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Martin Luther King III, 2 apostles, Pulitzer winner will speak at BYU this year

Elders Dale G. Renlund and Neil L. Andersen headline the BYU devotional and forums list with civil rights advocates and writers Marilynne Robinson, James Fallows and Amy Chua

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BYU President Kevin Worthen delivered the semester’s first campus devotional on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.

BYU President Kevin Worthen gave the first campus devotional of the school year on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. This year’s devotional and forum speakers will include Martin Luther King III, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson and the Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal Oxford.

Nate Edwards, BYU

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BYU’s devotionals and forums definitely will make news this year.

The list of speakers include Latter-day Saint apostles, civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King III, other religious leaders and authors who have won some of the biggest awards for writing. One earned a Pulitzer Prize.

Elder Dale G. Renlund will speak on Tuesday, Sept. 14, and Elder Neil L. Andersen, his colleague in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City, will speak Dec. 7.

Two notable civil and human rights leaders will deliver forum addresses as part of the year’s forum theme: “Creating a Beloved Community.”

King, the oldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, will speak at a forum on Sept. 28. King is a lawyer and civil rights advocate who remains an ambassador of the nonviolent social change preached by his parents.

The Nov. 30 forum address will be delivered by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, who was a member of the NAACP national board of directors from 2008-2020. Barber is the president of Repairers of the Breach.

The two Black leaders will speak at the Latter-day Saint school just months after the church pledged $9 million toward scholarships for Black students and humanitarian aid for Black inner-city communities.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, an Oxford chaplain and theologian who began an interfaith dialogue with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, will speak on Oct. 26. In 2018, the two men engaged in a warm theological discussion at Pembroke College in Oxford, England. The two men’s friendship has continued to grow. Earlier this year, they spoke together during an online conference in which the Rev. Dr. Teal expressed a wish to do missionary work together with Elder Holland.

This fall, the Rev. Dr. Teal is a visiting scholar at BYU’s Maxwell Institute.

Julie Valentine, a nursing professor who has revolutionized the collection of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases will give the devotional on Nov. 2. Valentine is a certified sexual assault examiner who has helped spread the collection of touch evidence in groping cases.

Valentine also was part of BYU’s newsmaking Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault in 2017. The council made recommendations adopted by the university to overhaul its policies, procedures and staff for helping sexual assault victims.

Forums and devotionals are held each Tuesday during school at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center on BYU’s campus.

Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson will speak at a forum on Jan. 25. Robinson won the Pulitzer for fiction for her 2004 novel “Gilead.” She also has won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

National Book Award winner and longtime Atlantic writer James Fallows will give the forum address on Feb. 15.

BYU President Kevin Worthen and his wife, Sister Peggy Worthen, kicked off the year’s devotional schedule on Tuesday.

Other Latter-day Saint leaders who will deliver devotionals during the fall semester include Elder Paul B. Pieper, a General Authority Seventy (Sept. 21); Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric (Oct. 12); Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency (Oct. 19); and Elder W. Mark Bassett, a General Authority Seventy (Nov. 16).

Church leaders who will speak at the school in the new year will be announced later.

The full list of devotional and forum speakers:


  • 21: Elder Paul B. Pieper (devotional).
  • 28: Martin Luther King III, lawyer and American human rights advocate (forum).


  • 5: Homecoming opening ceremony.
  • 12: Bishop W. Christopher Waddell (devotional).
  • 19: Sister Becky Craven (devotional).
  • 26: Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, chaplain and Oxford University lecturer (forum).


  • 2: Julie Valentine, BYU College of Nursing (devotional).
  • 9: Gilbert W. Fellingham, BYU Department of Statistics (devotional).
  • 16: Elder W. Mark Bassett (devotional).
  • 30: William Barber II, author, pastor and president of Repairers of the Breach (forum).


  • 7: Elder Neil L. Andersen (devotional).


  • 25: Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winner.


  • 15: James Fallows, staff writer for the Atlantic and National Book Award winner.


  • 29: Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

What I’m reading

President Russell M. Nelson made his first public appearance since the start of COVID-19 to attend and speak at the funeral for Elder Dean M. Davies. Read what he and his counselors and other church leaders said in tribute in this story. I did not know Elder Davies had a passion for restoring old cars until I read his obituary.

Ten days after a woman and her sons lost their husband and father during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they had a very specific moment when they knew they would be OK. This story is beautifully done.

A national magazine took note of how American faiths, including Latter-day Saint Charities, are helping Afghan refugees.

The Church of Jesus Christ gave a new name to a temple to be built in Oregon.

In 1937, two young Latter-day Saints went on a Depression-era crime spree. Read the riveting true-crime story.

Read five stories from President M. Russell Ballard’s upcoming biography.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake provided information about the team’s robust missionary program in a video. One former BYU player baptized an NFL teammate.

A returned missionary is the new starting quarterback at Stanford.

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night and Sunday. This piece has some fascinating data about free-agent spending in the league. It turns out that for the past five years, the team that guaranteed the most to buy free agents in the offseason improved the next year by an average of 5.4 wins. However, in the season after that, they declined by an average of 5.5 wins. My favorite team, the New England Patriots, guaranteed $163 million in free agent money this offseason, nearly equal to the amount for which the owner paid to buy the entire franchise ($172 million) years ago.

Here’s a fun story for anyone and everyone. It’s about the origins of Scorigami. What is Scorigami? I didn’t know either, but the fun is in the discovery.

Excellent facts and information from MIT Medical: What you need to know about breakthrough infections.

Following up on two stories:

Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is currently a member of the NAACP national board of directors. He served on the board from 2008 to 2020.