17th annual BYU Religious Symposium honors student writers


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The 17th annual BYU Religious Symposium was held in the Wilkinson Student Center Friday, Feb. 20, where students spoke on a variety of gospel topics from tabernacles to the importance of names.

BYU has held a forum for students to present research on religious subjects since 1998. Both undergraduates and graduates are able to submit papers. Student submissions were received Dec. 1, 2014, and presenters were notified early 2015. Students admitted to the symposium had to prepare 15-minute PowerPoint presentations on their topics.

The 2015 Religous Symposium participants. (Holly Kendall)
The 2015 Religious Symposium participants. (Holly Kendall)

A number of the participants received cash prizes, and selected papers will be published. All of the presenters attended a luncheon after the presentations given in the morning.

At this year’s symposium, 30 participants presented their papers in four different rooms on the third floor of the Wilkinson Center from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Participants went to a luncheon, where they heard from guest speakers from religious associations and institutes, enjoyed a meal and received awards.

“I congratulate you all on your performances and participation in this student symposium,” said Dana Pike, associate dean of Religious Education at BYU. “I hope this symposium encourages you to pursue lifelong learning.”

The first award delivered was the Dr. Davis Britton Award. Sponsor Kevin Jones presented Jacqueline Smith with this Mormon History Association award for her essay on the life of Mormon pioneer Jens Nielsen.

Donated journals, church history books and other materials were given to all who participated. (Holly Kendall)
Donated journals, Church history books and other materials were given to all who participated. (Holly Kendall)

The cash awards were presented next. Seven students received a $500 award: Carson Bennett, Ryan Chapman, Louisa Greear, Jenna Koford, Whitney Laycock, Elizabeth Nielson and Ruth Reneer.

One $1,000 award was won by Megan Armknecht with her paper titled “Mormon Women and Mother Eve: Perceptions, Parallels, and Pedestals.” Religious education major Nicholas Davis won the $1,500 award with his paper, which was titled “Early Restoration Disciplinary Council.”

The $2,000 award went to Bridger Talbot, who spent one year writing his paper, “The Preservation and Destruction of LDS tabernacles.”

“It was actually really fun,” Talbot said. “My mom and brother were good sports as I dragged them to tabernacles from Rexburg to St. George.”

Mark Ogletree concluded the symposium by congratulating winners and thanking all of those who participated.

Quotes from Symposium papers

Taylor Knapp: “The law of sacrifice was given by God to help us emulate his Son and thereby qualify for eternal life in His kingdom.”

Jacqueline Smith (Dr. Davis Bitton Award winner): “Even when there’s no way through, we must go through.”

Samuel Jackson: “Weakness doesn’t just have to be overcome, it can be an opportunity to invite God into our lives.”

Miranda Zemble: “To give away all my sins to know thee.”

Ryan Chapman ($500 award winner): “Analyzing the scriptures on how God has delivered his people and patterns we can apply to our own lives.”

Bridger Talbot ($2,000 award winner): “Tabernacles have become invisible buildings, in that they were central in communities, but today they’ve been destroyed or sold off.”

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