President Kevin Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen on Tuesday kicked off BYU’s fall semester devotional and forum schedules, which will include a climate scientist and several leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The devotional schedule continues Sept. 13 with President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other church leaders on the schedule include Elder Ulisses Soares, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Primary General President Susan H. Porter, a BYU alum.

Texas Tech atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, and former BYU ethnobotanist Paul Cox highlight the schedule for forum assemblies.

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The Worthens traditionally begin each new school year by speaking at the opening devotional. Last year, President Worthen spoke about knitting together the hearts on campus into a community of belonging and Sister Worthen told those students to prepare for life’s unexpected storms.

Devotionals or forums are held weekly on Tuesdays at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center. Most are broadcast live on BYUtv.

“Select BYU employees, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and industry experts will bring their industry knowledge, life experiences and spiritual insights to aid students in achieving BYU’s aims,” a university news release said.

The theme for last year’s forum assemblies was Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of “Creating the Beloved Community.” BYU has not announced its 2022-23 forum theme, but the inclusion of Hayhoe (Nov. 29) and Cox (Oct. 25) appear to signal an emphasis on science.

Hayhoe has published over 125 peer-reviewed papers, abstracts and other publications and her findings have been presented before Congress and highlighted in briefings to state and federal agencies, according to her website. Her TED Talk, which describes the best way to talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change, has more than 4 million views.

Hayhoe has provided climate impact assessments for cities and regions across the United States.

“I didn’t realize climate science was based on the exact same basic physics — thermodynamics, non-linear fluid dynamics and radiative transfer — I’d been learning in astrophysics,” she wrote on her website about changing her academic focus near graduation. “And I definitely didn’t realize that climate change wasn’t just an environmental issue — it’s a threat multiplier. It takes the most serious humanitarian issues confronting climate change today — hunger, poverty, lack of access to clean water, injustice, refugee crises and more — and it makes them worse. How could I not do everything I could to help fix this huge global challenge?”

Cox’s Latter-day Saint faith has inspired both his wide-ranging research to find new treatments for brain cancer and other ailments and to preserve more than 1 million acres of rainforests and coral reefs around the world.

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President Oaks was BYU’s eighth president, serving from 1971-80. He has been a member of the church’s First Presidency since 2018. He resigned from the Utah Supreme Court in 1984, when he was named an apostle.

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Elder Soares (Dec. 6) will be speaking at BYU for the third time, the second as an apostle. Sister Porter (Nov. 1) will address the university for the first time.

The church’s Young Men general president, Brother Steven J. Lund, will speak Sept. 20. He is the former president and CEO of Nu Skin Enterprises in Provo, Utah, and still is the executive chairman of its board of directors and a regent of the Utah System of Higher Education.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson (Oct. 18) and Elder Peter M. Johnson (Nov. 15) each is a General Authority Seventy. Elder Pearson is the church’s new Utah Area president and Elder Johnson completed his service as president of the England Manchester Mission in June.

Other devotional speakers include BYU faculty members such as Jenet Erickson (Nov. 8), an associate professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine in Religious Education. Erickson is also a research fellow of both the Wheatley Institution and the Institute for Family Studies and a columnist on family issues for the Deseret News.

The Deseret News covered all six of last year’s BYU forum addresses about creating the beloved community, which began with King’s son defining his father’s vision. (See a full list of those talks with links to the stories at the bottom of this article.)

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What is the BYU Fall 2022 devotional and forum schedule?

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September

  • 6 – President Kevin and Sister Peggy Worthen.
  • 13 – President Dallin. H Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • 20 – Brother Steven J. Lund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • 27 – Kendra Hall-Kenyon, BYU McKay School of Education.

October

  • 4 – Michael Drake, BYU Marriott School of Business.
  • 11 – Homecoming opening ceremony.
  • 18 – Elder Kevin W. Pearson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • 25 – Paul Cox, American ethnobotanist (Forum).

November

  • 1 – President Susan H. Porter, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • 8 – Jenet Erickson, BYU Religious Education.
  • 15 – Elder Peter M. Johnson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • 29 – Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist (Forum).

December

  • 6 – Elder Ulisses Soares, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Who spoke during BYU’s 2021-22 forums on ‘Creating the Beloved Community?’

  1. Martin Luther King III’s kickoff lecture in September ended with a rousing standing ovation from students moved by his call for them to “Rise up and take a stand against poverty, racism, war and violence.”
  2. The Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, of Oxford’s Pembroke College, spoke in October about building the beloved community as an Anglican priest who walks alongside his friends in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  3. BYU students stood and cheered in November when the Rev. Dr. William Barber II called on them to join a moral march on Washington next summer to revive and renew American democracy’s care for the vulnerable.
  4. In January, journalist and popular “Hidden Brain” podcaster Shankar Vedantam drew parallels from the nonviolent tactics of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
  5. In February, the bestselling journalism couple James and Deborah Fallows said creative local solutions are flourishing across the United States, right under the noses of many national journalists and most news consumers even while it appeared that American divisions are deepening.
  6. “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua came to BYU in March and offered solutions to America’s toxic tribalism while praising Latter-day Saint missions. “I think we all need to be much more protective of American’s special national identity, and this is a lesson that both the left and right need to take to heart,” she said.
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