The Church History Symposium at BYU will address the global reach of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a new topic for the conference.
“We know very little academically about the Church’s growth internationally,” said Michael Goodman, co-chair for the BYU Church History Symposium.
Goodman said many people have a vast knowledge about the Church’s growth during the days of Joseph Smith and in the United States. But this symposium seeks to educate audiences about the history of growth elsewhere in the world, according to Goodman.
The first BYU Church History Symposium took place in 2006, according to Devan Jensen, executive editor at the BYU Religious Studies Center.
“The symposium is becoming a premier Church history conference for the Church,” Jensen said.
Goodman said the goal of the symposium is to bring together the best scholars in the world and to focus on a specific aspect of Church history.
“Missionary efforts have put the Church out into the world,” said Brent Nordgren, production supervisor of the BYU Religious Studies Center.
Nordgren said the Church expands its global reach as it becomes more involved in the communities of its members and learns more about their cultures.
Terryl Givens, a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, will be the keynote speaker for the Provo session of the Symposium.
Givens is also the author of several books published by Oxford University Press, one of the most prestigious academic presses in the world, according to Goodman.
“He is basically one of the three or four scholars that the national media will come to when they want to comment on Mormonism,” Goodman said. He said Givens is highly respected in his academic field and is an unofficial spokesperson for the Church.
Jensen said there is a wide range of speakers, which includes university professors, popular authors and members of other faiths. He said the symposium topics range from major individuals in Church history to important historical and doctrinal developments.
The Symposium in Provo will start at 9 a.m. and go until 5 p.m. on March 6 in the BYU Conference Center. It will be free and open to the public.
Givens will speak at 7 p.m. in the Joseph Smith Building Auditorium at BYU.
On March 7, the Salt Lake City session of the Symposium will take place. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf will be the keynote speaker for the event. For more information, visit the Church History Symposium website.