Stake Meetings Cancelled

We could all probably come up with lots of good reasons to cancel a stake training meeting. Here is my list:

1.  The seventh game of the World Series
2.  The Super Bowl
3.  The World Cup
4.  March Madness
5.  Hell
6.  High Water
7.  High Council
8.  Death
9.  War
10.  Famine
11.  Pestilence
12. Time Out for Women

As I said, those are all good reasons, but only one of them actually has enough juice to force a stake to reschedule a day-long training meeting which has already been scheduled for more than a year.

When many of the leaders of auxiliaries in a stake are willing ditch out of an officially mandated meeting in favor of a non-official, weekend-long event which entails travel, overnight stays, and the likely expenditure of hundreds of dollars, we can begin to form an opinion of the perceived value of the training meeting. But the larger question is: What unmet need does Time Out for Women fill? Obviously there is one, and it is apparently a big one.

A person who is only slightly more cynical than I might observe that between the TOfW sessions and the rescheduled stake meeting, there will very likely be at least one presentation which outlines the advantages of keeping the mother in the home, and another session which stresses the value of planning youth outings which require little or no travel and expense. And a person who is only slightly more cynical than that might wonder if TOfW is getting close to the alternate voice category.


  1. I’m pretty sure Left Field would add World Series games 1-6 to the list.

  2. Does something being popular necessarily mean that it’s meeting an unmet need? Maybe it’s just meeting an unmet want.

  3. I demand that we have Timeout For Men. We can ponder the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood in a morning devotional, but then have workshops on building pinewood derby cars or grilling meat.

    The afternoon would be filled with manly feats of strength like stick wrestling.

    In the evening, we men can sit around a campfire and listen to Truman Madsen recount stories of awesome manliness from Church history. I’m thinking accounts from Porter Rockwell or Joseph Smith kicking trash in stick wrestling would be called for.

    Any takers?

  4. I have some stake meetings to attend on Sunday – so I appreciate the extra encouragement.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Fascinating. I’ve never even heard of Time Out for Women. But I would gladly go to one of their thingies, whatever it is, agenda unseen, before going to a daylong training session in anything at the stake. Stake training is deadly.

  6. For those of us not already involved in the young men’s program, activities like those you speak of would be awesome.

  7. I loathe TOFW. In 2004 I was roped into attending the Portland OR session. I went home chagrined that I had paid money for these popular LDS authors to ADVERTISE their MATERIALS to ME. Congratulations to Deseret Book for their brilliant cash cow … Underneath the “sisterly righteousness” I bet they’re laughing their way to the bank.

  8. “wonder if TOfW is getting close to the alternate voice category”

    What alternate voice category?

  9. Never heard of it, but can I send my wife there when she’s naughty?

  10. Two more:
    –Weather’s too bad to travel
    –Weather’s too nice to spend all day inside.

  11. There is such a thing as a day long stake trainig meeting? How could that possibly be of value?

  12. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    Sans the evening dancing, I find TOfW eerily similar to EFY for married adult women.

    At what point do I become dissolusioned with having a men-only session of conference (with chili-feed beforehand), and demand a multi-day affair with a yearly theme celebrated by books and music that are only enjoyable to those who attended.

  13. Mark Brown says:

    Ann, me too. And Mardi Gras.

    Tom, well, that’s just the question, isn’t it? Whether it is a need or a want, it is something serious that apparently isn’t being met for many women in the church. I find this phenomenon fascinating.

    Brett, I have time out for men every week, on Sunday. During meetings I close my eyes and contemplate many things.

    danithew, you’re welcome!

    Kevin, that is what is so interesting. It is a huge deal for many women, and yet it flies under the radar.

    Jay S, you have my permission to ditch whatever church meetings you want in order to attend anything on that list. Or, even better, make up your own.

    Gina, yeah, those TOfW tote bags don’t come home empty. I’ve obviously never attended one of these shindigs, but the CDs and books sales appear to be substantial, in addition to the $55.00 entry fee.

    Hunter, look here.

    MCQ, I’ve used that joke on my wife now to the point that she refuses to laugh. I still think it’s funny, though.

    CS Eric, yes, please add more. There has to ba at least 100 reasons to sluff meetings at the stake center.

    bbell, read it and weep. I also have a hard time seeing the value, but the meetings are held nonetheless. Maybe they ought to ask us for input.

    LtCG, you said it, not me, but I agree. EFY for adult women is an accurate description, I think, complete with sleepovers with all your girlfriends.

  14. Mark,
    I’m not getting why you’re seeing this as evidence of something serious not being met for many women in the Church. Do all popular things have some corresponding unmet serious need or want? Do people only do these kinds of things because something serious is missing from their lives? I don’t know why TOfW is popular or successful (or even if it is those things), but I wouldn’t start with the assumption that it’s indicative of some serious unmet need/want. It could just be a frivolous thing that people do for fun, like hunting trips or tailgating or blogging.

  15. Mark Brown says:

    Tom, have you ever seen stake meetings cancelled because somebody wanted to hunt, tailgate, or blog? People do many frivolous things, but this is the first time I have ever seen a church organization re-arrange its schedule for a fun event.

    When it involves several days, hundreds of dollars (at a minimum), and at least 10 hours of travel, I certainly hope it is meeting some need. Otherwise it is completely useless.

  16. Left Field says:

    … and regular season games 1-162, LDS, LCS, CWS, etc.

  17. If you’re having TOfM, with stick pulling and all, I’d suggest a 19th century Word of Wisdom Spectacular to wrap it all up. A couple of jugs a whiskey, a barrel of beer and the peace pipe for all. Now, what better way to build quorum brotherhood!

  18. Recently, our stake training meetings (we train in an evening, not a day) had to be rescheduled because the stake YM had neglected to schedule their winter campout and decided the only possible week to do it was the week of our training (even though that had been scheduled for more than a year). Their solution for us (the female auxiliaries) was to have our training meeting the next week: Halloween night. Sure to get lots of attendance–thanks guys!

  19. Mark Brown says:

    ESO, it sounds to me like you dodged a bullet. Did you send the YM presidency a thank you note?

  20. My guess is that the stake leadership appreciates the symbolic value of cancelling priesthood stuff in favor of women stuff. This is consistent with what I see quite frequently these days — the Church sort of falling all over itself to show how much it loves its women and how much they are valued. I think this is a good thing in general, although there’s that disheartening aftertaste when I really think about why it’s necessary. Sort of like Elder Scott’s talk in Priestood Session last fall — great that the women-are-equal stuff is being said, totally demoralizing that it even has to be said.

  21. Perhaps the stake was following the lead of President Hinckley. A couple of years ago he ended general priesthood meeting early for a BYU football game. If general priesthood mtg can be truncated for something as pedestrian as BYU football, then stake training can easily fall prey to TOFW. (I am in no way complaining or criticizing Pres. Hinckley for shortening the mtg. It removed a lifetime of nagging guilt for skipping various GC sessions for, among other things, sporting events far more important than a BYU football game.)

  22. My wife has been to tofw multiple times. The music is generally bad. The speakers are generally good, as they share personal annecdotes for women about the lives of GAs which members around here have little real interaction with, so they enjoy listening to president hinckley’s kids talk about him. My wife never pays to go though, as someone always gives her tickets.

  23. Yes, TOFW is an alternate voice….hahahaha

    An alternate voice put on by Deseret Book. haha.

    Someone has been hanging out with conspiracy theorists too much, and even if it was, so what? Some women don’t enjoy Relief Society as it doesn’t actually meet their needs.

  24. When it involves several days, hundreds of dollars (at a minimum), and at least 10 hours of travel, I certainly hope it is meeting some need. Otherwise it is completely useless.

    I’m sure it provides something that the attendees find valuable, just like an expensive golf outing provides something that a golfer finds valuable. But that doesn’t mean that golfers and TOfW attendees have some serious unmet need.

    I bet there are some stakes that plan around opening weekend of the deer hunt if for no other reason than that the SP is a hunter.

  25. I don’t think TOfW is an “alternate voice.” I think it’s priestcraft. Skipping right over that intermediate stage of actually having priesthood office…

  26. Julie M. Smith says:

    I find it hard to imagine many Mormon women saying, “Hey–let’s leave our husbands with the kids for two days and go to a different city and stay in a hotel and eat out and gab.”

    I think ToFW is an excuse for the above to happen.

  27. Having observed (from the outside) a TOfW I can only advise it is akin to a mission conference but with the topics being those of interest to women in the Church.

    As for other reasons why stake training should be cancelled, I would add any charity fund raising event that involves me getting to ride my Trek (bicycle/mountain bike) more than 30 miles with a steak lunch at the end of the ride. That would include the Tour de Cure run by the American Diabetes Association as well as Tour de Fire which is a fund raiser for the Children’s Cancer Fund.

    Ride On!

    Sam K.

  28. In other news, I am now renaming the super bowl “time out for men”

  29. Matt W.'s wife says:

    I think Julie hit the nail on the head. Then once you go and remember your EFY-like experiences, you either like that sort of thing and want to go again, or you remember thinking about how to define priestcraft as a teenager and it creeps back into your mind as a very hazy line of right and wrong. Also, many people like TOFW musical artists. I don’t. I felt like after leaving A LOT of those women felt better about themselves and life, and I just felt like, “Where’s the church I belong to, not the Mormon Pop Culture subset of it?” Which is exactly how I felt after EFY as a teenager BTW.

    Women like to be together. If it’s for “church-related” activities they feel justified in going. TOFW is always humorous, and most people like to laugh. I just leave torn inside. Did I feel the Spirit or was I just emotionally manipulated? Did those women around me who I perceive as really enjoying this feel the Spirit or are they just being emotionally manipulated? Am I too intellectually, musically snobby for my own good?

    Anyone? Women? Similar experiences?

  30. Matt W.'s wife, says:

    BTW he’s not watching the SuperBowl if I’m around until Monday.

  31. Did those women around me who I perceive as really enjoying this feel the Spirit or are they just being emotionally manipulated?

    Or did they go for the relaxation and emotionalism with their eyes wide open, thus experiencing no “manipulation”?

  32. Matt W.'s wife, says:

    I don’t know. But these are the same women who cry in church when I “feel the Spirit.” Are they just tag-along criers? Do they cry a lot? Why was I not crying? Am I different than them?

    Do they know the difference between when God actually sends down His Spirit and when they are emotionally manipulated to have a “spiritual experience”?

  33. Latter-day Guy says:

    Do they know the difference between when God actually sends down His Spirit and when they are emotionally manipulated to have a “spiritual experience”?

    Some, perhaps. I think that’s everyone’s challenge. We often downplay the complexity of the factors that enter into spiritual experiences, as if they were universally easy to discern and understand. (At least, I hope it’s not just my challenge.)

  34. Matt W.'s wife, says:

    There is a BIG difference. Does attending these kind of things blur the line for them even more? Or should we just accept that all good comes from God?

    I don’t care about spiritual twinkies. That’s what most of TOFW is for me. If that’s what it pro ports itself to be, fine. But so many women do not understand the difference between what is lasting and saving and what makes me feel better today, especially those that live outside of highly concentrated Mormon areas.

  35. Matt W.'s wife, says:

    I fully agree that there is no prerequisite for when or where God can inspire us. That can come at very random times, but the most powerful ones are always poignantly placed. And not all spiritual experiences manifest themselves with tears. That’s not the issue. TOFW doesn’t do for me what it does for other women. I’ve talked to them about it. Hilary Weeks doesn’t do for me what she does for other people. I’m not trying to downplay their life experiences, I just find myself in these situations saying, “Why am I different?” and “Is there anyone else like me in this?”

  36. Latter-day Guy says:

    There is a BIG difference.

    Yes, but the actual nature of the experience is only half of it. The other half is how we perceive it. Sometimes the difference is easy to see/feel. At others, spiritual experiences/promptings are subtle enough that one is left wondering if it was the Lord talking, or just the result of a sunny day and a good breakfast.

  37. Matt W.’s wife, I hope you realize how your questions come across.

    I know quite a few women who attend TOFW every few years. They go for the companionship and the chance to get away from home with their sisters in the Gospel – especially the ones who never get away for a couple of days for any other reason. (Yes, that is a comment about their husbands in a few cases.) They generally have rock solid testimonies of the Gospel that aren’t due to emotional manipulation or any other shallow generalization. They like Hillary Weeks’ music for the messages of the songs, but they aren’t emotionally manipulated by it.

    Sure, TOFW doesn’t float everyone’s boat, but to dismiss the entire thing as you appear to be dismissing it . . .

    The following quote is instructive, imo:

    But so many women do not understand the difference between what is lasting and saving and what makes me feel better today, especially those that live outside of highly concentrated Mormon areas.

    So, you are saying that living outside of the Inter-Mountain bubble makes people less able to understand the lasting and saving – that women “in the mission field” are more prone to manipulation and shallow testimonies? I’ve lived in both places, and I’m simply going to say that I disagree – totally and completely and unequivocally.

  38. Interesting post Mark. I think TOFW is really a problematic thing as it is a money making venture with lots of promotion of books and other stuff to buy. It also reinforces economic divisions between LDS women: those who can and cannot afford the registration fee and luncheon costs. IMO, local units should no promote or endorse it.

    I also find Julie’s comment fascinating and if it’s true wonder why LDS women will only allow themselves a time-out if it’s a “church-sponsored” event.

  39. Researcher says:

    But so many women do not understand the difference between what is lasting and saving and what makes me feel better today, especially those that live outside of highly concentrated Mormon areas.

    A major difference being, perhaps, that women living inside the area of “highly concentrated Mormon areas” have the option of reasonably attending Women’s Conference and Education Week at BYU. And those are by far the purer experience, culturally and spiritually, as we all know.

  40. WHAT? Your stake let a for-profit commercial production take precedence over the voluminous meetings that are part of the programs Jesus gave us to administer? What is the world coming to?

  41. Latter-day Guy says:

    Education Week is part of Satan’s plan, Researcher.

  42. A couple of years ago, DB did a “Time Out for Coupoles/Time Out for Teens” together with the “Time Out for Women” in the Mesa, AZ area. Our southern New Mexico ward made it a youth activity, and had a pretty good time. During the TO4W time, the men who went took all the kids to the mall and let them have the run of the place for a couple of hours. Even though we all enjoyed it, I don’t think DB has done anything like it since.

    Another reason to cancel Stake training meetings: It is a day of the week that ends in “y”.

  43. err–make that “Time Out for Couples.”

  44. I think most of us here in the snowy northeast understand what is lasting and saving. It is just nice once in a while to see other women, outside of our Stake, who feel the way we do as well. It can get pretty lonely out here.

  45. Here I have to praise my wife, who has never had the inclination to go spend an hour, much less a whole day at TOfW. Not that I would not let her, but I am glad she feels like she has better things to do with her time.

    As an aside, the long-time married folks may not know this, but for the past 3 or 4 years, the Church has suspiciously/predictably scheduled a CES/YSA fireside with an apostle at the same time as the Super Bowl. One reason to be glad that I got married and got old.

  46. Not that I would not let her

    How enlightened of you!

  47. Well that came out all wrong. Rather I meant to say that I don’t feel strongly enough about TOfW to discourage her from going, but I like that fact that I married a woman who does not want to go to TOfW.

  48. Matt W.'s wife, says:

    So I guess I was mainly fishing to see if other women had similar experiences as mine at TOFW which was: there were some things that I liked (Sheri Dew’s talk), some that I didn’t (excessive entertainment emphasis, less teaching at times), and I left feeling alienated from Mormon Pop Culture. That’s not my world. That’s not my personal religion or religious expression. For some it is.

    My burning question was: has anyone else felt that way? And from the comments, I think the answer is yes.

    Growing up in a lower concentration of Mormons, we wanted to participate in anything that remotely had to do with the church. (youth activities, firesides, guest speakers, movie premieres, etc..) Now as I get older, I don’t. Others still do. I don’t care where you live or how many Mormons live near you, I care what you do with it. But I do try to analyze, why does this reach you and not me?

  49. But I do try to analyze, why does this reach you and not me?

    Probably because people are different – and probably not anything more profound than that.

  50. Matt W.'s wife, says:

    Then I ask, how are we different? Why are we different? What reaches you? And then I get too busy to think about it anymore.

  51. I’ve been to a couple of TOFW and was struck by the high level of gabbing. The room was just electric with women talking! I also noticed how many women seemed to be re-connecting with someone from a different ward/stake they hadn’t seen for awhile. I think women enjoy and need to be and talk with other women and don’t get enough opportunities to fill that need. I think of how hard it is in our ward to get RS started because everyone is talking!
    I will also admit (I’m alittle embarrased) that I made little comments to myself during the opening prayer at the last TOFW I attended that we were gathered together to pay homage to Sherri Dew (she gets LOTS of attention when she is there) and to collect A LOT of money for Deseret Book. The book selling is alittle offensive. Plus the admission price has pretty much priced me out of future participation.

  52. As I mentioned above, my wife enjoyed the one she has attended, and there is another one coming to our area this spring that she wants to attend. I’m all for it.

  53. AHLDuke–I assumed that was what you meant, and I know it’s not fair to pick on tossed-off blog comments. But that seemed such an unfortunate formulation that I thought you might want to clarify. Thanks for doing so.

  54. Our stake always holds stake conference on Superbowl weekend. Coincidence, you say? All I know is that meetings are all over by noon. Party on…

  55. I always hated Education Week at BYU because all of the men’s restrooms were converted to restrooms for women wearing jumpers.

    I arbitrarily extend this aversion to Time Out for Women…

    (But what a great name, though not quite as good as Polish with Pleasure.

    As it happens, Time Out for Women is probably the only thing on the list that I wouldn’t prefer to a stake meeting.

  56. Kristine,

    My wife and I are the first people to know that “allowing” her to do something is just not in our family vocabulary.

  57. “Then I ask, how are we different? Why are we different? What reaches you?”

    Matt W.’s wife, I think the real question is what reaches you? Sounds like not a lot. And yet, you have been to Time Out for Women multiple times. Why? Yes, the tickets were free. But it was worth your time more than once. I think you are not being honest about what you gain from it. Whatever it is that motivated you, you can bet that there are others there in the same frame of mind.

    One thing that helps me is to remember that my way of thinking is easy for me, just like someone else’s is for her. i.e. God made some people who are easily tearful and who are repulsed by any book that didn’t originate from Deseret Book. That is not you or me, but I can learn something of great value from that woman.

  58. Uh—- they have opening and closing prayers at TOFW?

    I have no problem with DB organizing events for their authors and artists to promote their work- and if people are willing to pay to get in, more power to them!

    However, anything that makes it seem like a church meeting just really chaps my hide. This includes prayers, promotion via Sunday meetings or church email lists, etc.

    It is clear that this is a commercial venture. Is anyone familiar with how they market it, other than to their customer database and word of mouth? I know they don’t use church records, because it was not promoted at all to our poor, inner-city ward when they were in town a few years ago. (Of course the use of church records is prohibited.)

  59. GatoraideMomma says:

    I have “sorta” wanted to go. I also didn’t want to pay the price, but I understand, too, they can’t do it “free” speakers are paid, the location is not a stake center and free, etc. I would enjoy the trip and time with “girl friends” in the church whom I don’t see much since were in the mission field separated by neighborhoods and miles in our ward and lots of miles in the stake. But I get weary of so often the main events we are offered at church are “talks”–conferences, firesides, speakers, etc., etc., at church. Didn’t the church do something of that kind for New Year’s for the Youth this year…speakers/video? Yes, the music, tab choir, Mormon Pop, etc. and enjoyable, but I just don’t want sit passively much any more!!! lol.

    The price excludes many who can’t afford to go. Women love shopping, so don’t nix the purchases. Excursions to the Temple for many includes a stop at the LDS book store nearby, especially if you don’t have one in your town like you’d find out west?

    And why do professionals go to conferences? For the talks/speakers or more for the networking/seeing new products/to get away from home/office/responsiblities/entertainment/socializing/shopping. Why wouldn’t members–men or women–have the same collection of motivations to go?