About the cause

Please write letters to our church leaders to show your support for this action. We are accepting emails through Friday, March 1st. letwomenpray@gmail.com

For details on who to write: facebook.com/LetWomenPray/info

As far back as there is documentation, a woman has not said a prayer at the General Conference of the church. In 1978 church president Spencer W. Kimball said it is "permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend." We would like to see this happen in our General Conference as a sign that "God is no respecter of persons" and that "all are alike unto God," "male and female." We ask all who would also like to see a woman pray in the meeting all members attend, the General Conference of the church, to write our leaders and express this desire.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Need Help with your Letter?

It can be tough to know where to start when writing a letter expressing concern with an issue, especially to someone in a position of authority.. Here are some things to think about to give you a place to start. (Please also see the bottom of this post fore some examples of letters we have received.

  • Start by introducing yourself. Let the reader get to know you a little bit so they can understand where you are coming from.

Create thoughtful content by asking yourself questions that you then answer in your letter: What is your relationship to the church? What do you like about it? Why is it important to you?

  • Explain why it is important to you that women pray in General Conference.

Questions you could answer in your letter: Do you have any experiences in your life or your family that have made it particularly important? How does the fact that women don’t pray in General Conference make you feel? Has it always been something that mattered to you? If not, what made it start to matter?

  • Tell them what response you would like to see to your letter.

Questions you could answer: Do you want an explanation for why women aren't praying in Conference? Do you want to see a women pray over the pulpit? Both? Something else entirely? How will that response make you feel? How will a lack of response make you feel?

Other things to remember:
You can write a different letter to each recipient, you can use the same letter for all of them, or anything in between.

You can type or handwrite your letter.

You can sign your letter or submit it anonymously, whichever make you more comfortable.

Your letter doesn't have to be long; a few sentences expressing how you feel about women praying in General Conference is enough. Don’t feel like you have to write pages and pages in order to count. We want to hear from you, even it's a few lines.

Here are some beautiful examples we've received:
Dear General Authority,
I am writing regarding women praying in General Conference. This is not an easy letter for me to write because I have, I think, a healthy awareness of my ignorance of the magnitude, both in scale and gravity, of the things the Apostles of the Church deal with. I don’t presume to advise you, only to engage in what I think is a long-standing means of communication between God’s people and His prophets: letter writing. The scriptures have many examples of letters written by prophets to their people: Jeremiah, Paul, and Joseph Smith did this. I think the letters written by these prophets must often have been prompted by questions from their people, probably received in the form of letters. So it is in this spirit of seeking to communicate that I write.

I live in a very diverse suburb of Chicago. My neighbors to the north and south are Orthodox Jews and Assyrian Catholics, respectively. My son’s elementary school is the most racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse school I have ever observed. He is the only Mormon, and already he is noticing that Mormons are different. I explain to him how beautiful the diversity of God’s creation is, and how the diversity around us enriches our lives. I tell him it’s good to be different, and that he is not the only child in his class with a unique background. He is noticing not only that he is the only Mormon in his class, but also that people who look like his classmates are rare in his church. Recently after attending a party in a church member’s home he asked, “Mama, why are there no black people at the Mormon parties?” He has also asked me, although we have barely discussed this issue, why I do not have the priesthood.

These are important questions, that while difficult, I feel I can answer while holding both the truth of the gospel and the pain of not having all the answers as daily realities. But those realities and my son’s observant questions are also the reason that things like women not praying in General Conference matter so much to me. I did not notice that women don’t pray in Conference until I was in my 20s. But he lives in a different world than I grew up in. I worry that the contrast between his church life and his daily life may at times be jarring, and that the Church will often be the thing that appears in the less flattering light. Yet I believe within the realm of the current light and knowledge we have in the gospel, there is room to appreciate and expand the role of those who are less visible. It would be a balm to my soul to hear a woman pray in General Conference. It would be one more thing I could point to for my son and daughter to say, look: women are visible in this church, their spiritual gifts are just as important as the men’s. I could more confidently say, you see women in your life leading, teaching, working, and contributing, and they do those things in the Mormon Church, too.

To be honest, I’d love to see many other changes which would open the arms of the institutional church a little wider to honor the diversity within us: general auxiliary board members sitting on the stand in General Conference, female Sunday School presidents, and a revised hymnal to include African American spirituals, for example. But as you have said, one miracle at a time. I love the gospel and I hope I am raising my children to love it, too. I sincerely thank you for taking time to read this letter, and for considering what it would mean to me and many others to allow women to pray in General Conference.

With warmest regards,
Emily U (Originally posted on The Exponent)

Dear Brethren and Sisters,
I hope you will invite women to pray at the April 2013 General Conference. Excluding women from prayer at General Conference gives the impression that female prayers are somehow inferior to those offered by males and that God is more apt to listen to men than women. I have heard many General Conference talks that emphasize that God loves men and women equally; I do not like to see such important verbal messages contradicted at the very meeting where they are given by the choice to exclude women from voicing prayers.

Also, in spite of changes in written policy that clarify that female prayers are welcome in Sacrament Meeting, local leaders in some wards, branches and stakes continue to invite only men to offer certain congregational prayers. General Conference is an excellent venue to set an example for local leaders across the globe and demonstrate that women are welcome to pray on behalf of LDS congregations.

 (Originally posted on The Exponent)

Dear President Elaine S. Dalton, 
I am grateful for the Young Women Program in our Church. I am thankful for the many hours you spend in prayer and in counsel thinking about how you can help Young Women all over the world. I am a Young Women teacher in the Marshall Islands and you wouldn't believe the problems and the suffering my girls face. Women and girls are beaten, abused, cheated on, raped, and molested by their fathers on a regular basis. There is hardly any legal recourse for women; it was only in 2011 that domestic violence was prohibited by law, and even then the male leaders who run the country barely passed it.  

I would love to have our wonderful Church be more open about equality between men and women, showing rather than telling. If equality is sort of mentioned or alluded to in Salt Lake, then we don't hear about it here. The message isn't coming in strong enough. For example, none—I repeat, none—of my girls knew that they had a Heavenly Mother. They were so amazed and pleased. Please consider allowing women to pray in General Conference. It may seem like such a small thing, but women must know that there need be no intermediary (men) in order to pray to God, and that we are allowed to pray in public too, without feeling shy or unworthy to speak for a group of Saints gathered together.  

I have a testimony of the Restoration and of my divine worth, and I fully believe that God "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God." We are a changing Church, always getting better, and I love that.

Thank you again for all you do. We pray for you.

Love from the Marshall Islands (Originally posted on this blog)

To: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 

In 1978, the First Presidency made an official statement allowing women to pray in Sacrament Meeting. In the statement, President Kimball said, “there is no scriptural prohibition against sisters offering prayers”, and it is “permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend.” 

Since 1984, women have been regularly asked to speak in General Conference. We applaud that change, and now ask for President Kimball’s words to be reconsidered and more broadly applied. In 2013, we hope to see a woman offer a prayer in General Conference. We appeal to the leadership of our Church to show their support for greater gender equality by recognizing the ability and worthiness of LDS women to represent their church in prayer.

In the history of the Church, faithful members have presented ideas and concerns to Church leaders and asked them to pray about it. Without these faithful members taking their concerns to their leaders, the Relief Society, the Primary program, the Welfare system, Seminary programs, Family Home Evening and the Word of Wisdom wouldn't be in place. Similar to our faithful ancestors, we are here with a real, heartfelt concern, and we pray that our church leaders will consider our plea.Please let women pray at the upcoming General Conference. We ask that women be given the opportunity to pray in General Conference, as a symbol of equality within our church.

Sincerely, [Your name] (The letter from our change.org petition)

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a blog update is in order : )
    Now that a Sister has given a prayer in conference!

    I was excited about that.