Symposium to feature student work

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    By Jessica Poe

    Matt Grey spent this past summer in Italy, Greece and Turkey doing personal New Testament research with grant money awarded BYU.

    “You can”t beat the $1,000 award,” said Grey, a senior from Frankfort, Ill., studying near eastern studies. “It pretty much funded my summer research.”

    Grey participates in an annual student religious symposium dedicated to providing experience and religious exploration to BYU students.

    This year”s symposium will be Thursday and Friday Feb. 27-28 in the Wilkinson Center. The entire symposium will also be webcast on newsnet.byu.edu.

    “I am constantly amazed at the depth of thought and the spirituality of students,” said Patty Smith, supervisor of the Staff Support Center for Religious Education.

    Smith is also a member of a committee, composed of religious faculty members, that reviews student research papers.

    The committee reads the papers, selects which researchers to present at the symposium, elects three for monetary awards and decides who will be published in the annual journal.

    The research papers are 10 to 12 pages long and contain original ideas, of religious significance, promoting faith.

    Themes for the research include: history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, world religions, the scriptures, gospel doctrine and family religion and life.

    Grey wrote about ancient slavery as a biblical metaphor for salvation. The committee selected his paper to be published.

    Grey chose this topic to help others recognize the original meaning and original context of the related scriptures.

    “By skipping the context, we are making up meanings and ripping out the foundation,” Grey said. “We lose a lot of the power of what the Lord put in the original text.”

    “It (the symposium) teaches students that they need to be thinking about original ideas for the scriptures on their own,” Grey said.

    The conference was created several years ago after Henry Eyring voiced his desire for students to have symposium experience.

    “One of the really important aspects of the student symposium is that it allows students the opportunity to research, to write, and in some cases to publish and present, these ideas that they have about the scriptures,” Grey said.

    The presentations show a researcher”s familiarity with the topic and allow the researcher to teach what they”ve learned.

    “It needs to be academic enough that it is structured, but interesting enough that people will want to listen to it,” said Rachel Cope, a graduate student from Spanish Fork studying history.

    This year Cope wrote about John Fairbanks, a missionary sent to Paris to learn about art. He used his knowledge and talent to prepare artistic pieces for the Salt Lake City temple.

    “It (this topic) has got me interested in missionary work in general, and I”ve decided to study missionary for my doctorate,” Cope said.

    The symposium also influences her to continue her spiritual education.

    “The more you learn, the more you apply everything you have,” Cope said. “And you see how it all links together, and how everything is built on the foundation of Christ.”

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