I am not one of THOSE feminists. I don’t care to “hold the priesthood.” Baby blessings that are really Father’s blessings don’t kill my soul even a little bit. As a young woman, I did not envy the young men passing the sacrament, advancing through the priesthood ranks, or emptying the trash cans after church. One of my more classically feminist friends used to tell me how sorely she wished the Relief Society presidency ALSO sat on the stand during Sacrament Meeting so the congregation would have a visual representation of all the work women do in the Church–I thought that sounded kind of crazy and would MUCH rather have fewer people sit up front than more. But today my Sacrament Meeting was kind of a feminist nightmare, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with content.

Let me reiterate: the speakers were not the least bit offensive. No one did anything wrong. We just had the kind of Sacrament Meeting that ignores the existence of most of the people in the ward.

And it hurt.

The first thing I noticed was that no women were on the program at all. Even the two young women who play the organ and conduct the music each and every livelong week were not listed. The woman who prayed was also not listed. The “leadership directory” printed on the program included only men, including every variation on a clerk and secretary you could imagine. Women are invisible on this little paper artifact of our ward.

The actual meeting included two priesthood advancements including the singling out and fawning over two (admittedly impressive) young men who happened to have had birthdays recently. Yup, that is their big achievement. Then two baby blessings in which the podium was choked with male relatives and friends from near and far which the moms of the babies probably couldn’t even hear because they were left to wrangle their other kids in the back of the room.

Both speakers were male–it was a High Counsel Sunday for us. I must admit that I am just not certain what the purpose of the High Counsel speaker is, but I DO know that you can bank on him being a male. Unquestionably. So if you were programming the week, why on earth wouldn’t you look to squeeze a female speaker in before him? There are SO MANY females who can speak. How is it hard to get one? Even a youth-sized one?

This particular High Counsel speaker made a big deal about our young men and their mad blessing and passing skillz. A big big deal. Cool–positive reinforcement for them. But of course, there is no opportunity for anyone to observe the service of the young women. And therefore, no natural opportunity to praise them. And sure, none of us serve for praise. But it is awfully nice to be acknowledged on occasion, isn’t it?

We have a family in our ward right now whose baby is in the hospital for quite a while recovering from heart surgery. It is clear this little family needs support. They need logistical support and meals. They need friendship. They need love. The Relief Society has been all over it. We have provided meals and visits and little goodies and will continue to do so. And it’s not only this one little family–we do that for any need we know of. When Hurricane Sandy blew nearby, our Stake President sent out the order for all Visiting Teachers to be in touch with their sisters and communicate needs where they existed. We were almost entirely unaffected, but we dutifully called and joked with each other about needing chocolate reinforcements since the kids were home from school midweek and taking the opportunity to assess our emergency preparedness. Although my visiting teachers were each respectively pre- and post-birth of new babies, I heard from both of them, making sure that my kids had a place to be if I still had to work. I didn’t hear a word from my home teacher (who is, generally, excellent). That really fascinated me. This particular emergency was almost all power outages and downed trees for us, but the men were absent and the women were connected.

Yet that kind of service is never seen in Sacrament Meeting. It is not acknowledged. I think it is a pretty common notion in the Church that women “run” the ward, because we get stuff done. But if all you knew of the Church was what you saw in my Sacrament Meeting this morning, you might feel that the Church was an archaic patriarchal institution. Or a mans world. But if you were a woman showing up and just hoping to feel a little love of god or to know that you are important to your Heavenly Father or that you could be of service in a community of Saints, I don’t think my Sacrament Meeting could have possibly communicated that to you. We can definitely do better!