What Church leaders taught at university devotionals and graduations in 2022
A look back at the topics, counsel, invitations, insights and warnings of Church leaders during university devotionals and graduations in 2022
What Church leaders taught at university devotionals and graduations in 2022
A look back at the topics, counsel, invitations, insights and warnings of Church leaders during university devotionals and graduations in 2022
In 2022, members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and each of the general auxiliary presidencies, along with several General Authority Seventies, spoke to university students during devotionals and graduations at the Church’s five higher education institutions: Brigham Young University, BYU–Idaho, Ensign College, BYU–Hawaii and BYU–Pathway Worldwide.
Here’s a look back at Church News’ coverage of leaders’ counsel, insights, invitations and warnings during those addresses.
‘Remove windage’ to be securely bound to the Savior, President Johnson tells BYU students
In a Brigham Young University campus devotional on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, Primary General President Camille N. Johnson showed a picture of a large boat that lost its connection to its mooring and was thrown ashore by the winds and waves.
What happened? Some sails and flags — things the wind could grab, or “windage” — were still apparent on the boat.
With the image of the battered boat in mind, President Johnson asked: “Dear friends, students, faculty, do you have windage you need to remove? Do you need to reduce resistance so that you may weather the storms that are inevitably coming or bearing down on you now?”
Elder Holland at BYU: What one family’s story of forgiveness teaches about the meaning of faith
When life seems to be one incomprehensible tragedy and heartache after another, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told Brigham Young University students, “that is when faith in God, in Christ and in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will really count.”
The member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered this emotional plea: “Practice now and be strong now for those times of affliction and refinement that will come.”
In a BYU campus devotional on Tuesday, Jan. 18, Elder Holland recounted one family’s experiences to illustrate the difficulty of life’s lessons and what it means to faithfully submit to what God allows. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, who also spoke.
President Bingham teaches Ensign College students the antidote to the ‘unique anxieties of this era’
The challenges of attending college can increase stress and anxiety for any student — not to mention political divisiveness, economic and employment uncertainty, and the past two years of pandemic impacts, then-Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham acknowledged.
But there is an antidote to that stress and anxiety, she reassured Ensign College students during a campus devotional in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
5 lessons on how to become firm, steadfast and immovable, Elder Perkins teaches at Ensign College
One phrase, repeated at five pivotal moments in the Book of Mormon, can help create strong spiritual foundations, Elder Anthony D. Perkins taught in an Ensign College devotional on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.
Elder Perkins, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Christine Perkins, spoke at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
While the challenges and “earthquakes of our day” are unique to this time, the lessons taught in the Book of Mormon “constitute necessary prophetic guidance for our day,” Elder Perkins said.
Find Christ’s peace during perilous times, teaches Elder Gilbert at BYU devotional
Elder Clark G. Gilbert’s devotional address Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Brigham Young University was anchored to a comforting message: Christ’s followers can find peace — even amid the din of a contentious world.
A General Authority Seventy and the Church’s commissioner of education, Elder Gilbert emphasized his message of “Christ’s peace in perilous times” by sharing a familiar promise from President Russell M. Nelson.
Elder Jackson tells BYU-Idaho students what he learned about opposition after surviving a suicide bombing in Afghanistan
Some years ago, Elder William K. Jackson, General Authority Seventy, was riding in an armored vehicle in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber slammed into his vehicle and detonated.
“I promise you from the bottom of my heart that there was no entry in my Franklin Day Planner a few years back scheduling an appointment with a suicide bomber,” he told BYU-Idaho students during a devotional on Feb. 8. “All who survived were reminded of the fact that life doesn’t always go as we plan it.”
Gospel leadership and eternal perspective can help with any leadership responsibility, President Oaks tells BYU-Pathway students
A focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ — as well as its principles of leadership and eternal perspective — can help BYU-Pathway Worldwide students with current and future leadership responsibilities, said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency.
President Oaks offered “primary emphasis to principles of gospel leadership that will help you in the various leadership responsibilities that will come your way” as he spoke in a BYU-Pathway Worldwide devotional broadcast Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Elder Rasband shares with BYU–Idaho students about 4 ways to can express love for God
“We see Joshua as the great military leader, but his cause was more than capturing the countryside,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “He was motivated by his love for God.”
Speaking Sunday night, Feb. 13, in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, to the largest group of people he’d stood before since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Elder Rasband centered his CES devotional remarks on Joshua’s final counsel to the Israelites: “Take diligent heed … to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).
Christ’s peacemakers remain blessed, eternal ‘influencers,’ teaches Elder Stanfill at BYU
“Influencers” is a contemporary label conferred upon individuals who can sway target audiences to a particular product or organization.
Today’s so-called Influencers, taught Elder Vern P. Stanfill, a General Authority Seventy, during the Tuesday, March 1, devotional at Brigham Young University, can change the way others dress, think or utilize their time.
The persuasive power of such influencers often defies reason, yet they can change the world, at least for a time.
Elder Holland charges newly inaugurated BYU–Pathway president to both watch and make history in helping provide education worldwide
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland charged newly inaugurated BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Ashton not only to watch history unfold but also to make history — and to follow some of the new president’s own counsel he gave BYU–Pathway students in a devotional several years ago.
In his keynote message, Elder Holland cited Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19, 88:118 and 93:28-29, 32, 36-37 as examples of the importance of learning, knowledge and intelligence in the “revelatory beginnings laid down as the gospel was being restored.”
What Elder Johnson saw in fractal geometry to help conquer life’s daily distractions
Shooting a ball at the wrong basket during a national high school basketball tournament was embarrassing, but it taught Elder Kelly R. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, an important lesson for his life.
“I have learned that I must be careful and not allow myself to become distracted or to lose focus on things that matter most,” Elder Johnson told Brigham Young University students during the weekly campus devotional on Tuesday, March 15.
“I ask that you consider this question: What are the things that distract you from staying focused on those things that are most important?” said Elder Johnson.
‘Believest thou?’ Elder Gonzalez asks students at BYU—Hawaii
A “believest thou” approach can benefit one’s faith, taught Elder Walter F. Gonzalez in his BYU—Hawaii devotional remarks Tuesday, March 15, with the General Authority Seventy sharing scriptural examples that can help strengthen one’s spiritual foundation.
“The promises of the Lord could be ours in any place we reside,” said Elder Gonzalez, speaking on campus in Laie, Hawaii.
How the scriptures were an anchor during his own trial of faith, Elder Meredith shares at an Ensign College devotional
The Restoration of the gospel started with a question as young Joseph Smith wanted to know what church was true and which church to join.
“Guidance came from scripture. It was the scriptures that sent him to pray,” Elder Alvin F. “Trip” Meredith III, a General Authority Seventy, told Ensign College students during a devotional on Tuesday, March 22.
“My message today, my plea, is search the scriptures, daily. Make scripture study a daily discipline. With all the energy of my heart, I exhort you and plead with you to study the scriptures every day without fail,” Elder Meredith said.
Ensure God’s 1st great commandment always comes 1st, Elder D. Todd Christofferson challenges BYU students
When a lawyer sought to entrap the Savior with this question — “Which is the great commandment?” — he received an answer that is both wonderful and profound.
As recorded in Matthew 22:37-39:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
In his devotional message Tuesday, March 22, at Brigham Young University, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked his audience to consider the majesty of those two great commandments — and also why the first commandment is first.
Elder Andersen says the answer to this question ‘will shape your future’
Exactly 13 years after he last delivered a commencement address at BYU–Idaho, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles returned to Rexburg, Idaho, on Thursday, April 7, to congratulate the school’s graduates and to offer counsel on the voices they listen to moving forward.
“Who are you listening to?” Elder Andersen asked. “The answer will shape your future and your eternal destiny.”
He asked those participating in person at the BYU–Idaho Center and online to consider this question regularly.
Elder Palmer challenges new BYU grads to stay focused, stay centered — and then recenter
Focus. Center. Recenter: These three action words anchored a trio of tips shared by Elder S. Mark Palmer to the more than 6,800 students graduating Thursday, April 21, from Brigham Young University.
The event, hosted inside a packed Marriott Center, marked a welcome return to a traditional commencement exercise at the Church-sponsored university following a pause in such gatherings during the pandemic.
Review Elder Palmer’s insights for graduates
Brother Newman’s ABCs of digging deep into the word of God
“When we hear the phrase ‘word of God,’ we naturally think of scriptures,” said Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency. “But I think it’s broader than that. … Giving heed to the word of God … means giving heed to the Savior Himself.”
Brother Newman addressed BYU–Idaho students gathered for a campus devotional in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, on Tuesday, April 26.
What does digging deep into the word of God look like? Brother Newman shared three phrases he called the ABCs of scripture study.
President Oaks calls on young adults to ‘stand fast with love’ in proclaiming truth
Just two days after President Russell M. Nelson spoke to young adults worldwide, the Church President’s message of knowing “the truth about who you are and of the destiny God has designed for us” was echoed and endorsed by his friend and first counselor in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks.
On Tuesday, May 17, President Oaks built upon President Nelson’s recent counsel during an Ensign College devotional — calling upon young adults and others to “stand fast with love” in proclaiming truth.
Elder Valenzuela teaches BYU–Idaho students of what is vital to their spiritual, physical safety
Speaking to students and faculty gathered in the BYU–Idaho Center on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on Tuesday, May 17, Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela encouraged listeners to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost in their daily lives and reiterated the promise made by President Russell M. Nelson to the youth of the Church in 2018.
BYU–Hawaii devotional: 3 invitations that provide the key to enduring sense of identity and meaningful belonging
Prioritizing the identity of being a child of God and disciple of Jesus Christ leads to a joyful and enduring belonging, and reaching divine potential, Elder John C. Pingree Jr. taught in a BYU–Hawaii devotional.
When speaking on Tuesday, May 24, the General Authority Seventy extended three invitations that he said “will help us gain a joyful and enduring sense of identity and belonging and enable us to reach our divine potential.”
Elder Nielson teaches BYU–Pathway students how the truth will set them free
In John 8:31-32, the Savior says, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
What does it mean that the truth can make one free? he asked.
President Henry B. Eyring counsels BYU–Idaho graduates: In your lifetime of learning, seek personal revelation
Close to 3,000 BYU–Idaho graduates were fortunate to hear from commencement speakers on Wednesday, July 20, who share a love for and investment in them and their success.
That’s because the three speakers also share an important characteristic: the title of “president” on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Church commissioner of education; and BYU–Idaho’s current president, President Henry J. Eyring, all participated in the graduation ceremony held in the BYU–Idaho Center on Wednesday, July 20. President Henry B. Eyring was president of Ricks College, the predecessor to BYU–Idaho, from 1971 to 1977; Elder Gilbert served as BYU–Idaho president from 2015 to 2017; and President Henry J. Eyring — the son of President Henry B. Eyring — took the helm of the Church university in 2017.
In his remarks to graduates, President Henry B. Eyring offered reassurance about the future.
Is your life’s drill set in reverse? Bishop Budge on why ambitions should be Christlike
When Bishop L. Todd Budge‘s children were young, he and his father set about to build a wooden play structure, complete with swings, a slide and a two-level fort. Though neither of them had much experience with building, the project was progressing smoothly.
That was until they needed to drill some bolt holes. For hours they tried to drill a single hole out of several needed, but they scarcely made any progress. Eventually they discovered their drill had been toggled to the reverse setting.
Bishop Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, explained that the adversary wants everyone to go through life with their drills in reverse, in a BYU Pathway Worldwide devotional broadcast on July 12. “His clever deceptions, referred to as ‘mists of darkness’ (1 Nephi 12:17), twist true principles and reverse our understanding and, ultimately, our progress down the covenant path.”
Elder Cook at BYU Education Week: Give heed to the words of the Prophets
When Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles looks back over the last 100 years of BYU Education Week, he sees a pattern not just of learning and instruction, but also an effort to build faith in Jesus Christ.
“I commend each of you for attending today to learn and to strengthen your faith. An omniscient God honors your efforts,” Elder Cook told the crowd gathered at the Marriott Center for the devotional on Tuesday, Aug. 16.
After he spoke about the 100th anniversary of Education Week, Elder Cook shared key doctrines from Latter-day Prophets given over the past century. In this, he gave his purpose for the devotional address — to examine worldly knowledge through the lens of revealed doctrine.
President Oaks asks BYU: ‘How are we measuring up’ to President Kimball’s 1975 call to be ‘unique,’ ‘special’?
As Brigham Young University celebrated its centennial in 1975, Church President Spencer W. Kimball gave his “Second Century Address,” calling on BYU and its students to be unique.
With a front-row seat for the landmark address, BYU’s president — then in his early 40s and about halfway through his eventual nine-year leadership tenure — had been working to avoid extreme federal Title IX regulations.
That BYU president still has “President” as a title today. President Dallin H. Oaks — first counselor in the First Presidency — returned Tuesday, Sept. 13, to the same BYU Marriott Center nearly a half-century later to revisit President Kimball’s address. In remarks titled “Going Forward in the Second Century,” the 90-year-old President Oaks called on BYU faculty and students to continue to be unique and to dare to be different.
Look for ‘flashes of light’ along life’s journey, President Lund says
Reflecting on his experiences and how his testimony has aggregated, Young Men General President Steven J. Lund shared faith-focused thoughts with Brigham Young University students and staff during a Sept. 20 devotional.
“Faith and belief are complicated things,” President Lund said. “We cannot judge each other for what we do and do not know and believe, because testimony comes only through gifts of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit are, after all, gifts.”
Elder Wakolo teaches 3 doctrinal truths that help give strength, peace during life’s trials
During a BYU–Hawaii devotional on Tuesday, Sept. 20, Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, General Authority Seventy, noted that those in attendance are possibly suffering from many difficult trials.
“Today I might be speaking to someone who has lost a child, or experienced a miscarriage, or may never have a child of their own in this life, one who may have an estranged relationship, or lost a loved one, someone who has received a ‘Dear John’ letter, or who is struggling with his or her calling, mental or physical health issues, or who struggles with how to use time wisely, study effectively or is beginning to ask the Lord, ‘Why me?’ ... Life throws curveballs all the time. But we shouldn’t be distracted by focusing too much on them.”
Elder Wakolo then shared three doctrinal truths and principles that will help anyone in such a circumstance.
Sister Wright admonishes BYU–Idaho students to ‘Follow the prophet. He knows the way’
Sister Amy A. Wright issued a simple, yet compelling invitation and admonishment to students of Brigham Young University–Idaho: “Follow the prophet. He knows the way.”
In speaking during the campus devotional in the I-Center on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on Oct. 11, Sister Wright encouraged listeners to review the most recent counsel offered by the living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson.
Elder Pearson shares 4 principles crucial for spiritual survival and living an abundant life
Students need to “stand up and stand out; not give in and give out,” Elder Kevin W. Pearson said during a Brigham Young University devotional on Tuesday, Oct. 18. “We need you to be leaders, a light unto the world, not spiritual casualties. This is a time of sifting. The Lord needs more of us to place exclamation marks instead of question marks behind prophetic counsel. He needs more engaged participants in His work and fewer passive observers — more determined disciples and fewer drowning in disbelief and apathy.”
Elder Pearson then suggested four principles crucial to spiritual survival and to living an abundant life.
Why Sister Yee’s greatest education has been learning to trust the Lord
Sister Kristin M. Yee worked for close to 13 years as an artist and producer at Disney Interactive Studios. One day as she pushed the elevator button at work, she felt impressed that it was no longer where she was supposed to be.
“I cried and had many deep, heartfelt discussions with my Heavenly Father during this time,” Sister Yee, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, recalled during a BYU–Pathway Worldwide devotional broadcast on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Sister Yee shared her own educational journey, including her decision to leave her career at Disney, to emphasize the need for students to deepen trust in God and a relationship with Him. “I’ve learned from personal experience that there is usually never a good time to go to school but it is always a good time to trust in the Lord,” Sister Yee said.
Elder Bednar teaches at BYU–Idaho why ‘it is unreasonable to claim that faith in Jesus Christ is unreasonable’
For the second time in three months, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught college-age Latter-day Saints that “it is unreasonable to claim that faith in Jesus Christ is unreasonable.”
At his Aug. 28 devotional at the University of Utah Institute of Religion, Elder Bednar explained his message was the first of a two-part series titled “That Ye May Believe” (1 John 5:13), with the second to be presented later in the fall in another university devotional.
Part 2 came Sunday, Oct. 30, at Brigham Young University–Idaho in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, with Elder Bednar accompanied by his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, who also spoke briefly and shared her testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
President Porter describes 3 ways to more fully receive the gifts of God
Primary General President Susan H. Porter invited listeners to picture themselves walking up a path to “eternal life,” during a devotional at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
On this path, they trudge along, sometimes stumbling, looking down at their feet. They are weighed down with heavy backpacks labeled “things to do,” which is full of lists of things they are trying to do for school, work and to be good members of the Church.
“Now picture what changes when you decide to look up,” President Porter said. Suddenly those on the path can see the beauty that surrounds them, feel the warmth of the sun and remember that the Savior offered gifts for the journey — faith, repentance, hope, His Spirit and more.
In speaking to the students and faculty gathered in the Marriott Center on the Provo, Utah, campus, and listening virtually, President Porter declared, “My message today is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of joy because our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are inviting us to receive Them and Their gifts of infinite worth.”
Elder Yamashita’s 5 suggestions for wrestling in prayer before God
Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, spoke to BYU–Idaho students in a devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 8, about wrestling — not the sport — before God in prayer.
“Such wrestling is a struggle to find and express one’s real desires and receive inspiration of the Holy Ghost,” Elder Yamashita said.
Elder Andersen encourages BYU–Pathway students to ‘believe in yourself; trust in the Lord’
Sitting in his office in the Church Administration Building while filming a BYU–Pathway Worldwide broadcast, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles held up a rock he brought home from his four years serving in Brazil as a General Authority Seventy.
From one side, it appeared to be a plain, ordinary rock, but turning it over, Elder Andersen showed that “there’s so much more inside than what you see on the outside.”
Similarly, BYU–Pathway allows men and women both in and out of the Church to “take that power that they have inside and affect, to some extent, what happens to them on the outside,” Elder Andersen said during the broadcast that aired Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Elder Peter M. Johnson shares 3 ways to more fully come unto Christ and receive His rest
Speaking during a Brigham Young University campus devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 15, Elder Peter M. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, testified, “With love for and faith in Jesus Christ, determination, hard work and a lot of help, much good can be achieved.”
From personal experience, Elder Johnson said, “I have come to realize that as we come unto Christ, He follows a pattern of instruction to provide inspiration and spiritual strength. He teaches eternal truths, extends invitations to act and promises blessings to those who act in faith to fulfill His invitations.”
President Eyring calls his time at BYU–Hawaii devotional a ‘sacred time and sacred place’
As President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, and other leaders responded to questions posed by BYU–Hawaii students, a theme began to emerge: Each individual must learn to hear and act upon the voice of the Spirit.
Speaking to the university campus community during a question-and-answer format devotional on Nov. 22, President Eyring said that his experience on the Laie, Hawaii, campus that day had been for him “a sacred time and sacred place.”
Sister Craven shares 3 lessons from the parting of the River Jordan
After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Israelites were finally permitted by the Lord to enter the promised land. To get there, however, they needed to cross the River Jordan, which was deep and overflowing its banks.
“Imagine the scene,” Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, invited Ensign College students during the weekly devotional held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
After recounting this Old Testament miracle, Sister Craven shared three principles, or lessons, that can be learned from the priests who carried the ark across the dry riverbed. She summarized the principles in three short phrases: “First in. Stand firm. Last to leave.”
Elder Soares offers 3 strategies to ‘walk in the light and discern the truth’
Just prior to Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivering his message from the podium in the BYU Marriott Center for the campus devotional on Tuesday, Dec. 6, two students sang a rendition of the Primary children’s song, “I Will Walk with Jesus.”
Included in the chorus is the refrain, “Change my heart forever and help me clearly see. I will walk with Jesus, and He will walk with me.”
In the lyrics of this “beautiful song” is an invitation for profound reflection, Elder Soares said.
Bishop Budge teaches BYU–Idaho grads 4 things to let go of and 4 things to hold on to
In addressing BYU–Idaho graduates on Dec. 15, Bishop L. Todd Budge of the Presiding Bishopric shared four things graduates should let go of — sin, guilt, grudges and one’s own will — and four things they should hold on to — the Holy Ghost, faith, the word of God and covenants.
“I testify that as you steadily progress along the path of discipleship, holding fast to that which is true and letting go of that which is not, that you will find joy along the way,” Bishop Budge promised.