This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Ordain Women, a movement to open the all-male LDS priesthood to females, imagines a very different future for their faith one with gender equity at every level.
But you can't be what you can't see, as the saying goes, so OW organizers have created a series of photo illustrations to help Mormons picture women healing the sick as they did in the past and as these feminists hope the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will allow again someday.
One shows an image of a bonnet-clad woman, laying hands on a seated woman; another shows a bedridden woman being given a healing blessing by two pioneer-clothed women. A third shows a modern woman laying hands on a pregnant peer. And a fourth depicts two women and a man with their hands on the head of a seated woman.
The illustrations are part of the group's 2015 theme, "Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future," OW founder Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated from the LDS Church in June for apostasy, writes on the group's website.
The purpose of the photos is "to facilitate conversation about what LDS women once did and what it can be like in some future day when women are ordained," Kelly adds. "In line with current LDS policy, no blessings or ordinances were actually performed by women in these photographs.'
During the 19th century, Mormon women gave healing blessings to the sick and to women giving birth.
"I knew I had been ordained to lay hands on the sick and set apart to do that," Mormon midwife Patty Bartlett Sessions wrote in 1884. "She had been washed clean and I anointed her, gave her some oil to take, and then laid hands on her. I told her she would get well if she would believe and not doubt it."
Ordain Women wants members to see these images and think, "It wouldn't be a big shift for women to participate alongside men in administering the ordinances and leading the church," Kelly tells The Salt Lake Tribune. "We want them to put themselves in that place and realize it's not that big of a deal."
Peggy Fletcher Stack