Fall 2023 Review Magazine

Our Covenantal Mandate to Care for Those in Need

Message From the Dean's Office

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating.”[1] Scriptures identify our covenantal opportunity and responsibility to help those in need (Leviticus 19:9–18; Amos 2:6–7; Mosiah 4:26). “Caring for those in need” is one of “four divinely appointed responsibilities” of the work of salvation and exaltation.[2]

At BYU and in Religious Education we seek to “advance faith-based, high-quality teaching and learning”[3]—both inside and outside the classroom. This summer I accompanied two colleagues, Drs. Andrew C. Reed and Michael H. MacKay, and a group of ten students from Religious Education’s Interfaith Student Association on a trip called “Alleviating Poverty through Scholarship and Service.” The previous winter semester, Andy and Mike taught an Interfaith Leadership class aimed at studying and applying scriptural and prophetic teachings regarding faith interactions and serving God’s children. One of the students’ assignments was to plan the trip. Because of their efforts, we met with civic, interfaith, and government leaders to learn about their efforts to address issues of poverty. In addition, we served at food pantries in urban and rural areas and at homeless shelters.

I went on this trip as an observer and saw the impact it had on students as they wrestled with the economic, spiritual, social, and emotional realities of poverty. As I reflect on this experience, I remember again the value of learning that takes place outside classroom. And it isn’t just students who are changed in these learning environments. I began the trip feeling comfortable about my efforts to help the poor and needy. I came away realizing that there was much more that I can and should be doing.

Gaye Strathearn

Associate Dean, BYU Religious Education


[1] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Are We Not All Beggars?,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2014, 40.

[2] General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1.2, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

[3] “Mission & Aims of BYU,” https://aims.byu.edu.