We were founded by Neylan McBaine in 2009 as the Mormon Women Project (MWP). With a recorder and a lot of curiosity, Neylan began interviewing LDS women and publishing their stories. She believed that sharing the breadth and depth of lived experiences of LDS women would challenge the monochrome stereotype of LDS women within and outside of our community. Furthermore, Neylan believed that through this platform, LDS women could be mobilized to create egalitarian change within their sphere of influence.
In 2012, Neylan presented at the FairMormon Conference. Her paper, To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm for Examining Gendered Participation Within Church Organizational Structure, addressed the pain caused by the limited involvement in the eclesatical governance of the Church experienced by many women. It was an unapologetic call for action in wards and stakes and inspired the creation of a sister organization, Cooperative Ministry, in 2014. Cooperative Ministry was run by Elizabeth Ostler and Meredith Nelson. It was intended to provide a space for women of the Church to find faithful ways to bring about a more egalitarian governance within the Church while keeping within the bounds of doctrine. Under Cooperative Ministry, the Sunday School Supplements was created. These were commentaries on each of the Gospel Doctrine lessons written by LDS women focused on examining women in the scriptures and sharing how latter-day LDS women were interpreting the scriptures and applying them to their lives.
In 2016, Neylan expanded upon her FairMormon paper with the publication of Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact. Neylan received an outpouring of responses from individuals wanting to apply her suggestions. Ward Councils, Stake Presidencies and High Councils were discussing the paper and deliberating on its applicability to their stewardship. It became clear that the MWP should become a resource to support this work. In response, Neylan, Elizabeth, and Meredith dissolved Cooperative Ministry and incorporated its content and purpose into the MWP.
In 2018, Elizabeth Ostler and Meredith Nelson became co-editors of the MWP. They expanded the MWP content to include podcasts and special series. In 2019, they hosted the MWP 10th Anniversary celebration at Neylan’s home in Salt Lake City. In its first 10 years, the MWP published 247 interviews, 188 Sunday school supplements, 17 podcasts, 3 special series and touched the lives of countless women.
In 2020, Elizabeth Ostler was made editor-in-chief of the MWP and a new editorial team was established. Our content was further expanded to include narrative essays focused on how LDS women were striving to be disciples of Christ. And in 2021, Founder Neylan McBaine and Elizabeth Ostler decided to change the name of the Mormon Women Project to the Latter-day Saints Women Project. Though our name has changed, our mission remains the same – to provide a platform that amplifies LDS women’s voices, demonstrates how there is no “right way” to be an LDS woman, provides resources and empowerment for the creation of more egalitarian governance and worship within our spheres of influence.
The LDSWP is composed of faithful women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints anxiously engaged in the good cause of edifying our sisters and brothers, that we may all experience a joy-filled worship and a sanctifying mortal experience.
We believe that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses the lives of its members and provides the ordinances necessary for salvation.
We sustain our church leaders and contribute to the functionality of our wards by steadfastly fulfilling our callings.
We work within the framework of current LDS doctrine to question traditions that may limit us as individuals and as a people.
We view both our commonalities and our differences as strengths as we explore alternative approaches that empower everyone.
We do this by seeking out and sharing the stories of women in the Church.
We provide tools that allow members to quote women and highlight their voices and experiences in worship and personal study.
We are committed to highlighting the diversity and breadth of experiences in living a life of faith and devotion.
At its inception in 2009, LDS Women Project founder Neylan McBaine said, “The [LDS] Women Project intends to give voice to those thousands of women who have diverse cultural backgrounds, have overcome personal challenges, magnify their roles at home, or who represent us to the world in their jobs.”
In light of the continuing civil rights demonstrations in the United States and around the world, we reiterate our mission to elevate the voices of our diverse membership within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We stand with the marginalized: Black lives matter. Women’s lives matter. The lives of LGBTQ individuals matter. The lives of immigrants, those with physical differences, those with mental illness—they all matter. All are alike unto God (2 Nephi 26:33).
The people of the City of Enoch were called “Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). Everyone can be brought into the center of our love and fellowship. The LDS Women Project will continue to do its part to build up Zion.
We do this by learning and embodying antiracist practices, seeking out and sharing diverse female voices, examining our own implicit and explicit biases, and taking responsibility when we fall short of these ideals.
We invite you to join us.