- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Leaders in the Ordain Women movement have announced a new tactic - rather than making a big public statement by marching to Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, they are going local.

In October 2013 and again in April, hundreds of women walked en masse to the heart of Mormonism to ask for standby tickets to the all-male priesthood session of the semiannual LDS General Conference as a sign that they were ready to take on the responsibilities of ordination, currently reserved for men and boys starting at 12 years old.

Both times the women were politely turned away at the door of the LDS Tabernacle.

At next month’s conference, participants will go instead to watch the proceedings at a nearby LDS stake center (regional church building).

“Men and women who hope for women’s ordination in the LDS Church will gather together in regional groups with Ordain Women and attend the General Priesthood Session on October 4, 2014,” the group announced on its website Wednesday. “We trust that women will be welcome at their stake centers.”

These feminists believe they have reason to be hopeful that they will be allowed to join their LDS husbands, fathers, brothers and sons in Mormon chapels everywhere.

After all, a year ago, officials in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter to all its local leaders, saying that if women came to a stake center and asked to be admitted, the male leaders were “to inform them that the meeting is for men and that men are invited to attend.”

However, Mormon meetinghouses “should be places of peace, not contention,” the letter went on, so if women “become insistent” about entering the priesthood session “to the point that their presence would be disruptive, please allow them to enter and view the conference.”

When asked if that will again be the instruction to local LDS leaders, church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said in a statement, “The church encourages men and boys to attend the priesthood session and girls and women to attend the general women’s meeting. All are invited to the general sessions of conference.”

In the fall of 2013, the LDS Church also announced that it would broadcast the priesthood session live on the Internet for all to see - a move Ordain Women applauds.

The group is “grateful for the church’s decision last October to make the priesthood session broadcast available online to both men and women,” the Ordain Women statement said. “One year from that historic announcement, we want to commemorate such progress through prayerful, local attendance. We hope this action will strengthen bonds within our Mormon faith communities.”

Those supporters “who cannot attend with local groups,” the statement said, were encouraged “to watch the session at home and share their experiences on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #withwomen.”

Ordain Women was created on March 17, 2013 (anniversary of the founding of the Mormon Relief Society in 1842) by Kate Kelly and other feminists.

Kelly was excommunicated from the church in June by her lay LDS leaders in Virginia for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church.”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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