How We Started
When I began my search for my Heavenly Mother, I felt a strong desire to spread Her name. As I researched works on Heavenly Mother, I realized many were published by older people who had a venue to share their voice and works about Her. I realized many young people like me wanted to share their voice but didn’t have a platform to have a voice. I decided that I wanted to create something in which everyone could have a space where they could share their experiences, poetry, art, music and other works about Heavenly Mother. Like any other large project, I could not do it alone. I contacted Kayla about my project, and she helped me get this project rolling. She started setting up social media accounts and began setting up future events. She also contacted Charlotte, who made this beautiful website for us, helped us with the current logo, and finalized everything to make this project public. We hope this website will be a venue for you to share your works about your Heavenly Mother and that we can all grow closer to Her by expressing our relationship with Her through art, literature, and song.
—Emily Peck, 21
Who We Are
Emily Peck is a writer and a dancer. She is currently studying Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic and minoring in Global Women Studies at Brigham Young University. She served a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Berlin, Germany. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and painting.
Charlotte Scholl Shurtz is a queer Mormon woman who enjoys learning about traditions related to the Feminine Divine around the world. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English. In her free time, she is a poet and bookmaker. Her favorite animal is the elephant.
Kayla Bach is a writer, speaker, adventurer, and believer. She is from Southern California and is currently attending BYU studying Sociology with minors in Political Science and Global Women’s Studies. She served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Santiago, Chile. In addition to writing poetry and reading books, Kayla loves to travel, go to Disneyland, and spend time with her family and friends.
Sarah Cox is a Pacific Northwest native currently attending medical school at UT Health Science Center San Antonio Long School of Medicine. She graduated from Brigham Young University where she majored in Physiology and Developmental Biology and minored in Music. She also loves photography, oil painting, and traveling.
McArthur Krishna graduated with a masters degree in Communications from BYU and then co-owned an ideas-marketing business for thirteen years to tell stories focusing on the most important issues facing the world today. In 2011, she retired from that business, moved to the Magic Land of India, became a Mom, and started writing books.
History of Heavenly Mother Doctrine
Partly because Heavenly Mother is not frequently discussed at official church meetings, some believe that members are not allowed to talk about Her (1). This belief was explored in “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” by David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido. However, at the conclusion of their essay, Paulsen and Pulido write, “We have found no public record of a General Authority advising us to be silent about our Heavenly Mother; indeed, as we have amply demonstrated, many General Authorities have openly taught about Her” (2).
Doctrine of Heavenly Mother is rooted in the literal interpretations of scripture by early Church leaders and members. If we are children of God the Father, there must also be a God the Mother because it takes a mother and a father to make a child. In the early years of the Church, Heavenly Mother was openly spoken of. Joseph Smith taught Zina Diantha Huntington Young that when she reached heaven she would “meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven”(3). Both W.W. Phelps and Eliza R. Snow, early Church leaders and poets, wrote songs that mention a Mother in Heaven (4). The concept of a Heavenly Mother was unregulated and widely accepted in the early Church, as Edward Tullidge’s chapter in Women of Mormondom titled “Eliza R. Snow’s Invocation” shows. Written by Tullidge under Eliza R. Snow’s direction, Women of Mormondom was an attempt to show the rest of the world what Mormon women were really like and what they believed (5). For a whole chapter to be devoted to Heavenly Mother, shows that it was widely accepted in the early Church.
In 1909, the First Presidency of the Church issued a statement in the Improvement Era, an official magazine for the youth of the Church, which taught that all humans are literal sons and daughters of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother (6). However strongly the discussion of Heavenly Mother may have begun in the 20th century, discussion of Heavenly Mother diminished significantly, and ultimately became perceived as a taboo topic because it wasn’t frequently talked about over the pulpit. Then, in 1993 the September Six were excommunicated or disfellowshipped, at least partially for their public discussion about Heavenly Mother. This created a sense of fear associated with openly talking about Heavenly Mother.
In more recent years there has been a resurgence of conversations that include Heavenly Mother. In 1995 President Hinkley, then the prophet of the Church, shared “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” which states that each individual is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents,” thus implicitly including Her in a conversation about Heavenly Father 7). In the last fifteen years, discussion of Heavenly Mother has become much more open. Publications unofficially associated with the Church—such as Exponent II (a Mormon feminist blog and magazine) and Sunstone (an intellectual magazine)—have published numerous essays about Heavenly Mother. Online discussion boards from the same timeframe show a multitude of posts discussing Heavenly Mother and sharing questions and beliefs about Her which go beyond the official doctrine taught by the institutional church. In 2011 BYU Studies published “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven”(8). Because this article was published by a church-sponsored school, it carries more weight with the general church membership than publications like Exponent II and Sunstone. Then, a gospel essay titled “Mother in Heaven” was posted on LDS.org in 2015 which outlines the theology of the institutional church about Heavenly Mother and draws heavily from the research in “A Mother There” (9).
David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido’s “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” is the most comprehensive summary of the public words of church authorities about Heavenly Mother. As such, it is the best resource for learning the institutional doctrine of Heavenly Mother. Paulsen and Pulido cite speeches by general church leaders who have taught that Heavenly Mother is the Wife of Heavenly Father, the Mother of the spirits of all humans, co-creator of the world, co-framer of the plan of salvation, involved in Her children’s mortal lives, and that after death, humans will return to both Heavenly Parents.
Although Paulsen and Pulido found numerous explicit mentions of Heavenly Mother, Her existence is not a doctrinal topic that is frequently discussed in official church meetings or publicly by those high in the Church hierarchy of leaders. They were only able to find the number of mentions of Heavenly Mother that they did by scouring over a hundred years of public words of prophets and apostles in many venues, from General Conferences to BYU devotionals. In comparison to the number of times these church officials have spoken, Paulsen and Pulido found relatively few mentions of Her. That being said, the phrase “Heavenly Parents,” which implies a Heavenly Mother to go with Heavenly Father, has been used more and more frequently in recent years (10).
We rejoice that we have both a Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father.
(1) The earliest known explanation that Heavenly Mother is too sacred to mention was by Melvin R. Brooks, a seminary teacher, and has not been repeated since by prophets or apostles. This is an excellent example of folklore in the Church. It started with one man orally passing on his personal theology, which was then passed on, and passed on again until it became a common belief. (David Paulsen and Martin Pulido, “’A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven,” BYU Studies Quarterly 50, no. 1 (2011), 85.)
(2) David Paulsen and Martin Pulido, “’A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven,” BYU Studies Quarterly 50, no. 1 (2011), 85.
(3) Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, 4 Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2000), 107.
(4) Jill Mulvay Derr, “’The Significance of ‘O My Father’ in the Personal Journey of Eliza R. Snow,” BYU Studies Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1996-97):100.
(5) Edward Tullidge, “Eliza R. Snow’s Invocation,” Women of Mormondom (New York, 1877), 187-194.
(6) First Presidency of the Church, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era 13, no. 1 (Salt Lake City: General Board, 1909), 75–81.
(7) “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Salt Lake City, 1995).
(8) David Paulsen and Martin Pulido, “’A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven,” BYU Studies Quarterly 50, no. 1 (2011), 85.
(9) “Mother in Heaven,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (2015).
(10) Mark Davies, “Corpus of LDS General Conference Talks, 1851-2010,” LDS General Conference Corpus.