Other developments include the creation of an international board of women in the church's general Young Women auxiliary and the creation of a new general women's meeting, the brainchild of the church's general women leaders.
"Conversations about giving more visibility to women have been going on for some years," LDS Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said recently. Those conversations led to the missionary changes and to the decision to add portraits of women leaders in the church's Conference Center.
"The church has always been good at including women," said Richardson, who served a mission in Belgium and the Netherlands. "We're excited to see those changes."
The goal of the 17 women who make the Mormon Women Stand Facebook page go is to post four new items a day, though they don't always succeed. One standing element on the page is "Sunday Evening Classics," which includes a guest moderator leading a Sunday evening discussion about a classic talk by an LDS Church leader; it has become one of the most popular items.
Fallentine and Richardson are pleased that more than 10,650 people have liked the Mormon Women Stand page in three weeks. In comparison, the year-old Facebook page for "Ordain Women," characterized in a New York Times story that took a yearlong look at women in the church as a "band of Mormon feminists" seeking priesthood ordination for women, has 2,450 likes.
"I don't know if we could say those numbers equal success," Richardson said, "but I'm humbled by it. It definitely shows me there was a need for such an endeavor. If it inspires a woman to do something differently today than she did yesterday, that would be success."
Mormon Women Stand leaders declined to directly address Ordain Women — "Our mission inherently opposes anything contrary to what church leaders have said," Richardson offered — but they said that when the LDS Church said it could not provide tickets to Ordain Women for the priesthood session of this weekend's general conference, interest in their new page seemed to grow.
Kathryn Skaggs, a popular Mormon blogger, publicized Fallentine's experience with the New Zealand Parliament and asked her to help start Mormon Women Stand. Skaggs recently became the target of some columnists for a post on her blog about the movie "Frozen." She was not the first to suggest the film has an underlying "agenda to normalize homosexuality," and said Wednesday that the reaction to her post revealed that all Latter-day Saints "should be concerned about issues of religious freedom."
Skaggs said Mormon Women Stand is the broad, collective voice of 17 "faithful, devout women from different backgrounds with different challenges and talents who take the covenants they make in the temple so seriously they are compelled to stand up for the doctrines, teachings and councils of the church."
"We realize," she added, "that most every active Mormon could say, 'I stand with the prophet.' What it means to us is unequivocal support."
That mission statement spoke to Richardson.
"I think there is a such a huge need right now for women to stand for things, to stand for families, to stand for morals," she said. "For me, talking about the things we have in common and to support the brethren has been a passion of mine. It's easy to support the brethren, but it can be harder to be vocal in support of the brethren. Mormon Women Stand is definitely a place for like-minded women to support the prophet."
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