I’ve spent a decade researching and writing Mormon history, focusing primarily on church liturgy—our rituals and ritualized patterns of worship. And with every additional project, I am more convinced that the voices, records and stories of women are not only important, but necessary to comprehend our past (and present). Even with topics we often associate with men, like “ordinances,” we fail when we don’t account for the experiences of women. One cannot understand Mormon healing without understanding the integral participation of women in the liturgy. And even where male priesthood office holders are the sole administrators, often women are the majority of recipients.
The years of reading through the diaries of men and women, of reading minutes and conference addresses, of reading periodicals and letters, has all changed me. I don’t suppose to have true empathy for anyone, but I hope to, in spite of all my failures as a Saint. There are moments when reading has felt like miracles, however; when I seem to see things beyond myself, when the chasm between me and the other shifts closer. If we are to mourn with those that mourn, if we are to find ourselves in Obediah’s vision of Mount Zion, it will be because we sought to understand each other.
Ardis Parshall is well known in some corners for her stamina as a researcher, skill as a genealogist, and prolificacy as a blogger. Less well known are some of her important publications, some dealing with tricky topics. She is also a dear friend, one whom I am certain to regularly aggravate. Still, she is generous with me, and my own publications have shown to be better for it.
After having spent some time working at the LDS Church History Department, Ardis is proposing to start a project that will leverage all her skills to help us understand each other. She has started a kickstarter campaign for a published history of the Mormon Church that incorporates the voices, records, and stories of women. She has made an extraordinary case for the necessity of this project. And you should read through her posts. But let me make my case. Our story is incomplete, and we cannot be whole without the voices of all of our people. We must understand each other. We must expand our view.
Consequently, I enjoin readers to participate in her campaign. Share it with your friends and families. A record must be kept.