ST. GEORGE — Kate Kelly, founder of the Mormon feminist group, Ordain Women, appealed her recent excommunication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Wednesday by sending a formal appeal letter to the LDS stake president presiding over the area in Virginia where she used to live.
Kelly’s story made global news in June during her disciplinary process in which her lay-leaders, including her bishop, put her on informal probation, requesting that she halt her public involvement in Ordain Women, an organization Kelly founded that seeks equality for women in the LDS church.
Kelly’s Wednesday appeal letter, to the next-highest authority, the stake president, contained among other things, a chronology of where she felt like she was mistreated in her disciplinary process and a list of procedural errors which Kelly believes have occurred.
Kelly has stated publicly that after appealing to the stake president she plans to continue the appeal process to the highest authorities in the LDS Church, the church’s governing body, the First Presidency.
Before her excommunication, Kelly’s leaders told her in a May 22 email letter that she was not required to change her thinking or the questions she might have regarding the ordination of women, but that she needed to make it a private matter and work through it with her bishop or branch president. They also asked her, among other things, to halt her involvement with Ordain Women and to take down the website.
Kelly could not do this in good conscience, she said in a June 21 letter to her leaders.
“I will continue to lead Ordain Women, the group I founded. I will not take down the website ordainwomen.org. I will not stop speaking out publicly on the issue of gender inequality in the church … I cannot repent of telling the truth, speaking what is in my heart and asking questions that burn in my soul.”
On June 23, she was sent a letter informing her that she was excommunicated.
In the excommunication letter, which Ordain Women and Deseret News, among others, published to the public June 23, her Bishop wrote that an excommunication almost always lasts at least one year, but if Kelly shows true repentance and satisfies a list of conditions she may be re-admitted.
Also, the letter said that Kelly had 30 days to appeal this decision by specifying, in writing to her stake president, alleged errors or unfairness.
Ordain Women spokesperson Nancy Ross said that aside from Kelly’s excommunication, there have not been any other disciplinary councils against others associated with Ordain Women that she is aware of in the organization.
“A lot of people are being called in to talk to their bishops,” Ross said, “but I’m not seeing those result in a lot more disciplinary councils.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially states that church discipline is an inspired process designed to help members be purified from sin and return to the church, and receive its full blessings.
- Kelly’s July 23 appeal letter: 20140723 Letter from Kate Kelly to LDS stake president and bishop (published by Ordain Women July 23)
- Kelly’s husband Ransom’s July 23 letter in support of Kelly’s appeal to LDS Stake President Wheatley and Bishop Harrison: 20140723 Letter from J. Neil Ransom to LDS stake president and bishop (published by Ordain Women July 23)
- Hansen’s July 23 brief in support of Kelly’s appeal to LDS Stake President Wheatley: 20140723 Brief of Nadine Hansen in support of LDS excommunication appeal of Kelly (published by Ordain Women July 23)
- LDS Bishop Harrison’s June 23 excommunication letter to Kelly: 20140623 Letter from Church of LDS to Kathleen Kelly (published by Deseret News June 23)
- Kelly’s June 21 request for reconsideration letter to LDS stake: 20140522 Probation letter from LDS Stake President Wheatley to Kate Kelly 20140621 Letter from Kelly to LDS Vienna Ward, Oakton Stake (published by Ordain Women June 2014)
- LDS Stake President Wheatley’s May 22 email probation letter to Kelly: 20140522 Letter from LDS Stake President Wheatley to Kate Kelly (published by Ordain Women)
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