SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The co-founder of a Mormon women's group who was excommunicated last year has lost her final appeal to regain membership in the Utah-based church.
Kate Kelly of Ordain Women said she learned Saturday that the highest authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had rejected her appeal.
The faith's governing First Presidency, comprised of church President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors, Henry Eyring and Dieter Uchtdorf, is the final avenue for excommunicated Mormons.
Her appeal was earlier denied by regional church leaders in Virginia, where she used to live. She now lives in Kenya.
Kelly's husband, Neil Ransom, now plans to resign his Mormon membership, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1zOq3tg ).
Kelly was found guilty of apostasy, defined as repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings.
Ordain Women was founded in 2013 to push for women to be allowed in the all-male lay clergy. The group staged demonstrations outside two church conferences in Salt Lake City, drawing criticism from church leaders.
"I am disappointed in the outcome, but not surprised since the disciplinary process has been entirely opaque and inequitable from the get-go," Kelly said in a statement. "Fortunately, men do not control my happiness, nor do they control my connection to God.
"I am proud of what I have done. I am proud of the women and men who have taken a stand with me in this struggle for gender justice. We will continue to act with integrity and courage. Mormon women and their legitimate concerns cannot be swept under the rug or summarily dismissed by one 'Court of Love,'" she added.
Church officials said church discipline is a private matter between members and their local leaders.
In early February, a Mormon man who gained notoriety for running a website that offers doubting Latter-day Saints a forum to chat was kicked out of the religion.
John Dehlin of Utah became the second high-profile church member to be excommunicated in the past year in what Mormon scholars consider to be the faith's way of keeping dissenters in line.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com