In 1975, Religious Education dean Jeffrey R. Holland formed the Religious Studies Center (RSC) to facilitate religious study and serve not just the university but the entire Church. Now, as the RSC turns thirty-five, let’s review the RSC’s impact on the university and the worldwide Church.
The RSC has always been a major sponsor of important conferences and symposia on campus. In addition to Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, the RSC has added the Religious Education Student Symposium, the BYU Easter Conference, and the BYU Church History Symposium. These events have fulfilled Dean Holland’s charge by serving not only the local community but also the worldwide Church in print and on the Internet. For example, many addresses from these conferences have been adapted and printed in the Ensign and Liahona, reaching a broad international audience.
Research and Publications
The RSC funds research and publication of that research, regularly publishing about ten books a year, a journal-style periodical titled the Religious Educator, and a biannual magazine, the Religious Education Review. “While many people do not recognize the RSC by name,” says Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, publications director, “they recognize many of the books we have published.” Some of those books include Champion of Liberty: John Taylor (2009), Days Never to Be Forgotten: Oliver Cowdery (2009), A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, vols. 1 (1997) and 2 (2005), The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts (2005), Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts (2004), A Mormon Bibliography, 1830–1930 (2004), Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (2002, 1978), Mormons and Muslims (2002, 1983), the Book of Mormon series (1988–95), and The Words of Joseph Smith (1980).
A major step in establishing a global audience was the creation of the RSC Web site (rsc.byu.edu). This site offers a blog of recent events, news of upcoming conferences and workshops, a list of our most recent publications, a searchable database of past articles, and translations in German, Portuguese, and Spanish. The RSC is committed to sharing its resources with a worldwide audience.
The Future of the RSC
While serving as president of BYU, President Holland said, “With the horizons expanding at an unprecedented rate for the study of what is ancient and what is modern, it is fitting for us to look to the resources, scholarship, and leadership of the [Religious Studies] Center to assist us in our search for ‘all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and [all] that he will yet reveal . . . pertaining to the kingdom of God.’ We build on a grand tradition and hope to add an increasing amount of substantial, published research to the good work already begun.” The RSC remains committed to pursuing that ever-expanding horizon of gospel scholarship and sharing our resources with a global audience.