BYU Women’s Conference: Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen discuss the ‘great experiment’ of BYU


Elder Bruce C. Hafen, together with his wife, Sister Marie K. Hafen, concluded the Thursday-afternoon general session of Brigham Young University’s annual Women’s Conference with a call to focus on Christ.

Elder Hafen, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, has done just that throughout his life. The Hafens’ lives have been marked by service, both professionally and in the church. They are well-known authors, recognized for such titles as “The Belonging Heart” and “Covenant Hearts.”

The couple recently returned after three years of service as president and matron of the St. George temple. Upon

reflection of their experience, they commented on the importance of keeping temple covenants in daily activities.

“Temple ordinances are a similitude of Christ, designed to bring us closer to Him — and to help us live more like Him,” Elder Hafen said. “The more we find Christ in the temple, the more we will find Him in our lives.”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen shares his message on the "Redeeming and Strengthening Powers of the Atonement" at the Thursday afternoon, May 1, General Session of Women's Conference at Brigham Young University. (Photo by Natalie Stoker.)
Elder Bruce C. Hafen shares his message on the “Redeeming and Strengthening Powers of the Atonement” at the Thursday afternoon, May 1, General Session of Women’s Conference at Brigham Young University. (Photo by Natalie Stoker.)

The St. George temple, known as “the third temple of the Restoration,” is where the first endowments for the dead occurred. It is also the site of the first child parent sealings for the dead, and the temple ordinances were first put in writing there under Brigham Young’s direction, just before he died. This became the foundation for what happened later in all the temples after 1877.

The Hafens agreed that attending the temple is especially important to building a moral foundation. They urged BYU students to make time for temple service.

Elder and Sister Hafen are not strangers to BYU. Before serving as a general authority, Elder Hafen served as president of Rick’s college, dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and provost at BYU. Sister Hafen taught Shakespeare and writing classes at both BYU—Idaho and BYU. Both acknowledged the unique learning dynamic found at BYU.

A nationally recognized scholar on family relationships, children and education, Elder Hafen remarked that having a gospel-centered perspective on family life is desperately needed today. BYU presents a unique opportunity to build an education around gospel principles.

“What President Gordon B. Hinckley called ‘this great experiment’ of BYU’s devotion to both sacred and secular knowledge won’t succeed all by itself,” Elder Hafen said. “When we actively wrap our arms around such paradoxes and lovingly but knowingly hold their moving forces together in productive equilibrium, the BYU idea works.”

Elder Hafen noted that American culture seems to be less concerned with current religious issues and trends. One of the advantages, and challenges, the trend presents to BYU students is a call to be evermore meticulous in the professional field.  Graduates from the university not only represent the institution, but also the religion from which the ideals originate.

Elder Hafen advised that for BYU to succeed both students and faculty must work together in balancing secular and spiritual learning.

Together, the Hafens expressed faith in the ability of both students and faculty to create a balance. They communicated confidence based on experience, noting the characteristic attitudes of faith and love for the Lord displayed among the university’s students and professionals. It is a history of excellence and a “great experiment” that continues to grow.

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