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Women Speakers in the Community of Christ

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Rachael Doubledee

on 27 April 2010

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Transcript of Women Speakers in the Community of Christ

Feminism in the Church

The religious feminist movement began in the Community of Christ Church in the 1980's.

Although the ordination of women was authorized in1984, women in the priesthood were a controversial issue at the beginning of the movement.

"[One] man was terribly opposed to women in the priesthood. He said how do you plan to still do your job, and be in the priesthood? And somebody said ok, well do you have a job? And of course he did, but for come reason he felt like she wasn’t going to be able to do both roles, and it was kind of a, you know kind of a dig for her."


The Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, or RLDS), split from the LDS or Mormon church in 1844, when Brigham Young assumed the leadership of a faction that went to Utah. Since then, the church has become one of the more liberal factions of the original church. It is the only one to accept women in the priesthood, and to aknowledge gay/lesbian rights.

The Community of Christ is divided into a series of leadership positions called priesthood offices.
The folklore group I am studying is the Community of Christ Church, namely women who are a part of the priesthood. Connections

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Restoration Branches, a split off of the Community of Christ Church.
I lived at the Liahona House, a Communinty of Christ owned place in Columbia, Mo. What I hope to do

I am exploring how the rise of feminism in the COC came about and what continues to make the women in this movement a respected entity

Explore how the idea of women in the priesthood came from being controversial to widely accepted as political figures within the church

Women now hold an estimated 1/3 of the Quorom of Twelve, a postion of high leadership within the church. The Call & Functioning In Leadership Roles

When asked what it was like to be called to the preisthood, it seemed to be an internal thing that was referenced, much like the healing In Snow's article, "I Was Born WIth the Gift"

The women's view of a call to the priesthood seemed to be closely tied with intuition., there is a lot of talk of "promptings", that seem to help the women in their ministry.

The call was "liberating" to the woman.

Unlike women in postions of leadership in other faiths, I notice that these women don't apologize for their ministry such as the women in the Lawless article "Reproductive Images And Maternal Strategies". In fact, these women accept equal footing with their male counterparts, insiting that the female ministry is an important counterpoint to the male ministry. This is described as a kind of sensitivity and awareness.

One of my interviews was with a woman who had served some time as the pastor of the COC church here in Columbia. When asked if she felt as if her role was one of a Mother, she answered a surprising "I don’t think so much a mothering role, as a sisterhood kind of thing...". This may be an integral part of this specific church, however.

Shared Roles

I found it interesting that women commonly share roles, such as the female pastor I mentioned earlier, who had a co-pastorship with her husband.

"I guess that’s why I think it worked so well if in our case when Jean and I held that responsibility together because I was in tune to things that he was not. And the people that would come to me about issues, they wouldn’t have gone to um um… a man."

"it worked great, because um (clears throat) my husband was working full time, too and I could, if people called with a need I was flexible enough that I could uh address that for, you know if they called for at the hospital you know to pray for people um it was easy for me to arrange that and um it didn’t take him away from work, that kind of thing so it was a it was a really good arrangement for us because we work well together."

"But he handled a lot of the uh World Church stuff, a lot of administration stuff and I kind of was the pastoral care in terms of uh going to people’s homes, and that kind of thing, so."

I don't really see it so much as that she defers to him, as that she confers with him, an equal footing of sorts that I find intriguing in religion, especially as I grew up in a religion that has never had this equality factor.

This equality seems interesting, mostly because it seems to be the result of an acceptance of a woman's ministry. She doesn't feel threatened, she is willing to share. She (at this point) doesn't experience oppostion, she doesn't feel like the congregation is opposed to her ministry.

She says "Well, once again, and lucky for me, the people who had first been ordained uh had paved the way. SO by the time I came along, it was old news."

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