#hearLDSwomen: Not Allowed to Use Church Building without Priesthood Holders Present

Our Relief Society can’t even go have a planning meeting at the church building without priesthood there. We have had to cancel overnight activities due to not being able to get men who are able to “come along.” I was told it’s so we can have a blessing or help if it’s needed. They always stayed in another room or a trailer if they came, so it definitely wasn’t to “supervise,” but I am still highly annoyed every time.

I also find it baffling that it’s perfectly fine and even expected for me/women to be home alone (gasp!) with children all day every day, but somehow  we’re not capable of taking care of ourselves on group outings.
– Anonymous


I served as counselor to a Relief Society president who stated we as sisters were never to be in the church building for any purpose if a priesthood holder was not on the premises.
– Suzanna Rickard Nope


I have often been at activities where some frail elderly man was there for our “protection” (because penis), and I often laughed to myself about that. Um yeah right dude.
– Sarah


Pro tip: Church Handbook 1, 8.3.5: “Priesthood leaders instruct members, especially women and youth, not to be alone in an unlocked church building.” So if a person is alone in a church building, regardless of gender, the doors should be locked. If more than one person is in the church building, regardless of gender, the doors do not need to be locked. There is no church policy that states there must be priesthood holders in the building while it is in use by women.

Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)


  1. This infantilizing of women results in young women who think they can’t go anywhere or do anything without a “priesthood protector.” I’ve seen so many LDS women like this. It makes me very sad. What happened to our independent pioneer woman spirit?

  2. I have a different opinion. A church is in the public Arena. And you don’t want some unsavory character walking to the doors and the sisters have no defense

    • You’re right: a group of capable adult women with cell phones should definitely have an 80 year old man in the church building at all times to “protect” them from “unsavory characters.”

  3. I think most church dudes interpret that handbook instruction like this:

    “Women, do not be alone in an unlocked church building.” I guess that means they need to have at least one man there.

    “Youth, do not be alone in an unlocked church building.” I guess that means they need to have an adult with them, but since women aren’t allowed to be alone in an unlocked church building, at least one man needs to be there.

    “Men, do not be alone in an unlocked church building.” I guess that means I need to bring a buddy or lock the door.

    The most interesting concept is that anybody can be there alone if the door is locked. That idea is unheard of anywhere I have been active in the church.

    • Having spent a lot of time in the building alone I can attest to the fact that it isn’t here.

      It’s not ideal. But the chapel is between where I work and where I live. Going home from work to turn around and come back is pointless. So I get there before most others, by quite a margin.

      Whether there is a Melchizedek priesthood holder in the building when there are just sisters in the building is hit and miss here. Our RSP’s husband will usually be there simply because she doesn’t like driving in the evening, he is semi-retired and they have no children at home. Being a stake centre, with two units using the building, it’s not often that there wouldn’t be anyway.

      But there is no, “it must happen”.

      We would not have a stake young women activity/camp without MPh present at all times. But that is really mostly for priesthood blessings. And also because the Stake President wants to be with the youth, as does the High Councillor responsible. They do not do anything more than be there. The activity/camp is all under the direction of the YWP.

  4. Muzzle– though the idea is unheard of in your world, there have been numerous times I have been alone in a locked church building. Here a few examples: when serving as ward organist I would practice daily to prepare for a Sunday service; as nursery leader I would occasionally clean/sort/discard toys; as stake Primary leader I would set up for stake baptisms, return and store the clothing & towels that I had washed & dried or mended; as a stake leader I once practiced a talk at the podium of the Spanish ward where I had been asked to speak so I could calm my nerves enough to deliver the message with confidence and love.

    I am sure other “support staff” like myself have other legitimate reasons to be in a church building also. Believe it or not, this church does not just happen during the 3-hour block or when others are around.

  5. On a related note, although I’m not sure whether there’s official policy on this, I’ve had multiple callings in two different wards where I needed access to the building outside church hours or access to a particular room that was often kept locked (like the library). Although nobody ever made a big fuss about me being alone in the locked building, there was always strong resistance to giving me keys, even though there were spare keys available. In one ward, I was forced to regularly walk or bike to another wardmember’s house, borrow the keys, and then return them when I was done. This was the case even when I was building cleaning coordinator and part of my job was unlocking the building each Saturday. Meanwhile, many men had keys, even when it wasn’t clear how it related to their calling (like ward mission leader or Sunday School presidency).

    • Yes, I love how the men who don’t teach children or youth (ie never use visual aids nor make copies) are the only ones holding keys to the room with all the visual aids and machines to make copies. The sisters are kept locked out all week until we find a man to let us in—and then men scramble to find those keys in a random drawer because of course THEY never need the library for THEIR calling. That sends such a powerful message to the women of the church, doesn’t it?

  6. It is my understanding that the additional requirement of “priesthood” being in the building is up to the discretion of the stake president. Most of the stakes I have been in, the stake president has been smart enough to read the handbook and just have the daytime Jazzercise class lock the doors. I’m an organist, and I always lock the doors when I practice at odd hours–I don’t want any surprises from people walking in the building when I think I’m alone.

    • CS Eric, per the Handbook, it is unnecessary for the daytime Jazzercise class to lock the doors, unless said Jazzercise class consists of only one person. As long as there is more than one person in the church, doors are not required to be locked. You, practicing alone as organist, would need to lock the doors because you are alone.

  7. Shout out to all the early-morning seminary teachers (mostly female) who have taught without a Priesthood holder present for generations. At 5:30am 6:00 am, 6:30 am etc. Monday – Friday, 35 weeks a year. I think the intent of the rule is to “protect” women, but what if we are not scared? What if I feel confident? I would be very interested to see what men would show up at dawn to protect seminary teachers even if I were nervous. They really need to revise the handbook to reflect reality and the needs of the community.

  8. I knew of a Relief Society President who was in the building and. Was attack by a man with a knife. She lived but has many scars.

  9. I am a defense attorney in an area with relatively low crime in Utah. Church buildings and church parking lots seem to be the preferred location for drug deals. They are often secluded and empty. Several years ago someone in my stake unlocked the church building to clean it, only to find two naked people using drugs in the restroom. I’m a man who is confident and strong and I don’t like being in the church building alone. Pro tip: whether you are a man or a woman, use the buddy system and pay attention. Lots of people have access to church keys and the building is left unlocked several times a week, making it easy for “unsavory characters” to enter and hide out.

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