Skip to content
What's the Future of Women at Church? - A Conversation with Neylan McBaine and Bethany Brady Spalding
What's the Future of Women at Church? - A Conversation with Neylan McBaine and Bethany Brady Spalding

Faith Matters

LISTEN NOW

LISTEN NOW

women-at-church

Share on

This week we’re bringing you a conversation on a subject that we’re always thinking about, but that has taken on a special urgency over the last two months—the role of women in the Church.

A large survey recently released showed a societal shift with regard to women and religion. In a reversal of trends from prior generations, young women are now leaving religion at significantly higher rates than men. Social issues and patriarchal structures are oft-cited reasons. Are there signs of trouble within our own faith?

To explore this question, we invited two brilliant women; Neylan McBaine and Bethany Brady Spalding. Neylan is the author of Women at Church, which turns ten years old this summer. Bethany is the co-author of the Girls who Chose God series, which highlights the powerful stories of women in scripture and Church history.

First, a little background on things we reference in this conversation.

In  March, the Church’s Instagram account posted a quote from a talk by Anette Dennis, of the Relief Society general presidency.  The post claimed, “There is no other religious organization in the world, that I know of, that has so broadly given power and authority to women.” This one post generated 18 thousand comments, mostly from Latter-day Saint women pushing back against this claim and expressing how their own experience feels quite different.

We also reference something that happened a few months prior when a church area authority in the San Francisco area instructed stakes and wards to discontinue their long-standing practice of having some women leaders sit on the stand during sacrament meetings. Over 3,000 women and men signed an open letter to the general women’s leaders of the church in protest.

We make brief reference in the conversation to a book by BYU Religion Professor Barbara Morgan Gardner, The Priesthood Power of Women published by Deseret Book. Gardner distinguishes between the temporal ecclesiastical priesthood to which now only men are ordained and the eternal familial priesthood, to which both men and women are ordained, and in which they act as full partners.

We tried to get honest about the tension, while approaching some potential paths forward. Is this just about the Priesthood, or is there something deeper going on? What  practical things can both women and men can do to allow women and their spiritual gifts to shine? Does it require “change from the top” or is there an inner work that anyone could choose to do to change the experience just as profoundly? What might it look like for women to truly act as priestesses in their homes, whether as a single person or side-by-side with a spouse?

This is all tricky territory. Some will worry that we can’t consider how to improve women’s experience in the Church while sustaining Church leaders, while others believe that pushing until there is change is the only way forward. We hope this conversation honors all of those voices. We have deep love and empathy for our community and our leaders.

We’re grateful if you choose to spend your time with us on this topic. With that, we’ll jump right in.

Join Our Newsletter

Want to get notified when we publish new content? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch.

Join Our Newsletter

Want to get notified when we publish new content? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch.

More Episodes

A New Book Every Time – A Conversation with Bob Rees

This week...

A New Book Every Time – A Conversation with Bob Rees

This week...

Surveying the Saints — A Conversation with Josh Coates

This week,...

Surveying the Saints — A Conversation with Josh Coates

This week,...

Big Stories, Little Saints — A Conversation with Sarah and Josh Sabey

We’re so...

Big Stories, Little Saints — A Conversation with Sarah and Josh Sabey

We’re so...

Finding the Still Point in Tension — John Kesler and Thomas McConkie

This week...

Finding the Still Point in Tension — John Kesler and Thomas McConkie

This week...