BYU-Idaho Education Week puts a new spin on what it means to have confidence, joy

With more than 2,800 attendees this year, BYU-Idaho Education Week brought peace, comfort and hope to participants from all over the world who gathered on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus. The annual conference, held Aug. 1-3, offered participants motivational devotionals, insightful workshops, and recreational activities for the whole family. 

This year’s keynote speakers included CES Instructor Eric Richards, BYU-Idaho University Academic Vice President Kelly Burgener, BYU-Idaho Alumni Director Steve Davis, and authors and educators George Durrant and Susan Easton Black. 

Gaining confidence in God

Seminary and institute teacher Eric Richards, who is also known for his Instagram personality and gospel-themed books, opened BYU-Idaho’s Education Week on Aug. 1 with his keynote address titled “Godfidence,” encouraging attendees to “fear not” and develop deep confidence in God.

“The Lord knew we’d have many worries in this mortal existence. But when those worries drift into the arena of fear, Heavenly Father does not want us to go there,” Richards said.

Keynote speaker Eric Richards talks to attendees at BYU-Idaho Education Week.
Keynote speaker Eric Richards talks to attendees at BYU-Idaho Education Week. Credit: Ericka Sanders

Richards encouraged those in attendance to eliminate fear by developing “Godfidence” (confidence in God), exercising faith, and seeking professional help if needed.

“Fearlessness is not the absence of fear,” Richards said. “Fearlessness is simply acting in faith in spite of those things that might cause us to worry.”

Wonders of God

BYU-Idaho Academic Vice President Kelly Burgener gave Thursday afternoon’s devotional address titled, “All Things Denote There Is a God.”

Burgener discussed the wonder of the human body, the possibility of trillions of habitable planets in the universe, the prevalence of the golden ratio in nature, and the abundant amount of love God shows his children through other people.

“The wonders of God are all around us, and their purpose is to teach us that ‘all things denote there is a God,’” Burgener said.

Finding joy

In Friday afternoon’s devotional titled, “Seeking Peace, Finding Joy,” BYU-Idaho Career Center Director Steve Davis dove into insightful feelings of joy and peace and how one can find them when depression, distress and anxiety strike. He taught that principles of faith and understanding God’s love for His children are key to accomplish this. “These principles are very simple” he added, but explained how the adversary constantly tries to bury these simple principles under falsehoods. 

Steve Davis speaks during a BYU-Idaho Education Week devotional.
Steve Davis speaks during a BYU-Idaho Education Week devotional. Credit: Ericka Sanders

Davis also expounded on how the quest for self-esteem is misguided when it is not accompanied by a constant pursuit of the Kingdom of God. “The goal is the kind of confidence we get through selfless giving.”

Davis shared how the word “joy” itself teaches us the order to find joy in our own lives. The first letter of the word, “J”, stands for “Jesus Christ,” the letter “O” representing “others,” and the letter “Y” pointing to “you.”

“I’m going to analyze the J-O-Y, look at my life, and make sure I’m living in the right order,” expressed Marianne Olson, an Education Week participant from Tustin, California.

Joy in the journey

George Durrant and Susan Easton Black, both former BYU religious education professors who married each other in their later years, shared engaging stories that exemplify how living the gospel and being patient has brought them joy after losing their spouses and loved ones earlier in life. The title of their devotional address is “The Road Less Traveled.” 

George Durrant expounded on his timeline as a priesthood bearer and how magnifying that sacred power and authority has brought joy into his life. 

Susan Easton Black shared how her marriage to a priesthood holder has brought so many blessings into her life. “Bottom line” she whispered between laughs, “living the gospel brings joy into your life.” 

George D Durrant and Susan Easton Black speak during the closing session of BYU-Idaho Education Week.
George D Durrant and Susan Easton Black speak during the closing session of BYU-Idaho Education Week. Credit: Michael Lewis

“That message spoke to me; it told me I can still find joy,” shared Mike Bennon, an Idaho Falls resident and Education Week participant. When asked what this year’s event meant for him, he expressed, “It has been heavenly; it has filled an empty well that needed filling.” 

To view devotionals and select classes from the 2019 BYU-Idaho Education Week conference, visit