In my current ward, women are not allowed to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. The ward leadership is under the impression that a Melchizedek priesthood holder must open sacrament meeting with a prayer. This is not official Church policy; in fact, in my experience in other wards and branches, it is not even standard Church practice. A counselor in the bishopric informed me that until 20 to 30 years ago, women in the church were not allowed to pray in sacrament meeting at all. He claims a First Presidency letter partially removed that restriction and allowed women to give closing prayers. I cannot verify the accuracy of that explanation, but even assuming its truth, I find the continuation of such a practice in the absence of Church direction to do so completely nonsensical.

Elder Boyd Packer once spoke of the “unwritten order of things” that it is helpful to have an order to doing things in the Church, even if it is not official policy. I get that. But I completely fail to see any connection between Elder Packer’s idea and whether a man or a woman gives the opening prayer.

We have enough gender imbalance issues to deal with in the Church without the arbitrary creation of rules that serve no discernable helpful purpose whatsoever.