Sister Aburto, Elder Andersen speak at 52nd Religious Education Symposium

Sister Reyna I. Aburto greets symposium attendees after her lecture. She served as the keynote speaker for this year’s Religious Education Symposium. (Jackie Durfey)

Sister Reyna I. Aburto and Elder Neil L. Andersen visited BYU campus for the 52nd annual Religious Education Symposium on Jan. 19 and 20.

This year’s Religious Education Symposium in honor of Sidney B. Sperry was titled “I Glory in My Jesus,” based on 2 Nephi 33:6, and focused on helping attendees better understand the Book of Mormon. Jared Ludlow, director of the Religious Studies Center and one of the symposium speakers, shared how the symposium helps attendees to dive into the scriptures.

“My hope is that … it lights a little fire; that you can read the scripture or you can study scripture. And if you study scripture you can often get a little more out of it,” he said.

Sister Aburto, previously the second counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, gave the keynote speech titled “The Book of Mormon’s Relevance for Us: Promises for Our Time.”

“As we embark together in studying the Book of Mormon, we can find relevance and solace in the promises it contains about and from Jesus Christ, particularly in the promises concerning our day,” Sister Aburto said during her lecture. 

She went on to offer ways to engage in gospel learning, such as using stories and asking questions.

“A key part of sparking desire in learners is to help them see the relevancy of what we are teaching to their lives,” she said.

Following Sister Aburto’s remarks, Elder Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve briefly addressed the crowd.

Symposium attendees chose between 4 different breakout rooms each hour. Breakout rooms focused on this year’s theme, “I Glory in My Jesus.” (Jackie Durfey)

“It’s Friday night, what are you doing here?” Elder Andersen asked. Laughter filled the auditorium.

He then proceeded to thank Sister Aburto for her lecture and advised those in attendance to simplify the event by choosing two or three personal takeaways to focus on in the coming weeks.

“What will you remember when you’ve forgotten everything?” Elder Andersen asked, quoting the late President Boyd K. Packer.

Rebekah Larger, a sophomore in business from Tifton, Georgia, attended the symposium to receive extra credit for her religion class.

“It’s beautiful to see someone who has no doubt in their mind that Jesus is the son of God and that He’s real,” Larger said after hearing Elder Andersen speak.

Kate Baldwin, an open major student from Houston, Texas, used the symposium as a break from the hustle and bustle of her regular classes.

“I’m a freshman so I’m new to the college experience and it’s a little crazy at times, so I think it’s helpful to have things that are calming and spiritual,” Baldwin said.

The Religious Education Symposium, originally named the Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, was created in 1973 to “encourage faith-based religious scholarship on Latter-day Saint topics,” according to the Religious Studies Center website. The symposium honors Sidney B. Sperry, a professor at BYU who helped build up the university’s religious education program.

Since then, the annual event has evolved from a single speaker into many. This year’s symposium spanned two days and featured 21 breakout rooms taught by BYU faculty, Church Seminary & Institute employees, independent scholars, University of Utah faculty, and an economics professor from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Fifteen of this year’s lectures can be found in a book sold by the RSC titled “I Glory in My Jesus.”

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