Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Kate Kelly, right, hugs her mother Donna during an Ordain Women rally in Salt Lake City Sunday, June 22, 2014. Kelly, leader of a group seeking women's ordination to the LDS priesthood, appealed her excommunication to her stake president in late July. She announced Friday that her appeal was denied.

SALT LAKE CITY — The appeal of the excommunication of the leader of a group seeking women's ordination to the LDS priesthood was denied.

Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in late June. She appealed the ruling to her former stake president, leader of a geographic area in the LDS Church, in Virginia in late July and received his reply Friday.

Her former stake president wrote:

"This short letter is to advise you that the decision of the council is to confirm and sustain the initial decision," Scott Wheatley, Kelly's former stake president in Virginia, wrote, adding that within a few weeks he will send a longer letter addressing Kelly's main points in her appeal.

Kelly Friday said in a written statement: "I have love for the gospel and its people. I have encouraged others to stay inside the Church, if they are able. As provided for in the Church's own appeals process, it is not too late for my leaders to declare my innocence and restore me to full fellowship."

The group posted the letter from Kelly's former stake president on the Ordain Women website, similar to its posting of a letter from Kelly's bishop letter in June.

"I again express my sincere hope that you will make the necessary changes in your life to regain your membership in the Church together with all of the associated blessings," Wheatley wrote.

Kelly, who moved to Africa in the early fall so her husband could continue doctoral work, said she intended to appeal the decision to the First Presidency of the LDS Church, calling her excommunication an "egregious error."

LDS Church officials maintained that "church discipline is a private matter between individuals and their local leaders," according to Kristen Howey, spokeswoman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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