BYU President Kevin J Worthen has four hopes hopes and a caution for the university as an unusual school year begins.
“I hope each of you stays safe and healthy,” he said in a devotional address. “We are in the midst of a pandemic and that requires that we do some things differently. Most importantly, we must be willing to adhere to the safety guidelines and directions to which each of us has agreed to comply,” he said.
As of Sept. 7, BYU has reported 128 cases during Fall Semester. President Worthen encouraged students and faculty to stay safe and healthy. That point was made visually by the fact he spoke in the Marriott Center but to an entirely remote audience watching by broadcast.
“If we are to continue on with any face-to-face instruction, every one of us will need to be more vigilant in washing our hands, wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding gatherings where those things are not observed.”
His second hope is that the campus community will discover, or rediscover, the joy of discovery “that you more fully experience the enlightenment and energy that comes from learning truth through study and faith.”
“As hard as it may be to believe at times, learning can be an exhilarating, edifying experience, even when — or maybe especially when — it is exhausting. It can be joyful, particularly when it is facilitated by the Holy Ghost.”
His third hope is that each member of the BYU community feels they belong. “I hope that we can each develop a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of all of God’s children, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or other distinguishing feature, each of which is secondary to our common identity as beloved spirit children of Heavenly parents.”
“I hope that we can learn to have difficult conversations without being difficult, because those kinds of conversations, held in love, will be necessary if we are to be a true Zion community,” he said.
He said his fourth hope is most important. “I hope that in the coming year each of you can feel in greater measure God’s love for you individually. At those times when you wonder if anyone cares — or if anyone should care — I invite you to ask God what He thinks of you — what He really thinks of you.”
Sister Peggy Worthen also spoke at the devotional that opened the new school year. She talked about the importance of record keeping and faith. She shared that as she has kept a journal and reread past experiences, she has seen her faith increase. “When we turn to Heavenly Father, our faith increases — even amid life’s challenges. And when our faith increases, so does our courage to face the challenges.”