Elder Gary E. Stevenson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the history of BYU Education Week and its connection to the ongoing Restoration of the gospel in a devotional address on Tuesday, August 20.
Elder Stevenson said Education Week began 97 years ago in January of 1922 and was originally called Leadership Week. At the time, BYU was a small campus with a student body composed of 25 seniors, 30 juniors, 57 sophomores and 184 freshmen — a total of 296 students. The first Leadership Week held was attended by around 3,000 people.
Today, about 17,000 people attend Education Week each year, coming from countries across the globe in addition to each of the 50 states. BYUtv also receives around 2 million views on their channels during Education Week.
Elder Stevenson described events from a picture slideshow of BYU students over the past 97 years. One picture showed his father and mother when they met at BYU in the 50s. Elder Stevenson said his mother attended Education Week faithfully each year.
Elder Stevenson said the slideshow was to highlight part of the ongoing Restoration of the gospel through the expansion of Education Week.
“Isn’t this an astounding difference in just under 100 years since this all began with around 3,000 registered attendees who were participating in then ‘Leadership Week’ in person?” Elder Stevenson said. “It is inspiring to behold the unfolding expansion of one element of the Restoration — BYU Education Week — over these few short decades.”
Elder Stevenson said this was his focus today — the ongoing Restoration of the gospel and its importance in the message of the Church. He showed a video interview of the Church’s Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, at the dedication of the Concepcion Chile Temple.
“If you think the Church has been fully restored, you are just seeing the beginning. There’s much more to come. Wait until next year … and then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.” President Nelson said.
Elder Stevenson testified of his appreciation for a prophet on the Earth who continues the Lord’s work that began 200 years ago in Upstate New York with a young man. He said it is a good challenge for everyone to try and keep up with the First Presidency.
“Whatever your initial approach, refer quickly and simply to the Restoration of the gospel, for this is our unique message to the world,” Elder Stevenson quoted from the missionary training manual “Preach My Gospel.”
Elder Stevenson explained the key events of the Restoration and said that on April 7, 1829, Oliver Cowdery met with Joseph Smith to transcribe the translation of the Book of Mormon. In the next 85 days, the 491 pages were translated.
“These were days never to be forgotten,” Oliver Cowdery wrote.
Elder Stevenson emphasized that how the translation was done is not exactly known, but it is a miracle and manifestation of the Lord’s power. Elder Stevenson mentioned some of the many miracles that occurred during the time of the translation.
“The value of the Book of Mormon lies not in the miracle of its translation, miraculous as it
was. The great worth of the Book of Mormon is that it is another testament of Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said. “Its four major authors — Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni — were all eyewitnesses of the Lord, as was Joseph, the inspired translator of that book.”
Elder Stevenson shared the story of a group of missionaries in Micronesia. The missionaries needed an amendment to a birth certificate for the membership record of a girl in their branch. The municipal office would not give them a certificate and said that if they would like one, they should go to the attorney’s office.
When seated in the attorney’s office, the attorney said he would have the certificate in 30 days, and he opened a drawer and took out a well-worn Book of Mormon he had received from a friend 20 years earlier when he was studying in the United States.
The attorney said he believed it was true, but couldn’t be baptized because of his smoking problem. The missionaries said they would love to help, and later that year the attorney and his wife were baptized.
“What are you going to do? How are you going to make the Book of Mormon your keystone to your testimony of Jesus Christ?” Elder Stevenson asked.
Elder Stevenson told the audience to maybe cut out screen time or use screen time to read the Book of Mormon. He took out his phone and began to play an audio recording of the Book of Mormon and asked the audience to listen for at least 10 minutes a day.
Elder Stevenson concluded with a testimony from his fifth great grandfather as well as his own testimony of the Book of Mormon.