BYU students arrived at the Wilkinson Center in hoards to hear a lecture by Richard D. Land, President of the Southern Evangelical Seminary Sept. 6.
“We were hoping for about 300 students to attend the first lecture series as it was the first week of school,” said Erlend Peterson, associate international vice-president and logistical leader for the new interfaith series. “We were pleasantly surprised when so many students arrived to listen to the lecture.”
About 1,000 BYU students crammed into the Wilkinson Student Center, filling one lecture room and two overflow rooms. Future lectures will be held in the Varsity Theatre to accommodate the large number of students who want to attend the lectures.
Land was the first of many religious leaders to address BYU students in this series. The new lecture series, “Lectures on Faith, Family, and Society,” is a series focused on bringing people of all different faiths together based on common values: family, faith and community.
“Here at BYU we place a special emphasis on faith, family and society and it was decided to start a lecture series that takes advantage of having guests who share these same values,” Peterson said. The series features prestigious religious leaders from across the country and may include internationally recognized religious leaders in the future as well.
Brent Top, Dean of Religious Education explained that the main purpose of these lectures is not to discuss the differences in doctrine between the LDS church and other religions, but rather is to build on common values and to encourage students to take an active part in defending family, their faith and community.
“It’s about what we do have in common and what we can do to strengthen our society and our families,” Top said.
The religious leaders invited to speak at BYU are free to speak on the topic of their choice but are asked to focus on the values they feel strongly about rather than on religious doctrine.
Top pointed out that Joseph Smith said, “Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst,” (from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 313).
“BYU places a special emphasis on faith, family and society. It was decided to start a lecture series that takes advantage of having guests who share these same values,” Peterson said.
George Wood, Chief Executive Officer of the Assemblies of God spoke to students Sept. 16 in the Varsity Theatre. The Assemblies of God has more than 66,000,000 members worldwide. Interfaith lectures are not every week and are dependent on when various religious leaders are in the state.