I am writing at the end of a semester in which I enjoyed my classes as much as I ever have in my twenty-eight-year teaching career in Religious Education. Let me tell you about my classes and about some of my students.
My New Testament class was a lively and energetic group of students. I never was able to get some of them to show up for class on time, but they were clever, inquisitive, and fun to be around. They kept me on my toes as we learned together about our Savior’s earthly ministry. As we went through the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we became better acquainted with not only Jesus but also those who wrote the records and those whose lives intersected with His, both the heroes and the villains of the New Testament. Like others of our Religious Education faculty, I try to teach not only the doctrine and the scriptural text but also scripture-reading skills that will serve my students well throughout their lives. In the process, I always gain new perspectives.
I also taught two sections of Islam and the Gospel, a one-hour course in which we give our students a rapid introduction to Islam in a Latter-day Saint setting. About three hundred students take the class each year, either from me or from my colleague Brian Hauglid. Because of this unique Religious Education course, many BYU graduates are better equipped to function knowledgeably in today’s world. This semester, I had three Muslim students in my classes—Lina from Palestine, Nada from Morocco, and Ujal from Bangladesh. All three, like the many other Muslim students I’ve had in my classes before, helped by sharing with their Latter-day Saint classmates some of their life’s experiences and perspectives. I learn new things from students every time.
The variety of courses we teach in Religious Education—mostly focused on the scriptures and the doctrines of the Church—enhances our students’ BYU experience greatly. When I retire, I plan to calculate—or at least estimate—how many students I taught over the years at BYU. In the meantime, to the many thousands of students who have passed through Religious Education classes, I join with my colleagues in thanking you for all we have learned from you.
Kent P Jackson
Associate Dean of Religious Education