“To the [extent that] it’s within my power to apologize, I want to tell you that I am sorry. I am very sorry.” – Elder Marlin Jensen
People were audibly weeping. Paul sobbed. I put my arm around him. It was very, very powerful. It felt very healing.”
September 24, 2010
I don’t know if you’ll feel the same stunned awe, amazement, and gratitude that I felt on reading this post, but I consider it to be evidence of phenomenal moral courage on Elder Jensen’s part. The stake in question is Oakland Stake, and the meeting was Sunday, September 19.
I double-checked with Karen, despite her heading, to be SURE that it was okay to pass this report on. She double-checked with Linda, who confirmed that it “absolutely” was. The “Kay” in Karen’s salutation is Kay Gaisford in Arizona.
On 9/23/2010 6:24 PM, Karen Rosenbaum wrote:
> Hi Kay and Lavina,
> I figured you two could spread what seems to me positive news‑‑
> Before our stake conference last Sunday (I admit I didn’t attend‑‑I went to a spectacular production of Aida instead), there was a “by invitation only” meeting with the visiting seventy, Marlin Jensen, about reactions to Prop. 8. My friend Linda Schweidel, whose first husband was a gay Mormon, has been involved with our stake president, Dean Criddle, in setting up meetings at which non‑gay Mormons, gay Mormons, gay former Mormons, and non‑Mormon gays can all get together and try to understand one another. The one in the Berkeley Ward was enlightening and helpful. (I did attend that.) I don’t think there were non‑Mormon gays at last Sunday’s meeting, unless they were the partners of Mormon gays.
> Linda rushed off a brief report of last Sunday’s meeting to me today. She has left out a word or two, but you can figure out what she meant. I’ve copied a part of her report below. Paul is Paul Price, a very sweet man who lives with his partner in the Berkeley hills. He usually attends Sacrament Meeting. Matt and Pamela are our bishop and his wife, the Marosticas. Brett Bradshaw is the son of that wonderful Bradshaw man, the former BYU prof who has been so involved in PFLAG.
> Dean Criddle “MC’d” the meeting and introduced Marlin Jensen by saying that when there is a stake conference, the GA who’s coming to speak has the opportunity to find out if there are any issue of “particular interest” to the group and if so, he can address them. Dean said Marlin had welcomed the opportunity to come listen to people who were affected/disaffected by Prop 8. They basically opened the microphone to anyone who wanted to speak. It got off to somewhat of a crazy start when one woman (I don’t know how she got in; again, the meeting was by invitation) got up there and said her twin brother is gay and told of her “devastation” she suffered at hearing the news and then proceeded to quote from the Bible about Sodom & Gomorrah. I’m not kidding. It was nuts. Thankfully Dean quickly got up and thanked her and then she sat down. After that, though, that wonderful Carol Lynn Pearson got up and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Bible says a lot of things. The Bible says, for example, that I shouldn’t be up here, talking to you all,” and she went on from there. So she remedied the situation, I felt like, and then every other person who got up was eloquent, articulate, and right on point. I didn’t get up – Paul was my “date,” and I was sitting next to him, Matt and Pamela, so I was effectively hemmed in and plus, I felt like the others who spoke were making the points that needed to be made. Marlin Jensen sat there and listened. He’d that he appreciated the opportunity come listen and promised to take what he learned “back to the Brethren.” (He is an extremely warm, kind, funny guy. He pointed out that of the three‑tiered hierarchy of the Mormon church leadership, he’s in the bottom tier and thus, “very expendable.” That got a laugh.) What he did, though, was after everybody got up, and told of the suffering that Prop 8 had caused – the division, heartache, anger, frustration and pain – and when the last guy who spoke told him that the Mormon church owed the gay community an apology, he stood and said, “To the [extent that] it’s within my power to apologize, I want to tell you that I am sorry. I am very sorry.” People were audibly weeping. Paul sobbed. I put my arm around him. It was very, very powerful. It felt very healing.
> Stake conference was good too. Not as good as that meeting, but good. Elder Jensen was again very warm and genuine. Dean’s talk, though, was what really got to me. He talked about “extending the tent” and including everyone because, as repeated, Charity Seeketh Not Her Own. That was the main theme of the talk. He said he’d gone to dinner with two couples (Brett Bradshaw and his partner Jeff and Trey and Guy). He asked should we go to dinner with couples of the same gender, and love them and accept them? “OF COURSE WE SHOULD!” I loved it. It was the first stake conference I’ve attended in a decade at least, and my sense of them was always sort of the fear and damnation. This was a call to love, acceptance and kindness.