• Photo Illustration: Jean A. Stevens conducts the morning session's closing prayer during the 183rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Background: Salt Lake Temple, at Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. (Photo illustration by The Daily Beast. Image credit: Rick Bowmer/AP (2))

    Evangelical Equality

    Mormon Women: Ordain Us!

    Latter-day Saints women face off over right to priesthood. By Nina Strochlic.

    On Saturday, as thousands of Mormons attended the male-only priesthood session at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City, 100 or so women gathered at the University of Utah to talk about gender equality within the church.

    The organizing campaign, called Ordain Women, began building steam in March. It’s made up of devout Mormons who are frustrated that women remain “excluded from nearly every position of clerical, fiscal, ritual, and decision-making authority” in one of the country’s fastest-growing religions.

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  • Rick Bowmer/AP

    CHURCH FEMINISM

    Woman Leads Historic Prayer at Mormon Conference

    Sister Jean A. Stevens is the first female to give benediction in as long as church can remember.

    If it’s the first time anyone can remember, you know it’s a big deal. Sister Jean A. Stevens led the prayer at a major Mormon church event on Saturday. The General Conference in Salt Lake City is a two-day festival of sermons broadcast to millions of Mormons across the world. While women regularly speak at the summit, it’s a historic move for a woman to lead the prayer. While the church has struggled with calls for gender equality, Stevens did not speak directly on the topic. She did, however, give thanks for the “blessings of priesthood power.” Stevens is the “first counselor in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Primary General Presidency.” What does that mean? She’s in charge of the church’s programs for children.

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