Tribute was paid to a pioneer prophet Sept. 16 as the new John Taylor Building was dedicated on the campus of Ricks College.
President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the building - designed "to reflect the elements of spirituality and religious reverence which symbolize the mission of Ricks College" - in honor of the Church's third president.The first new free-standing building constructed at Ricks College in 17 years houses the Religion and Humanities departments, as well as one campus stake and nine student wards.
President Faust was accompanied by his wife, Ruth. Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and commissioner of Church Education also addressed the large gathering. Elder Eyring served as president of Ricks College from 1971 to 1977. Also attending was Mary Ellen W. Smoot, Relief Society general president and a member of the board of trustees.
Other speakers included Steven D. Bennion, who served as president of Ricks from 1989 to last July, and who is now president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah; and Mack Shirley, student life vice president at Ricks and chairman of the building planning committee. Conducting the dedicatory services was Ricks College Pres. David A. Bednar.
Before dedicating the building, President Faust spoke of the important contributions made by President Taylor. "Obedience, dedication and integrity were the hallmarks of President Taylor's life," he said.
The pioneer prophet was wounded in Carthage Jail when the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by a mob in June 1844. The English-born convert became president of the Church following the death of President Brigham Young and served from 1880 to 1887.
"His years as president of the Church were times of turmoil, but he left a great legacy of gospel truth," President Faust said. "It is entirely appropriate and fitting that this new building memorialize this great stalwart prophet and leader of the Church."
President Faust spoke of the divinity of Church work throughout the world. "No one with their eyes open can see what is happening all over the world with this Church and have a serious doubt of the inspiration of heaven which guides it. It is unbelievable even to those of us who have something of a worldwide view of the progress of growth of the Church," he said. "This comes as consequence of the faith and devotion and testimony which lie in the hearts of the wonderful Saints of this Church all over the world."
In his remarks, Elder Eyring said the building was designed as a place where religious and secular education can mix. It was intentionally planned to house not only religion classes, but humanities studies as well.
He said the building stands as a symbol that "religion is not a thing apart from learning. It is at the heart."
Elder Eyring told students in the congregation that "through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ a meekness and humility will come to you," and then emphasized the "greatest enemy of learning is pride."
He also said another enemy of learning is fear.
"Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ and through the atonement of the Savior, you have the companionship of the Holy Ghost - the great teacher," Elder Eyring told the students.
Pres. Bennion expressed: "In [the new building's] simple elegance, it will serve as a reminder of the fundamental religious mission of this institution, to build faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to foster a love for academic learning." He said it was President Taylor who called Thomas E. Ricks as bishop of a ward and then as president of the Bannock Stake that covered much of southeastern Idaho at that time. "It is fitting that this building bear his name," he added.
Brother Shirley explained that the building was the culmination of seven years of planning and work. "We desired that the building, when completed, would foster those elements of spirituality and religious reverence that have become the trademarks of Ricks College. . . . Now we pray that those who instruct and are instructed within its walls will be spiritually enriched and will increase in testimony."
The 62,000-square-foot building, designed by the Salt Lake City architectural firm of FFKR and built by Ormond Builders of Idaho Falls, Idaho, centralizes religion classes in one location.
It features 14 classrooms, 28 faculty offices, a chapel with a pipe organ, large cultural hall and two kitchens. Nine wards from the Ricks College 2nd Stake will use the main chapel, cultural hall and classrooms for Sunday meetings. Three sacrament meetings will be held simultaneously in different parts of the building.
Prior to the dedicatory services, President Faust and Elder Eyring, at a luncheon in the Manwaring Center, unveiled a commissioned portrait of President Taylor that will be displayed in the new building. The portrait was done by Richard Bird of the Ricks College Art Department.