Yesterday evening, June 22, ward leaders of the Virginia Oakton Stake held a disciplinary council to prayerfully consider Kate Kelly’s continuing membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Today, Kelly, leader of the Ordain Women movement, received an email from her bishop in Virginia informing her that her membership in the Church had been revoked. The email to Kelly stated that she had been excommunicated “for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church.” Yahoo! News reported that Kelly previously stated that no matter what the outcome, she will always consider herself a Mormon:
I don’t feel like Mormonism is something that washes off…that identity is not something that they can take from me.
Disciplinary councils held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can result in excommunication from the Church. Leaders say that it is an inspired process. LDS.org states that the process is set up to ultimately help the member to receive forgiveness, peace, and strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ:
Church discipline is designed to help Heavenly Father’s children in their efforts to be purified from sin through the Atonement, return to full fellowship in the Church, and receive the full blessings of the Church.
[quote_box_right]”How we ask is just as important as what we ask. We should not try to dictate to God what is right for His Church.”[/quote_box_right]
As the council in Virginia met last night, spokeswoman for the Church, Ally Isom, reiterated that the decision is a local matter, and is between the individual in question, his or her leaders, and Heavenly Father. She said, “tonight, our prayers are with those who have to decide these difficult personal matters. We also pray for those whose choices may place them outside our congregation. In the Church, we want everyone to feel welcome, safe and valued, and of course, there is room to ask questions. But how we ask is just as important as what we ask. We should not try to dictate to God what is right for His Church.”
The mission statement for Ordain Women states that its leaders wish to “call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.” Since the launch of this organization, Kelly and her supporters have repeatedly asked Church leaders to petition the Lord for change, participated in vigils, and staged a march to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah to request admittance to the Priesthood session of General Conference. Managing Director of Public Affairs for the Church, Michael Otterson, wrote an open letter addressing this issue and how the Church follows the doctrines and principles that were established by Jesus Christ:
I suppose we do not know all the reasons why Christ did not ordain women as apostles, either in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, or when the Church was restored in modern times. We only know that he did not, that his leaders today regard this as a doctrinal issue that cannot be compromised, and that agitation from a few Church members is hindering the broader and more productive conversation about the voice, value and visibility of women in the Church that has been going on for years and will certainly continue…
Church leaders have indicated that when an individual is excommunicated, he or she is no longer a member of the Church. This means that he or she is denied the privileges of Church membership, which includes wearing the temple garment, and paying any tithes or offerings. Although the Church still invites these individuals to attend public Church meetings, his or her participation in such meetings is limited. Kelly’s excommunication will also result in the previous consequences; however, her excommunication doesn’t necessarily mean the end of her membership forever. Individuals who are excommunicated are encouraged to repent and rely on the Savior until they can qualify for baptism and become a faithful member of the Church again.
Specifically, Kelly’s reinstatement to the Church was outlined in the email she received today. OrdainWomen.org quotes the email on their website, saying:
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.
[quote_box_right]”…probation, disfellowshipment, and excommunication, when they become necessary, are ideally accompanied by eventual reinstatement and restoration of blessings.”[/quote_box_right]
In an article published in the September 1990 edition of the Ensign, Elder M. Russell Ballard, member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, remarks that members can come back if they choose to do so. In his article, entitled “A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings,” Elder Ballard states that “when members need to have certain blessings withheld, the Lord’s object is to teach as well as to discipline. So probation, disfellowshipment, and excommunication, when they become necessary, are ideally accompanied by eventual reinstatement and restoration of blessings.”