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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Major Changes Made in Church Board of Education

Hello, all! Faithful members of the Church all over the world are no doubt familiar with the Church Educational System (which manages seminary and institute classes worldwide and also has the responsibility of administering the Church-owned universities that provide higher education opportunities) know that it has been a busy year for higher education changes. Let me just mention the presidents of those institutions and share when the last transitions for each took place.

Kevin J. Worthen became the first Area Seventy to be asked to take the reins of BYU-Provo as its 13th president, and he was inaugurated in 2014.  John S. Tanner became the 10th president of BYU-Hawaii just over 2 years ago. As announced earlier this year by the Church (which I focused a blog post on), Henry J. Eyring (President Eyring's son) was inaugurated in April as BYU-Idaho's 17th president.

As also noted on this blog, the reason BYU-Idaho needed a new president in April was as a result of its incumbent president (Clark S. Gilbert) being asked to spearhead the new BYU-Pathway Worldwide as its first president. Also in April of this year, Bruce C. Kusch was inaugurated as the 13th president of LDS Business College. So the Church has been quite busy of late ensuring that these presidential transitionary periods happened smoothly.

My point in mentioning these things is that the Church's higher educational institutions are doing remarkably well under the leadership of these great men, who oversee staffs and faculties of equally diligent and faithful men and women in the Church that enable higher education to be both enjoyable and inspirational.

But that is not my main reason for posting. The Church Board of Education has the oversight of all Church-owned higher educational institutions, and I discovered earlier today that there have been some major additions to that board.

In order to help you appreciate the changes I will be reporting in this post, I wanted to first set the nature of the changes in the board in context for you all. Because I spent many happy hours in my growing up years perusing old editions of the General Conference Ensigns, one of the things I learned as a direct result of that study is that it was very common during most if not all of President Spencer W. Kimball's prophetic tenure and perhaps into that of his successor President Ezra Taft Benson for the members of the Church Board of Education to be featured prominently in the midst of what was then a very extensive Sustaining of Church officers.

From my study, I remember well that the Church Board of Education was comprised during that time of all members of the First Presidency, roughly half of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a couple of members of the Presidency of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, and the Relief Society General President.

Fast forward several years to when I was in Junior High and High School. Thanks to the fact that I have 3 siblings, I attended many seminary graduations during those years. And on each Seminary Graduation program would be an updated list of the members of the Church Board of Education, which at that time were the First Presidency, 3 apostles, one member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and the general presidents of the Relief Society and Young Women. When Elder Scott, who had been on the Board of Education until he became too unwell to function in that capacity, passed away in September 2015, the Church decided to just have two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on the Board.

Fast forward to May of this year. The Board membership had not changed at all by then. When the Church announced area leadership changes, which included the release of two members of the Presidency of the Seventy, one of those men. Elder Hallstrom, had been representing the Presidency of the Seventy on the Board of Education. I anticipated that Elder Hallstrom would be released from his assignment on the Board, but I didn't know what, if any, other changes to expect.

When I took time to update the Wikipedia page for our General Authorities on the first of this month, I waited for a time to find out who would be representing the Presidency of the Seventy on the Board. I found out shortly thereafter that Elder Gerrit W. Gong had received that assignment. I was happy about that because I had had the opportunity to interact with Elder Gong when he was assigned to visit my parents' Stake Conference, and I had been impressed with his testimony, knowledge, warmth, and sincerity.

Fast forward again to earlier today. I wondered in passing, since there hadn't been any other changes on the Board for a while if there was anything new in that regard today. So I ran an internet search on the subject. And that search led me to this link which lists the current members of the Church Board of Education. I was absolutely blown away by the changes. I was not, of course, surprised at all that there was no change in the chairmanship and vice chairmanships of the board.

Nor was I surprised to learn that Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Jeffrey R. Holland were still on the Board, with Elder Oaks still serving as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Boards. In case I haven't mentioned this, it is customary for the most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on any general Church committee to serve as the Chairman.

Here's what did surprise me: Elders David A. Bednar and Dale G. Renlund, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, have joined the board membership. With Elder Gong continuing to represent the Presidency of the Seventy on the Board, Church leaders have also asked Elder Donald L. Hallstrom to retain his seat on the Board, now as the only General Authority Seventy on the Board who is not in the Presidency.

Additionally, Church leaders have also invited our current Presiding Bishop, Gerald Causse, to serve on the Board as some of his predecessors in that office had previously done/ And finally, while Sisters Jean B. Bingham and Bonnie L. Oscarson continue to represent the Relief Society and Young Women auxiliary leaders, the Brethren have also invited Young Men General President Stephen W. Owen to be on the Board.

I was so very grateful to have heard of these changes. I know that with these additional leaders on the Board, the work of the Church Educational System will continue to roll forward. I was so excited to hear about this earlier today. I would have reported on this much sooner, but I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia helping to update the necessary pages as a result of these changes.

That does it for this blog post. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. As always, thank you so much for the privilege of your time. Hope you all are well. Until my next post, I wish you all the best.