Mormon women to push for priesthood power at Counterpoint Conference

The Salt Lake City Tribune/October 29, 2005
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

Lorie Winder Stromberg is unabashedly power hungry. And she thinks every Mormon woman should be.

By having an all-male priesthood, the LDS Church has cut women out of its power structure, Stromberg believes, and that has pushed feminists to keep agitating for equality.

"If by power hungry you mean I desire the ability not only to accept responsibilities in the institutional church but to be part of defining what those responsibilities are, then, yes, I'm power hungry," Stromberg wrote in a 2004 essay in Sunstone magazine. "Responsibility devoid of rights is servitude."

Stromberg, a Los-Angeles-based activist, went on to outline other reasons why she seeks more power in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: to give women a voice in the church, to make them an integral part of the decision-making, and provide them a heightened ability to bless the lives of others with healing powers.

"I want the ability to participate in a model of power based on partnership rather than patriarchy, based on empowerment rather than domination," Stromberg wrote in the essay, reprinted this summer on the weblog Feminist Mormon Housewives.

Next week the Mormon Women's Forum is exploring the problems and paradoxes of power at its annual Counterpoint Conference.

The conference was launched in 1993 by a group of Mormon feminists who wanted to tackle topics ignored by the more traditional LDS Women's Conference at Brigham Young University. Counterpoint looked at abortion rights, polygamy, the Equal Rights Amendment and the idea of Mother in Heaven.

In the past decade, the annual event has taken up questions of spiritual gifts, women's history, body image, gender identity, lesbianism and sexual abuse. It has expanded from strictly LDS issues to explore the broader questions facing contemporary women.

The all-day meeting will be held Nov. 5 at the Olpin Student Union Building on the University of Utah campus from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Speakers will address such topics as: why women are ambivalent about power, claiming a place in institutional and community power structures, and overcoming obstacles to empowerment - poverty, priesthood and patriarchy.

Participants include many well-known LDS speakers such as family therapist Marybeth Raynes, writers Margaret and Paul Toscano, Janice Allred and Phyllis Barber.

Stromberg, one of the founders of Mormon Women's Forum, will give the keynote address: "The Angel and the Bitch: Examining Our Expectations of Mothering and Mother- hood."

She is also this year's recipient of the 2005 Eve Award, which honors a woman who has been most helpful and supportive of women's issues, particularly Mormon ones.

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