SALT LAKE CITY – A group of women wanted to attend Saturday night’s priesthood session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 183rd Semiannual General Conference, and they said it’s time for women to be treated equally by the Mormon faith.
About 200 people gathered Saturday, and many were members of the group Ordain Women, which asked the LDS Church to allow women to attend the meeting. The session is limited to male members of the LDS Church who are 12 years of age and older.
They walked to Temple Square in order to ask for standby tickets for the meeting. The group had already made an official request for tickets and been denied. The group posted the LDS Church’s response to their request on their website, which said in part:
“We appreciate the sincerity of your request and the explanation of your desire to participate in the session... We are unable to honor your request for tickets or admission.”
Ordain Women Founder Kate Kelly said that wasn't stopping them from asking for admission Saturday. Kelly spoke with FOX 13 News in-depth about the issue earlier this week, click here for that interview.
"We've been praying," She told FOX 13 News Saturday before the priesthood session began. "We've been fasting. We have been planning. And what we hope to do is to go into the session, to listen to the prophet, to participate and demonstrate to our leaders not only are we ready to participate in the priesthood session, but that we wish to be ordained to the priesthood."
The group's request for entry was denied, and LDS Church Spokeswoman Ruth Todd was there to meet them.
"This meeting is all about strengthening the men of our church, so this is no surprise to you, that we won't be able to offer you a ticket or a place to see it," she told the group.
After being denied, members of the group walked back to City Creek Park, where some watched the broadcast of the session on smartphones. The priesthood session was broadcast online, which is a first for the LDS Church.
"That was actually far, far more disappointing and disheartening than I thought it would be," Kelly said of not being allowed entry. "I said, 'My name is Kate Kelly. I'm a faithful, active Mormon woman. I paid my tithing. I served a mission. I graduated from BYU. I was married in the temple. I understand there's men who are not Mormon who are permitted into this session, any man who can come... I would like to attend."
Jami Baayd is not affiliated with Ordain Women, but she was at the event seeking entry. She said she was also disappointed about not getting in.
"As I was trying to get in, a whole group of young men walked by me and got in, and the juxtaposition was pretty profound for me," she said.
Todd said the LDS Church hopes the women who sought entry find peace.
"Millions of women in this church do not share the views of this small group that has come and organized this protest today," she said. "And some of the members feel this is very divisive as well. Even so, these are our sisters, and we want them in our church. And we hope they find the peace and joy we all seek in the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Kelly said she and others in her group will continue their efforts.
"We're going to keep asking," she said. "We're going to keep knocking. We're going to keep seeking, and we're going to encourage other women to join us in the future."