Ordain Women founder's recruitment efforts result in excommunication from LDS Church

Kate Kelly's 'conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church,' bishop says

Published: Monday, June 23 2014 2:20 p.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, June 23 2014 10:37 p.m. MDT

Harrison's view of events was different, according to his letter. He said the decision to hold the disciplinary council was reached only after many months and a series of meetings and communications that involved Kelly and Harrison and/or Oakton Virginia LDS Stake President Scott Wheatley, and that included discussions about the doctrine of the priesthood.

Kelly told the Deseret News two weeks ago that Harrison and Wheatley met with her in December. Harrison confirmed that in his letter Monday. He said that during the meeting, he and Wheatley urged her then to disassociate herself from Ordain Women and stop campaigning to promote ordination for women.

He also said Wheatley reminded Kelly of that counsel again in March and April.

"Nonetheless," Harrison wrote, "you proceeded with your protest on Temple Square during general conference despite the request of church leaders that you not do so."

On May 5, Wheatley and one of his counselors met with Kelly and placed her on informal church probation for “openly, repeatedly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the church and its leaders after having been counseled not to do so, for continuing to teach as doctrine information that is not doctrine after having been counseled regarding the doctrine of the priesthood, and for leading others to do the same."

To end the probation, Wheatley said Kelly would, among other things, need to take down the Ordain Women website and disassociate herself from the group.

Kelly told the Deseret News in an interview published Sunday that she immediately defied the request.

"I told them point-blank, in person, 'I am not going to take down the website and I'm not going to disassociate myself from the group, and those are not negotiable," Kelly said.

Kelly and Ordain Women soon added discussions to the website that Harrison said "were intended to proselyte others and persuade them to support your particular interpretation of church doctrine."

Harrison said Kelly also continued to recruit personally.

In the letter notifying Kelly of her excommunication, Harrison told Kelly she can appeal the ward disciplinary council's decision to the Wheatley, the stake president.

It also said she can return to membership in the church in no sooner than one year, if she meets certain conditions.

"You must be truthful in your communications with others regarding matters that involve your priesthood leaders, including the administration of church discipline," Harrison wrote, "and you must stop trying to gain a following for yourself or your cause and taking actions that could lead others away from the church."

Excommunication is the most serious discipline the church levies. Harrison wrote in his letter to Kelly that it means she cannot wear temple garments, contribute tithes and offerings, take the sacrament, hold a church calling, give a talk in church, offer a public prayer in behalf of the class or congregation in a church meeting or vote in the sustaining of church officers.

Readmission to the church and restoration of temple blessings requires baptism and confirmation, but only if, Harrison wrote, Kelly shows true repentance and demonstrates "over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood."

Kelly declined an interview request through an Ordain Women representative, who said Kelly needed some time before she went on the record.

Ordain Women spokeswoman Debra Jenson said the organization would move ahead.

"While we are deeply saddened by this decision, Kate is a part of us, and Ordain Women will continue," Jenson said.

The LDS Church did not release a statement on Monday. Church policy is that disciplinary councils are undertaken and presided over solely by local leaders and that the actions of councils are held in strict confidence. Kelly released Harrison's letter.

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