This issue contains contributions from the faculty of the Church’s Seminaries and Institutes programs as well as Elder M. Russell Ballard’s address to S&I faculty given in February 2016. We dedicate one issue each year to our colleagues teaching high school students as well as to the faculty who teach in college- and university-associated institute programs. The inclusion of Elder Ballard’s remarks signals a call for all of us to engage history more deeply and carefully as we try to help our students navigate the difficulties of our age. Elder Ballard’s remarks serve as a timely reminder to seek out the “best books,” to consult the eleven Gospel Topics Essays on LDS.org, and to pay the price to learn our history.
In this issue we offer the third of our difficult topics interviews, and here we present an interview with Paul Reeve on the issue of race. Paul is an expert on the topic and has written several thoughtful and deeply interesting books and articles on the topic of the Church’s ban on the priesthood as well as the issue of race in scripture. I have attempted to steer the conversation towards the classroom in an effort to help all of us find appropriate language to discuss this difficult topic. We hope to continue presenting these essays in future issues of the journal, and I welcome your suggestions for topics that might be covered.
Finally, I draw your attention to a brief article on the topic of doing Mormon history. D. Brent Smith offers a broad survey of the Mormon History Association (MHA) and how it has engaged and shaped the conversation regarding what it means to be a Mormon historian. For some readers, this information will open up new opportunities to access and present current research. The MHA is a vibrant and growing organization that welcomes scholars of all stripes and backgrounds. The MHA meets annually, and past meetings have proved to be a fruitful venue for discovering what new research is being done and what new publications have appeared in the past year. I hope you find this essay helpful, as I did, and that you enjoy the other insightful essays of this issue.
Thomas A. Wayment