The founder of a Mormon women’s group who is facing excommunication held a vigil Sunday night in Salt Lake City along with about 200 of her as her former church leaders met to decide if she’ll be ousted from her church.
Kate Kelly was shocked to find out earlier this month from her bishop that she is facing excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which she is a lifelong member. The leader of Ordain Women is accused of apostasy, defined as repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings.
Kelly has decided not to attend the disciplinary hearing in her former congregation in Virginia. Instead, she has sent in a letter she wrote and about 1,000 letters from supporters. Her supporters held a vigil in Salt Lake City and similar vigils were held in 17 countries, according to Ordain Women.
Kelly insists that she has not spoken out against church leaders or church doctrine. Mormon officials aren’t discussing Kelly’s case but say that disciplinary hearings are held when members’ actions contradict church doctrine and lead others astray.
It’s unknown when Kelly will be notified of the decision, but she could find out by email Sunday night. Whatever the outcome, Kelly said she will always be Mormon.
“I don’t feel like Mormonism is something that washes off,” She said. “That identity is not something that they can take from me.”
Kelly, an international human rights lawyer said she stands behind everything she has done since forming Ordain Women in 2013. The group advocates for gender equality in the faith with the ultimate goal of allowing women in the lay clergy. Kelly insists that she has not spoken out against church leaders or church doctrine.
Women can hold many leadership positions in church, but aren’t allowed to be bishops of congregations or presidents of stakes. Stakes are made up of a dozen congregations known as wards. The church’s highest leaders called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are also all men.
The church says only men serve in the lay clergy as prescribed in the pattern set by the Savior when it comes to priesthood ordination.
Kelly is one of two well-known Mormons facing excommunication. John Dehlin, an outspoken advocate for gays and the creator of a website that provides a forum for church members questioning their faith has a meeting with his stake president in Logan on June 29 to discuss his case.
Scholars who study the Mormon religion say Kelly and Dehlin are the most high-profile examples of excommunication proceedings since 1993. That year, the church disciplined six Mormon writers who questioned church doctrine, ousting five and kicking out a sixth temporarily.