Symposium Celebrates Oliver Cowdery’s Life



    After learning the bicentennial anniversary of Oliver Cowdery’s birth was this year, religion professor Alexander Baugh decided to host a symposium honoring the primary scribe of the Book of Mormon.

    “I felt we needed to do something to honor this great soul and his contributions to this kingdom,” Baugh said.

    Even though Cowdery was excommunicated from the church in 1838, symposium organizers want people to value his contribution to the gospel and not focus on the negative aspects of his life.

    “We have not given Oliver Cowdery the credit he deserves in the terms of the Restoration,” Baugh said. “He had some personal issues regarding some of the church leaders and church policy, but his life, both in and out of the church, demonstrated that he always believed in Mormonism.”

    As part of the program, Richard Bushman, a professor of history emeritus at Columbia University, will give a keynote address discussing Cowdery’s relationship to Joseph Smith.

    More than a dozen scholars will present academic articles concerning phases of his life.

    “We are pulling from top scholars that are shedding light on different aspects of Oliver Cowdery that are not widely known,” said religion professor Fred Woods, who is also executive director of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, sponsor of the event. “If anybody goes they are going to be edified and learn more of the details of his life.”

    BYU is the third place where Cowdery’s bicentennial will be celebrated. The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation hosted commemorating events in his birthplace of Wells, Vt., and in Richmond, Mo., where he died.

    Woods said BYU is the ideal place to present scholarly papers on the topic.

    “Sometimes it’s just more important to be reminded than to be instructed,” he said. “We never know it al.l”

    The symposium takes place Friday, Nov. 10, 2006, from noon to 5 p.m. at the BYU conference center.

    What: Oliver Cowdery Symposium

    Where: BYU Conference Center

    When: Friday, November 10, from 12 to 5 p.m.

    Admission: free

    Visit for a list of speakers

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