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


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:

Statement from Sunstone’s Board


The 2014 #Sunstone Symposium has made the news several times over! Check out the great coverage:

Fox 13: Ordain Women members discuss impact of Kate Kelly’s excommunication

The Daily Beast: Mormon Reformers Behind the ‘Zion Curtain’ Refused to Be Silenced

The Salt Lake Tribune: Mormon Feminists Discuss Tone and the Patriarchy

City Weekly: Mormons Talk Guns, Faith and White Privilege


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:

This is Sunstone’s original report of the September Six proceedings and the follow-up piece.

Sunstone Editor Elbert Peck wrote an editorial on the events here.


Looking Back-

Here are the reflections of the six 10 years after the events:

Lynne K. Whitesides’, “The Dance of Love.”

Paul Toscano’s,  “An Interview With Myself.

Maxine Hanks’, “Exile and Return.”

D. Michael Quinn’s,Apologia Pro Mea Via.”

Lavina Fielding Anderson’s, “A Decade on Thin Edge.”


 Audio on the Events:


  • 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







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.

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