February, 10, 2017

The Gospel is Worth it All

By Anna Schmidt

As the Saints arrived out West, they no longer were wholly in one centralized location. Many stayed in the Utah Valley, but others were called or chose to settle in the surrounding country. I can only imagine what it would be like to get the call to settle in Mosquito Bend, now known as Rexburg, Idaho. If the name was not daunting enough, earlier mountain men had said it would be impossible to cultivate.

Though faced with poverty and formidable weather conditions, many Saints sacrificed to further their education and knowledge. One such settler came on recommendation from Karl G. Maser, and was asked to be the first principal of the Bannock Stake Academy; his name was Jacob Spori.

Spori was a highly educated convert from Switzerland. Perhaps the church leaders thought he could handle the “god forsaken snow prison” of Idaho, he having seen and experienced snow before. Teaching the rough and rugged settlers and dealing with looming debts, however, may have been even more intimidating. Regardless, Spori took upon this calling with great passion and effort, insisting the school was divinely inspired. When debts could not be paid, Spori went without pay so that other teachers could receive their wages. Spori even served as a janitor around the school to help relieve expenses. He said, “Sometimes I feel as though I cannot bear it; but the gospel is worth all.”

His words offer timeless advice and comfort. What ever it is we are faced with, be it with work, school, family, or circumstances beyond our control, our sacrifices to build the kingdom of God will all be rewarded in the end. Being a native of Rexburg, Idaho myself, I wonder at the bravery of early saints like Jacob Spori. I cannot fully understand what they went through, but I am able to observe the fruits of their diligence. Though still cold, Rexburg is a beautiful, thriving community that houses Bannock Stake Academy’s progeny, BYU-Idaho, that has been able to serve, educate, prepare, and touch the lives of thousands of students who have lived and studied there. Jacob Spori gave everything he had for education, prompting introspection of how I value my education. Do I see it as something worth sacrificing for? I hope that when the homework load seems unbearable, I too can remember that all my righteous efforts to learn and grow will be worth it in the end.



1.Gallery Text

“Unpromising Beginnings” Education in Zion Gallery

“Early Principals” Education in Zion Gallery


2.Life Sketch of Jacob Spori:


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February, 10, 2017

We are His students

By Morgan Fox

Brigham Young Academy- now the Provo Library


I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion. (D&C 97:3)

There are thousands of schools and universities around the world that offer top-notch education and fantastic training- schools that seek to intellectually enlarge their students and set them out in the best job markets. From its foundation, Brigham Young University has striven to do that and so much more. BYU (then Brigham Young Academy) was established in 1875 as part of Brigham Young’s vision for LDS students to learn in a spiritually uplifting environment that would tax their talents, expand their minds, and teach them to be united with the powers of heaven. At the school’s opening, Principal Karl G. Maeser said that successful students would need “two kinds of preparation:…familiarity with the lessons….and the possession of the Holy Spirit, obtained by prayer.”[1] From its very beginnings, BYU and its students were given the charge to extend education beyond the constraints of textbook, classroom, or life- fulfilling LDS theology and emerging as “a school in Zion”. The scriptures tell us that “the people of Zion” were actually the Lord’s people; any such school would therefore be “the Lord’s school”.

The Lord’s hand can be seen in the history of BYU; many principals and church authorities received various revelations and visitations to help them fulfill Brigham Young’s vision and the scriptural charge of establishing a school in Zion. One such visitation was recounted to Brigham Young’s daughter by president of the church, John Taylor. Her father had come to him in a dream and told President Taylor “many things of great importance…among others that the school being taught by Brother Maeser (Brigham Young Academy) was accepted in the heavens and was part of the great plan of life and salvation…and that Christ himself was directing, and had care over this school.”[2]

Although that revelation came in the 1880s, Christ is still directing this school today. We see that in the inspiring devotional messages we receive each Tuesday, in the supplementation of tuition with sacred tithing funds, and we can see that personally as we strive to make Christ the center of our studies. BYU is the Lord’s school and, in every sense, we are His students. He will guide us, tutor us, and help us to ‘seek learning, even by study, and also by faith.’[3]

[1] “Salt Lake Stake Academy”, Desert News, November 24, 1886, 711.

[2] Karl G. Maeser, “Final Address” The Normal (BYA student publication, Provo, Utah) 1, no. 6 (June 1945): 259-60

[3] D&C 88:118

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February, 8, 2017

Circles, Eternity, and a Quest for Perfection

By Anna Hawkes

Typically, when I give a tour in the Education in Zion exhibit, I like to point out the beautiful architecture of the space and ask how it can relate to education. People often talk about the spiral staircase, the expansive windows facing the library, and sometimes even the skylight above the staircase. As I was in the gallery this week, something stood out to me that I had previously taken for granted: many of the architectural features in the gallery are round. As I look around, more and more stand out to me: the opening to the spiral staircase, the oculus, the columns, even the large windows and entryway walls have a curve to them creating a circular feel for the entirety of the space. Circles are commonly seen as symbols of never-ending motion, wholeness and eternity. How fitting to have so many cyclical items in an exhibit looking at the relationship of the LDS church with education. When Brigham Young joined the Church, one of the aspects of the gospel he was most excited about was the prospect of eternal growth. Having only received 11 days of formal schooling, this enthusiastic learner took the news as an invitation to throw himself into continuing his educational pursuits. He studied not only the typical subjects such as literature and science, but delved eagerly into architecture, theater and even gymnastics as well. Young saw this as an opportunity to help himself and those around him to achieve the perfection they were seeking. I have to ask, do we have that mindset as we interact with our educational pursuits? Maybe it can be something we can work on as we move further and further into this new semester. See your homework assignments and classes as not just another item to be checked off the list, but instead as an opportunity. Take in what you learn and allow it to change you for the better. Your studies will not only be more enjoyable and fulfilling, but you will also rest assured knowing that perfection is one step closer.

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February, 8, 2017

BYU: A Unique Education

By Annilyn Spjut

In the gallery, we tell the story of Principal Maeser’s inspiration in laying out a vision for BYU. When Maeser was asked to start Brigham Young Academy, he wrote to Brigham Young asking for instructions. President Young responded, “I have only these. You should not teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye.”[1] Wishing to expand upon those rather brief instructions, Principal Maeser sat down at his desk to brainstorm a vision for the school. After many fruitless hours, Maeser knelt in desperation and pleaded with the Lord for guidence. When he finished his prayer, he began to write; inspiration flowed through him as he penned a sort of charter for the Academy.

On a recent tour, after sharing Maeser’s experience, I said, “Maeser’s inspired notes established a unique vision of what a BYU education should be.” Then I asked, “What is it that makes a BYU education unique to you?” The members of the tour gave various answers–the ability to talk about spiritual matters in secular classes, the fabulous faculty, the privilege to live in a community with so many talented, righteous students, etc. Finally, one student said that as he had tried to decide where to attend college, he had visited many different colleges, and he had been particularly struck by the unique spirit he felt on BYU campus.

This answer resonated with me. I spent my growing up years arguing with my father about where I would attend college. When we would visit my grandparents in Utah, we would often visit BYU, and my dad would loudly proclaim that one day I would attend this university. I protested. Growing up around the gorgeous collegiate architecture out East, I was convinced that BYU was the ugliest college I’d ever been to and that nothing could induce me to attend this university.

But as the time for decision drew near, I toured various campuses. Each time I felt that despite the incredible architecture, something wasn’t quite right. Finally, I agreed to go on what my dad referred to as “the brainwashing trip” out to BYU. I found that, while the architecture still paled in comparison to many of the campuses that I had visited, there was a special spirit at BYU. I was impressed by the students I met and interacted with. I loved the classes I visited. Before I left to fly home, I knelt in prayer and received a confirmation that I should apply to BYU.

That decision changed the course of my life. BYU offers a truly unique educational experience. Just as President Young counselled Principal Maeser, BYU seeks to educate not only the mind, but also the spirit. Principal Maeser’s direction in still felt as students at this university have the opportunity to grown not only in their respective fields of endeavor, but to strengthen their character as well. As I begin my last semester at BYU, I look back on the many blessings my BYU education has brought into my life–wonderful friends, tremendous classes, testimony building experiences, fabulous internships, opportunities to serve, and caring mentors. I am eternally grateful for the unique privilege of attending this fine institution.

I hope all those who have been blessed by this incredible university will consider,”What has made your experience at BYU unique? And how can you use the unique spirit and blessings of a BYU education to bless the lives of those around you?”


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January, 20, 2017

Class is in Session

By TJ Giles

I love talking about this part of the gallery because it shows just how important education was for the Saints. During the early days of the church the Saints had their children attend community-sponsored common schools. The most famous of these being the “little red schoolhouse”. It was said by Helen Mar Kimball, a student at the little red schoolhouse, that, “For years after we left Kirtland, I used to look back and pine for the old scenes and school companions; those happy days were lived over again and again in bright dreams.”3 This drive for the education of their children stems from revelations from God, one of which being “teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (D&C 68:28) It was this scripture that motivated the Saints to continue to educate their children despite desperate circumstances, especially during the trying times of continual relocation due to the mob’s presence. It was said by Emily Partridge that, “about the first thing the Saints did, after providing shelter for their families, was start a school for the children.”8 Its stories like these that remind us of how important our education should be to us. Here at BYU we have it pretty easy. We don’t have to worry about mobs or other people who want to do us harm, as our predecessors did. We can remember the sacrifices they made and make the most of our education.

3: Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, “Life Incidents.” Woman’s Exponent 9, no. 6 (August 15, 1880): 42.

8: Emily Dow Partridge Young, “Reminiscences of Emily Dow Partridge Young.” Typescript, April 7, 1884, 10, BX 8670, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

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May, 5, 2016

The Magnificence of the Human Body

bodies filled with light

By Annilyn Spjut

One of our temporary exhibitions “Bodies Filled with Light” is coming to the end of its stay here in the Education in Zion Gallery. This exhibition was put together by Education in Zion Gallery staff working with Johnathan J. Wisco, one of the anatomy professors here at BYU. They went through the LDS standard works looking for references to human anatomy and found over 9,000 references! Over the past year I have had many special experiences giving tours of this amazing exhibit. I have learned so much about how understanding God’s perspective on human anatomy can help us better understand the gospel.

When I give tours of this exhibition I like to start by asking people to think of the most magnificent thing they have ever seen. I have had lots of interesting answers from the grandeur of the mountains here in Provo to the brilliance of the Sistine Chapel. Then I share this quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson, “You may be surprised at what I am going to suggest now. Ponder the magnificence of all you see when you look in the mirror. Ignore the freckles, unruly hair, or blemishes, and look beyond to see the real you—a child of God created by him, in his image.”[1]

Sharing this quote not too long ago it really struck me, because recently I have not been feeling that my body was so magnificent. I am pregnant and have been feeling more annoyed at my body than amazed by it. My back hurts. My clothes don’t fit right. And every time I look in the mirror I just feel chubby. But as I shared Elder Nelson’s words and invited those on the tour to ponder the magnificence of their bodies as one of God’s greatest creations. I was astounded at how those words resonated with me. I realized how amazing it is that God created our bodies with the ability to create other bodies for his children. How magnificent!

I am grateful for the reminder this exhibit gave to me that our bodies truly are a blessing from our Father in Heaven.

[1] Nelson, Russell M. “The Magnificence of Man.” New Era (1987): n. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

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April, 8, 2016

Wilt Thou be Made Whole?

Carl Bloch

By Miranda Dennett

As Education in Zion’s Bodies Filled With Light exhibition nears its close, I’ve spent a lot of time with it, getting all I can from the amazing information it has to offer. It is truly the epitome of combining secular and spiritual education, because I believe that studying our bodies and the way that they work can bring us closer to understanding God, our creator, than almost any other school subject. But what do we do when our bodies fail us? Should we loose our faith in God?

A feature in Bodies Filled with Light is the painting owned by the BYU Museum of Art titled Healing at the Pool of Bethesda by Carl H. Bloch, a Danish painter. The story of the painting is found in John chapter 5 in the Bible, where a man with an infirmity of 38 years once again fails to reach the healing waters of the pool before the others in attendance. Christ appears to the man and asks, “Wilt thou be made whole?” The man expresses his concerns that he wished to be healed, but could never make it to the pool in time. Christ then commands him to “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” And immediately the man was made whole.

I know that through Christ we can be made whole. If we are suffering physical ailments, we can be strengthened through Christ. I have been fortunate enough to avoid many medical issues in my lifetime, but I like to expand this theory to apply to all of the weaknesses we face in mortality. We may feel inadequate to achieve great things, struggle academically, or face problems in the relationships in our lives. I am grateful that Bodies Filled With Light reminds us that, even though we may face sickness and grief (a natural side effect of mortality), our weaknesses are never too great for the God who created us. Even the man at the pool of Bethesda, who so many had overlooked, did not go unnoticed by Christ. He reaches out for the one, knows the count of hairs on our heads, and loves us enough to be our advocate with the Father, even when we fail Him. I am grateful to have a testimony of a God who loves me enough to give me a body and send me to mortality to be tried and tested, so I can ultimately return to Him again.

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April, 8, 2016

The Four Aims of a BYU Education

4 aims wall

By Reggie Voyce

In the Education in Zion Gallery there is a room devoted to the Four Aims of a BYU Education. This room provides an encompassing view of those great mission statements our university champions from our own excellent and exceptional leaders as well as extraordinarily admirable individuals in the world who embraced them. The room shows that the individual concepts of the four aims are not necessarily new, but the way all four have come together at BYU is truly unique.

We are to seek, while here, first and foremost to be spiritually strengthened. The world from the beginning was specifically created to be a place of effort and exertion, physical, spiritual and mental. Thus, to proactively seek strengthening for our particular tests is wisdom in action.

To delve into the exploration of our world is to enquire after the next aim of our education, to be intellectually enlarged.  What a grand and truly worthy goal!

Then comes the mission of character building. Brigham Young stated, “A firm, unchangeable course of righteousness through life is what secures to a person true intelligence.”
–Brigham Young 1

Last, but certainly not least is lifelong learning and service. Once again, President Young succinctly states the essence of this aim. “Our education should be such as to
improve our minds and fit us for increased usefulness; to make us of greater service to the human family.”

The Four Aims of a BYU Education are what make the university stand out among institutions of higher learning. They are grand goals meant to inspire the divine in each of Heavenly Father’s children who attend this school, which has been built up through sacrifice and dedication .
–Brigham Young 2

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses(hereafter JD), 8:32.
  2. Brigham Young, JD14:83.
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March, 30, 2016

A Thought from Principal Maeser


By Chris Kinghorn

One of my favorite quotes in the gallery is by Karl G. Maeser. He says, “Knowledge is not power unless sustained by a character.” I believe this is one of the major themes of the gallery. If we are to become like our Heavenly Father, the acquisition of knowledge is not sufficient. It must be supplemented by character. I had the chance to look up the full quote in order to get a little more context behind it. Here is the full quote –

“We are not here merely to gain knowledge, but the object of visitors, seniors, etc. is the training and molding of our character.

“Knowledge is not power unless sustained by a character.  The character makes the man and woman.

“Whenever you hear of a man who has been successful in life, respected and honored by those with whom he came in contact he had a good character. Persons who float with every stream amount to nothing.

“Choose the noblest principles you can find and you will (be) triumphant.”

Karl G. Maeser, BY Academy domestic department minutes. Feb. 14, 1889

We are so blessed here at BYU to have a university that has been built up by many amazing and inspired leaders, including the founding principal- Karl G. Maeser. It always fascinated me that many of the principles he established for the school have withstood the test of time and are still an integral part of the four aims BYU establishes for students today. Let us all heed the council of Principle Maeser and build a strong character while we attend this wonderful university.

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March, 30, 2016

Uncle Jesse


By Allyssa Blake

The JKB on BYU campus was built in 1960. The building is named after Jesse Knight and houses classes from many departments at BYU. Most people know this much about the building, but what about the man it’s named after?

Jesse Knight grew up in poverty. But as an adult, Knight had an interest in mining. He was prospecting a piece of land when he heard a voice say, “This country is for Mormons.” Knight took this as a calling to financially support the Church (which was steeped in debt at the time) through his mining efforts. He found a property and offered an expert miner, who was not impressed with it, a portion of the property. This man told Knight that he wanted nothing to do with an “old humbug like this.” Undeterred, Knight claimed the land and affectionately named it The Humbug.

It took many years for the mine to prove profitable. He told his son once, “We are going to have all the money that we want as soon as we are in a position to handle it properly. We will someday save the credit of the Church.” His son responded with doubt, but Jesse insisted, “I don’t want to quarrel with you about it, but I never had anything come to me with greater force than the impression that came to me at this time.”

Knight’s impression wasn’t wrong. The Humbug became a profitable mine, making Knight a very wealthy man. He acquired other mines and founded the Knight Investment Company, becoming a multimillionaire. He was known as “The Mormon Mining Wizard.”

How did this mining wizard affect BYU? Knight not only helped the Church financially, but he also helped BYU as well. He made large contributions to the university, even giving it most of the land that it now owns. He donated a total of $500,000 to BYU during his life, and left a generous endowment for the school after he passed away. These donations came to the school at a critical time. Because of the school’s financial struggles, some believed the university wouldn’t last. Thanks to “Uncle Jesse,” as some called him due to his generous nature, Brigham Young University lives. Let’s make Uncle Jesse proud by carrying on his tradition of hard work and service.


Hunter, J. Michael, “Jesse Knight and His Humbug Mine” (2004). All Faculty Publications. Paper   1405.

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