An Open letter for all who have ears to hear: My Amazing Daughter Kate Kelly
Jesus said “ASK and ye shall receive. Significantly, he did not say “ASK and ye shall be punished.”
An open letter to all who have ears to hear:
From a very young age, Kate has been a bright spirit with a passion for life and for the gospel. At age three, Kate thought deeply about gospel principles. One day she asked me “Mom, if God created everything, who created God?” At that moment I knew that I had a great spirit entrusted to my care.
Kate has a deep love for the gospel and respect for church leaders. She served an honorable full time mission for the church and has been a great missionary for the church since that time. Just a short time ago, she gave a Book of Mormon to one of her law professors! She has been a dedicated church member all of her life, striving to obey the commandments every day, and never refusing any church calling or any request to serve the Lord in any way.
According to Marlin Jenson’s research, which was published in early 2012, church members and particularly young adults are leaving the church “in droves.” Not since the period of time in the church in 1837 with the failure of the Kirtland Banking Society has there been such a mass exodus in the church. About 70 per cent of those leaving cite gender inequality in the church as one of the reasons they have left.
Kate, troubled by this mass exodus from the church, wanted to reach out to those and others who feel that women are not given equal opportunities and equal leadership in the church. She and I have talked about President Hinckley’s statement in 1997 that God could change things and extend the priesthood to women, but he added that there was no “agitation” for that yet (President Hinckley’s word, not mine). Unless President Hinckley was lying, there is hope for the ordination of women. I believe he was telling the truth.
Kate started Ordain Women as a way to do just what President Hinckley said could change things. Many of the members of Ordain Women are members who would have otherwise left the church as part of that mass exodus Elder Jensen described. Others have been reactivated by their association with Kate and Ordain Women. One person had not been to church for years because of gender inequality and now is active and has a church calling.
When Kate approached me and told me what she was planning in early 2013, I asked if this would be an attack on the church, or if the group would belittle the church leaders in any way. “Mom, “ she said indignantly, “I’m doing this because I love the church!” I agreed to support her as long as the efforts of the group were respectful of the leaders and not just provide a platform to attack the church.
I have attended some of the activities of Ordain Women, and have heard Kate speak in many forums about women and the priesthood. I have also spent many hours speaking privately with Kate about this and other gospel topics. I have never once heard her speak one “apostate” word – she continually affirms the truth of the gospel, her respect for church leaders and her hope and faith that President Hinckley’s words will come true – and that God will indeed extend the priesthood to all worthy members.
Jesus commanded us to “ASK and ye shall receive.” Significantly, He did not say “ASK and ye shall be punished.”
It is my most sincere hope and prayer that you will see the good heart that Kate has and stand with her as she tries to strengthen the church.
Yours in the Gospel,
Donna Kelly Soutas