2014 BYU Church History Symposium

"The Worldwide Church: The Global Reach of Mormonism​"

NOTE: To watch the recordings of the two keynote speakers, you can click on the individual photos. You can also scroll down to the list of symposium speakers below. To watch those presentations click on the red arrow next to their name.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church’s First Presidency, was the keynote speaker at the LDS Conference Center Theater. The two-day symposium, titled “The Worldwide Church: the Global Reach of Mormonism,” began on the BYU campus in Provo with a full day of scholarly presentations and an evening keynote speech by Terryl Givens, professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond in Virginia and a prolific and popular author on intellectual topics about Mormonism.

President Uchtdorf drew his theme from a quoted remark by novelist Michael Crichton: “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”

“History teaches us not only about the leaves of existence,” President Uchtdorf commented. “It also teaches about the twigs, branches, trunks and roots of life. And these lessons are important.”

The church leader said a failing of mortal men and women “is to assume that our ‘leaf’ is all there is — that our experience encompasses everyone else’s, that our truth is complete and universal.” He said the gospel of Christ that Mormonism embraces encompasses all truth, “not only the truth of what was and what is but the truth of what can and will be.”

God warns his children repeatedly not to place their trust in the world’s wisdom, observed President Uchtdorf, “yet we have an almost irresistible desire to assume that the leaf of information we have in our possession is a representation of all there is to know.”

He related an incident of Frederick the Great, the 18th century king of Prussia. After a military defeat, many of Frederick’s soldiers scattered in confusion. A soldier brought before the king was asked why he had run away.

“Because things were going badly for your majesty,” was the reply.

“Frederick reflected for a moment, then said mildly, ‘I suggest that you wait a week. Then, if things are still going badly, we will quit together,’ ” President Uchtdorf recounted.

“There will be times when it may appear that things are going badly for the truth of God — that the evidence of the world contradicts God’s utterances. For my part, I have learned to be patient, knowing that in the end things will work out. God’s kingdom will continue to grow. The truth will continue to flourish and spread throughout the earth. Sometimes all it takes is a little faith and a little patience.”

In his speech Thursday night, Givens said the LDS Church faces the same challenge that confronted Christian leaders after the death of Christ: “How do you export and disseminate the gospel in all of its purity and goodness to myriad peoples, nationalities, ethnic groups and societies without the cultural trappings and accretions it has acquired?”

Givens commented: “Our ideas of what it means to be saints, to worship God, to live the life of discipleship are shaped by myriad factors conscious and unconscious. Forms of address, rhetorical habits, music, instrumentation, the language of prayer, modes of engaging the sacred, etiquette and interaction and how we express love, these and a million other constituents of the religious life are not eternal verities or immutable truths but shifting modes of pursuing and living truth.”

Obstacles to spreading the LDS faith “freed from cultural baggage” are rooted in Mormonism’s history, Givens said, explaining that its sacred roots, including the Book of Mormon, were part of the physical landscape for early Mormons.

Moreover, he said, prominent themes in the Book of Mormon — wars fought in the name of liberty, a land of refuge for the religiously oppressed, the democratization of revelation, hostility to priestcraft — all resonate with what Americans have claimed as part of their national identity.

However, Givens noted, “the Book of Mormon is in large measure the story of the unending transmission of the gospel into new contexts, new settings and new conditions. It is a chronicle of the volatility and fragility of lands of refuge. It is a testament to the portability and ceaseless transmutations of Zion, with the only constant being the eternally present promise of spiritual blessedness and direct access to God’s power and truth.”

That, Givens said, seems to be a warning against the tendency to associate Zion “with a particular place or nationality or historical moment. There is no holy land, only a holy people.”

Givens said revelations given to Joseph Smith, including Section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants, hint that the institutional church is not the “exhaustive repository of the chosen or the blessed or the eventually saved.”

“The idea of a spiritual church that exists alongside to encompass and eventually transcend the institutional church is persistently reaffirmed.”

He said the LDS Church “holds the keys of salvation for the living and the dead. At the same time, God loves and considers to be his people all those who honor him and will have him to be their God.

“The implications for how Latter-day Saints engage the rest of the world are there for the faithful to plumb. My task today has been to try and reconstruct from Joseph Smith’s own revelatory pronouncements what I take to be his way of balancing his certainty of the divine foundations and mission of the restored church with both the humility of language and self-conception and generosity of vision appropriate to its destiny.”

Article by R. Scott Lloyd, posted here by permission of the author.

Photos by Brent R. Nordgren



The Worldwide Church:

The Global Reach of Mormonism


March 6-7, 2014

Videos marked with the Watch this talk on YouTube symbol may be watched online by clicking the symbol.

Thursday, March 6 – Brigham Young University (Provo)

9:20-10:30 a.m. - Session 1

     Conf. 2254

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Ken Alford (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Establishing the Gospel in Afghanistan"       

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Richard Cowan (BYU Church History and Doctrine), “Administering a Worldwide Church”

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Don Holsinger (BYU Kennedy Center and International Center for Law and Religious Studies), "The Dividends of Religious Freedom"

     Conf. 2258

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Jared Halverson (Seminaries and Institutes), "Temples as Sanctifiers of Space"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Ray Luce (Georgia State University), "LDS Buildings, the Fourth Essential"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Ed Riding (LDS Church History Library), "The Globalization of Mormon Music"

     Conf. 2260

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Scott Christensen, Jared Feller, Grace Stephenson, Jeremy Talmage (LDS Church History Department), "Documenting Mormonism as a Global Religion"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Dennis Horne (LDS Materials Management Department), "President Lorenzo Snow's Renewal of Missionary Work"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Chad Emmett (BYU Geography Department), "Conversion Accounts from Indonesia"

10:40-11:50 a.m. - Session 2

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Scott Esplin (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "A Student's Perspective on Life at the Juarez"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Mark Grover (emeritus BYU Lee Library), "Latin America and the Globalization of the Church"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Barbara Morgan (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "LDS Church Schools in Mexico"

    Conf. 2258

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Richard Bennett (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Pentecostals and Mormons in Africa"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Clint Christensen (LDS Church History Department), "Global Impact of the 1978 Revelation"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  J.B. Haws (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "The Freeze and the Thaw: Ghana"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Anne Barrett (LDS Church History Department), "Modern-day Mormon Handcart Treks: Issues of Identity and Collective Memory"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Gary Boatright (LDS Church History Department), "Marking the International Landscape"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Jacob Olmstead (LDS Church History Department), "The Salt Lake Temple: An Icon of Faith for the International Church?"

11:50-12:50 p.m. - Break for Lunch

1:00-2:10 p.m. - Session 3

    Conf. 2254

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Felipe Chou (Seminaries and Institutes), "Taiwan Mission - Early Years"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  John Hilton (BYU Ancient Scripture), "The First Three Years"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Greg Wilkinson (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Is the LDS Church a Japanese New Religion?"

    Conf. 2258

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Lewis Hassell (Jonah Fjested - University of Oklahoma), "The Meeting of Mormonism with Two Asian Subcultures"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Michael Goodman (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Bringing Christianity and the Gospel to Thailand"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Gerritt Van Dyk (BYU Lee Library), "The Two Translations of the Korean Book of Mormon"

2:20-3:30 p.m. - Session 4

   Conf. 2254

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Sherilyn Farnes (LDS Church History Department), "The Establishment of the Church in Latvia"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Jeremy Lamoreaux (BYU-Idaho), "Societal Security and Minority Religions"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Craig Ostler (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Development of the Church's Humanitarian Aid"

    Conf. 2258

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Katherine Kitterman (LDS Church History Department), "The Faith to Be First: the Haag am Haustruck Branch"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Roger MInert (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Johann Huber and the First Branch in Austria"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Saskia Tielens (TU Dortmund University/ University of Utah), "Writing the War: German Mormon Memories"

3:30-3:50 Break for Refreshments

3:50-5:00 p.m. Session 5

    Conf. 2254

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Ron Bartholomew, (Seminaries and Institutes), "Church Membership in County Durham"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Susan Howard (retired attorney), "Mormonism and the British Press"     

            Vai Tafuna (adjunct BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Influence of the Church in the Island of Tonga"

    Conf. 2258

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Jessica Finnegan (graduate student, University of Cambridge), "The Internet and the International Church"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  James Miller (LDS Church History Department), "To Every Tongue: Church Language Policy"

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Matthew Wilcox (Seminaries and Institutes), "The Production of Proselyting Filmstrips"

5:00-7:00 p.m. - Break for Dinner

7:00-8:30 p.m. - Keynote Address (JSB Auditorium)

       Watch this talk on YouTube  Terryl Givens

Friday, March 7 – LDS Conference Center Little Theater (Salt Lake City)

9:00-10:10 a.m. Keynote Address

          Watch this talk on YouTube  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

10:20-11:30 a.m. - Session 1

            Casey Griffiths (Seminaries and Institutes), "Global Pioneers in Church Education"

            Mary Jane Woodger (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Czechoslovakia's Mission President Wallace Toronto"

            Taunalyn Rutherford (adjunct BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Theorizing International Mormonism"

11:40-12:50 p.m. - Session 2

          Watch this talk on YouTube Craig Manscill (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Conflict, Persecution and Martyrdom"

          Watch this talk on YouTube Reid Neilson (LDS Church History Department), "A Light in the Darkness"

          Watch this talk on YouTube Andrew Reed (adjunct BYU Church History and Doctrine), "The Non-Mormon Mormony"

12:50-1:50: Break for Lunch

1:50-3:00 p.m. - Session 3

          Watch this talk on YouTube Christian Euvrad (Seminaries and Institutes), "The Church in France: A Study of Relationship"

          Watch this talk on YouTube Jerry Hansen (BYU-Idaho; Hans Noot, Seminaries and Institutes; Medlir Mema, doctornal candidate, George Washington University), "The Church's Cultural Challenges in Europe"

          Watch this talk on YouTube Mauro Properzi (BYU Church History and Doctrine), "Waldensians and Mormons in Italy"

3:10-4:20 p.m. - Session 4

          Watch this talk on YouTube James Goldberg (LDS Church History Library), "Moses Hindoian: Reconstructing Local History"

          Watch this talk on YouTube Ardis Parshall (LDS Church History Library), "Saim Abd al-Samid"

          Watch this talk on YouTube John Plaiss (University of Illinois), "Mormon Relations with Islam"


Symposium Committee

Michael A. Goodman (Co-Chair), Department of Church History and Doctrine (BYU, Religious Education)

Mauro Properzi (Co-Chair), Department of Church History and Doctrine (BYU, Religious Education)

Michael N. Landon (Co-Chair), LDS Church History Department

Patrick Dunshee, LDS Church History Department

Debra Xavier, LDS Church History Department

Alan L. Morrell, LDS Church History Museum

Andrea Ramsey, BYU Conferences and Workshops

Brent R. Nordgren, Religious Studies Center (BYU, Religious Education)

Linda Godfrey (Secretary), Department of Church History and Doctrine (BYU, Religious Education)


Jointly Sponsored by

The Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University

Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University

The Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church History Museum, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints