Photo: Head-shot of Elder Howard (emailed to Katie)
By Stacie Carnley
Elder F. Burton Howard, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, will address prospective missionaries on Wednesday and invites all interested in missionary work to attend.
Elder Howard has served in many Church positions including bishop, seminary teacher, president of the Uruguay, Montevideo Mission and as both president and counselor in numerous area presidencies throughout the world.
Religion professor and coordinator of the fireside, Brad Farnsworth, who has served with and knows Elder Howard personally, said Elder Howard is a humble, gentle man and a great speaker.
“He speaks deliberately and powerfully,” he said. ” And he’s one who knows. He has a very tender side and you’ll see it when he speaks.”
Farnsworth said although he doesn’t know the specific topic Elder Howard will be addressing, he has no doubt it will positively influence all those in attendance.
“I don’t know what he’s going to speak about, but he knows his audience,” he said. “When he feels a teachable audience, he will teach, and he will teach things that are really important. Elder Howard is a spiritual man, and he’s a spiritual man with depth. He’s one that has the knowledge, the experience and the spiritual manifestations to be a very powerful speaker.”
Farnsworth said Elder Howard is a perfect speaker for the fireside because of his missionary experience and years of Church involvement.
“He’s talked to missionaries all over the world as a general authority,” he said. “He’s been very involved in the work and with the brethren. He has a perspective. He will know what to teach and how to teach it. Those who come will be well instructed by someone who is qualified to speak as a general authority.”
Farnsworth said the spirit of missionary work present in past firesides compares to that of the MTC.
“It’s almost like going to those weekly devotionals,” he said. “It’s almost that kind of spirit. It’s not quite the same, because they’re not missionaries yet, but if you are thinking about a mission, this is a wonderful experience to feel the spirit of missionary work.”
Farnsworth said the fireside is a great opportunity to receive spiritual manifestations.
“Missionary work is all about spiritual experiences,” he said. “This fireside is an opportunity where we are inviting the spirit to be there for the young men and women to give them individual spiritual manifestations on whether they should go, or the authenticity of their call — that it has come from a true and living prophet — or just to strengthen their testimony of missionary work by listening to someone like Elder Howard.”
John Livingston, religion professor, and coordinator, said one of the purposes of the fireside is to get future missionaries excited about serving.
“It’s a really great event and really a lot of fun,” he said. “It fills up that ballroom, just jammed full of thousands of kids. The students will get a real clear view of what missionary work is like. The stories that they talk about are really beneficial.”
Although the fireside is catered toward future missionaries, Farnsworth said it isn’t exclusively for those with mission calls. Those interested in serving a mission or those who simply love missionary work are also invited to attend.
“Of course all BYU students are invited,” he said. “And also Orem Institute students, UVU students, plus any members of other single adult wards in the valley are welcome.”
Farnsworth said he hopes students take advantage of the opportunity the fireside presents.
“This is an experience that will change people’s lives,” he said. “It’s changed mine.”
The fireside will be on today at 7:30 p.m. in the WSC Ballroom. Sunday attire is requested.
The next prospective missionary fireside will be held on Feb. 29, 2012.