Welcome, Marjorie Conder

We are very pleased to have Marj Conder guest blogging for us for the next few weeks.

Here’s how she introduces herself:

When I started my university studies in my late 30s, I took one of those tests that tell you “what you want to be when you grow up.” Mine said a protestant minister! When I got over my surprise, I realized it was dead on, with my interests in theology, history, social sciences including developmental psychology, all within an applied rather than a theoretical framework. While there is very little call for a Mormon woman to be a Protestant minister I have had the great good fortune to land in perhaps the only job that is the equivalent in the Mormon world. For almost 20 years I have been a curator at the Museum of Church History and Art. (Nate’s dad, Richard, was my original mentor.)

I was the curator of the Relief Society sesquicentennial exhibit at the Church Museum in 1992 and part of the team that literally created the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters from the ground up (dedicated 1997). Mostly I have evolved into the self appointed champion of women and children, a position not otherwise filled. I have taught women’s history and been the curator of every children’s exhibit at our museum to date, including one opening December first. This chapter of my life, however, is racing to a close. I will retire the end of July and then my husband and I will be off on a new adventure somewhere as missionaries.

In my ‘alias’ life I am a wife, mother of five sons and one daughter (on the end). They are all long since married and gone. We have 21 grandchildren. The first 13 were boys! (“BoysRus” for two generations.) One son and his family live in Twin Falls, Idaho, and another son and family live in the St. Louis area. Our other four children live in the Salt Lake Valley.

One of our granddaughters was adopted from China. Her background has become a shorthand way to explain my claims to be a feminist in a faithful, believing Mormon context. Our Alice MeiXing was abandoned at the side of a dirt road in a cardboard box (sort of like Moses in the bulrushes) when only three days old for the crime of being female (her umbilicus was still attached.) I can raise up in righteous indignation over arbitrary, systematic and especially structural discrimination against the female half of the race.

About a month ago I was released as Primary President after almost 4 ½ years and about 3 ½ years before that as first counselor. Primary was a safe and totally orthodox place for my soul during some of these years. In returning to Relief Society I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle. Although in truth a substantial part of my heart is in Relief Society–not for what it is now but for what I feel it can and must yet become.

On the same day I was released from Primary, I was sustained as ward historian, without being asked! As I stood up, my honest to goodness thought was, “At least I’m not being called to Dixie.” My good bishop and good friend really thought he had asked me. (My bishop and I are the same age and one of us is obviously suffering from a memory lapse!) It was an interesting experience in the 21st century to be called, to accept the call in my heart and mind and to be sustained all within a matter of seconds.

Well, I’m climbing down off my soapbox and saying I am delighted, actually blown away, to be invited to post here, among some of the brightest and most civil Latter-day Saints I have ever encountered.

10 comments for “Welcome, Marjorie Conder

  1. November 20, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    Welcome, Marjorie! I would love to hear your vision of what Relief Society can and must yet become. I hope that’s part of what you’re planning to post here! =)

  2. Ardis Parshall
    November 20, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    Hi, Marjorie! It was great to meet you the other day.

  3. Frank McIntyre
    November 20, 2006 at 6:50 pm


  4. Idahospud
    November 20, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Glad to have you here! I look forward to your posts. And as the mother of five daughters, I’m glad someone is raising some good boys out there.

  5. ukann
    November 21, 2006 at 3:52 am

    Hi Marjorie – welcome, and just let me say that as a visitor to SLC from England, one of the most spiritual highs I ever was on was visiting the Museum of Church History and Art – what a wonderful place it must be to work in. I just love church history.

  6. Herodotus
    November 21, 2006 at 4:37 am

    I’m also a big fan of the Museum. I look forward to your comments.

  7. November 21, 2006 at 11:03 am

    It’s good to meet you Marjorie and I think that is awesome that you and your husband are planning on serving as missionaries. As a young missionary (not that I’m that old) it was an awesome experience! I had the opportunity to work in the mission office with some couple missionaries in the office. It was wonderful to get to know them and to see their desire to serve. Good luck with that, I know you will have a great time! =)

    Also, I have a question… You said that you had a son and his family that lived in Twin Falls, Idaho. I’m just curious what his name is. I just moved from Twin Falls, Idaho about a year ago and lived there for about 6 years before that. It’s a long shot that I would know them but the world can be small, especially in the church.

    Anyways, thank you for your post and hope to get to the Museum sometime.

  8. Karen
    November 21, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    Although I\’m just a lurker, I have to tell you that the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters holds a special place in my heart, as that\’s where I served the majority of my mission. It is just beautiful, and the spirit is undeniable. Fabulous job!

  9. Gardner Gee
    November 21, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Sister Condor-
    I believe you will remember me. I hope that you are doing well-it sounds like you are. I’m sure that Bishop Joe felt inspired to call you-even if he forgot to ask. Say hello to everyone for me and thanks for coming to the board-I look forward to your posts.

  10. Marjorie Conder
    November 21, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    It is always a surprise to find who is out there! I have thought of you often since you moved and I have especially wondered how your little Emma is doing. It is a small world!

    I hope to be able to get my act together enough to address some of my RS thoughts. The problem is there are so many of them and they weave in and around so many other subjects I hardly know how to corral them. But I will try.

    Actually I hope we don’t end up in a mission office. (But I am prepared to go wherever, with as good an attitude as possible.) The office is almost too close for comfort to the formal bureaucracy for my tastes. Besides, if they try to make me a file clerk, they will deserve what they get–chaos.

    Our son in TF is Jon Conder. They have lived there about 4 1/2 years. Their home is in easy walking distance of the new temple site.

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