Hand-selected participants shared presentations on research papers submitted last November to the Religious Education Student Symposium on Feb. 21 in the Wilkinson Student Center.
Students wrote about a religious topic of their choice. Many students had already written a version of their submitted papers for previous classes.
Adam R. Anderson, who received the third-place award, wrote his paper on connections between King Benjamin and Abinadi’s discourses.
“I wrote my paper for a religion class last semester when we were talking about intertextuality and comparing different passages of scripture,” Anderson said. “I wanted to see why the connections were there, wrote the paper for class and changed some things before turning it for the symposium.”
The purpose of the symposium is to provide a forum for students to research, write and present papers about religious subjects from a faithful perspective, according to the BYU religious studies website.
The symposium began 16 years ago when President Henry B. Eyring said it was too bad the students at BYU didn’t have a symposium experience. Richard Bennett, religious professor and chair of Church History and Doctrine, then went to the dean of religion and proposed that there be a religious education student symposium so the students could have that experience.
Submitted entries go through an elimination process by a double-reviewed faculty committee, and the top 36–40 papers are selected for presentation at the symposium.
“It’s competitive because we don’t have time for everyone to present and then once the students are selected, they make a presentation and awards are given,” said Brad Farnsworth, a religious education faculty member and a student symposium committee member.
Bennett spoke to the participants at a luncheon following the symposium.
“You are the future of Church history,” Bennett said. “The future needs you to bring forth the truthfulness of the Church, and the Lord has left you to do it.”
A special award of $300, plus a year-long subscription to the Mormon History Association, was given to Bridger Talbot by Richard Bennett, president of the Mormon History Association.
Cash awards are given to the top participants:
- $1,000 — Michael B. Smith with his paper, “Prospering in the Land: The Covenant Blessings of Obedience”
- $750 — Mark T. Lewis, who wrote “In Hollywood, but Not of Hollywood”
- $500 — Adam Anderson, who wrote “An Exploration of the Intertextual Evidences Between King Benjamin and Abinadi’s Discourses”
Ten other participants received a $250 award, and all participants received some donated gifts.
“We have associations affiliated with BYU that give gifts of their books and publications to everyone who participates,” Farnsworth said.
Michael B. Smith, the winner of the $1,000 award, said writing his paper was a semester-long endeavor.
“There were several papers throughout the semester, and I used the same topic, just worked on different aspects,” he said. “I took my first idea and built on it more and more then put it all together.”
Smith said he hopes to use his prize money for a car down-payment.
The religious education department extended congratulations to all participants.
Winners of the $250 prize: Matthew Armstrong, Nathan Usevitch, Stephen O. Smoot, Louisa Jo Sieber, Chrisse Edmunds, Jared Pfost, Andrea Tate, Ben Walters, Braden Hancock and Alan Turnblom.