FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Statement from Sunstone’s Board of Directors
SALT LAKE CITY — September 11, 2014
The Sunstone Education Foundation’s board of directors has issued the following statement:
Today we are announcing that former Executive Director and current Director of Symposia and Outreach, Mary Ellen Robertson, will be leaving Sunstone to pursue other opportunities, effective 12 September 2014.
The Sunstone board wishes to express their deep gratitude to Mary Ellen for her significant contributions and outstanding service during her 22-year affiliation with Sunstone, first as a symposium presenter and attendee, as a member of the Sunstone board for eight years, and most recently as Sunstone’s Director of Symposia and Outreach.
During her tenure, Mary Ellen has been one of Sunstone’s staunchest advocates. For the past six years, she has organized symposia and events across the country that have furthered the mission of Sunstone and touched the lives of thousands. These events have been welcoming, intellectually rigorous, affirming, and community building.
While many have seen the public face of Mary Ellen’s work on symposiums, few have been in a position to appreciate her full commitment behind the scenes in serving the Sunstone community. Her tireless efforts at Sunstone have been born of passion and deep commitment, both professionally and at a very personal level.
Mary Ellen has been indispensable in promoting and expanding the important role Sunstone plays in the extended Mormon community. The Sunstone board wishes to thank Mary Ellen for her years of service as a brilliant, dedicated, and integral part of the Sunstone Education Foundation, and for her efforts to further develop the sort of open communication that touches all participants in the Mormon conversation. She will continue to be a vital member of the Sunstone family.
For 40 years, the mission of the Sunstone Education Foundation has been to sponsor open forums on Mormon thought and experience by bringing together people across the spectrum of Mormon belief and interest. Under the motto, “Faith Seeking Understanding,” we foster an atmosphere that respects both faith and doubt, intellectual and spiritual inquiry, and experiential integrity. Sunstone strives to examine and express the rich spiritual, intellectual, social, and artistic qualities of Mormon history and contemporary life in all its diversity. We encourage humanitarian service, honest inquiry, and the vigorous interchange of ideas that is respectful of all people and what they hold sacred. Learn more at Sunstone.org.
The Sunstone Education Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization with no official ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For additional information, contact:
Bill McGee – Chair, Board of Directors
Sunstone Education Foundation
For further information about Mary Ellen’s role as Director of Symposia and Outreach, please see this article from the June 2014 40th Anniversary edition of the Sunstone magazine:
The 2014 #Sunstone Symposium has made the news several times over! Check out the great coverage:
On June 11, 2014 the New York Times broke a story about church disciplinary councils for two “activists,” Kate Kelly of Ordain Women and John Dehlin of Mormon Stories (also a former Executive Director of Sunstone). Kate Kelly received a letter from the bishop of her congregation in Virginia informing her that a disciplinary hearing had been set for June 22, 2014 to discuss the possibility of church discipline. John Dehlin received his letter from a local church leader in Logan, Utah, on Monday, giving him until June 18 to resign from the faith or face an excommunication hearing.
This is the first high-profile example of excommunication proceedings since 1993 and the famed, “September Six.” That year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disciplined six Mormon writers, scholars and feminists.
Sunstone provided a critical forum for open discussion of the events of September 1993 and the ripples through the Mormon community afterward. Below is collection of SUNSTONE magazine articles and Sunstone Symposium audio recordings discussing the September Six, other high profile excommunications, and the effects of excommunication in the larger LDS community:
Sunstone Editor Elbert Peck wrote an editorial on the events here.
Here are the reflections of the six 10 years after the events:
Audio on the Events:
- A Decade of Excommunications: A 1966-75 Profile by Lavina Fielding Anderson
- Tidying Up Loose Ends?: The November 2000 Excommunication of Margaret Toscano with Margaret Toscano, Daniel H. Rector, Robert A. Rees
- Set Apart and Silenced: One Family’s Story of Excommunication and the Struggle to Heal panel with Mary Ann Luke, Lisa Scheid, Beth Luke, and Marybeth Raynes
- While LDS beliefs often focus on eternal unity, when differences of belief arise in LDS families, estrangement is too often the result, especially when the differing beliefs involve controversial issues such as apostasy, excommunication, inactivity, joining another faith, and sexual orientation. This panel consists of counseling professionals who deal regularly with estrangement issues, and with those who have experienced belief-related estrangement in their own lives.
- When Beliefs Lead To Estrangement panel with Carolyn Campbell, Ardean Watts, Morgan Smith, Julian Hatch, Duane Jennings, Dennis Higley, Rauni Higley, Alex Nibley, Marybeth Raynes
- December 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of Sonia Johnson’s excommunication. Many younger Mormon women know little about the 1970s battle over the ERA. Some have picked up negative associations about Sonia Johnson and Mormons for ERA from parents or others who felt that speaking out publicly against the LDS Church was inappropriate. We’ll review Sonia’s outspoken support of the ERA, how it led to her excommunication, and explore whether she had lasting influence on women in the Church—or on the Church itself. We’ll also discuss whether there are differences between Mormon feminists today and 1970s activists and whether Church rhetoric about women has shifted in the 30 years since Sonia made headlines.
- Sonia Johnson: Mormon Feminist Role Model or Cautionary Tale? with Kay Gaisford, Nadine R. Hansen
- The Church Handbook of Instructions explains in detail the mechanics of excommunication but says little about its theological import. Our panelists, several of whom have been excommunicated, will explore the theological and spiritual ramifications of this ultimate Church sanction. Why does excommunication not require a ritual? If blessings are “restored” to an excommunicated person who returns to the Church, what became of those blessings in the interim? Is it reasonable that God would give fallible human leaders the power to separate people from him or their families in eternity? How does excommunication impact a person’s relationship with the Savior?
- Eternal Perdition? Bureaucratic Limbo? The Theological Ramifications of Excommunication with JANICE ALLRED, LAVINA FIELDING ANDERSON, MARVIN RYTTING, MARGARET TOSCANO, PAUL TOSCANO
Sunstone Magazine got a shout out in The Guardian this month! Click out the article here, titled: Neil LaBute: Better for me not to be a Mormon than a bad Mormon.