Mormon feminist awaits outcome of disciplinary hearing

Salt Lake City, June 22 Sun Jun 22, 2014 11:24pm EDT

Salt Lake City, June 22 (Reuters) - As Mormon leaders gathered in Virginia on Sunday to consider disciplinary action against prominent activist Kate Kelly for speaking out about women's ordination, her supporters gathered with her in a Utah park to sing hymns and offer prayers.

A former Washington, D.C., human rights attorney, Kelly is the founder of Ordain Women, which advocates for greater gender equity for women in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Her disciplinary hearing on charges of apostasy began on Sunday evening in Virginia, where Kelly lived until recently. Kelly sent a letter asking that she not be ejected from her faith on the basis of what she contends are faithful, sincere questions.

Church officials said they would likely reach a decision - which could include no action, disfellowship or excommunication - by Monday.

"It is not too late for them to do the right thing," a tearful Kelly told the crowd of some 300 supporters gathered in the Salt Lake City park. "Although I feel very sad and I feel very hurt by the actions taken against me, I also feel a lot of hope and I feel a lot of faith."

At one point, they marched to the nearby church headquarters, where they placed white handkerchiefs and family photos at the door.

"History will vindicate us," said one supporter, Nadine Hansen, who said she had driven 300 miles to participate in the vigil.

An advocate of Mormon women's equality for some 30 years, Hansen said she believes the church will change course on this issue, as it did with the ordination of black men in 1978.

Church spokeswoman Ally Isom said in a statement that the church wants "everyone to feel welcome, safe and valued, and of course there is room to ask questions."

"But how we ask is just as important as what we ask. We should not try to dictate to God what is right for His Church," Isom said. (Editing by Edith Honan; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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