Remembering Lavina

(13 Apr 1944 — 29 Oct 2023)

Lavina has left her eroding body, as quickly and as quietly as she could have wished. However, non omnis morietur as long as our memories of her and her words live on, and this remains a place where people who knew and loved the contradiction that is Lavina can spend time with her legacy. As I wrote when she was alive, "cantankerous and caring, exigent and expressive, cynically spiritual and faithfully fractuous," Lavina enjoyed every one of the 150+ messages written to her prior to her rapid mental decline on the evening of Oct 27th, often reminiscing fondly of her own memories of the author. I'm sorry that the pace of events has prevented me from thanking everyone individually for their words and love, but know that it was read, heard, and appreciated.

Click the link below to skip to the tributes, or add another story if you have one to share in the boxes below. Funeral information is at right. In lieu of flowers, we would like to ask people to support Mormon History and Mormon Inclusivity, causes very close to Lavina's heart (see list below). More than that, we would like to ask you to take a moment to ask yourself what you would do if you were not afraid, take a few deep breaths, and start doing it. Lavina's life was not easy, but she did not face her death disappointed in herself.

[skip to tributes]

Donate to Lavina's favorite organizations

Read Peggy Fletcher Stack's beautiful obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune here.

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A library of tributes from Lavina's friends.

Dearest Lavina,
I am so sorry to hear about your declining health. I want you to know how much I have always admired and respected you. You have a much-deserved, powerful legacy in Mormon Studies: as a respected scholar, an important historian, a cultural observer and critic, and as an advocate for women. I am privileged to call you my friend.
I pray the Lord’s Spirit will be with you and give you comfort and inspiration!

Lavina, knowing you brightened my professional life and lightened my personal existence. You are so loved and appreciated. Be safe, be comfortable. You are and will be loved.
   ——Melvin Clarno Johnson

Such an icon. And some simple, but spot on comments encouraged me to dive into Mormon History.
   ——Clair Barrus

Lavina’s kindness as an editor and a friend has so blessed my life. 🙏
   ——Jessie Embry

Dear Lavina,
I remember you coming to my rescue when I was excommunicated for being gay while living in Japan. You were documenting cases of "spiritual abuse," and gave me a whole new vocabulary and perspective at a very formative time in my life.
It was inspiring and comforting to share "excommunicated" status with you, someone so loving, articulate, rigorous, and tough.
It's crazy how much affection I feel for you so many years down the road - a real testament to the heft you put into shepherding the lost sheep.
We probably wouldn't recognize each other after so many years, but I'm in tears and my heart will never forget.
Love you, Lavina!
   ——Craig Watts

Dear Mentor, Sister, Editor --
How can I hold you here a little longer, for one more exquisite Lavina moment? So many unfinished conversations between us, especially about Lucy. I don't know how the world works without you. I take comfort in the collossal gift of your mentoring freely given me from 1988 to 2023. In spite of your own demanding workload, you were generous and honest, precise and kind. You truly cared, about everything, and everyone, fully present and aware, a witness who heard and remembered everything, as if it mattered. Because it did. I love you. Mentoring and heretic bonds are eternal. xo Maxine
   ——Maxine Hanks

Dearest Lavina,

I just read Christian's post on Facebook. My heart breaks hearing you are on hospice care, yet I understand how our time is fragile on this earth. I often reflect on our talks, emails, discussions and your beautiful laugh. You always made me a better person Lavina, you always made me stretch further and accomplish more that I ever thought I could. I wish I could have seen you again, at the same time some things escape us in life and this is one of them for me. Thank you Lavina for being my friend and mentor. Will would always say he was the luckiest historian to have walked this blue planet. I feel that I am the luckiest person to have walked this blue planet and been your friend. I will always love you Lavina. Joe
   ——Joe Geisner

We had great times together, at least for me to hear your opinion and see the deference others paid to you, even while arguing their point, made such moments memorable beyond any comparison, as we decided what books to publish. And otherwise you and Paul and the most wonderful mind-bending factoids, anecdotes from your time as a church employee, and predictions for the future. Why does it come to this? We'll be following right behind.
   ——Ron Priddis

We've only met informally in Mormon history spaces. Your scholarship and example have inspired me. Godspeed!
   ——Eric Rogers

Dear Lavina,

Peggy Fletcher Stack once intoned to Gordon and me that every writer, no matter how good, needs a good editor. You, Lavina, have been our good, more than good, fabulously good, editor. You edited (either formally or informally) a good chunk of the books Gord and I have written. You have been our colleague and co-editor (Voices for Equality), the subject of a book chapter we wrote about you (“The Little Girl Who Loved the Library”), and a gracious and generous friend. Thank you, Lavina, thank you.


   ——Gary Shepherd

Dear Lavina,

When Loyd Ericson told Gary and me that Kofford Books would back and publish Voices for Equality on condition that you, Lavina, co-edit the volume we said: Yes! Throw us in the briar patch! We could not have been more pleased or proud of our good fortune. Thank you for both your friendship and professional support over the many years we have known you. We are grateful and forever indebted.

Con mucho cariño,
   ——Gordon Shepherd

I still have you sitting in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, that hasn't meant that I don't need an editor any more. I think we all do. I just wish you were still mine. Selfishly, I know, but I miss the interaction. If only we could lunch again at a little Thai restaurant. There would be so much to talk about, and you are one of the few I feel comfortable talking with about so many things.
   ——Brant Gardner

Very dear Lavina--I have been spending time with you these last few days as I've been going through my ancient diaries. Right now in 1991/92. In those pages I speak so highly of you. I read of you brilliantly facilitating the debate between me and Rodney Turner, "How Shall We Worship God the Mother?" Last night I read of you editing my book of poems, "Women I Have Known and Been" for Aspen Press. You responded to me, "Carol Lynn, you have been paying your dues before any of us even knew there was a club!" How that delighted me. We were both out there on the front lines doing monumentally good work. Truly, last night I said, I need to find Lavina's contact information and send her a love note. And this morning, suddenly here is the invitation to do just that. So this is me, dear Lavina, sending tremendous appreciation and many, many blessings on your journey both mortal and eternal. Thanks for brightening our corner of this earth. Loving and honoring you always, Carol Lynn Pearson
   ——Carol Lynn Pearson

Lavina, I am very sorry to hear that your health is failing. Thank you for all the good you have contributed to the Church and the world. I shall miss you.
   ——Mack Stirling

I have enjoyed your writing
   ——Karen Besseliere

Thank you Lavina for being such an inspiration to me and to the Mormon Feminist community. You will always be in my thoughts and mind as you transition into the next adventures of your life.

Peace be with you and Christian during thistime.
Love Pauli
   ——Pauli Smith


Thank you for always showing me and so many others consistent kindness and grace. Your notes of encouragement over the years have helped me through some dark storms. I've admired you and your work for so long, sometimes I think you blur the line between human and legend, which is exactly right. Few people can embody the gifts that you have, and even fewer expend them to make the lives of others better.

Your example or thoughtfulness, leadership and courage are something I hope to pay forward as a tribute to you. Thank you for spending your time on earth doing so much good. Your legend will live and love on in the hearts of many of us who were touched by your work. May it too, lay a soft and golden landing for your next adventure.
   ——Lindsay Hansen Park

Lavina, you published my essay “On being A Member of the BYU Community” fifty years ago when it was one of several you could have chosen—you listened to my homesickness and complaints and let me say what I needed to say. THANK YOU! Then you were a beacon for years, the editor of “Aye, Eye, I,” which I used in the personal essay classes I taught at BYU; and then you were among my many friends whammoed by the September 6 debacle, which brushed by me a few years later. I watched you, read your writing, felt that you knew and understood me and my ilk, all those years. The story of your last visit with my friend (and much more yours) Gene England stays with me forever, two of my role models expressing their love and gratitude for each other. You have influenced my life more than you know. I send a deep hug of gratitude. Bless you on your journey henceforward.
   ——Julie Nichols

Dear Lavina,
Paul was our friend at Stanford in 1967, sharing his silk-screening skills and helping us to create our first Christmas card. He had occasion to visit us in the 1970s when we were living in New Jersey. When we met you in 1977, we were delighted that he had made such a good match. For years we watched from a distance your writing and editing contributions to the burgeoning study of Mormon history and practice.
In 1993, you published a chronology documenting cases of what you recognized as spiritual abuse by LDS Church leaders during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. Sadly, you became an example of “killing the messenger” as you were excommunicated in September 1993, one of the September Six. We are awed that you continued to attend church and speak-no-ill of your critics in the 30 years that followed.
Fast-forwarding to 2008, you were there when a group of women on an email list combined our thoughts in a statement responding to the “Mothers Who Know” speech in General Conference by Julie Beck, president of the Relief Society. You were one of the early signers of our statement, “What Women Know.”
We enjoyed watching your partnership with Paul through the years, admiring your complementary interests and pursuits. He was generous in giving us in-depth personal tours of his projects, as you continued to be the go-to editor for Mormon writers, perhaps sometimes neglecting your own projects? I hope your Lucy Mack Smith biography will be published.
Your legacy is huge, and it includes your fabulous son and daughter-in-law who follow your example from the admonition of an earlier Paul—to believe, hope, and endure.
   ——Kay Gaisford

God bless you, dear lady. Your legacy in standing up against LDS abuse will live on forever.
   ——Randy Hagen

Lavina, thank you for sharing your many gifts with us throughout the years. I love you dearly and will look forward to continuing our association in the eternities to come.
   ——Kristy Benton

Lavina, after welcoming my first contribution to Dialogue after I had left BYU and the Church itself, encouraged me in ways that helped me realize that official standing does not equal the kind of standing she herself possessed in spades after the officials decided to disrespect her gifts and contributions.
   ——Scott Abbott

I will always be grateful that the legendary Lavina Fielding Anderson edited my first academic article. Thank you for your example not only in scholarship and activism but, more importantly, your bravery and honesty. Few will cast as important a shadow over the modern church. We will be attempting to grasp your legacy for generations to come.
   ——Benjamin Park

I first met Lavina at BYU, 1969-1970. I would say we met because her father and my first husband's father were missionary companions in the south and ended up living as neighbors in the Moses Lake area. Lavina grew up in the same stake with my ex Richard Oman, and his brother, Ray. I met them all at BYU--Richard's brother was living in a van in a BYU parking lot with a stove and a chimney, tends to stay in the memory. Richard and I married spring 1970 and moved to Seattle and the University of Washington. Lavina moved to Seattle that same fall, eventually receiving her doctorate there (?right). Richard and I found an apartment on the top floor of a early 1900 house, abandoned it by Christmas to house sit, and deeded the environs to Lavina. 
We returned to Utah from Seattle at about the same time--the late 70s, Richard working at the museum, Lavina at the Era, me picking up jobs in the Mormon studies eco-system, the "Camelot" era. (And then she married Paul, also at the museum.) Which is to say I've known Lavina for a good long while and followed her quirky approach to life and the church--finding always a friend and a mentor. We are both editors--which means we know where the secrets and the gymnastics are. I adore her. Feel so lucky to have been her friends for so long.
   ——Susan Staker

Oh, Lavina, how you have blessed my professional, personal, and spiritual life. I'm so proud to be counted with you among this great sorority of women's historians in our faith tradition. You have set a loving example of integrity to your principles and commitment to your faith, in spite of losing your formal place within it. You have been a kind mentor, a meticulous editor, and a loving friend. What will I ever do without you? For starters, I will hold your words close and dear, as they will live on and on. I will celebrate your spirit, and cherish the memory and warmth of your friendship. I love you, dear Lavina.
   ——Andrea Radke- Moss

Dear Lavina,
I count on the fingers of one hand the people who've most influenced my life. You are one of them. Your mentoring and friendship have left truly indelible impressions. I hesitate to guess what my life would be like today had I not met you. I cannot begin to thank you for your example. The American critic Daniel Mendelsohn once wrote, in reviewing a book for The New Yorker, "The writers we absorb when we're young bind us to them, sometimes lightly, sometimes with iron. In time, the bonds fall away, but if you look very closely you can still make out the pale white of a faded scar, or the telltale chalky red of old rust." You leave such a permanent mark on my life. Thank you now, and always.
Gary Bergera
   ——Gary Bergera

So much admiration for Lavina, a pioneer whose work really made an impression on me back in 1993. So, so brave. 💜
   ——Janet Radford

Hi Lavina,
You do not know me but I’ve read your work, your story and I’ve mourned with you. I’ve shed tears for the injustice you’ve endured and I’ve been encouraged by your courage and passion. You wrote what needed to be written. Identified problems thr needed light to be shine on their dark parts and there were unjust consequences for you and for generations and surroundings because your work was labeled fearful. For your courage, I have been made emboldened. I write more honestly about my family, church experiences and I have felt it easier to do so, acknowledging it is easier for me because it was harder for pioneers like you. Thank you for living a meaningful, important, principled life. You inspire me. I love you and I’ve never met you but I feel I know you. Sending a hug and a prayer of peace as your journey in this life ends.
Your friend,
Shannon Milliman
   ——Shannon Milliman

My Grandma, Dr. Irene (Rene) Bates spoke of Lavina fondly and with great admiration. I hope the two of them have a happy reunion on the other side. I only know Lavina through my grandma, but I admire her bravery and integrity.
   ——Emily Bates

We will never forget the first time we came to salt lake, it was a snowy April Friday morning. It was around 6am and Paul welcomed us in, Lavina had made pancakes. They let us stay with them for general confrence. We all painted Easter eggs and watched lots of vhs. We ate chile beans for dinner and then watched more movies. One of our favorite memories with them.
We love you Lavina❤
   ——Familia Sandoval

Aunt Lavina, I have really enjoyed reading your letters over the years. I love your delightful use of words and I really appreciated your most recent October letter. I can really feel the joy and anticipation you have to see your wonderful parents and beloved Paul again. May God be with you, ‘till we meet again. Sending so much love your way, and to Christian and Marina as well. Love, Ashley
   ——Ashley Drury Swenson

Lavina, Thank you for all you have done within Mormonism, especially the feminist space. I am eternally grateful for your role in creating Pilgrimage. It has been a magnificent blessing in my life and I am grateful to have been able to interact with you the last couple years you could attend. I have extreme admiration for you and all you have been through, still holding true to your belief in God. I know how hard it has been for you to be without Paul for the last few years. Love and peace to you, Christian and Marina during this time.
   ——Harmony Rosenberg

Lavina, thank you for sharing your talents and perspective with us for all this time and in so many ways. I'm sorry that it's coming to an end and so grateful for what you've given us.
   ——Karla Stirling

Tengo la oportunidad de conocer a esta gran mujer q nos abrió las puertas de su hogar, arroparnos y dandonos de comer, haciéndonos sentir como en casa, Paul Y Lavina 2 lindas personas.nunca me cansaré de agradecerles el amor q tuvieron al brindarnos su casa cuando nosotros no tu vimos donde vivir. lo recordaré por siempre.
2010 la primera vez q nos conocimos, pasamos momentos divertidos memorias inolvidables.
Te amamos Lavina Dios te bendiga siempre con mucho cariño Cristina.
   ——Cristina Sandoval

Dear Lavina,
Although I am close to your age I did not know your story until most recently. Thank you so much for all you did to protect and encourage that there be safety in our congregations. Thank you for your bravery and your continued attendance. You are a hero to me. I know that you will be welcomed with open arms when your time comes. All the best to you. Sincerely, Sharon Stewart
   ——Sharon Stewart

Dearest Lavina, what a blessing and privilege it has been to know you. Thank you for your kindness, your wisdom, your humor and your hospitality across these several decades. Much love to you always. —Lynn
   ——Lynn Matthews Anderson

How can I express the indelible imprint you have left on my soul? I only wish I had a tiny portion of your courage and fire. May your graduation be filled with tender peace and joy.
   ——Janet Murie

Dearest Lavina, One of the many gifts that came to me through my years of association with Paul was being drawn into the circle of your friendship. I admire and respect you for so many things, especially for standing up for what you felt was right despite any consequences. You embody my mantra "Speak the Truth" and 'Live without Fear." I cherish our visits during which you always inquired about our children and how and what they were doing. Such kindnesses over the years will not be forgotten. Love, Linda and Michael
   ——Linda Jones Gibbs

Thanks for your encouragement. Your support was very much appreciated, from that article I submitted years earlier but didn't publish, to my successful dissertation and monograph that eventually rocked a few boats. Thanks for making certain people uncomfortable about excluding my work from their exalted conference. But you didn't stop there. You moderated another author-meets-critics panel at a different conference. You were always so good at making the Lord's anointed scholars (and others authorities) a tad bit skeptical of their own certitude.
   ——David Conley Nelson

Your word and your work have been a light, thank you for being a courageous bearer of Truth. Wishing you peace and comfort with your loved ones at this time.
   ——Chris Webber


We appreciated your contacts with us shortly after we moved to New York City. You worked with a grieving expat from Mormonism (David) by allowing him to tell his story for the Mormon Alliance; listened thoughtfully to an Episcopalian (Cheryl) in her attempt to support her husband as well as understand the Mormon community as well from her unique "oursider" perspective; and a few years later edited David's first published short story for Dialogue, the narrator of which became the narrator of his first novel.

So much attention and loving care to us over the years. Thank you for your service to us, the community you ferociously fight for ypur entire life and the broader world.
   ——David and Cheryl Pace

As a fairly new student of deeper Mormon history, I have in a short time come to really appreciate the love that this community has for you. Your courageous work is so deeply valued by those who know. And your example through all of this has been nothing short of awe-inpiring.

I don't know you personally, but I should. You are my first cousin, once removed (Roy Fielding is my grandfather). I was just recently thinking how much I would love to meet you. I don't know if I'll get that opportunity, but I know that I would have enjoyed it very much.

I wish you peace and comfort at this time. Know that there are so many that admire you and are sending you love and gratitude and peace to you.
   ——Doug Fielding

Your life has been such an inspiritation to me. Your kindness to me personally whenever we met at Pilgrimage, or MHA, or where ever, was something I will never forget. I feel deep love for you, and so admire how you have endured your treatment by the Church. I feel like my life may be harder to endure without the knowlege of your existance here with us. May god's love be with you, until we meet again.
   ——Marian Rees

Dearest Lavina,
I had admired you from afar before we ever met.
The time we spent together was a great blessing and delight. Roark & I enjoyed your warm and gracious home and company. I have annotated you into my scriptures. Sitting at your kitchen table, you said you never doubted your place with Christ. And recited the words of Jacob, from 1 Nephi 9:41: "the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there;"
You will be welcomed home with rejoicing! You have made our world a better place. Grateful to you always! You will be greatly missed. Be at peace. All my love, Melanie
   ——Melanie Hepworth Neville

It was a privilege to be a ward member with you and Paul for several years. I remember you playing the piano, participating in lessons and always being a welcoming light. Thank you 🙏 your example of humility and loving acceptance was more powerful than you know. I wish you a peaceful and joyful passing into the arms of loving heavenly parents and loved ones who will celebrate your return.
   ——Liz Garcia-Leavitt

I have been loving you and admiring you since your darling youthful face and article first appeared in Exponent 11. All gatherings of women were best when you were there. I embrace you with warm hugs.
   ——Suzann Werner

Lavina, I was so blessed to have you as my first professional editor and as an example—since my childhood—of a person who led their life with integrity, sincerity, and charity. Thank you for all that you've done and may you be surrounded by love and peace.
   ——Robert Taber

Dear Lavina,
We're saddened to hear the news that you're on hospice care and detaching from all of us here, but feel doubly regretful that we haven't managed to see you (all) in so many years. Our relationship with you feels mediated through Christian and Marina (and the bunnies) in the best of ways, but all those interactions have touched our lives. You've been a model of thoughtful faith in trying times and also of care and connectivity. As we've been reading old emails, we've also been so delighted (and touched) to revisit the magical poetry of your writing--even just in emails to us. In our experience, your care with words is only matched by your care and abundant generosity in thinking of others. We'll miss you. Which is to say, we'll continue missing you and your presence in our lives.

Sending lots of love!
Eunice, Peter, and Penny
   ——McMurray family

Dear Sweet Lavina! Oh my goddess, where to start? I only have a high school degree so I suffer terribly from impostors' syndrome, but I have to say, you ALWAYS treated me with respect, from the moment I met you. You made room for me at the table and made sure I felt welcome, safe (especially in some unsafe spaces), and heard. Thank you for being such a beacon of love, beauty, and delight. Thank you for your enormous heart - as big as a clear midnight sky seen from the top of a mesa in Canyonlands. Thank you for standing up so strongly and unconditionally for my Queer tribe. Thank you for the clarity of your voice, the poetry of your songs, the quietness of your depths. Peace be with you in the Gospel of Judy Garland, much love, Connell "Rocky" O'Donovan
   ——Connell ODonovan

You have been unfailingly generous and kind to this outsider, and I have always appreciated you. Along with that, your sense of humor is a true gift. As you make this transition, please know how much you have meant to so many of us. I hope you feel the love! I will hold you in my prayers and heart in the coming days. May you have peace.
   ——Laurie Maffly-Kipp

Dear Lavina,
Sending you and your family love and peace during your transition. I know my mom will be waiting for you with open arms! She loved and deeply respected you as a professional and as a dear friend. Thank you for speaking at her funeral and helping us to honor her. I wish the same beautiful honoring for you — whatever your wishes may be. You have been a role model to me of a strong, independent, smart, compassionate woman! Thank you for giving me my first editing job at Dialogue and mentoring me at the beginning of my career! With love and admiration,
Chris (Linda and Jack Newell’s daughter)
   ——Chris Newell

May you wear your purple floor length gown proudly into your next life. Indeed, you are royalty!
Thank you for speaking at my Mom’s funeral, just 8 months ago. What an honor that was for all of us.
Give her a big hug. You have alway inspired me and I will never forget the hours I spent sitting in the car in front of your house as you and my mom exchanged manuscripts!
With much love and admiration.
Heather Newell
   ——Heather Newell

Lavina, you approached me at my very first Mormon History Association conference, when I was just an awestruck undergraduate, and invited me to the submit a more polished version of the paper I presented to JMH. I was much too intimidated to do so, but your encouragement meant the world to me, and I was privileged to work with you just a couple of years later when I did publish my first peer-reviewed article in JMH, under your careful editorship.

When I published in another outlet just a couple of years later, you sent me a note letting me know you’d read the piece and learned from it. It was another in a long list of kindnesses you dealt out over the years (to me, and as these message suggest, to so many others).

It is a humbling honor to now edit the Journal of Mormon History that you grew into what it is today. In your honor, the covers for next year’s 50th anniversary run of issues will feature the SLC 17th ward window tracing that are forever associated with your time as editor. I hope it serves as just a small reminder of your important legacy.
   ——Christopher Jones

Lavina, household name in the Newell home throughout my growing up years. Often described by my parents as the smartest person they knew. Feminist extraordinaire, with heart and conviction.
Thank you for the value you brought to the lives of so many—specifically Jack and Linda Newell and their 4 kids.
With love and admiration,
   ——Jennifer Newell

I met Lavina many years ago, when we were both students at the University of Washington and attended the same ward at the Institute there. We were in the same FHE group and book discussion group. I immediately knew she was a kindred spirit.
We have stayed in contact for almost 50 years via snail mail, email, and a few visits in person. I will miss her dearly.
   ——Elaine Brighton

Your remarkable faith in the face of LDS Church spiritual abuse, ironically, strengthens my faith in the gospel. God bless you.
   ——Curt Burnett

Dear Lavina,
We met at Sunstone, perhaps 25 years ago. You spoke to me with kindness, encouraging me to pursue a book I was thinking about. I never wrote that book but I've written other things. You edited one of them and in the process said more good and encouraging words to me. Over the years I have enjoyed your writing; I relished Mercy Without End. You are one whose influence extends far beyond what you can see. I'll always remember your good words, and the way you have added generosity and kindness to the world.
   ——Michael Nielsen

Saw Christian’s Facebook post last night.
We’re sending our love and a thank you to Lavina as this phase comes to the finish line. Thirty years ago I was involved with Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons (now LGBT inclusive), working to build community and save lives.
As a gay man I understood the church didn't truly want me. I'm grateful my spirituality and spiritual journey are grounded in my relationship with the divine. Little did I realize how Mormonism was going to change in September of 1993. I had met Michael Quinn in August 1993 at the LGBT Mormon Affirmation Conference where he was the keynote speaker; and I knew of Maxine Hanks and her book "Women in Authority".
With the news of the purge of feminists and intellectuals in September of that year, it seemed the witch-hunt was expanding. Over the next twelve months I got to know you, Maxine Hanks, the Toscanos, Lynne Whitesides and many others on a personal level that continued with Sunstone Symposiums and other Utah gatherings. The church's witch hunt expanded our circle of friends and mutual understanding.
Thank you for encouraging me to write about LGBT issues and being Mormon, and for being my mentor and editor. I’m grateful for a friendship that has included your family, Paul, Christian and Marina, and sharing meals and time in each other’s’ homes.

Sending spiritual embraces, Duane Jennings & Brian Benington
   ——Duane and Brian

“when the heart leads the mind is at peace.”
Lavina Fielding Anderson, your life continues to be a gift every breath of the way. I am one of the many who has been fueled by how you do life. In my experience, there is no one who so eloquently breathes heartfelt clarity into every action. You are a model of courageous kindness and civil resilience. Your astonishing ability with words and actions allows a “harmony of opposites” to weave a life fabric that provides comfort and flexibility when confronting challenging realities. May you be cozy and feel splashes of delight.
   ——Kathy Gambles

I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am for you and your influence on me as a human and as a writer both directly (you read and gave feedback on my 31-day sea kayaking Alaska journal when I was 18) and indirectly--from all your sharp editing and writing skills that influenced both of my parents and then trickled down to me. I am so grateful for your courage and your great big kind and forgiving heart. Your remarks at my mom's funeral moved me to tears. Being in your presence one more time was gift. Your whole life was a gift to countless people. Hold your head high as you move into the next realm!
Much love,
Eric Newell
   ——Eric Newell

Dear Lavina,

A former student in South Carolina, Christian Anderson (believe it or not) told me of a Facebook post about you. It is deeply disturbing. I send my love and offer up bracing signals to the gods for your comfort and peace. Feel them!

Thank you again for your apt and moving words (and attire) in honoring Linda’s good life eight months ago. You touched my heart deeply, as you did each of our children and all who gathered that winter morning. We will remember forevermore!

You needn’t respond to this message.

Much much love, along with courage and strength aplenty,

   ——Jack Newell

Lavina became such an important mentor in my career even before I was aware of who she was. I remember vividly my first MHA meeting where she came up to me and welcomed me without really knowing anything about me. Then I submitted my first article to the journal and was amazed at her meticulous care of both my article and my inexperience as a writer. She not only improved my article many-fold, but she improved my confidence in being able to write something that was worthwhile. She was always so complimentary of my efforts and in those early years of my career I needed her reassurance more than I ever imagined. As I went up for rank advancement Lavina was the person who I asked to be one of my external references. I genuinely believe one of the reasons I was able to go forward in my career was because of her. I will never forget her inviting me to her home so that she could go over my writing with me. I will be eternally grateful to her for the blessing that she has been not only in my career but in my life.
   ——Mary Jane Woodger

Lavina has been an inspiration to me. I will always remember her playing piano in Relief Society and her support of me as I fulfilled one my earliest callings in the Church (leading music time in Relief Society). She was always kind and generous to me and my family. Lavina, I just want to tell you thank you for being a kind friend.
   ——Kerry Herrmann

Sweet Lavina, thank you for sharing
your talents in Relief Society whether
it be playing beautiful music on the
piano or just having you with us in
Church. May you look back on your
life and recognize just how loved you
are. Many times I would ask how you are
doing and to let you know that I was
missing your smile and presence. Take care
my friend.
   ——Dolores Hiltbrand

Thirty plus years ago I was packing up our house in preparation for our move from DC to Chicago when I got a phone call from Lavina. We’d never met but I certainly knew who she was, mainly through our mutual friends Ross and Kay Peterson and Mary Bradford. I was shocked by Lavina’s request that I seriously consider taking on the editorship of Dialogue. While I knew I wasn’t in a position to assume that responsibility I was nevertheless overwhelmed by her encouragement and confidence in me. We became friends and we shared lots of laughter over the years. Her work documenting incidents of LDS spiritual and ecclesiastical abuse helped me understand and heal from spiritual abuse I had suffered years earlier. She became a savior to me and helped me keep my relationship with the Jesus we both knew and loved. Thank you, Lavina!! I wish you peace, comfort, joy, and waves of love as you go! And please give Jesus some hugs from me when you see him.
Becky Linford
   ——Becky Linford

Lavina, you don't know me, but I'm a secret admirer of you and your work. There are so many beautiful as well as fearsome contradictions within the LDS official church and its "doctrines, that we all (no doubt) struggle with. I wish I could email you my latest portrait of the prophet Joseph Smith because I think you would like it. I've come to appreciate his character and mission more & more over the years, to the point where I am now, finally, convinced not only that he never condoned polygamy, but that he never practiced it either. This awakening, sadly, doesn't improve my opinion of what Brigham and his cohorts conspired to accomplish after Joseph's death. If you want me to email you a high-definition image of the painting, just provide an email address to send it to. I wish you a peaceful and sweet passage to meet our Lord (and Joseph) on the other side.
   ——Ty Markham

Thank you, Lavina! I have loved and admired you for the past thirty-ish years (and know that it would have been longer had I heard of you before then)! I so appreciate you welcoming me and championing me well before I even imagined I could do something like running Sunstone. Your confidence in me gave me confidence that I had good things to contribute, and you set up a thing or two for me to be part of. You showed me your heart then, and in every other interaction--and it is beautiful. Bless you as you move into what's next. I'm sure there will be laughter, so you will be right at home. Love you!
   ——Dan Wotherspoon

Dearest Aunt Lavina,
You are a Fielding woman thru and thru - you'll have your way to the end! Passion and purpose flow through your veins and I'm grateful to say they do in mine as well. Thank you for the wonderful visits we've shared through the years and for your aid in helping me in my single journey by playing matchmaker, setting me up with a cousin at Grandma's funeral. It was an epic example of "meddling aunts" I continue to share to this day. Here is the story if you choose to indulge:

Much Love,
   ——Michelle Barnum Smith

I have such fond memories of meeting you at Pilgrimage. Your words in those meetings have stayed with me, inspired me over many, many years, and I aspire to exude the kind of strength I’ve always felt in your presence. I hope you feel the love from all of your sisters and know you have changed the world for so many in the best possible way.
   ——Shannon Snow

Lavina is to me the embodiment of integrity, courage, goodness, brilliance, and a lot more. I didn't know her well. My sister Mary Kay Stout worked with her on the Church magazines, long ago, my first encounter. The first time I really talked with Lavina was at someone's house. I introduced myself and started to say I was from Boston, etc. etc. and she stopped me, and said, she knew who I was, that we'd been "swimming in parallel lanes" for a long time, and then we talked and talked, like two old friends. I was so impressed at how quickly she was able to connect with someone "new", how kind, and open, and engaged she was. I was devastated when she was excommunicated, because I knew what a lovely person, fine scholar, and someone with impeccable character she was. And then that she had the grace to continue coming to Church, doing what she could to contribute, I was amazed and awed. When she was turned down to be rebaptized, and still kept coming, I thought the true Saint was Lavina, and not the folks in the Church Office Building. It was a stain on them and their judgment. I didn't know her well, but I loved her dearly, and feel blessed to have brushed sleeves with her.
   ——Helen Claire Stout Sievers

I feel blessed to know you, Lavina. I admire your knowledge and courage. I remember years ago (maybe even decades - but let's not count the years!) you wrote me a caring note, stating how you were grateful for my service. Thank you for your service and dedication through unspeakable trials! Love, Heidi
   ——Heidi Ahlers

I have only met Lavinia once and I am sure she does not remember my name. But an experience surrounding her is forever etched in my mind. When writing a book about the power of women, I needed an editor to let me know if my writing was on course. My friend, Suzette Green, recommended Lavinia.
This recommendation came not long after the September 6 excommunications within the LDS church. Although aghast at what happened during that time, I wondered if having Lavina involved with my book was bad timing. I went to the temple to pray about that decision. In the Celestial Room, as I prayed, a clear impressed entered my mind, “Tell Lavina that I love her.” Well, ok.
I called her and made an appointment to visit. After I had presented her a chapter of my manuscript I gave her the message that I been told to deliver.
Although she was less then impressed with my writing, I was touch by the opportunity to deliver God’s message to her.
I am sure I am not the only one who may have received that message, but I was touched that as a stranger to Lavina I was able to share God’s love with her.
   ——Christine Balderas

Know that we love you, and we know the Lord loves you. I have heard of your many kinds of acts of service and hear how many people love you. Everybody speaks of how they love you.
   ——Bishop Wm Plastow

I greatly admire Lavina. We connected in the 70s through a Christmas reading that was published in the Improvement Era. I am grateful she chose to use it. I still have people tell me they use it every year with their families. So it was good to reconnect from time to time at Pilgrimmage and in other ways. I wish her Joyful Bon Voyage. What a vista awaits.
   ——Jean Marshall

Lavina, I read Mercy Without End, and it's a book I keep returning to. It is gorgeous. Particular gems for me are the reminders to adjust scriptural language to include women and men. Singing "I Am a Child of God" as children, but not so much as adults. The idea that our Heavenly Parents are there, hoping we will wake up to possibilities, but trusting our agency to explore questions and push boundaries. And the tender insistence with which you continue to worship in a space that does not welcome you fully, as it should do.

You are one of the most courageous writers I've ever read.

I have had conversations with my father about feminism and shared some of your words with him. To be honest, even though I love him most dearly, these conversations haven't gone well. But I feel peaceful about it, that time and courage and gentleness will win the day. I am grateful for the voice you have given to my concerns and the concerns of so many women in our church.

We met when you received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Mormon Letters, in the beautiful windowed room in the Wilkinson Center. The year was 2017 I believe. I was excited for you, and you were so lovely and gracious.

I wish you Goddess Speed on your journeys ahead. I am grateful for you.

with love,

Heidi Naylor
   ——Heidi Naylor

Dear Lavina,

I feel so very lucky to have had the chance to know you, and to have had the great pleasure of being around you to hear you move through a discussion with force, wit, fierce intelligence, and aplomb. I have a handful of notes you sent me, and many more memories. I remember once coming up to your cabin for a Signature board meeting, and the hummingbirds at all the feeders on your deck at dusk. What a life you’ve lived, filled with words and love and friendship. So glad and grateful to know you.

Much love,

Lisa Bickmore
   ——Lisa Bickmore

Dear Lavina,

Thank you for all your kindness to me. I remember a day in Relief Society where you shared a favorite scripture: "for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." (2 Nephi 26:33). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge of the divine in lessons, playing the piano, and being a neighbor who built a community of love and acceptance where we each belong. Safe and eternal travels to your heavenly home.
   ——Trish Melander

I, like so many, have been deeply touched by your way of truly, sincerely loving others. Pretty much anyone who you spend more than five minutes with feel the same heart-felt energy from you.
   ——Ginger Woolley

I loved being on the High Council assigned to her Ward. I could look over the congregation from my seat by the pulpit and always see Lavina sitting on the same row. I admired Lavina‘s faithful example which helped to solidify my resolve to remain faithful to the gospel. After we moved from the area, I would often remember Lavina’s great example. I was blessed to have known her.
   ——Michael Sheranian

Dear Aunt Lavina,
I have always admired your intellect, your concern and powerful love for others, your courage and ability to stand up and get things done. Thank you for being my Aunt, for crying and laughing with me, for keeping us all on our toes and loving my Uncle and cousin. I pray for peace and joy for you and Christian now. I am sad to see you go into the next realm, but grateful I call you family.
I love you, Tavia
   ——Tavia Howard

You are grace; thank you for your heart and your soul, for making the world so much better; for your light.
   ——Zina Petersen

Dear, dear Lavina,

For all our lives, yours and mine, we have honored words—and now I can’t find the right words or enough words to tell you how much I admire you and love you, how blessed I am to know you.

I have decades of memories. You standing on a chair at an early Pilgrimage and telling us all to “Listen up.” And we listened. Me going through my Sunstone program and knowing that the very best sessions would be the ones where you were speaking. Some of those were momentous—for all of us. Our early exchanges when you edited my stories for Dialogue and our later ones when I sought your advice.

You are an extraordinary woman, Lavina. Thank you for being the conscience of our world.>

Much love, Karen
   ——Karen Rosenbaum

Dearest divine woman..
One of my matriarchs..
A mentor and teacher through most of my life…
You have shown me that which is the most sublime and inspiring of Mormonism…
And you demonstrate more faith, love and courage than anyone quoting or quoted over any pulpit…
Beloved Lavina.
It is beyond me to think of you passing on to the next stage of existence in any conventional way.
A friend mentioned this image years ago, and I still imagine it as possible… that one moment, like in the twinkling of an eye, you will be gone. And up in the ceiling, preferably somewhere above the heads of those who control certain aspects of the church and who would not allow it to be big enough for a soul, heart and mind as indescribably expansive as this most saint like sister, there will be a Lavina shaped hole showing the direct path where you have been taken up to Heaven. Those who had no room for you are left in a rubble pile of their own making.
The rest of us are left with hearts broken from loss, and filled with gratitude for the gift of unspeakable grace that is Lavina.
I must confess a bit of envy. Shortly, when you have a moment that you and Paul are willing to share with others, you might be visiting with Dad. How much I long for even a moment like that. Please give him my love, and let him know how much I would like to hear from him. He needed reminders like that when here, so I get it. Those of us who had glorious lives among the great ones such as yourself and Dad and Paul and so many... we need little reminders that you haven't forgotten us.
My love and sister blessings go with you.
I will see you soon enough.
   ——Jody England Hansen

Thank you for all the work you did and risk you bore to advocate for SA survivors in the church. It was still all but forbidden to talk about when I started working at the cause, it must have been such a lonely and sacred burden to carry. Thank you for lighting the way and for refusing to look away from suffering. We only met in person once, but I will always think of you as a mentor and be grateful. May all the blessings find you and yours.
   ——Tresa Brown Edmunds

Dear Lavina,

You have been such a generous and kind person to me. I love and admire you so much.

I'm praying for your days to be filled with comfort and family and that you will have a joyful reunion with your loved ones in God's embrace.

You have been an angel on earth. Thank you for your example of a truly Christian life and all your work that enlightened and taught me.

Until our next lunch, may God hold you close.
Much love, Maria Cristina Santana
   ——Maria Cristina Santana

My dear Lavina,
I have missed seeing you at Sunstone for years now. All who have known you are better people for that good fortune. I can't imagine the Mormon space if you had never been there. You made it better for everyone, especially for those who this world and this church have disadvantaged. Sail on, my friend, in the peace and love and kindness that you have always embodied. With love, Nadine Hansen
   ——Nadine Hansen

Dear, dear Lavina,

For all our lives, yours and mine, we have honored words—and now I can’t find the right words or enough words to tell you how much I admire you and love you, how blessed I am to know you.

I have decades of memories. You standing on a chair at an early Pilgrimage and telling us all to “Listen up.” And we listened. Me going through my Sunstone program and knowing that the very best sessions would be the ones where you were speaking. Some of those were momentous—for all of us. Our early exchanges when you edited my stories for Dialogue and our later ones when I sought your advice.

You are an extraordinary woman, Lavina. Thank you for being the conscience of our world.>

Much love, Karen
   ——Karen Rosenbaum

Dear Lavina,
You edited and mentored me through my first article when I was just a graduate student trying to get a publication. I will always appreciate the kindness and generosity with your time you showed to me. Best wishes as you make your way to the next stop on your eternal journey!
   ——Casey Paul Griffiths

Lavina, Thank you for being part of my life. I love you very much and am so grateful for the time I've had with you. I wil never forget how you showed up at my house, the day after I got the letter from my bishop for my church court, with homemade bread and jam. Your presence was so grounded and calming that I felt like I could relax and what ever happened would be fine. You have been a rock in this community. I am so grateful for our time together.
   ——Lynne Whitesides

Dear Lavina, I love you dearly. In a public setting you quoted Jacob from the Book of Mormon: "...Behold, the way for many is narrow, but it liveth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there;..." Like you, I found comfort and truth in this scripture, but I couldn't find it in the Book of Jacob. I wrote to you, and you graciously replied that the scripture is in the Book of 2 Nephi 9:41.
I was deeply moved with your "Spiritual Autobiography" published in Women's Exponent II. My favorite memory is at a Sunstone Symposium in a packed ballroom. You were sitting in the audience and a speaker recognized you. You were caught unaware of the thunderous standing ovation. You stood and wept, as did many of us.
I frequently drive by South High School near your home and vividly remember Paul walking on campus with his easel protruding from his backpack. I like to think he is now walking home from campus to greet and accompany you to Jesus at the gate.
   ——Barbara Evenson Haugsoen

My mom, Marilyn Damron White, loved being friends and associates with Lavina. They had so much respect and love for each other’s smart brains, direct feminine approach in friendship, and a love for the Mormon tribe. As my mom fades away too, I can think of a better pair to exit and meet the Great Mystery awaiting us all. We appreciate Lavina’s direct influence on shaping my whole family’s worldview on Mormonism. She influenced my mom who influenced us in so many important ways. Lavina, you’ve had more influence than you’ve realized perhaps and we are forever grateful. I have spent a career working with so many of the issues you were discussing through all the years. May your last days be full of joy and aliveness. Your legacy has been felt and has been deeply important to so many is us.
   ——Aimee Heffernan

Dear, dear Lavina,

For all our lives, yours and mine, we have honored words—and now I can’t find the right words or enough words to tell you how much I admire you and love you, how blessed I am to know you.

I have decades of memories. You standing on a chair at an early Pilgrimage and telling us all to “Listen up.” And we listened. Me going through my Sunstone program and knowing that the very best sessions would be the ones where you were speaking. Some of those were momentous—for all of us. Our early exchanges when you edited my stories for Dialogue and our later ones when I sought your advice.

You are an extraordinary woman, Lavina. Thank you for being the conscience of our world.>

Much love, Karen
   ——Karen Rosenbaum

Dear Lavina: For a long time I anticipated sitting down with you and asking many questions in which you are expert. I have read your books and articles and followed your struggles with the hierarchy. Rest assured, any discrepancy between you and ‘the brethren’ is their failure, certainly not yours.. I’ve so appreciated your inspired insights, and enjoyed exploring your educated mind over many years. Thank you and my love to you…
Jake Zollinger
   ——Jake Zollinger

Dear Lavina - Thank you for your generous, and brilliant help in editing ‘Voyage of Discovery’ by my mother, Irene Bates. And thank your for being her friend. She loved and respected you as much if not more than any other non-relation. She saw you as a kindred spirit in many ways and so admired your courage, compassion, insight, brilliance, work ethic and many more qualities. You may go before us but we’ll be there with you sooner or later!
With love and admiration for a life well lived.
Children of Irene - Lynda, Peter, John and Nicholas
   ——Lynda Taylor

Planning and organizing together on Pilgrimage committee for an unforgettable Nauvoo experience years ago. Meeting at your home and enjoying knowing you on a more personal level. Remembering in the Nauvoo museum beckoning you over to a glass enclosure containing Lucy Mack Smith’s bonnet and you remarking, ‘how did she like wearing that?’ We both chuckled. Our group touring the Carthage jail and patiently listening as the weary Mormon tour guide droned on with the story of what happened there with some glaring untruths; hearing you politely correcting his tale. ‘Who is this woman?’ he probably thought, not realizing he was meeting the foremost expert on Joseph..😜 Grieving with many others regarding the heartbreaking rejection from an unjust cruel patriarchy. Admiring your stoicism and continued allegiance to church and gospel through it all.
Much love to you…Chris Zollinger
   ——Chris Zollinger

Dear Lavina, my oldest sister,
Ah, the memories I have to share. The hilite of our week was when mama would take us to Moses Lake to the library where we would come home with the car literally filled with books. You would read a book at night and then the next day recreate it almost word for word while we thinned and weeded sugar beets. Hence I coined the phrase, “Before Audible was Lavina.”
I began attending BYU just after you had graduated-mama attending my high school graduation the same day Daddy attended your college graduation. You must have been getting your Masters because you walked me through so many “firsts” as a scared freshman. And then you “welcomed” Jim into the family as we began dating and responded to seeing him holding my hand with, “Are you fondling my sister in public places?” We would stop to visit and when you were done visiting, you would just kneel down and start saying your evening prayers. We would tip toe out.
You have always been dear to me and have always treated my children with great kindness.
Please straighten up the Joshua Hardy and Ann Fielding confusion when you get up there and let us know once and for all.
Thanks for your help in getting Mama’s autobiography ready for publication and Daddy’s journals written in his own brand of hieroglyphics translated.
A special thanks to Christian and sweet Marina for caring for my sister, a task that was not easy as I know well due to her Fielding stubbornness.
You have led the way on so many things in our family—mostly in love of reading and education. May your journey be sweet. Please kiss our mama and daddy for me when you meet them over there.
Love Arlene and Jim
   ——Arlene Fielding McCauley

I wondered why The New Era always smelled like popcorn in the mid-afternoon. But it was my first job out of college and I didn't ask questions. I soon discovered that The Ensign was a lot crazier and zany than I ever least you were. Only you would think that everyone working in an office should have a popcorn break. It was a privilege to share a common wall with you because it meant you shared your popcorn with me. Your actions made me feel emboldened and fearless. As such, I proudly taped my Bette Midler poster to the back of my office door, where it stayed for several months until mysteriously disappearing.
Your spirit of independence, fun and "the road less traveled" is a great hallmark. As they say: "Write if you find work."
Much love, Mary Kay Stout
   ——Mary Kay Stout

Dear Lavina,

I know you mostly from reputation and from your attendance at and participation in Sunstone symposia over the years. I met your son Christian fairly recently and enjoyed that meeting.

Please know that I have admired you from afar and wish you peace in the last weeks of your life.

Wendy Demandante
Colorado Springs, Colorado
   ——Wendy Demandante

I want to thank you for letting me, in my own small way, serve you at the Sprague Library.

After Paul passed you opened your home to Christian and Marina, creating the opportunity for them to join our ward and community, turning a time of loss to the positive.

The insights you brought to Sunday school gave me pause, in the best way.

Your example of standing up for what is right and not letting the misdeeds of others determine your actions feels like a modern parable. Good job landing the end of the story.

Thank you,
   ——Nick Melander

I have admired Lavina for many years. I began working at the Museum of Church History and Art not long after her husband, Paul, left that institution to work for BYU. And my colleagues there often shared stories about both of them with high praise and a sense of fond association. But I did not get to interact with her personally until I began writing. I think most of our interaction centered on a book I wrote on Kirtland, Ohio. I don't know whether to call Lavina a coauthor since I did the research, but she played such a significant role in helping me get the words in an acceptable order, that the awards i later received for the book were ones she also partly deserved. I know she read another article as a reviewer for the Journal of Mormon History that I'd written and when I received a few comments I knew she'd made about it, I trusted her implicitly. She has a great sense of what should be said and how to say it. Lavina has deeply touched my life for good.
   ——Mark Staker

Oh Lavina, you are leaving. You know I adore you. I have been meaning to call you for a couple of weeks - I guess this is why. Thank you for being a presence, a prophet, a warrior, a friend; for your keen eye and sharp tongue; for your indefatigable faith and endless energy. Farewell, my friend, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

   ——Fred Voros

Dear Lavina,

Since I moved to Salt Lake in 1993, you have been woven into my life: Pilgrimage, Sunstone, Book Club, and the Mormon Alliance, for which I was the treasurer. I was always glad to play a backup role to someone so powerful! The love of many people will carry you on your journey!
   ——Vickie Stewart Eastman

Dearest Lavina, it was such a privilege to have known and loved you for more than two decades. Thank you for your friendship.
   ——Stephanie Jewett

A sweet and loving friend for 40 years. A great support in everyway...God bless dear friend. Your the best🤩🤩🤩
   ——Steve Mayfield

Oh Lavina! How many memories through these decades! You are a force of nature and I have missed you these last months that you have not felt like socializing. I hope you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

I got this website from Lorie Stromberg and want to remind you that I love you and always will. You have been a most important part of my life as I moved back to Utah and left the Church. I'm now living a good life now, and hope your life is all you want it to be.

In my eyes, you have lived an important and wonderful life.
Love, Erin Silva, Salt Lake City, Utah 801-557-3400
   ——Erin Silva

I love you, Aunt Lavina! Thank you for the kindness of your heart and the goodness of your life.
   ——Celeste Richardson

Lavina - My memories of you span from the earliest memories of my childhood through those awkward adolescent years, into young adulthood, and finally as I became a parent. You've been a part of all of it, and you've held many titles during those years: next-door neighbor, carpool driver, Primary teacher, occasional employer (in the house sitting/cat feeding industry), party hostess, editor, cheerleader, and loyal Christmas card exchanger. I'm not sure you realize the pre-school punctuality you inspired in our house, as we fought to get out to the car first to avoid the dreaded front seat task of reading essays aloud as we drove to school.

As a child I saw that you make your standards clear and you don't back away from a fight. I won't lie- to my 5-year old self, that was rather terrifying. No elbows on the table, no banging pots and pans outside of Christian's window on a Saturday morning to try to wake him up, and no flagrant use of the word "like." As I got a bit older, I realized what a rare and difficult thing it is to know what you want and stand your ground. And as I got older still, I realized what a truly fortunate, extraordinary thing it is to have someone like that in my corner. No one cheered louder on those rare occasions I made a basket, and no one has expressed more honest, enthusiastic interest in the little details of my life, or met my husband or children with more warmth.

I remember our New Years Eve tradition of making paper chains; stapling link after link after link, wrapping ourselves up in them, and then bursting free. We were practicing breaking free into something better than where we were. It was such a fitting thing for you to teach us how to do, since you've done it so many times. I'll raise a toast to you as you do it one more time.
   ——Britta Larsen DeMartini

Dearest Lavina,

I believe we first crossed paths online, during the glorious heyday of Mormon email lists and then met in person at Sunstone, MHA, Counterpoint, Pilgrimage, and gatherings of like-minded friends. 

I’m grateful for the chance to pay tribute and thank you for the enduring friendship and force for good you have been in my life. You are wonderfully kind, an intellectual mentor, a motherly guide, an impeccable historian, an unwavering truth speaker, and a valued friend for decades. Your editing skills made my Master's thesis stronger and I've enjoyed our collaborations on many other projects and Sunstone sessions over the years.

Your guidance and example has helped me become a better writer, a better scholar, and a better human. Mormon Studies would not be as advanced as it is without your many contributions, your decades of mentoring young scholars, and lending your top notch skills to so many publications and projects in the field. 

You have been a gift to so many people. Thank you. I love you and wish you a peaceful transition to what's next. May there be joyous reunions and PIE!

Mary Ellen Robertson
   ——Mary Ellen Robertson

Hi, I hope and pray that you will all experience peace and love and everything good in this time of transition. With kind regards, David McLean
   ——David McLean

You have uplifted me and I will carry memory of you throughout my life. I consider it a privilege to know you and to have benefitted from your intelligence, caring, and life story. I thank you for thinking of me in many small things and allowing me to become your friend.

I pray for blessings to come to you as you continue journeying on. I don't know what the journey beyond this earth holds, but I hope (for myself, for you, and for all humankind) that it is joyful, peaceful, and somehow answers all remaining questions (of which I have many, and presume you do, too).

I love you, dear Lavina. Take care.
   ——Ann Johnson

Do you remember when you put your arms around me and I cried on your shoulder, and you had visions of the wounds I was carrying and held me softly and taught me to heal? Do you remember when you dreamed of me and then wrote down that vision and mailed it to me in your beautiful handwriting and on an old-school type writer? Do you remember giving me your handkerchief when I was crying next to you as we sang hymns? Do you remember speaking to me of the symbolism of the Temple and helping me to make sense of my experiences there? Do you remember loaning me one of your Mumus so I could play you in a musical about Mormon Feminism? Do you remember giving me a blessing at Pilgrimage that I may have a deeper understanding and peace in the journey? I remember, and I will always remember. Lavina, you are a magical warm font of wisdom and goodness, and you have blessed my life with wisdom and love more than you can even imagine. I wish you wonderful thing on this next stage of your journey, and if you feel like it, come visit me in my dreams, that would make me very happy.

Also, if you want to, I would feel so deeply honored if I could have one of your Mumus to wear around the house and feel you near me.

I love you deeply dear one.
   ——Lisa Butterworth

October 24, 2023
Lavina has been encouraging, generous and kind. She encouraged me to marry her roommate, Jill. She encouraged me to write an article for the Ensign. She encouraged me to write my book, MANAGING THE NEW CAREERISTS, and helped me edit and improve it. She encouraged me to help tend Christian and Zach in Chartres while Paul and Jill lingered examining every stained glass window. She encouraged me to help find high-quality places to eat when as families we visited Gruyere and eastern France and had one of our best meals ever at “the Inn of the Jumping Trout”. She encouraged me to drop off pieces of my book manuscript at Roberta Street—only to pick it up the next morning in much better condition.
For me, Lavina is the essence of kindness, generosity, discernment, support and compassionately and reasoned opinion. What a cherished privilege to know her up-close.
Brooke Derr
   ——Brooke Derr

Do you remember when you put your arms around me and I cried on your shoulder, and you had visions of the wounds I was carrying and held me softly and taught me to heal? Do you remember when you dreamed of me and then wrote down that vision and mailed it to me in your beautiful handwriting and on an old-school type writer? Do you remember giving me your handkerchief when I was crying next to you as we sang hymns? Do you remember speaking to me of the symbolism of the Temple and helping me to make sense of my experiences there? Do you remember loaning me one of your Mumus so I could play you in a musical about Mormon Feminism? Do you remember giving me a blessing at Pilgrimage that I may have a deeper understanding and peace in the journey? I remember, and I will always remember. Lavina, you are a magical warm font of wisdom and goodness, and you have blessed my life with wisdom and love more than you can even imagine. I wish you wonderful thing on this next stage of your journey, and if you feel like it, come visit me in my dreams, that would make me very happy.

Also, if you want to, I would feel so deeply honored if I could have one of your Mumus to wear around the house and feel you near me.

I love you deeply dear one.
   ——Lisa Butterworth

Like a lot of folks in my generation in Mormon Studies, Lavina edited some of my earliest articles. She even edited my first book. When I was revising my dissertation for publication, she reached out to me and volunteered to read it before I sent it off to a publisher. Lavina read every word of it. When my press sent it out to reviewers, they all commented on how unusually clean it was for a submitted manuscript. Lavina was a friend to my denomination, Community of Christ, and a generous and kind friend to me. May light perpetually shine upon her.
   ——David Howlett

Dear Christian and Marina,
My presence on Facebook is so limited that I didn't learn of the tribute wall until today--too late to let Lavina know ow very much she meant to me--but perhaps she'll get to finish reading all our tributes on the celestial Urim and Thummim. Knowing Lavina has been such a gift. I can't imagine Pilgrimage without her. In her talks and essays--simultaneously witty and profound--Lavina taught me more about the process of revelation that anyone I know. For several years after the excommunication, I honored her by including a Lavina quote in every talk I gave or lesson I taught. She is in my heart forever.
Kathryn Hanson Shirts
   ——Kathryn Shirts


This is after your crossing to what I hope is the existence of the dead living on. You were kind to me. That spoke volumes. You listened to my story, my shares. You showed that this mattered to you. Grateful for the small mercies and some kind souls that have crossed my path in life. You believed in me...

If you do meet my daughter, Kris, your ability to show her the possible love that Christ has for us all is real, which will be a natural pouring out of your heart, true to your living soul.

carlene george
   ——carlene george

This is Christian Anderson -- no, not that Christian Anderson. Another Christian Anderson. It's because of my name I had the chance to share a laugh with Lavina. One day in 1996 or '97 I received a large envelop from Sunstone. It was the page proofs for an essay reflecting on the events of September 1993. It had my name as the author, but I surely didn't write it. I called the Sunstone office. "Oh, we sent it to the wrong Christian Anderson!" I sent it back knowing that I had gotten a bit of sneak peek at the next issue.

Fast-forward to the Mormon History Association in 2011. I came to present a paper. There was Lavina and I couldn't resist telling her this story. We shared a good laugh over it. It was a brief encounter but I immediately felt like I knew her. I wish I'd had more chances to chat with her!
   ——Christian Anderson

I don’t remember if I met Lavinia. My only encounter with her was listening to her speak, pregnant and wearing one of Maureen Ursenbach’s jumpers, at a Women’s Conference sponsored by the Women’s Institute with Ida Smith as Director. I coordinated the event.

I believe we were in the Pardoe Theatre. Even though she looked tiny in stature on the stage, her voice was soft, sure and steady. She had a presence. There was strength there. In my mind, I can still see her standing on the stage.

When I learned she had been excommunicated, I was shocked. Even though I didn’t know her, I couldn’t sleep. I phoned Paul to see how she was coping. He assured me that although she was upset, she was coping well.

Since then, I have listened to some of her presentations about the impact of the excommunication on her family and others. Her talks were punctuated with humor, some sarcasm, and much wisdom.

I always hoped she would be re-instated, but that was not to be. I greatly admire her strength and courage to keep believing and especially to keep attending the church who had soundly rejected her.

I hope that your good memories of your mom will see you through these difficult times.

Blessings and Prayers,

Judith Barnard
Vancouver, BC, Canada
   ——Judith Barnard

Lavina’s writing moved me deeply and supported me through some dark days as I tried to process hard questions on my faith journey. This quote from her remarkable book Mercy Without End was a lifeline: “Asking questions requires courage. It requires a willingness to open oneself to incertitude, to doubt, to disparagement, and to discouragement. It is being willing to die to the old self, sometimes to die little deaths daily, in the confidence that change does not mean to lose oneself but to find oneself.” May she continue to shine bright from the next realm and be a voice in heaven for mercy without end for the whole human family. 💟💟💟
   ——Adrianne Coleman

Lavina’s kindness as an editor and a friend has so blessed my life. 🙏
   ——Jessie Embry

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(122 public and 57 private tributes.)