Monday, November 9, 2015


(Clichéd if not journalistically
lazy picture of SLC temple)

Salt Lake City, UT—Sister Helen Forrester and her granddaughter Janet Forrester-Brooks, who otherwise agree on almost nothing, followed a strikingly similar pattern and reach nearly identical conclusions about the Church’s recent policy change on same-sex marriages and their children.

Helen Forrester is a retired mother of 6 who lives in American Fork, Utah. She works as a family history consultant, regularly attends the temple, and has conservative political views that resemble those of most of the members of her ward. Her granddaughter, who is the mother of a 2 year-old, is working on her law degree at Georgetown University while her husband finishes his MBA at the same school. She has strongly contrasting political views from her grandmother, but views that resemble those of her church peer group.

When Helen and Janet both heard the news of the church policy change via social media, they experienced a first stage in an almost identical manner—shock. Neither could believe that what they heard could actually be accurate. They were also both very surprised that the news seemed to leak out instead of being announced by the Church itself. 

Janet and her grandmother next experienced an identical second stage—grief. Janet confided in her husband and Helen noted in her journal that “this news felt like a punch to the stomach.” As both worked through their grief, they also found a common source of sorrow—what would happen to the children. Janet worried about Ken and Mark’s daughter Lily. Mark had been a married, active member of the church, but eventually divorced, left the church and found a wonderful partner in Ken. Mark’s daughter from his previous marriage loved the church, and was to be baptized next year. This policy cancels that and makes any participation in the church on Mark’s part difficult at best. Janet grieved how this might impact Ken and Lily, as well as Lily’s still active mother Alyssa.

Janet’s grandmother experienced a parallel grief. She knew of several of her friends who had grandchildren from broken or blended homes. She immediately thought of Kaighlee, Brayden, and Kammie, kids whose church participation would be at least jeopardized.

Sisters Helen Forrester and Janet Forrester-Brooks wept.

In response to their grief, both sisters turned to others, to the scriptures, to church hymns, and to prayer. Both sisters found solace in hymn’s like “Where Can I Turn for Peace” and “Master the Tempest is Raging.” Both found support and comfort in the wise words of friends while still struggling with their grief. Both fasted Sunday morning, though not in a public manner for fear of how others might respond. Both happened to turn to a favorite talk, a talk that neither knew the other one liked: Sister Jayne B. Malan’s talk “The Summer of the Lambs.” Both begged the Lord that this new policy would not harm His lambs. 

While both Sister Helen Forrester and her granddaughter Janet Forrester-Brooks, as they tried to work, faithfully, through a response to this policy change, passed through parallel experiences, neither was aware of those similarities nor of how they might have supported each other.

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