You Make the Call – Women in Priesthood Meeting (Gasp!)

Previous installments in this series have examined questions from the perspective of a priesthood leader. This post puts a wrinkle in the theme by asking a question about what a woman should do.

Assume that you are a married woman.  Assume further that quarterly stake priesthood meeting is coming up next week, and your husband has been asked to speak.  And now your teenage son just got off the phone with the stake executive secretary who invited him to play a musical solo as part of the same meeting.  It’s a good thing President Benson gave that talk condemning pride, otherwise you would have a terminal case of pridefulness.  You love your husband and son, and look forward to attending the meeting with them.

When you tell them your intentions over dinner, there is an awkward silence.  They’re not sure you are allowed to be there, and it would be embarrassing if the stake president has to call you to repentance from the pulpit.  The next day, you bring the question up with your visiting teachers, and you again get a negative reaction.  You begin to wonder what is so special about priesthood meeting that your very presence there would spoil it.  What kind of secrets are discussed behind closed doors in those male only, non-smoke-filled rooms?  Are mysteries of the kindom revealed, such as how deacons know where to pass the sacrament, or how High Priests learn how snore so loudly in church?

Under the circumstances outlined above,

Should a woman attend priesthood meeting?

Yes. What a dumb question.
Yes, but only if she gets permission first.
No. What a dumb question.
Yes, but only if she wears pants, white shirt, and tie. It’s the uniform of the priesthood.
Who does she think she is? Sonia Johnson?

View Results


  1. Once while attending BYU a roommate and I attended priesthood meeting just because we were interested. We were not called to repentance. The only thing that happened (besides getting strange looks) was that a member of the bishopric asked us if we were there to participate in some musical number or other special reason. We just said no, that we were there to see what it was like. The result of our priesthood meeting attendance: we found it boring and the lesson poorly prepared. I personally have never been back since, but would certainly attend under the above described circumstances.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Dumb question, Sumer goes as often as she wants.

  3. Steve, yes, but does she wear the white shirt and tie?


    we found it boring and the lesson poorly prepared

    Do I know you? That sounds like my ward.

  4. Sure, why not? The General Conference Priesthood Meeting is published in the Ensign, so it’s not all that secret after all. Although I have to admit I chickened out of going to Relief Society when my daughter was giving a lesson I wanted to hear. Maybe I was afraid of curious looks too.

  5. I thought stake priesthood meetings were semiannual, halfway between the semiannual stake conferences. Maybe I’ve been missing twice as many as I thought.

    I have frequently seen sisters attend priesthood meeting for such things as ordinations or settings apart. I even remember a sister speaking once in stake priesthood meeting. One of the weirdest priesthood meetings I ever attended. Having a sister speak actually turned out to be one of the least puzzling things about the meeting.

  6. David taught last week, and I sat-in without even giving it thought. Didn’t know it was even something to think about…

  7. My first reaction is that I appreciate Relief Society, because I can act in RS in ways that I would not do if men were present. I would like to extend that same opportunity to men, who also often lack opportunities for same-sex socializing.

    That said, because it is “priesthood” meeting, that always implies in my mind leadership and hierarchy – and the feminist in me wants the opportunity for what is communicated within that meeting to be available to all.

    So, maybe men need a non-priesthood space for same-sex bonding!

  8. Aaron Brown says:

    “Sumer goes as often as she wants.”

    So does Stina. Which is to say, never.


  9. Not uncommon in Seattle. A sister in our ward sat next to a member of our stake presidency during a priesthood broadcast, front and center.

    I’d suggest not sheepishly hanging in the back, but rather plant yourself in the front row.

  10. I don’t think there anything wrong with attending. I’ve never attended a priesthood meeting because I want my time away from the men where I can cry all I want.
    I get to learn and discuss the gospel with them in Gospel Doctrine.

  11. Aaron Brown says:

    The only time I ever attended Relief Society was as a BYU freshman, and I did it just for the novelty. Turns out, that was the day a huge doctrinal brawl broke out in Elders Quorum, which I regret not being present for to this day. This was probably God’s way of telling me to attend the class to which I was assigned.


  12. Yes. What a dumb question. (that was my answer)

    But only because:
    A. Men are in RS meetings occasionally. Why? Musical numbers, participating in the lesson (as per teacher request), Bishopric visits, etc.

    B. Just to see her son perform or hear her husband speak is good enough to go.

    C. She’s not picketing to Hold the Priesthood.

    Now, if the woman decided to attend Priesthood meeting every week, yell obscenities because she can’t have the Priesthood, and laughs at the wrong jokes, then I would have a problem with it…

  13. Of course, if women were going to be present in priesthood meetings, something like this could never happen (and that would be a good thing)

  14. Happens all the time in our stake as well. Nobody bats an eye. Usually for reasons stated in the post, she is related to either the speaker or musician. I think it’s a no-brainer. Unless you don’t want your wife to hear the stake president tell you that you need to be nicer to your wife..

  15. Dang it, where’d my link go? I even used the link button.

  16. My first reaction is that I appreciate Relief Society, because I can act in RS in ways that I would not do if men were present. I would like to extend that same opportunity to men, who also often lack opportunities for same-sex socializing.

    The biggest difference I notice in priesthood meetings is the gusto with which the men generally sing in priesthood meeting compared to mixed meetings. I find it to be a very intriguing (and somewhat disappointing) phenomenon.

  17. Happened once in Rochester. The presiding authority asked her to leave—which was pretty awkward, since she was there to provide interpretation for the deaf brothers.

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Wow Brian, that is messed up.

  19. so what happened Brian?? did she actually leave or explain to him.

    When I was on my mission, my comp who was a great speaker was asked to speak in the stake priesthood meeting. Anyway, I felt awkward and sat in the hall foyer. At the time my thought was my own comfort and not honoring the companions together stuff. I didn’t feel wrong sitting out there, I felt very out of place and didn’t want to be in there,etc. Anyway, she came and got me to go sit in there w/her.

    Anyone recall the I love Lucy rerun where they dress up as men to sneak into some place?? Every General Conf time, I do wish I had the courage of Lucy and Ethel- for I’d love to sneak into the PRiesthood Conf session and watch it! I’ve also thought it would be neat if RS made treats for the Priesthood after the Broadcast, then we’d have a legitimate reason to be there and hear the broadcast live.

    Alas, I’m single and resigned myself to checking LDS internet forums/blogs to find out what they say in the Priesthood session!!

  20. If any women want to attend a meeting where the men get a verbal butt-kicking in at least one talk, by all means attend General Priesthood Meeting.

    Under these circumstances, a “Duh!” is in order.

  21. My wife routinely came to hear me teach in EQ if she thought the lesson sounded good. I went to RS under the same conditions. No one seemed bothered.

  22. We had a woman that was asked to leave by someone in the presidency. I’m not sure if she was a relative of someone or what, but he quietly went up to her right before the meeting started, it looked like she got a little upset, then she left in tears. I always wondered what the reason was. I’ve seen women in the meetings since then (with a different Stake President, so maybe that was it), and they haven’t been asked to leave.

  23. LiberalSlayer says:

    I would say, if women want to attend priesthood meeting, those women should also get the butt-kicking talks, instead of the “you’re so special women, we couldn’t ever not be perfectly nice in our rebukes to you.”

  24. Steve Evans says:

    LS, if women attended priesthood meeting, how is it they would hear different talks than what the general priesthood body would hear? Would they get a separate audio track?

  25. mommydearest says:

    I taught Elder’s a few times. I loved it. My bishop is pretty liberal.

  26. Steve Evans says:

    mommydearest, don’t say the l-word! Your bishop might be murdered by one of our commenters!

  27. Steve Evans says:

    or killed!

  28. Steve Evans says:

    or even SLAIN!

  29. yeah, it didn’t go well. She left and the deaf went without interpretation. This happened just before I moved there. It isn’t something fondly remembered.

  30. I have attended a couple priesthood meetings – ordinations of family members. My home ward Bishop always made a point to include everybody. But after the business, we slipped out. Never really had a desire to attend a whole meeting, as it would mean missing my corresponding class.

    And I have been in a number of singles wards, where a friend of the opposite sex as either attended RS or Priesthood. I guess it beats skipping the third hour or sitting in the foyer.

  31. The awkward silence from husband and son indicate that they would be uncomfortable to have her there. That’s reason enough for me to say no, regardless of the reason for the reluctance.

  32. So, maybe men need a non-priesthood space for same-sex bonding!

    What do you think softball is for?

  33. Honestly I hate the stake priesthood meetings so I hardly attend myself. If my wife would go in my place, more power to her.

    I did find it a little weird on my mission but then I was still adjusting to the California way of doing things. Now, would not blink.

    And about those verbal tongue lashings, yeah that Sister Beck was sooo harsh compared to some of the calls to repentance we have heard over the years in General Priesthood Meeting (though I did miss the one about pornography with President Hinckley a few years ago).

  34. MCQ: softball? I think you mean paintball.

  35. My husband has sat in a couple of times when I have taught RS. Last week, he taught HP and I said maybe I would come in and listen to him. Awkward silence, then he said “I don’t think a woman has ever come to priesthood in our ward – it would be really weird.” So I didn’t. It is funny how the women didn’t think a thing of him coming to RS, welcomed him in. I don’t think I would get the same response, which is too bad.

  36. I suppose this points the inherently righteous nature of women who go the extra mile by attending more meetings than required.

  37. The real question here is why would she WANT to go? I am guessing she has heard son practice this piece (too much) and certainly she has access to her husband’s talk. It jut doesn’t seem like much of a draw. But I don’t care if she does attend.

    RE: RS vs Priesthood meetings
    I wonder if the differences in reception that Sally mentioned could be because RS is a class (and a very open one at that) and HP or EQ are quorums? I quorum seems to connote membership.

  38. I voted yes because of the family connections and because I do not get excited about stuff like this.

    I taught RS last week anyway and I am male so there!!!!!! I got cards of appreciation in the mail too and promises of food at a later date.

    I was introduced as a special guest teacher I think some of the women were surprised to see me.

  39. When I was on my mission, the Branch President in one of my areas invited me to teach a lesson in Priesthood meeting on missionary work. I was warmly welcomed and treated with respect. My companion was a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing, but I just went with the flow and taught the lesson.

  40. Last Lemming says:

    I wonder if the differences in reception that Sally mentioned could be because RS is a class (and a very open one at that) and HP or EQ are quorums? I quorum seems to connote membership.

    If so, it would be a misconception. Men who have not been ordained Elders nevertheless attend the Elders Quorum class. Similarly, it is not uncommon for older Elders to attend the High Priests class. In the latter case, however, it is usually by invitation. Which leads me to believe that seeking an invitation would be the right way to go instead of just showing up. The same for brethren attending RS. (I have been turned away from a RS function to which my wife dragged me under the mistaken impression that spouses were invited.)

  41. When I was a youth and my Dad was the Bishop, he brought me up to girls camp. It caused a huge firestorm with the Young Women leadership sisters.

  42. a random John says:

    I have posted on this topic in the distant past on Nine Moons. In order to deal with the complexities of it I have created a theory called the Priesthood Meeting Uncertainty Principle. The gist of it is that a woman cannot truly observe PH meeting. She can attend a PH meeting, but her presence there will change it so that it is not a PH meeting that she is observing, it is something else. The teaching and discussion will be very different and she will not be able to experience a real PH meeting, though she might think that she has.

    There is of course a RS parallel to this, but it is invoked more frequently as the Bishop tends to attend RS meetings at frequent intervals.

  43. The result of our priesthood meeting attendance: we found it boring and the lesson poorly prepared.

    Welcome to the reality of Priesthood. That sums it up for the most part. (grin)

  44. John, (#42), that’s undoubtedly true. When no women are there men feel like they can be themselves in a way they can’t when a woman is there. The result of years of socialization and women looking down their nose at things guys like.

  45. I think she should go. But don’t surprise the Stake President with this. Just tell him you’re going to be there (as opposed to asking permission). We are told to keep our door open to anyone who wants to be there. But letting the person who is supposed to be running the meeting know that something out of the ordinary is going to happen is just polite.

  46. I’ve seen a sister speak in a stake PH meeting, I’ve seen women in ward PH meetings, and I even attended a RS Enrichment myself (the meeting formerly known as homemaking) when it was a topic I was interested in at the time (pen and ink drawing).

    So I make the call for GO! I agree with BruceC, though, that am ambush appearance is never in good taste.

  47. It never occurred to me to attend a priesthood meeting. I guess I’m not righteous enough to want to attend more meetings.

    Actually, I was at a priesthood meeting once, as a teenager, because I was playing piano for some (male) friends of mine who were singing. It felt really weird. Everyone was nice and all, but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Kind of creepy being the only female. I might feel differently now, since I’m older and less neurotic. Or older, anyway.

    I always ask my husband what secret things were revealed in priesthood meeting. It’s never anything good.

  48. When I was investigating, I wanted to go to PH just to see it, and the elders were aghast. I was surprised by their reaction, thought it was weird. I wondered what the deal was.
    Fifteen years later, I taught elders quorum about food storage. Guess I was allowed then.
    I still don’t really understand the problem, I think it is cultural, not doctrinal.
    Anthropology researchers know that a primitive society is changed by the mere presence of the researchers themselves. So we women will never really know what deep dark secrets are revealed in priesthood. (Joking!)

  49. I think it’s fine to go. When we were living in Vienna my husband and son went to a Stake Priesthood meeting and a fourth of the people there were women. I don’t think there’s a “No Girls Allowed” sign outside the door.

  50. What’s more, I make it a habit to have a member of the RS or the Laurels teach the Priests in my ward every year. I figure that they had better learn early that women are more than half the church and have just as much to say about the Gospel as a man.

  51. If you single moms-of-boys who have custody of your boys, or moms-of-boys with an inactive husband, drove your Aaronic Priesthood sons to Priesthood meeting (either stake mtg, or general priesthood mtg), and sat with them, (or in back, or in the foyer, wherever) the bishop and stake president should/would kiss your feet.

    There are WAY too few boys ages 12 through 18 who attend those meetings.

    Moms, get their butts in the pews during those meetings.

    There’s something “magical” (wrong word, but close to the effect I want to convey) when you have a few hundred righteous men singing a hymn. It’s partly because those stake priesthood meetings show the stake pres who the priesthood holders that he can count on are. Generally speaking, only the dedicated men go to those, not the fringe. Those points ( a-righteous, b-reliable, c-dedicated) create a certain spirit that is palpable when their “souls are knit” in singing. It’s a spiritual “wave” that washes over the assembly. It’s a very different spiritual feeling than listening to just one ward sing, or just one ward’s priesthood.

    I went to one of those 7:00 am semi-annual priesthood meetings shortly after coming back to church, and that wave of spiritual power (a good and benevolent power) washed over me like an ocean wave.

    I’d say sit in back or in the foyer only if your sons demand it.

    And if anyone gives you flack for being there, assuming you’re there to take your sons, tell them you wouldn’t have to be if your home teachers, or the young men’s leaders were doing their jobs and had offered a ride to your boys.

    Every boy, ages 12 and up, active or inactive, needs to be given an invitation and the offer of a ride.

    And dads probably should even be taking their 11 year olds as training/preparation, teaching them to feel the spirit when everyone sings. It’s different in that situation. The spirit generated by the singing really is different than a ward sacrament meeting, a stake conference, or a ward priesthood meeting that opens with a hymn.

    Not only should you go, but especially active LDS moms of boys 12-18 who don’t have an active father or step-father in the home, should take those boys.

    And if you don’t want to go, call these people, in this order, to come pick up your boys for priesthood meeting.

    1. Your Home Teachers.
    2. The boys’ quorum advisor (tell him the HTs aren’t doing their job)
    3. the Young Men’s President (tell him the HTs and the Quorum Advisor aren’t doing their job)
    4. The bishop (tell him the HTs, the QA, and the YMP aren’t doing their job.)
    5. The stake president (tell him the HTs, the QA, the YMP and the bishop aren’t doing their job.)

    By the time it gets to the SP, something will happen.

  52. Hopefully long before then, Bookslinger, or something is very wrong.

  53. Bookslinger, I hate to break it to you, but the men don’t even have to be righteous for a large men’s chorus to sound absolutely incredible.

  54. MCQ, I attended a few Sunday 7:00am stake priesthood meetings, where I think less than 20 or 25 youth from the whole stake were in attendence.

    Kristine, you’re right. But I think there’s some extra “glow” kind of thing when it’s good people.

    Singing causes one’s personal spirit to be projected, hence spiritual qualities can be radiated outward, and felt by others who are listening. It may not be identifiable by the listener, but it can be noticed as a “something.” Such is often mentioned by non-LDS fans of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

  55. Marjorie Conder says:

    Just yesterday I was sitting in RS waiting for it to start, when a dear friend and our former bishop came up to me and said that he was going to be sustained as the new HP Group Leader and asked me to come and be there. I was quite taken back, but went. The other women were his wife the wives of the 2 assistants, and the RS pres. We were welcomed and stayed through the setting aparts and then slipped back out and went back to RS. Last night my friend stopped by and asked why I had left? Again I was surprised. It had just seemed like the right thing to do (especially since my own reasons for being there probably appeared so ambiguous.)

  56. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Beautiful response, Bookslinger! I love it!

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