The years 2012 and 2013 have been years of change in the LDS Church. We’ve seen a new edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions, new Young Men’s and Young Women’s manuals, a new edition of the scriptures, a lowering of the missionary age, hoards of new sister missionaries and a new sister missionary leadership position, missionaries now use the internet and Facebook, the Church reached out the to the gay community with mormonsandgays.org, the Revelations in Context series that brings greater transparency to church history, the release of the Joseph Smith Papers project including the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, women prayed in General Conference for the first time, and the Priesthood Session of General Conference will now be broadcast over the internet like other sessions. There have been so many changes that I’m sure I’ve missed a few.
If you look closely at these changes, these are generally progressive moves by the LDS Church. Sure, the new YW and YM manuals are not perfect, but they are an improvement over the previous ones. The change in missionary ages has meant a sharp rise in the number of overall missionaries but especially in the numbers of women serving.
In these two years of change, there has been significant change in the Mormon Feminist community too. Instead of sticking to our beloved blogs and cryptic internet handles, we ventured into a multitude of Facebook groups as ourselves and there we organized and engaged in a bunch of activist campaigns: Temple Baptisms, the All are Alike unto God petition, Wear Pants to Church Day, Let Women Pray, Ordain Women, I’m a Mormon Feminist, Ordain Women’s October 5th Priesthood Action, and One of Millions.
Mormon Feminists existed on the internet for quite a long time before we became activists. Wear Pants to Church Day was not the first campaign, but it was a turning point for us as a community. It spurred a bunch of new campaigns and now there is a sense that we can create change and make our voices heard within the LDS Church.
I see all of these changes and I’m hopeful about the future of the LDS Church as an institution. But I’m not sure I see change on the ward level. I do not think that these larger changes have caused cultural change in my very Mormon neighborhood or that many of my neighbors even know about these changes. I think many Mormons do not see that their church is changing.
I wear pants because I want to acknowledge the changes that have taken place and I look forward to future change. I feel that my pants are a placeholder for cultural change in my ward. I want my ward to mirror the inclusiveness that Elders Uchtdorf and Holland spoke about in the October General Conference. We need to make room for those who have questions about their faith, struggle with gender issues in the church, are single or divorced, are gay, are transgender, suffer from depression or are in any way different from the teeny tiny little boxes that Mormon men and women are supposed to fit into. I want to be that change by sticking up for marginalized individuals in my ward. I want to experience that change by not being judged by ward members for being a mother and having a full-time job. I want everyone to be welcome at church.