LDS church excommunicates ‘Ordain Women’ co-founder Kate Kelly

SALT LAKE CITY – A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disciplinary council has excommunicated Kate Kelly, co-founder of “Ordain Women,” according to OrdainWomen.org.

The blog states Kelly’s former ecclesiastical leader in Virginia, Bishop Mark Harrison, told her by email she has been excommunicated.

According to the post, an all-male panel of judges has convicted of “apostasy,” and has decided to excommunicate her, the most serious punishment the church court can hand down.

Bishop Harrison explained in the email her excommunication and the conditions in order for her to be re-baptized in the future.

“. . . our determination is that you be excommunicated for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church. This means that you may not wear temple garments or contribute tithes and offerings. You may not take the sacrament, hold a Church calling, give a talk in Church, offer a public prayer in behalf of the class or congregation in a Church meeting, or vote in the sustaining of Church officers. These conditions almost always last at least one year. If you show true repentance and satisfy the conditions imposed below while you are no longer a member, you may be readmitted by baptism and confirmation.

“In order to be considered for readmission to the Church, you will need to demonstrate over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the Church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood. You must be truthful in your communications with others regarding matters that involve your priesthood leaders, including the administration of Church discipline, and you must stop trying to gain a following for yourself or your cause and taking actions that could lead others away from the Church.”

OrdainWomen.org posted Kelly’s response to being excommunicated.

“The decision to force me outside my congregation and community is exceptionally painful,” Kelly said. “Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities. I love the gospel and the courage of its people. Don’t leave. Stay, and make things better.”

MORE: Read more from OrdainWomen.org

The council began discussing the matter Sunday at 5 p.m. MT.

It was during that same time that hundreds of Kelly’s supporters gathered at City Creek Park in downtown Salt Lake City.

“I think this demonstrates that this just isn’t happening to one person, this just isn’t happening to me, but it feels like the entire Mormon feminist community is put on trial,” Kelly said.

The disciplinary council took place in Kelly’s former congregation and home in Oakton Virginia.

According to a LDS Church statement released Sunday night: “Bishop Harrison emailed Sister Kelly a few minutes ago and let her know that he and the council have given intense and prayerful consideration regarding her membership status. He has made a thorough review of her response and other materials, and wishes to prayerfully consider the matter overnight. He will notify her of a decision, probably tomorrow.”

According to Kelly, more than 1,000 letters were sent to the council in support of her. She is optimistic that the council will take the time to read each and every one.

Kelly helped found the group “Ordain Women” and has been active in advocating for changes to what she calls gender inequality within the LDS Church; Kelly was made aware of a disciplinary council regarding her actions scheduled by the LDS Church and says she faces the possibility of excommunication.

More than 50 cities in 17 countries held vigils for Kelly on Sunday. Following the Salt Lake City vigil, the crowd, consisting of men, women and children, followed Kelly across North Temple and assembled outside the LDS Church Offices.

One by one, supporters spoke about why they will not be silent regarding gender equality in the church.

“My daughters have begun asking the same questions Kate Kelly has and I believe they deserve answers,” Elizabeth Moore said.

Following the march, the LDS Church gave a prepared statement on camera.

“In the church we want all to feel welcome, safe, valued, and there is room for questions but how we ask is as important as what we ask, we shouldn’t try to dictate to God what is right in this church,” LDS Church Spokeswoman Ally Isom said.

Kelly said she will continue to be a driving force in Ordain Women and women’s equality in general and no matter what the final disciplinary council outcome, she knows exactly who she is and what she stands for.

“I don’t feel like Mormonism is something that washes off,” she said. “I will always be Mormon and that identity is something they cannot take away from me.”

Bonnnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president for LDS Church, released the following video on her Facebook page in the wake of Kelly’s excommunication.

Oscarson says in part:

All of us as sisters in the gospel have the responsibility and privilege to support and nourish one another. We have all committed to be disciples of Jesus Christ and this discipleship should be at the heart of all that we do. Each of us is in a different place in our spiritual journey. Some may struggle with testimony. Some have questions or wrestle with the pressures and trials of life. Those who are struggling for whatever reason should be able to find within our sisterhood a spirit of warmth, inclusion, and love.

Occasionally, some of our brothers and sisters may find themselves away from the fold because of personal choices. Without condoning those choices it is important to remember the Savior’s message of leaving the ninety and nine safely in the fold and reaching out with love, with kindness and with compassion to the one. We can demonstrate that compassion by ensuring that our communications with one another are respectful and kind.

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