“The RSC is my publisher of choice when it comes to scholarly research surrounding Latter-day Saint topics. They work as a team with the author. They are honest and straightforward and produce excellent quality in terms of narrative and presentation.”—Donald G. Godfrey, PhD, professor emeritus, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University
Dr. Godfrey has written fourteen books in his academic career. Two have been published by the Religious Studies Center: The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Utah Years, 1871–1886 (with Kenneth W. Godfrey, won the Mormon History Association’s Steven F. Christensen Award for Best Documentary on Mormon History, 2006); An Uncommon Common Pioneer: Diaries of James Henry Martineau, 1825–1918 (with Rebecca L. McCarty). A third is currently under way: In their Footsteps (forthcoming for 2018). Two of his other books, Philo T. Farnsworth: The Father of Television and C. Francis Jenkins: Film and Television Pioneer, are media biographies, published respectively by the University of Utah and University of Illinois Presses. For more about Don Godfrey, visit his author pages at the RSC and at Amazon.
This year marks my fifteenth anniversary at the RSC, so I’ve been reflecting on our “enterprise,” our “crew,” and our “final frontier.” Like the original voyage of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek, these segments roughly break into five-year “missions.” (Cue theme music.)
During these five-year missions, publications directors Richard Draper, Richard Holzapfel, Robert Millet, Richard Bennett, Dana Pike, and Thomas Wayment each provided vision and leadership that contributed to the RSC’s current vitality. Crew members Charlotte Pollard, Joany Pinegar, Stephanie Wilson, Brent Nordgren, and I (Devan Jensen) have helped achieve the faculty advisers’ vision by relying heavily on the talents of part-time staff and students. (Are we the red shirts? I hope not.)
I started my editing career at Deseret Book, Church Publishing Services Department, and the Ensign magazine. A new odyssey began in 2001 when Richard Draper, a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, hired me to help take the Religious Studies Center to a higher level of professionalism, efficiency, and organization.
Our original five-year voyage, like that of the Enterprise, involved overcoming incredible obstacles and finding eventual success. When hired, I told Andrew C. Skinner, dean of Religious Education, that I felt comfortable committing to five years and then reevaluating my future. During this initial five-year period, Richard Draper and then Richard Holzapfel provided incredible creative drive to recruit new book authors and to build the Religious Educator design and outreach. Carmen Cole designed the newsletter and several books. We built relations with Covenant Communications. Student Matt Grey (later hired as a professor) started Studia Antiqua to publish student papers on the ancient world.
That first five-year mission ended, and I told the new dean, Terry B. Ball, my fellow car pooler, that I felt comfortable committing to another five. During this period, Dr. Holzapfel pushed hard to get all our past content on the RSC website and to translate selected materials into Spanish, Portuguese, and German. In 2006, Joany O. Pinegar joined the team as an administrative assistant, later becoming the publications coordinator and handling RSC manuscript submissions and finances. About that time I recommended that we hire a publicity/production superviser to build the RSC brand. That spot was filled by Stephanie Wilson (part-time and then full-time) and then Brent Nordgren in 2008. Dr. Holzapfel encouraged us to create a magazine, which we designed with the help of Hales Creative and named BYU Religious Education Review. Brent became managing editor of the Review and administrator of the RSC website. We successfully negotiated a copublication agreement with Deseret Book that dramatically increased our distribution network. We added the BYU Easter Conference and BYU Church History Symposium to our regular conferences.
The most recent five-year period involved cultivation of new authors outside Religious Education, expansion into e-Books, widespread publicity of the RSC, and development of responsive web design and an RSC app. Dean Brent L. Top, another former car pooler, became the RSC director. Publications directors during this period were Bob Millet, Richard E. Bennett (interim director), Dana Pike, and Thomas Wayment. Whereas the original annual output of the RSC was two books and a two-color newsletter, we now produce about ten to fourteen high-quality books, two academic journals, a full-color campus magazine, a robust website, and a fledgling social media presence. We hosted an RSC fortieth anniversary event with founding dean Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. And in 2016 we hired Felix Lara, our first public relations intern, who helped build the RSC brand.
What’s next for the intrepid crew of the RSC “enterprise”? We are boldly seeking our next frontier. In my opinion, that frontier is further expansion into the digital world, greater promotion of the Religious Educator, and stronger development of the RSC brand. These ideas seem the most logical ways to help our enterprise to “live long and prosper.”
“I loved reading it. What a job that brother [John Volker] has done!!! Instead of reading of the American pioneers, this is one of the great contributions our own people have done, and most of us are never aware of it!!!! I think it’s very important to know and appreciate more our own “folks.” We do not know enough about them and don’t appreciate them as we should!!!
“Again, thank you [Jean Huysmans] and Prof. Fred Woods!!!”
To see the contents of Religious Educator 17, no. 1, click here.
Established by Jeffrey R. Holland, then dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, the Religious Studies Center has a forty-year tradition of excellence in publishing high-quality, double-blind-peer-reviewed academic books written by experienced and talented authors. Authors are involved at each stage to ensure quality and satisfaction. In short, that is the RSC recipe for success!
Here’s a sample of eight award-winning RSC books over a ten-year period. Most are copublished and distributed with our partner, Deseret Book Company:
- 2015—Kip Sperry received the Harvey B. Black and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Church History and Doctrine, Gospel Scholarship) for his book Nauvoo and Hancock County, Illinois: A Guide to Family History and Historical Sources.
- 2014—Daniel L. Belnap received the Harvey B. Black and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Ancient Scripture) for By Our Rites of Worship: Latter-day Saint Views on Ritual in Scripture, History, and Practice.
- 2013—Kenneth L. Alford received the Harvey B. Black and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Church History and Doctrine) for Civil War Saints.
- 2013—Ronald E. Bartholomew received the Best International Article Award (Mormon History Association) for his article “The Role of Local Missionaries in Nineteenth-Century England,” in Go Ye into All the World: The Growth and Development of Mormon Missionary Work, ed. Reid L. Neilson and Fred E. Woods.
- 2012—Robert L. Millet received the Harvey B. Black and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Ancient Scripture) for No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues.
- 2011—Roger P. Minert received the Geraldine McBride Woodward Award for Best Publication in International Mormon History (Mormon History Association) for In Harm’s Way: East German Latter-day Saints in World War II.
- 2009—Mark L. Grover received the Geraldine McBride Woodward Award for Best Publication in International Mormon History (Mormon History Association) for A Land of Promise and Prophecy: Elder A. Theodore Tuttle in South America, 1960–1965.
- 2006—Donald G. Godfrey and Kenneth W. Godfrey received the Steven F. Christensen Best Documentary Award (Mormon History Association) for The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Utah Years, 1871–1886.
Authors outside the BYU Religious Education faculty may also submit manuscripts. In fact, three of the award winners above are not part of the faculty. Authors who want to publish with the RSC can discuss their proposals or manuscripts with publications director Thomas Wayment, a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.
Manuscripts should be emailed to publication coordinator Joany Pinegar at Joany_pinegar@byu.edu. The manuscript will be peer reviewed in a double-blind process, and suggestions will be sent to the author.
After acceptance, the manuscript will be read and corrected by executive editor Devan Jensen and a talented team of editors, then designed by production supervisor Brent R. Nordgren and an equally talented team of designers.
Authors, try the RSC recipe for success! We think you will like it!
When the Provo City Center Temple cornerstone was sealed on 20 March 2016, two books copublished by the Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book were included among the artifacts in the time capsule: Provo’s Two Temples and Called to Teach: The Legacy of Karl G. Maeser. Two of the authors, BYU professors Richard O. Cowan and A. LeGrand (Buddy) Richards, served on the temple’s Historical Committee that carefully documented the early history of the Provo Tabernacle, the tragic fire that destroyed the tabernacle, and its miraculous transformation into the Church’s 150th operating temple.
To learn more about books copublished by the RSC and Deseret Book, visit here.
On 11 March 2016, Richard E. Bennett received the Religious Education Dean’s Award. Bennett has demonstrated through the years his deep commitment to student learning. His student-mentoring efforts over the last two decades have strengthened the academic preparation and personal conversion of undergraduate and graduate students at BYU. Two student-centered initiatives in Religious Education that resulted from Dr. Bennett’s vision and perseverance deserve particular commendation—the annual BYU Religious Education Student Symposium, now in its nineteenth year, and the Church History Nauvoo Summer Study program. These epitomize the aims of a BYU education and the mission of Religious Education.
On 11 March 2016, Brad W. Farnsworth received the Religious Education Dean’s Award. Farnsworth joined the Religious Education faculty in fall 2009. Although Religious Education was not his original home at the university, Brad has clearly demonstrated that he is at home in the Joseph Smith Building. He has gone the extra mile in acquiring skills to be an outstanding religious educator. He is an exemplary citizen of the college, always fulfilling assignments effectively and going above and beyond the call of duty. Of particular note is Brad’s significant contributions to the semiannual prospective missionary firesides and his untiring work as chair of the college Awards Committee.
Photo by Jessica LeBaron/BYU
On 11 March 2016, Mauro Properzi received the Harvey B. and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Academic Scholarship in Church History and Doctrine). His book, Mormonism and the Emotions: An Analysis of LDS Scriptural Texts (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015), has been recommended by his peers for serious study by scholars of social science and religion as well as for the interested lay reader. Dr. Properzi “engages [the reader] in a theological dialogue between science and religion,” says Brent D. Slife, professor of psychology at BYU. “As a non-LDS Christian scholar, I found this book fascinating. The psychological and philosophical sophistication is quite striking: its integration of the multiple disciplinary findings on emotion is worth the price of the book alone. I recommend it to anyone who wants deep insight into the LDS religion, if not the Mormon culture.”
On 11 March 2016, Mark D. Ogletree received the Harvey B. and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Gospel Scholarship in Church History and Doctrine). His 2015 book, published by Covenant Communications, is titled Just Married: Nurturing a Healthy, Happy and Eternal Marriage. This remarkable volume seeks to help newlyweds—as well as the rest of us who are “just married” from an eternal perspective—find success and joy in their marriage. In this work Dr. Ogletree combines insights from the research of family scientists, teachings from the scriptures and modern-day prophets, and lessons from his own life to help couples with marriage relationship issues such as communication, personalities, intimacy and finances. The result is a delightful volume that is at once wise, witty, engaging, practical, and inspiring. The Deseret News described the volume as “unique and refreshing” and highly recommends it “for anyone, married or not.”
Thomas A. Wayment (left) and Lincoln H. Blumell (right) received the Harvey B. and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Academic Scholarship in Ancient Scripture). Their 2015 book, Christian Oxyrhynchus: Texts, Documents, and Sources (Second through Fourth Centuries), was published by Baylor University Press and nominated for a 2016 Association of American University Presses award. This outstanding compendium has been described as “a marvelous resource for scholars and students alike.” It is a meticulous collection and analysis of papyri from a late ancient town in Upper Egypt that includes not only New Testament fragments but also a number of extracanonical texts. It then opens a window into the library of knowledge available to Christians in Oxyrhynchus between the second and fourth centuries AD. Hailed as a “treasure trove” and “an indispensable aid to research,” Christian Oxyrhynchus “will serve as a basis for the next generation of work on early Christian Egypt.”