that Sam and I were discussing yesterday. Local leaders do make local decisions. I hope we all agree that making local decisions should never be presented as being a general policy issue (passing the buck, maybe?), but just how much outside of non-general policy should local leaders stray–even when they appropriately label their decisions as local?

    An example:

    I have heard of multiple stake presidents/bishops who “outlawed” sleepovers. (When I moved to my Eagle Mountain ward I was told that a past SP had made such a declaration in that area. Just last week a women whose children are in my kids’ choir said that her SP had done the same.)

    What do you think of such local policies? I see two problems:

    (1) They seem too intrusive upon parental stewardship when applied to non-church activities.

    (2) The application has always been applied selectively when it came to CHURCH activities.

    In the latter case, such wards generally disallow any overnight activities for girls–outside of YW camp–and yet I have never once heard of such a rule being applied to the MONTHLY scouting sleepovers.

  • delmar December 7, 2008, 7:57 pm

    my father in law? huh???
    did i say anything about my fil??? i must go re-read.

  • Lewis_Family December 7, 2008, 8:39 pm

    I think she was referring to nanacarol’s hubby, who is somehow related to you.

  • delmar December 7, 2008, 10:05 pm

    oops no. we are easily confused, but nanacarol is kiars mommy in law. although i’ll claim them as nana & papa and my youngest highly prefers nanas blanket to sleep with at night they actually belong to kiar.

  • nanacarol December 7, 2008, 10:32 pm

    Alison-I mentioned it to my husband and he will not get involved. He thinks we are not obeying and sustaining our leaders!!! You really don’t want him to reply!!!! I will say no more. I think though, Alison, you are onto something which brings up an interesting point. Even though a local leader like a stake president decrees something like no sleepovers, or no jello at ward potlucks, aren’t we to obey him because he is the sustained leader.
    I know that personally I have had this come up in my life many times and at one point I became so uptight that I knew I was on the way to becoming very inactive because of my disenchantment with authority. So now I am very watchful how far I will go on certain subjects and things like this. But I think I said this before, and I think this is a common problem in the church, some leaders overdo their authority and some things like who says prayer in sacrament meeting has been a myth.
    Just this very evening we had a very interesting conversation with our sil. You all know he is from El Salvador and the way of doing things there is very different from up here. He does not get our laid back attitudes in some areas. He is in the High Priest group leadership so he has attented meetings. He would love to see a choir here. Turned down. He wanted a Talent Show, turned down. And the main reason, people “don’t have time”! They don’t want to burden the people. December is just too busy of a month to put any effort into making the Christmas dinner fun and exciting. I fought this last year with our Activities chairman. Same person who is now the High Priest Group Leader and in charge of again this year of the Christmas dinner. He did not want the tables decorated. Too much trouble. He forgot who decorated last year and make a not so nice remark about the job. I said thank you very much I was in charge of making sure the place looked nice!!! To me it is telling the Ward we care what we do when we have activities. Our ward hardly put any effort into anything!!! I am so enviouse of delmar’s and kiar’s last Ward. They were always doing something. The other Ward that meets in our building is always doing things that are nice and wonderful. So why are we so dull and do I finally speak up and say something to the Bishop how I feel. After the conversation with our sil and daughter tonight, I sure want too. Already Marvin is very discouraged about this Ward.
    I think I got off topic but yet, what do we do with our Leadership at times??

  • Alison Moore Smith December 7, 2008, 10:54 pm

    Wait, delmar, aren’t you three all related somehow??? Lewis, I’m glad it’s not just me. I thought all three were related!

    nanacarol, I’m sorry your husband won’t get involved. I DO want him to post, but I’ll accept his decision (not that I have any choice!). I would like him to post because, frankly, I think leaders DO need to address issues straight on.

    You bring up many good points. Truth is, I almost never, ever, ever complain to a church leader. I’ve been one. I know how hard it is to please anyone at all, let alone EVERYone. I try to do what I’m asked, to be dependable, and to be supportive. Honestly, this forum is one place I feel I can actually speak openly about my concerns about church, community, life. (Sam hears way more than I’d ever post about anything.) This is one issue that has come up repeatedly in my life. You’ll note that *I* never did bring it up to our bishop. My friend, Kelly, brought it up in Boca and I asked Sam. He happened to be a in a position at that time that he could ask further.

    In the next ward (where Molly still lives in Orem) my dad asked the SP (who is a long-time family friend (his mom was my most adored YW advisory)) who declared it absolute church policy. I said nothing to anyone. In the next ward in Eagle Mountain, Sam once asked the bishop about it. (I think I wrote this earlier?) The bishop said he had no problem with women giving the prayers, but it only happened those two times I wrote about. In six years. Someone had a problem with it. (I asked a friend in the RS presidency about it and she said she was told it was “part of the unwritten order of things.”) I didn’t bring it up with anyone else in all that time. In this ward in Lindon, I haven’t brought it up with anyone either.

    I explain all that to be clear that I’m not running about each ward screaming about this or any other issue. I’m just really bothered by it–and more the more I see it perpetuated. Because fundamentally I think it’s wrong to misrepresent policy and terribly problematic to create policies that are exclusive or divisive. I can see where the latter might very rarely be necessary, but as yet I’ve only seen this justified by claiming it to be a policy issue–which is simply untrue.

    I’m not sure when discontent becomes lack of support for leaders. It’s an issue I have long struggled with. But I’m not convinced that we are required to support leaders in the instances in which they misrepresent policy. I also think it’s fair to say that when someone fabricates a position and CLAIMS it is general policy–that THAT behavior is not supportive of leadership either.

  • delmar December 8, 2008, 12:21 am

    just to clarify, not all 3 of us aren’t related. kiar and i were in the same ward a year ago. she and i are as close to best friends are you can be, even though we’ve only known each other for 2 years. shes like a sister to me. kiars hubby is nanacarols son. they happen to be visiting us right this very moment and 5 of 7 children are all sleep-overing in one room….and probably making way too much noise.

  • delmar December 8, 2008, 12:25 am

    oh and totally off subject. nana- our christmas dinner in our new ward was saturday. it was pretty. decorations were planned by me. not my calling, but i was asked to help. we had an ample budget. food was good. we were not allowed to hang christmas lights as we’ve been told that “lights cannot be lit” anymore in the culture hall or on the christmas trees in the foyers. bah humbug! but our creche display has about 1 million little white lights!!! anyways, in this ward we had no program or skits. we sang a few christmas songs and had santa. i liked having people sign up to sing and do christmas skits, have primary sing a song, etc. however it was pretty, which was awesome.

  • agardner December 8, 2008, 8:53 am

    Tracy, thanks for posting the correct piano placement. In every building I’ve been in, the chapel piano has been placed generally correctly. In our current building though, it’s on an angle enough that the pianist is pretty much looking at the wall. It’s hard to see the choir director – you really have to crank your neck. I know this from experience. I would move it but it’s on a little riser that’s exactly the size and shape of the piano. If you moved it into the correct position, on leg would fall. I wonder if I could get a little addition to the riser built right there. Hmmm…it works okay for piano solos/duets, but for pieces where you need to watch a director it is really tough.

    Organs are another story. I’ve seen some in really weird positions, including where the organist faces the wall (with a mirror to see the conductor).

    The primary piano never seems to be in a good place. I think you’re right, the way they construct these rooms does not lend itself to good piano placement.

    Okay, now back to the topic. I kind of struggle with local vs. general priesthood direction myself. On the one hand, I’ve seen some really inspired and timely local direction that might not have been something the whole church needed but that was exactly right for the area. On the other hand, it can become WAY out of control (like the prayer thing). Another example is when I was primary president a few years ago. I believe it was Elder Bateman who sent out something to the Utah area about men serving in Primary – I think the first counsel was to not have men teach alone. Our bishop decided that if men couldn’t teach alone, they couldn’t teach at all. He didn’t even want men in cub scouts. Sad. I really think primary kids need to see men in there serving. There are ways to protect children without banning the gender altogether. But that’s an example where local counsel became even more local and (in my opinion) overboard.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 8, 2008, 2:47 pm

    Angie, you summed up my feelings on the matter very well. I guess that’s going to be inherent in the system we have, so perhaps the overall lesson is that whenever any of us are leaders, we take extreme care and prayer at what kind of local policy statements we decide to impose on others. Not to be sexist :smile:, but that has got to be particularly essential for men, since they have by far the most authority in the church.

    In my last ward we did have a few men in Primary, I think there were four couples who taught together? No doubled up men. We did, for a time, have both a male pianist (former EQP) and chorister (former SP). I loved that male music leader example. The pianist wasn’t there long, but the chorister was still there when we moved–after more than two years.

    A couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone in our new ward bishopric. We were talking about callings, etc., and said (in response to something he said) that there tends to be an assumption that women will get the Primary jobs. He said, “Well, that’s because men can’t do them anymore.” I only said, “Actually ?” when he said, “Oh, yea. Well, men CAN do it, but you have to have two of them.” So, that dictate not to have men alone seems to have spread to some extent to just keeping men out of Primary most the time. It’s likely due to the fact that you can’t “afford” to have two men fill a calling that only really needs one person.

  • agardner December 8, 2008, 5:46 pm

    I love male primary music leaders, and have seen a few great ones. There is a guy in our ward right now who I think would be fantastic. When his son gave a talk one day, he sang every song and had a gorgeous voice and knew every word. Unfortunately, he is in the military and is out of town for extended amounts of time, then home a few weeks and gone again. He wouldn’t be consistent enough…but boy, someday when he retires from the military he is going to be a really great music leader.

    I was pretty sad and upset when the men in primary thing came down. As I said, our bishop interpreted it as no men in primary whatsoever. I just think there are so many other ways to protect children than banning men altogether (not to mention that abuse also happens with women). I personally think there should be safety precautions taken in all classes and then call whomever you feel inspired to call to teach the class. But I’m not primary president any more so that’s not a battle I’m fighting at the moment.

  • Amy E December 9, 2008, 11:26 am

    In our last two wards, we have had married couples teach Primary and that is nice, especially when I get to teach with my husband. However, I do recognize that it’s a luxury since we’re in Provo near BYU and have more active men available to do it than other places.

  • facethemusic December 10, 2008, 10:35 am

    In reference to “child safety” in the classes– it would just be “wise practice” to have an open-door policy. With all the problems over the past several years with abuse in the Catholic church, the Church and it’s school systems have taken a very firm and strict position on the matter and have instituted amazing training programs and policies to safegaurd the kids. No matter WHO you are or what your position, even volunteers, room mothers, Sunday School teachers, children’s choir director, sports coaches, etc– you have to go to their Protecting God’s Children training meetings where they lay out all the policies, you watch films with interviews of children and adults who were abused by clergy, and even interviews with the abusers. It’s a pretty intense training course.
    The policy for classrooms, (church and school) is that all classroom doors must remain open, UNLESS the doors have windows. And even when they DO have windows it’s still “Strongly Encouraged” for classroom doors to remain open. If you have your door shut, then they ask that the teacher always remain in the sight range of the window.
    It would just be a smart thing to do, for Primary teachers to do the same— you’ll notice that our classroom doors are solid.

  • Amy E December 10, 2008, 9:23 pm

    face, I could see that working if you had the whole building for one ward at a time, but with the amount of traffic in the halls in buildings with overlapping ward schedules might be too distracting for everyone, I think.

  • agardner December 11, 2008, 10:46 am

    Since I’m the one who threadjacked this into the men in primary thing, I’m going to write an article about that topic and take the discussion over there. Should be up in about an hour or so.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 27, 2009, 3:03 pm

    T&S just published a new article addressing this. I agree wholeheartedly with Julie.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 27, 2009, 3:43 pm

    Oh, thought I’d mention that “coronary infarction guy” in the original article is now the bishop of that ward. He’s a great guy on almost every count. But I’m afraid the false tradition isn’t about to die anytime soon.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 28, 2009, 12:00 pm

    Some other relevant articles that I thought you’d be interested in:

    Not Letting Women Open Sacrament Meeting Redux
    by Kevin Barney

    Great article. My only complaint about that article is that he quotes me extensively but doesn’t attribute. In the comments, some ask for further info and/or clarification about what I said, but I can’t answer because the comments are closed and they can’t contact me because they don’t know the source.

    Sacrament Prayers
    by Kim Siever

    Ladies first?
    by Kaimi Wenger

  • Alison Moore Smith March 29, 2009, 3:40 am
  • mormonmom April 27, 2009, 2:44 pm

    Update: Our Stake Presidency just sent out an email to the bishops in our stake. The Stake President said this topic had come up with some of the brethren, so he did some “research in the Stake President’s Training…indeed that is what we are taught”.

    He said “The encouragement was that priesthood bearers should give the invocation.”

    He said we have the “recommendation” to have brethren give the invocation, but bishops can be flexible if they feel the need to do so.

    SO, our wards have now gone back to having men only give the opening prayers and will continue to do so unless otherwise inspired.

    hmph…:confused: Interesting, to say the least.

  • jennycherie April 27, 2009, 4:12 pm

    good articles, Alison. This issue really gets my knickers in a twist, even more so recently!

  • Tinkerbell April 27, 2009, 5:16 pm

    That is soooo disappointing, mormonmom. To do things like have men give the opening prayer “just because” almost makes me insane.

    BTW – has anyone ever figured out why only men give prayers during General Conference. I can see why there aren’t as many women speakers (just not as many women in leadership, particularly when you add in all the seventies), but I can’t think of a single good reason why only men should give the prayers. Has there ever been an instance of a woman offering a prayer?

  • Alison Moore Smith April 27, 2009, 6:02 pm

    Tink, no, there hasn’t. And not closing either. And, for the record, the General RS meeting and General YW meeting do not seem to be counted as “conference sessions” although the priesthood session does.

  • Tinkerbell April 27, 2009, 7:06 pm

    I know, Alison! That bothered me this last conference when the number of the meeting was announced (something like Sunday morning’s meeting was the 4th session).

  • Alison Moore Smith April 28, 2009, 2:06 am

    Yea, always been that way as far as I can tell. Look at the Ensign, conference issues. They list the sessions thusly: Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Priesthood, Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon. Then the female stuff is at the back…even though it occurred first.

  • Rebecca April 28, 2009, 11:26 am

    Not exactly about prayers but sort of related…in our ward this last Sunday the topic was on how to prepare to be a missionary. All the speakers were young women. There was not one man on the program. It was surprising but so nice and they mentioned a lot of important aspects of missionary work that the men often don’t think about. I think it was the first time I have heard young women asked to speak on that particular topic.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 28, 2009, 2:02 pm

    That’s great, Rebecca. Although I think it would have made more sense to have a mix. Don’t you?

  • Rebecca April 28, 2009, 4:14 pm

    Probably, I was just glad that they were assigning the Young Women the same topic that they have had the Young Men speaking about lately. Little steps, little steps!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 28, 2009, 5:41 pm

    :smile:

  • ksjarvis June 20, 2009, 1:38 pm

    All I can say is WOW. I honestly never knew this was going on. I asked my husband about it and he told me that he had never heard of it either until just a few months ago. Apparently he asked a sister to give the opening prayer and she told him no, she couldn’t do that because only a priesthood holder could open the meeting. He just shrugged it off as someone trying to come up with yet another excuse not to say the prayer. He has been absolutely shocked at the number of people that say no to an invitation to give the prayer in Sacrament Meeting.

  • jennycherie June 20, 2009, 1:58 pm

    Posted By: ksjarvisHe has been absolutely shocked at the number of people that say no to an invitation to give the prayer in Sacrament Meeting.

    . . . and it goes for the other meetings as well. It can be rather daunting to ask after you’ve been refused many times!

  • ksjarvis June 21, 2009, 6:21 am

    Just thought I’d let you know that we went to the adult session of stake conference last night and a women said both the opening AND closing prayer. Yay!

  • agardner June 21, 2009, 11:59 am

    It’s so funny how whenever this thread gets resurrected, I start paying attention to who says the prayers. Otherwise I really don’t notice. But today a woman gave the opening, and her husband gave the closing. I only noticed because I read through this thread again last night. Oh, the memories. :-) Wonder what ever happened to deeby?

  • Tinkerbell June 21, 2009, 1:01 pm

    I was supposed to give the closing prayer today, but my 2 year old wouldn’t let me leave him, wouldn’t let me take him, stood there ready to scream no matter what I tried to do, so the chorister kindly said the prayer for me. Sigh.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 27, 2009, 3:00 am

    I need to report:

    Last Sunday…a WOMAN gave the opening prayer in Sacrament Meeting. True!

    Details:
    We have a new bishop

    Neither he nor his counselors seemed ready to vomit when it happened

    The program listed a husband opening and a wife closing, but it occurred in the reverse for unknown reasons

  • kiar October 27, 2009, 9:34 am

    I was the concluding speaker this Sunday. and it was High council Sunday, and the entire Stake Presidency was there. and a woman was supposed to give the closing prayer, but she was sick, so her hubby did it.

  • Rebecca October 27, 2009, 6:25 pm

    I saw this was resurrected so I had to comment. A few weeks ago in Sacrament Meeting women gave the opening prayer AND the final talk. Oh, and it was even written out that way on the program.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 27, 2009, 7:55 pm

    kiar, Rebecca, are those norms in your wards or new events?

  • kiar October 28, 2009, 11:19 am

    yuperooniedoonie! normalish… as normal as our ward can be… lol.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 24, 2010, 1:42 am

    OK, now BIG news. Last Sunday a woman opened and a man closed ?and it was listed on the program in that order.

    One small step for a woman, a giant leap for mankind. :bigsmile:

  • jennycherie March 24, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithOK, now BIG news. Last Sunday a woman opened and a man closed ?and it was listed on the program in that order.
    :bigsmile:

    woot!

    A couple of weeks ago, my husband was speaking and he ended up going before the woman speaker. It wasn’t listed in the program that way – but the Bishop just announced it that way when he got up. He said he read his notes wrong or something. Ho hum.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 27, 2010, 3:26 pm

    Last week our final speaker was female, too. Missionary meeting that used to be farewell but isn’t called farewell anymore but still slightly resembles a farewell. The mish spoke and then the woman.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 11, 2010, 12:01 am

    Sam and I are giving prayers tomorrow (today?). When Sam said we were asked, I told him I wouldn’t do it. I intended to tell the bishop, but forgot until a few minutes ago when I read a T&S post about church culture. Now that it’s nearly midnight, I’m not really inclined to call and make a fuss. So now I’ll just get up and say a prayer while totally ticked off. That will be great, won’t it.

  • Lewis_Family July 11, 2010, 11:48 am

    ha, oh man, reading through this, yeah, wonder what happened to deeby, he really irked me at the beg of this thread :smile:

    I actually thought of this thread awhile ago, we have had woman opening lately and was like, wonder how Alison’s ward is doing… :wink:

  • Alison Moore Smith July 16, 2010, 12:22 am

    I’m cursed. But I love my ward anyway.

  • Janiel Miller August 1, 2010, 5:07 pm

    Wow. I must have been really blessed. I’ve never actually lived in a ward where this was “doctrine.” I’ve said the opening prayer all over the place. Just did it for the second time in a month. Huh. Its a good thing God is in charge and man isn’t. We screw things up all over the place, it seems.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2010, 7:01 pm

    The guy who was supposed to do the site transfer changed MY password, so I haven’t been able to post until today. Sheesh.

    So, two weeks ago we had a woman give the opening prayer again. Three times in this ward in two years. Better than my last two wards. :)

  • Alison Moore Smith November 14, 2010, 8:05 pm

    Woot!!!!!!!!!! The new handbook is now very clear. Here is what it says (Handbook 2: section 18.5)

    Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings.

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lewis_Family November 18, 2010, 2:59 pm

    cool beans

  • agardner November 19, 2010, 6:14 am

    Awesome!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 23, 2010, 1:01 am

    And, to top it off, last Sunday a woman opened Sacrament Meeting with prayer. Maybe they are reading the handbook!!!

  • jennycherie December 4, 2011, 6:57 am

    This issue is on my mind again. Yesterday, in our Stake Relief Society training, our ‘party favor’ included this quote:

    “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (James E. Talmage in “Jesus the Christ”)

    Also, though the opening prayer in our ward continues to be given always and only by men, last night the opening prayer (at the adult session of Stake Conference) was given by a woman.

    It is really interesting to reread this old thread, even seeing how my own views evolved over time. Initially, it seemed like nitpicking. . . then it made sense. Our church handbook is printed and distributed for the purpose of helping us FOLLOW the actual policies, rather than making up our own. Further, the older I get, and having more time spent in and out of leadership callings, I realize that I feel like I have a voice (and can make a difference) when I am in a position of leadership, but when I am not, I feel powerless. We should never feel powerless (especially not powerless to question and discuss) in the Lord’s church. Here, of all places, we should feel capable of using the power of God and the power he has given us. He gave us our intellect and he does not want us to squash that but to use it to glorify Him.
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 4, 2011, 11:05 pm

    jennycherie, I’m so glad you dug up this thread to comment. How insightful. What you say about leadership is spot on. Well said.

    OK, so REALLY, even with the new handbook, your ward is still sticking women in the end? Have you asked anybody about it? (Seriously, send me your bishop’s address and I’ll write him a letter myself!)

    But did you all notice tonight? The Christmas devotional had a FEMALE saying the closing prayer! Yea, so it was still closing, but I cannot remember a single time that a woman has said a prayer in the Conference Center other than at the General RS or YW meetings.
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  • jennycherie December 5, 2011, 4:48 am

    Alison – I am planning to ask him about it the next time we meet. It’s actually written on the sheet our bishopric uses for conducting.

    Opening Prayer: Brother ________
    Closing Prayer: Sister _______

    And I did notice at the devotional! I ♥ Sister Thompson! We had a regional training this fall and she came to meet with the ward and stake Relief Society presidencies. It’s the first time I’ve attended a training with one of the general Relief Society presidency members and I was seriously excited. I managed not to drool or embarrass myself, fortunately. ;)
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  • Vennesa December 5, 2011, 8:11 am

    Whenever this discussion comes up, it reminds me of President Hinckley’s funeral. It was held in the Conference Center and his daughter Virginia Hinckley Pearce said the opening prayer.
    I’m so glad that my ward doesn’t have these silly “rules”. I wouldn’t be able to keep quiet about it.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 5, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Please update us when you do ask, jennycherie! And take a copy of the handbook statement. :)

    And, good thing about the drooling. ;)

    Vennesa, I’m with you. But, you know, I really wish we didn’t feel compelled (and I do, too!) to “keep quiet” about problems! :(
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  • kiar January 25, 2012, 11:43 am

    I am now in Utah. I will have to start paying closer attention again. (I was asked to give the opening prayer in Sunday school, does that count?)

  • Aaron January 31, 2012, 10:13 am

    I thought a quote directly from the Church’s handbook 2 would help:

    18.5 Prayers in Church Meetings
    Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings.

    Prayers should be brief, simple, and spoken as directed by the Spirit. All members are encouraged to respond with an audible amen at the end of a prayer.

    Members should express respect for Heavenly Father by using the special language of prayer that is appropriate for the language they are speaking. The language of prayer has different forms in different languages. In some languages, the intimate or familiar words are used only in addressing family and very close friends. Other languages have forms of address that express great respect. The principle, however, is the same: members should pray in words that speakers of the language associate with love, respect, reverence, and closeness. In English, for example, members should use the pronouns Thee, Thy, Thine, and Thou when addressing Heavenly Father.

    Members of the bishopric should avoid the pattern of having a husband and wife pray in the same meeting. Such a pattern might convey an unintentional message of exclusion to those who are single. Members who are not often called upon should be included among those who are invited to pray. As needed, a member of the bishopric may caution those who pray not to sermonize or pray at great length.

    The person who offers a prayer should not be asked to read a scripture aloud before the prayer.

    • Alison Moore Smith February 2, 2012, 2:17 am

      Welcome, Aaron.

      I believe the OP addresses the handbook as it was written at the time. Also, if you read the comment thread (yea, I know it’s long), the new wording is also discussed.

  • Amy September 29, 2012, 11:15 pm

    This surprised me a great deal.

    I didn’t realize this was an issue. I’ve never seen this issue, myself. I can recall giving the opening prayer in church several times. Perhaps it is because I live in Chicago?

  • Angie Gardner January 29, 2013, 3:33 pm

    I just saw this podcast on FMH:

    http://feministmormonhousewivespodcast.org/fmh-podcast-bonus-episode-equal-pray-for-women/

    I haven’t listened to all of it, but I did listen long enough to learn that women could not pray AT ALL in Sacrament meeting until 1978. I found that to be very shocking that this has been the case during my lifetime – I had no idea.

    BTW, this is part of a petition to the first presidency to allow women to pray in general conference, which apparently has never happened.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 6, 2013, 3:11 pm

    And today history is made. Jean Stevens prays in General Conference.

    Granted, it was a closing prayer (bah!), but it’s progress. :)
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  • jennycherie July 2, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Hey – can’t believe I forgot to post when it happened, but I gave the opening prayer in sacrament meeting a couple of weeks ago! I got a text from the ward executive secretary on Saturday asking me to give the closing prayer. When I got to church the next morning, when they did the announcements and stuff, they announced that the opening prayer would be give by me! Soon, this could all be old hat!

    I mentioned on another thread that I have been listening to these CDs about Great Mormon Women. One of the things that has come up TIME and TIME again, to the point that it is comical, is that these Great Mormon Women, who had such influence in the church, were almost universally noted to have “sharp tongues.” Seriously. Also, many of the men they dealt with joked (in a half serious manner, it was portrayed) that they found these women to be so good and so strong that they were terrifying. And all of them were influential in the church. AND they spoke their minds, even in the 1800s.
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  • Amy Lockhart July 3, 2013, 6:26 am

    Sounds like we need some RS activities devoted to listening to those CDs! Thanks for both comments. We have those CDs, got them as a bonus a long time ago when we purchased the Living Scriptures DVDs for our children. I guess I should break them out and speak up more often!

    Thanks!
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2013, 10:59 am

    jennycherie, isn’t it interesting that the description uses a NEGATIVE adjective to describe someone who is willing to speak up, to clarify, to enlighten?

    How often are men who display such traits labeled with “sharp tongues”? And, yes, the men joked about how scary they were. Why the backhanded compliments? It’s all so tiring!

  • Bob September 17, 2014, 12:11 pm

    My advice to you is to 1. Stop using the chain of command and write a letter directly to the church president who will stop the false doctrine from the top down. You are doing it the hard way. and 2. Stop moving around once you find a ward where people can “think”. (just joking. I don’t know your career situations). False doctrine needs to be ferreted out wherever you find it. Get the correct information in writing and hand the offending member a copy. It is amazing what some people (in any organization) can think up. That is why we have a prophet instead of chaos.

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