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National News

September 25, 2013

Men-only Mormon conference session to be broadcast

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Mormon church conference session next month that’s previously been limited to men will be broadcast live for all to watch for the first time.

But a group of women advocating for complete gender equality said that’s still not enough. They said they’ll still carry out their plan to stand outside and ask to be let in the Oct. 5 session.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced yesterday that the priesthood session during the first day of the conference in Salt Lake City would be available on channels and online, including LDS.org, the Mormon Channel and BYUtv. The conference is Oct. 5 and 6.

Church officials said the move aims to make the meeting, held during the twice-yearly general conference, accessible to members around the globe. The session is reserved for members of the priesthood, which includes most males in the church 12 years old and older.

Session broadcasts were previously password-protected.

Ordain Women, a group of Mormon women which formed earlier this year to push for gender equality and ordination of women, said in a news release that they are pleased with the move toward openness, but they still want to attend the session. The women requested tickets to the session, but were denied by church leaders.

“This is an important step toward a future where Mormon women will participate side-by-side with our brothers in all areas of church leadership and life,” said Kate Kelly, one of the group’s founders, in a prepared statement.

But she added they will still be in line demanding to get in the session to draw attention to the exclusion of women from the session.

“We are demonstrating our faith by standing at the door and knocking,” Kelly said.

Women can hold many leadership positions in the Mormon church, but they aren’t allowed to be bishops of congregations or presidents of stakes. Stakes are made up of up to a dozen congregations, known as wards. The church’s highest leaders, called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are also all men.

Efforts by Mormons to draw attention to what they perceive as ‘gender inequality’ within the Mormon church, which has 14 million members worldwide, have intensified this year.

In April, a woman led the closing prayer during the morning session of the spring general conference. That marked the first time that’s happened in the event’s 183-year history, and was considered a landmark moment.

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