In Which a Disheartened Mormon Woman Almost Breaks a Culture of Silence by Writing an Email She Will Probably Never Send

AKA: Mormon Monday on a Tuesday

Dear Bishopric,

I’m writing to let you know that I think I’m going to turn down that calling the bishop extended to me a few days ago.  This is a first for me.  I’ve never turned down a calling before, and I feel I need to explain why I’m doing it this time.  Also?  I’m sending this email to all of you because, in the past, the Bishop has manufactured completely false narratives about me and my family and then shared them with others (specifically: in bishopric meetings with his original counselors, one of whom was my husband, and with the previous stake president).  I don’t want him to have the opportunity to create a false narrative to share with you, or anyone else, about me and why I’m declining this calling.

First, I want to say that I love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have a testimony of it and have had ever since my mother joined the church when I was six (thereby making me a convert, according to the Bishop).  I remember, as a six-year-old, loving the gospel so much that I wanted to have even more faith than I already did, and so, alone in my bed at night, I would pray and ask Heavenly Father to bless me with it.  At the age of nine, I made a list of sisters I would call on for rides to church in case my mother ever decided to stop going for some strange reason (she never did stop going, nor did she ever consider it, but I was prepared nonetheless).  I know the gospel is true.  Part of the gospel being true means that this is the Lord’s church.  This means that our ward is, along with all the others, the Lord’s ward.  It is not the Bishop’s ward, not in the sense that he is the grand potentate of all thing spiritual.

After the calling was extended to me Wednesday evening, I texted the president, who is entitled to the inspiration and personal revelation needed to organize, staff, and run that auxiliary.  I wanted to know if she had followed inspiration and submitted my name for the calling or if she had been informed I was being called to that auxiliary.  I assume you all know the answer to that question already, but in case you don’t:  she didn’t submit my name.

For the eight years we’ve been in this ward I have watched as sisters have been shuffled from calling, to calling, to calling at an alarming rate.  Six Relief Society presidents, six Young Women’s presidents, and six Primary presidents in eight years (only three of those changes being necessitated by sisters moving) sends a loud and clear message to the sisters:  you aren’t leaders, your spiritual insights and abilities aren’t valued, and you’re neither expected nor wanted to accomplish anything of any import; you’re playthings for the men.  I grew up in a stake and wards that were heavily populated with very mobile military families, yet the turnover in those wards never came close to the turnover among the sisters, and to a lesser extent the brethren, here.  What I am saying is this:  I am a daughter of God, and as such I am an integral part of the organizing, running, and building of the Kingdom of God.  I am not a game piece to be shoved around according to the errant thoughts and whims of men.  I am not chattel to be loaded and moved according to which cows the Bishop wants to see when he looks out his window on a given day.

I realize that my most recent calling was phased out by the church and, therefore, I had to be released.  It happens.  No biggie.  Callings come, and callings go.  However, if the Lord wants me in the auxiliary in question, then the president, along with her counselors, should have received that inspiration and submitted my name to the bishopric for approval.  A good bishop not only recognizes that auxiliary presidents should prayerfully seek for guidance and inspiration in staffing and leading their organizations, he encourages them to do it and provides training when necessary so that they feel comfortable and confident in doing it.  A good Bishop realizes that ward leaders are just that:  leaders.  They are not figure heads, nor are they spiritual grunts who are only to do the “manual” labor with whatever human capital the Bishopric deigns to give them.  I am not your human capital.  I am the Lord’s.

When every leader’s, including the bishopric’s, primary and sincere concern in extending callings is that the calling comes from the Lord, then the callings will, for the most part, come from the Lord.  And when callings come from the Lord?  Everybody involved, with rare exception, will have a testimony that the calling is from the Lord, because the Spirit will testify of it.  When a bishopric member has a testimony that a calling is from the Lord, then he will testify of that fact as he is extending the calling.  He won’t, instead, say things like, “Sis. So-and-so says you seem to enjoy being in there when you’ve subbed in the past.”  My emotional response to subbing, whether real or imagined, is irrelevant if a calling is truly from the Lord.

I am willing to serve wherever the Lord wants me.  Maybe he does want me in that auxiliary, but at this time I have not gotten confirmation of that.  I would faithfully walk into the darkness, as it were, without confirmation, were it not for the fact that the auxiliary president had nothing to do with this decision other than to just go along with what she was told, and I’ve seen clearly un-inspired decisions made time and time again. Third counselor in the Elders’ Quorum presidency?  Really?  Yes, I realize that is technically from the stake, but we all know the stake acted based on the Bishop’s recommendation.  Imagine, Bishop, if the stake presidency sought no input from you on such matters but, instead, just told you who you were getting as you seem to do to your auxiliary presidents (who are really the Lord’s auxiliary presidents).

So, to be clear:  I am not declining this calling because I don’t want a calling or because I don’t want to serve in that auxiliary.  I am willing to serve wherever the Lord wants me.  I am declining this calling because, based on what I know of how the decision to extend it to me was reached, and based on my own promptings after praying about it, it is not at this time an inspired calling; and this email needed to be written, because you need to know that there are women who know who they are and who they have always been, and I won’t be treated as dross.

I look forward to sitting down with either counselor when someone has figured out where the Lord wants me.  I would rather not meet with the Bishop again.  While I sustain him as David sustained Saul, I also know, as did David, that sustaining a priesthood leader does not mean putting oneself in the line of fire, either literally or figuratively.  And?  I really don’t need to hear any more of his claptrap about apostrophes and white privilege.  As the mother of minority sons, I assure  you that white privilege does, to at least some extent, exist (even in “your” ward), and my English major daughter is not out to preserve our *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* white privilege by preserving our language.

Sincerely,

E.

4 thoughts on “In Which a Disheartened Mormon Woman Almost Breaks a Culture of Silence by Writing an Email She Will Probably Never Send

  1. This post is so distressing. I hear your frustration and sadness as you try to serve God in your religion. I cannot imagine what you must be going through! I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about the Morman religion to understand how the “calling works.” What is clear is that it isn’t working in your situation. White privilege exists even where some do not want to see it. Sexism exists even where some don’t want to admit it. I hope you send this email. I hope you speak your truth. Good for you for raising your minority children in the truths of the world. I’m sending a few cyber hugs your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SylvE

    I applaud you for writing this email – even if the title says you will likely never send it. (Which, IMHO, you should do, and copy the entire bishopric and the stake president… do you have the Area Authority’s email?? 🙂 )

    I have seen this kind of thing in my own life and am so saddened that it continues. I too love the Gospel. I know for myself the truth – the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Otherwise, I would have stopped going at all many many years ago.

    While it is also true that we are all less than perfect, you are 100% correct that it doesn’t mean that we put ourselves “in the line of fire” or just accept callings without getting a clear confirmation. We are each entitled to that revelation for ourselves as a confirmation. I think of Doctrine & Covenants 6:23… it’s one of my favorite scriptures that I remind myself of when people try to tear me down or say I did this or that wrong, or I don’t know what I’m talking about. (Sigh.) Peace can only come from our God and it’s a sure witness that He is talking to You, giving You a clear message.

    You have an incredible amount of strength and courage and I’m so thankful you shared. If you do decide to share more fully with those around you (ie, bishopric, stake pres, etc), I hope someone is open and understanding. Even though we are all imperfect, that is one thing we can all do for each other. Sounds like you don’t get a lot of that in some ways.
    (((Hugs)))

    Thanks for being an example of strength, courage, clarity, and faith! 🙂

    Like

  3. Thank you for your comment, and thank you for sharing that scripture. It brings comfort to my soul. I was blessed to grow up with outstanding, inspired leaders who supported, sustained, and heeded the counsel of the sisters. I’d heard others share less positive experiences, and I always thought, “Okay. That’s one side of the story. Now what’s the other, because bishops never act that way.” Even though I never said it out loud, I feel like I have several people two whom I should apologize now. 🙂 I don’t expect perfection from leaders, but the culture that surrounds and embraces the problems are extra disheartening.

    Like

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