Isn’t change wonderful? (Well, perhaps not all change. My receding hairline is evidence that some changes can be in the less-preferred category.) I want to highlight positive changes that we are currently experiencing at BYU and in Religious Education as we continue our mission to “assist individuals in their efforts to come unto Christ” (BYU Religious Education mission statement).
This is a time of exciting developments at BYU. These developments are happening in several ways. Recent changes in the administration at BYU have included the announcement of a new university president in Kevin J Worthen. With this development has come the appointment of our friend and colleague Dr. Matthew O. Richardson, who now serves as university advancement vice president. Congratulations, Matt! In Religious Education, Dean Brent L. Top has just completed his first year of service. It has been exciting to witness his zeal and energy.
There are other recent changes that have happened beyond the campus of BYU that have impacted our work. I will mention two. The first is President Thomas S. Monson’s October 2012 general conference announcement modifying the minimum age for full-missionary service. This change altered the landscape at BYU in various ways. The second example is the series of recent statements by the Church addressing various sensitive issues in the gospel. Both of these examples have the potential to impact the teaching and scholarship we contribute at BYU. Both are giving us opportunities to stretch and to think in new ways about how to fulfill the mission of Religious Education. Of course, the work of the Religious Studies Center is central to these discussions. It is a joy to be a part of positive change and look towards the future. As we go forward, we will succeed and work to fulfill the vision of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as expressed in his January 13, 2009, devotional talk at BYU: “The best is yet to be!”
Robert C. Freeman
Associate Dean, Religious Education