BYU Devotionals and Forums bring world to campus

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BYU devotionals and forums began more than 60 years ago and continue to bring speakers from around the world to campus, allowing students to learn in a new environment for an hour each Tuesday.

Elliott Miller
Elder and Sister missionaries attend their Tuesday evening devotional in the Marriott Center.

Devotionals and forums are essentially planned by the people, for the people, because the BYU community nominates the speakers. Students, deans, faculty members and others can nominate potential speakers. A team takes potential names and narrows it down to a few key speakers.

The speakers at devotionals are invited to choose their own topics. There are many messages shared at devotionals that have a special impact on the viewers, said Christopher Keenan, a sophomore at BYU. “I go to devotionals because they consistently and powerfully answer my questions and addresses my current needs,” he said. “It has become a conduit for revelation.”

BYU makes great efforts to find people who can inspire the students and others to be better and reach new heights, said Todd Hollingshead, media relations manager and information manager for University Communications. When the opportunity arises to have general authorities come to BYU, they have to be scheduled at least one year in advance.

While devotional speakers are unpaid, Forum speakers do cost money. The price varies from speaker to speaker, but BYU does not release that financial information. The forum speakers are also nominated. 

Forums focus on people who specialize in a certain area of expertise. Some recent forums at BYU included Mitt Romney and Ed Catmull, the president of Disney-Pixar. Forums can also include university professors. 

A Q&A session is sometimes available after the address for anyone who wishes to stay and ask questions of the speaker. These devotionals and forums are broadcast through BYUTV. BYU Broadcasting said its media is meant to inspire people to be the good in the world by providing uplifting content and elevating ideals into action.

Student Rhett Anderson supported the idea that devotionals and forums inspire one to act. “When President Worthen was inaugurated he talked about going to the temples for inspiration. Because of the things he said, I have gone to the temple more often,” Anderson said.

BYU not only supports its own leadership but also recognizes there are things to learn from other universities, even the University of Utah, Hollingshead said. University of Utah President David W. Pershing gave the forum address on March 24. 

Hollingshead said he hopes everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to learn from others in their area of expertise and provide support. Devotionals and forums will provide spiritual renewal, Hollingshead said.

Sophomore Audrey Miller, majoring in technology and engineering education, expressed her feelings about her love for the devotionals and forums and how they are a spiritual renewal for her. 

“In my life I’ve learned that when I set time aside time to ponder my relationship with God, I’m able to keep my head on straight. I can work harder, longer and more effectively than I could without having taken a break to go to Devotional. I like to think that it is because the Spirit is helping me,” she said.

Time and effort is put into planning devotionals and forums, yet not everyone chooses to experience these wonderful meetings, Hollingshead said. These are part of the fabric of BYU campus, and they are worth the time and effort to attend, Hollingshead said.

Find BYU Devotional addresses at speeches.byu.edu.

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