Thursday, March 17, 2011

How the LDS Church is Leading the World in the Treatment of Women

One area of the Church in which we are leading the world and making great strides is in the treatment and importance of women.  This was highlighted during the recent worldwide leadership training on the new instruction manuals.  In fact Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve devoted a whole talk to the subject of sisters named “Sisters in Councils”.  I am not ashamed to admit that I too will need to make an effort to incorporate these words of counsel into my own stake meetings where sisters are present.    

Elder Scott’s words can be read directly from this link:

Below I will quote some of his words and will add my own thoughts in brackets and in italics for your consideration.  I have bolded the parts that I as a stake president deem to be especially important.  Here are the words of Elder Scott; a latter day prophet, seer and revelator:

“I have observed—particularly in international areas, although it often occurs domestically (and yes that includes Utah) —that sisters do not participate openly in ward council meetings (this is an excellent point that Elder Scott makes. I would like to add that this occurs at the stake level too where sisters are present).  This is most unfortunate, because they have perspectives and experiences that are of immense value. When they can be encouraged to take part freely in ward council meetings, their ideas are always helpful and inspirational.

This challenge can be resolved easily in the following way (listen up Brethren). As the ward council meeting unfolds and specific suggestions are made, the presiding officer can call on individual sisters present by name (this will have the added benefit of making leaders learn the names of not just the brethren, but the sisters too), asking them to express their feelings regarding the matter. They will always respond to such an invitation (I am looking forward to verifying this in my own meetings). As they gain more experience in the environment of the ward council, they will learn to participate actively without the need for such an invitation (this will most likely take a while but will become a great blessing).

There is sometimes a complementary blessing that comes to the homes of priesthood leaders who observe the benefits that result from sister participation in ward council (this is going to be important). These men can become more appreciative of the sacred role of their wives in their own home (wouldn’t that be wonderful). “

During the training Elder Quentin L. Cook reminded us that “Participation from all council members, especially the sisters, is essential if the revelatory potential is to be achieved.  Both men and women are encouraged to speak honestly on any issue.  All should feel that their comments are valued (even the sisters).”

As I think about my own stake meetings that involve sisters I know I will have to make some changes in order to encourage them to not just attend, but to actually speak.  This will be a challenge to all of us, but if the brethren see this as important then we must forge ahead.  I have committed to my leaders that my stake will lead the way. 

Also on the subject of sister’s participation in meetings and the progress of the church in this matter I would remind readers that the new handbook states in section 18.5 that “Men and Women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings”.  This came as a bit of a shock to me.  I was aware that men could do this, but I had always based meetings within my stake on the example set at general conferences where women are not assigned to give opening or closing prayers.  I will wait to see if there is a change in the upcoming April general conference and will continue to base meetings within my stake on the example our leaders set before us at that time.  Perhaps this April 2011 we will have a sister give a prayer for the first time in the history of the restored church!!  Now if that doesn’t silence the critics I don’t know what will.        



George said...

I would like to start following this sage advice in my home as well. Up to now, when we have a family council meeting (just like ward council) it is mostly me talking. I do have a teenage son who has the priesthood so often he will talk as well.

This new direction will provide a new dynamic to our meetings in the home. One where my wife and daughters will feel free to contribute as well. It will take some getting used to and I know that I will need to be reminded to call my wife by name, and asking her to contribute.

I'm curious to know if there was direction given as to how to get them to stop talking once they get started. Is it ok to exercise the priesthood to get them to stop if necessary?

Stake Pres. said...
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Me from Cali said...

What worries me most about having the women taking an active participatory role by being allowed to voice their views, is keeping confident the information discussed *in camera* such as ward council meetings. I know that our dear sister leaders have always been present and privy to confidential information in ward council meetings, but now allowing them to actively SPEAK their opinions! You know what they say, “Telegraph, telephone, tell-a-women!” Once they get going they’ll be just like Everyready batteries. Getting them to eventually keep silence and confidence will be just as Brother Joseph said, “Trying to make the Missouri River flow upstream.”

I think the Apostle Paul knew this by insisting that women keep silent in the church, and I fear with the Brethren trying to be more mainstream and politically correct now-a-days, it’s going to ultimately harm the church. But I will, none-the-less, follow the prophet, shut up, and let the women do the talking. In any event, what they have to say can’t be too much worse than what I’ve heard from the priesthood in our ward council meetings.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable!!!! You really think offering a yes no question to the sisters is in harmony with Elder Scott's message? Huh?

Or, why not just give the sisters a little note pad & have them submit their comments in that way - to keep the hen cackling down! There couldn't be any better way!

No, perhaps you are right, yes no answers are a huge improvement!

Somehow I thought you actually valued the sisters comments (like Elder Scott).

I've got to step out & scream & pull my hair!

Sister Silence

Porter said...

Great post, President!

When I was in the bishopric in a prior ward we were very careful to always have a clear separation between PEC and Ward Council meetings. The most sensitive topics were always discussed with only the priesthood bretheren in the room. Our good bishop said was done to protect against the precise confidentiality breaches that George and Paul are appropriately concerned about.

When we brought in the Relief Society, YW and Primary presidents president (who were waiting quietly in the hall) then the discussion would range into somewhat more "gossipy" topics (like who was sick and having financial problems).

I thought that our good bishop was very good at listening patiently to the problems those women raised. And they were never shy about raising them (who knows how they knew all that stuff). Elder Scott should have attended a few of our ward council meetings, nobody had to ever call on them to talk, they used up the whole meeting!

But I have to say that its good to give women time to discuss their concerns. When I come home from work I try to always give my wife a few minutes to discuss her concerns with me, and I deal with them as I am guided by the spirit as the priesthood leader in my home. It's the same concept.

But my main point is that PEC and Ward Council should be kept separate at all times. We don't invite women to attend general priesthood meeting, they should similarly be excluded from PEC.

Lisa said...

Why are the women even there? I have to say, President, that I struggle with the Brethren on this issue. Shouldn't they be at home with the kids, teaching THEM the gospel before they concern themselves with teaching others?

Lisa said...

My worthy priesthood husband would also like to add his concern about any number of women allowed to speak due to synchronization of periods. You see, President, that after a while, women in close and regular company of one another go through PMS and their periods at the same time. This will likely lead to unattractive outbursts and unauthorized comments. He suggests you note this monthly window and avoid asking the women to speak during this time. At this time, he says, you should go "Conference style" (men, or women past menopause).

Lisa said...

Last time, I promise

(see? you really can't get a woman to shut up!)

Anonymous, I would remind you that we are to have faith in our leaders. He may not be *your* leader, but he was still called of God.

Stake Pres. said...
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Anonymous said...

I am very concerned with the affects on the family that this council could have. There was a period of time when my husband was serving in the bishopric and I was serving in the RS pres. Our bishop decided to invite the counselors of RS to the welfare council as the handbook at that time said could happen. I had a young child and was expecting another. I had no one to care for her during these meetings and felt that my duty to my calling was compromising my duty as a mother. It was a challenge for all to have a toddler sitting in on the meetings distracting everyone's attention from what needed to be accomplished.

Sis. Daniels

Jeanette said...

I agree with Sister Daniels. Not all of us enjoy the privilege of attending ward council. I attended many years as primary president and relief society president. I did not enjoy the many discussions about how to get other people to do what we felt was best for them. We never asked those people what they wanted. We decided for them. Now that I am not in ward council, they are now free to discuss how to get me and my family on board with the things they think we should be doing. If I never attend another such a meeting, I am ok with that.

Stake Pres. said...
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diogenes said...

Perhaps we are overlooking a way to allow both men and women to fulfill their proper roles when it comes to meetings. I would suggest that we have the women meet separately and discuss and handle the more minor/trivial matters such as providing food for those in need, babysitting, assistance to the sick and elderly, etc. That way it would leave us men to handle the weightier matters such as getting the doctrine pure and making sure that everyone has the right thoughts and opinions as to the ways of God. That way the Sisters would be spared having their minds troubled with the deeper matters of the gospel.

Stake Pres. said...
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Sunshine said...

Hey, PN.

Urge all you want. They'll never call me to RS President again. Apparently, the pear-shaped suits feel an impromptu life-fire exercise makes the spirit flee.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope this whole blog is just a joke.

Harry Burns said...

listen to women? what a novel idea? it just saddens me that, as a 30something male, people even NEED to be counselled on this.

i've noticed a trend recently to call younger Bishops and Stake Presidents. now i know why. it appears the elder generation struggle with the idea of equal opinions.