Southern Baptist professor finds home at BYU

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Professor Eula Monroe is a Southern Baptist who leads students in an evangelical Bible study each week at BYU

She sits proper and speaks clearly with a slight hint of southern twang in her speech, but most people at BYU would never suspect a woman who acts like the Relief Society president would be an active and faithful Southern Baptist.

Among a faculty made up of 98.5 percent Latter-day Saints, 71-year-old Eula Monroe is one of the few non-LDS professors who chooses to teach at BYU. However, given the seemingly negative relationship between these two faiths, some may wonder why a Baptist would willingly work on a campus full of Mormons.

Dr. Eula Monroe listens to comments from Moses Khombe, president of the Baptist Student Union at BYU. (Photo by Jamison Metzger)

“I’m here because the Lord called me to this task,” Monroe said, running her fingers through her short dark hair before folding her hands in her lap. “It’s because this is where the Lord wants me to be.”

Monroe is a professor in teacher education at BYU. Although she has a different belief than many of her co-workers and students, she has been able to positively affect LDS and non-LDS people alike.

As an adviser to the Christan student fellowship, CrossSeekers, Monroe enables students to participate in an evangelical Bible study group.

“The CrossSeekers is a group of students who want to grow spiritually,” said Moses Banda, a student from Africa who chairs the group. “Dr. Monroe has helped each of us grow spiritually. She has helped me to grow spiritually in my religion and helped me understand the culture here and helped me stay focused on what I believe.”

For 20 years, students have had the opportunity to study the Bible outside BYU religion classes because of Monroe’s positive influence.

“Sometimes we’ll go off for a season, like in spring, but then students will come and say they miss it, so we start it up again,” Monroe said.

There are usually four to five students at Bible study, held Fridays at 5 p.m. in 221 Mckay School of Education building.

Shanesha Legardy, who attends Bible study regularly, believes that without Monroe, the group could not continue as strong as it is.

“I cherish Dr. Monroe,” she said. “She is an inspiration and has such a humble spirit. Her mere presence is a ministry to us students.”

Monroe never thought she’d end up a professor at BYU.  Although she knew from a young age she was going to be a teacher, she didn’t know the path she would take to teaching higher education.

“I’d met a few [LDS people] and worked with a few when I was a pubic school teacher and later at the university level,” Monroe said. “I never had a problem with them, but I never thought I’d live near so many of them and work daily with them. But I have grown to love all of my LDS friends.”

Growing up in western Kentucky, Monroe lived smack in the middle of the Bible belt, teaching for 23 years at Western Kentucky University.

While attending a teacher’s conference in Salt Lake City in the early ’90s, Monroe decided to visit an old WKU colleague in Provo.

“He informed me there was an open position at BYU,” Monroe said. “It wasn’t an easy decision to come here. My friends and family let me know that it would be difficult here, but I had prayed about this opportunity and knew I had been called here.”

Monroe moved to Utah in 1992 and has been at BYU for almost 20 years.

Nancy Wentworth has worked with Monroe for a number of years. As the department head of teacher education, she has had the opportunity to work closely with Monroe and oversee how she has taught students both in secular and spiritual matters.

“Dr. Monroe is a dedicated professor who knows how to mentor students,” Wentworth said. ” She loves working with the Student Evangelist Union. She feels deeply that working with these students is why she was called to be here at BYU. She wants these students to feel comfortable and spiritual at BYU, even if they are not a member of the predominate LDS faith.”

Monroe hopes members of the Bible study group and the CrossSeekers continue to develop spiritually and be an influence for good throughout their lives.

“I hope that we will continue to grow in the knowledge and truth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” she said.

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