Thousands Again Gather at BYU to Enjoy Campus Education Week: Elder Callister Keynote Speaker
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
For 90 years, Brigham Young University’s popular Campus Education Week has brought spiritual and practical instruction to tens of thousands of people from across the United States and beyond. Once again, legions of men and women—and an ever-growing army of young people—gathered on campus from August 13 through 17 to enjoy the event’s unique atmosphere of gospel camaraderie and learning. Each year the popular event draws participants of all ages from almost every state and more than a dozen countries.
The theme for this year’s edition of education week was gleaned from the 29th chapter of Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (verse 18).
“The theme highlights the path for obtaining true happiness: that of having a vision of who we truly are and who we can become, and of keeping the law of the Lord,” said Bruce Payne, program administrator of Campus Education Week.
Participants enjoyed some 1,000 classes taught by more than 200 presenters hailing from a vast collection of backgrounds and professions. Areas of instruction included gospel principles, family and marriage relations, self-improvement, finance, and education. Several courses were also designed especially for young conference-goers.
The event also included several musical performances and a staging of City of Joseph—A Historical Musical of Nauvoo.
In his keynote address on Tuesday, August 14, Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy focused on the vision “of who we are and what we may become.”
Thousands of conference-goers flocked to the Marriott Center to listen to Elder Callister’s talk entitled “Our Identity and Our Destiny.”
Most of life’s challenges, he said, can be endured and overcome if one understands one’s true identity—and possesses a correct vision of one’s divine destiny.
“We believe that we are the spirit offspring of God with inherited spiritual traits that give us the divine potential to become like our parent, God the Father,” he said.
Such “doctrine of identity,” he added, defines a person’s potential destiny. “If one does not correctly understand his divine identity then he will never correctly understand his divine destiny. They are in truth inseparable partners.”
The fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden allowed for God’s offspring to experience mortal life and to travel a path of unlimited potential, he said.
Being immersed in a world of good and evil, having the capacity to choose, and being able to draw upon the powers of the Atonement resulted in man having unlimited opportunities to progress toward his destiny.
“The Savior’s soul-stirring and thought-provoking instruction to ‘be ye therefore perfect’ was more than the sounding of brass or tinkling of cymbals. It was a divine-like invitation to rise up to our full potential and become like God our Father,” Elder Callister said.
Further, he said that one might ask, “Why does God want us to become like Him?”
“In order to answer that question one must first understand why man exists,” Elder Callister explained. “Lehi gave the short and simple answer: ‘Men are, that they might have joy’ (2 Nephi 2:25). If I were to ask you who is the happiest being in the universe—the one with the most joy—you would no doubt respond, God. Accordingly, the more we become like God the greater our capacity to experience His quality of joy, and thus fulfill the measure of our existence. Because God loves us as His children, He wants us to become perfect like Him so we may have a fullness of joy, as He has. That’s why His plan for us is often called ‘the plan of happiness.’”
Participation in the gospel’s saving ordinances, Elder Callister added, can unlock and unleash certain powers of godliness in one’s life that are not available in any other way. Such ordinances include baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, receiving the priesthood, and the ordinances found only in the temple.
Another essential resource in an individual’s pursuit of his or her divine destiny is the “gifts of the Spirit,” he said.
“What are the gifts of the Spirit? We know them as love, patience, knowledge, testimony, and so on. In essence, each gift of the Spirit represents an attribute of godliness. Accordingly, each time we acquire a gift of the Spirit, we acquire a potential attribute of godliness.”