The founder of the group Ordain Women is waiting to find out whether she’ll be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But hundreds of people gathered to support her yesterday near church headquarters, promising to stand by her no matter what a disciplinary council decides.
Like many Mormon gatherings, the vigil in support of Kate Kelly on Sunday afternoon began with a hymn and a prayer. But the speakers promised to keep the issue of ordaining women to the LDS priesthood alive even if the founder of Ordain Women is excommunicated for apostasy.
The speakers included Donna Kelly, Kate’s mother, who has lost her own temple recommend because she supports her daughter’s insistence that the church look seriously at changing its policy of ordaining only men to the priesthood.
“It may be too late for me and maybe some of us with gray hair here in the audience," Donna Kelly told an applauding crowd. "I hope it’s not too late for my daughters. I believe very strongly it’s not too late for my three granddaughters, and I am here to support Ordain Women and I will not be silent because treating gender inequally in our church hurts everyone. It hurts my church and it hurts the women of the church.”
Kate Kelly chose not to attend the disciplinary council at her former home ward in Vienna, Virginia. But she did send volumes of material in her own defense, including a legal brief arguing against the central charge of apostasy.
“There are several contentions according to the church handbook of apostasy," Kelly told KUER. "One is going against church leaders. One is preaching false doctrine and one is joining a new church, none of which I’ve done.”
Following the rally in a park across from the Church Office Building, several hundred people walked across the street and laid down pictures, handkerchiefs and written statements at the door, each promising not to be silent on the issue of women and the priesthood.
Later, church spokesperson Ally Isom issued a statement saying its leaders were also praying for the local council holding the disciplinary hearing, but not backing down.
“There is room to ask questions," Isom read from the prepared statement, "but how we ask those questions is just as important as what we ask. We should not try to dictate to God what is right for his church.”
Late Sunday night, Kelly’s bishop informed her that he was still considering whether or not to excommunicate her from the Church. A decision could be reached Monday or Tuesday.