Friday, April 5, 2013

Mission Leadership Councils Created To Increase The Visibility And Power Of Women In The LDS Church; Position Of Sister Training Leader Also Created For Female Missionaries

The senior leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is aware that some women in the Church are calling for Priesthood ordination out of a sincere desire to magnify and use their own spiritual gifts to serve others more fully. In keeping with this, the Church announced on April 5th, 2013 two measures designed to address such frustrations.

First, the Church has authorized the creation of a new role for sister missionaries -- sister training leader. Designed to be roughly the female equivalent of a male zone leader, sister training leaders will be responsible for the training and welfare of female missionaries assigned to them, and will be members of, and participate in, the new mission leadership councils. Like the male zone leaders, sister training leaders will continue to proselytise and will also spend time each week training and evaluating the needs of female missionaries. They will report directly to the mission president on the needs of sister missionaries. They will neither have the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon them nor will they be ordained to a specific office within the Priesthood.

Second, each of the current 405 missions of the Church will be authorized to create a Mission Leadership Council that will include both elders and sister missionary leaders. The new mission leadership council will consist of the mission president and his wife, assistants to the president, zone leaders, and the newly-created sister training leaders (which is why I equivocate the sister training leader position to the zone leader position rather than the district leader position). Additionally, the wives of mission presidents are now being asked to play an enhanced role in training and caring for sister missionaries whenever possible.

These developments will be addressed at greater length during the upcoming General Conference from April 6-7. Most likely a member of the First Presidency will discuss it during one of the Saturday General Sessions.

At the same time, the LDS Church has also released this new 15-minute video featuring three of the most powerful female leaders within the Church -- Relief Society General President Sister Linda K. Burton, Young Women General President Sister Elaine S. Dalton and and Primary General President Sister Rosemary M. Wixom. They provide insights into their roles in Church leadership, describe the power of the priesthood in people’s lives and provide answers to questions of interest:

This video is also discussed on Mormon Newsroom and a written transcript provided HERE. One of the questions discussed by the three ladies is how they access Priesthood power in their lives; in her response, Sister Dalton distinguishes between the authority of the priesthood and the power of the priesthood.

Mormon Church History is already discussing this story, and the blogger notes that when he was out in the mission field more than 10 years ago, they had “coordinating sisters” in each zone who also were tasked with training and attending to the needs and concerns of the sisters. But they reported to their respective male district and zone leaders and were not invited to zone training councils. Kathryn Skaggs effusively praised the video, writing "I loved listening to these great women of faith, speaking with such candor and understanding, on topics that needed to be addressed -- and by our female leaders. I support these sisters and the positions they take on these matters".

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