Education in Zion, Permanent Exhibit

About the Exhibition

Permanent | Opened August 18, 2008 | Gallery’s Second Floor

Since the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, education has been vital in the endeavor to become a Zion people—a people who are pure in heart and mind and live together in peace and unity.

Education in the kingdom of God is unique because, first, it is an education of the whole soul. Second, to the degree that we are living as the gospel requires, it takes place in an environment of learning in which we are unwilling to leave others behind. Those who we help, in turn, help others—our own posterity among them. We are drawn together; we become united, a Zion people. Fundamentally, education in the kingdom of God is different because it operates on the Zion principle of love.

This Zion tradition of learning goes back to Joseph Smith. His was truly an education of the whole soul, divinely orchestrated. Heavenly teachers were his instructors and models. Joseph and his successors sought diligently to bring a similar whole-soul education to as many Latter-day Saints as possible. They established priesthood quorums, auxiliaries, community schools, stake academies, colleges, a university, and eventually seminaries and institutes. They kept at the work even in desperately impoverished circumstances. They understood very clearly the urgency Elder Jeffrey R. Holland expressed when he presided at BYU in 1981. “This Church,” he said, paraphrasing Joe J. Christensen, then the president of the Missionary Training Center, “is always only one generation away from extinction. . . . All we would have to do . . . to destroy this work is stop teaching our children for one generation.” It was not primarily for themselves but for the children of the future, for Zion, that these visionary leaders and their faithful associates worked so hard. There’s almost nothing we can name that has absorbed as much of the latter-day prophets’ attention, energy, and care as the education of this people.

—C. Terry Warner

Terry Warner, a professor emeritus of philosophy, directed the team that created the Education in Zion exhibition. The text above is adapted from a devotional talk given to BYU students, faculty, and staff on November 11, 2008, in the Marriott Center and included in an article published in the BYU Magazine (Spring 2009).

From the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the contemporary worldwide educational program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Education in Zion tells the story of the important role of learning and teaching in the Church. Displays illuminate the priority that the Latter-day Saints place on education wherever they have gathered—not only a gathering of people, but also a gathering of knowledge.

At the core of the exhibition is the belief that Jesus Christ is the source of light and truth. The stories, artwork, and architecture magnify these themes, and an abundance of natural light streams into the gallery through the central oculus and the large curtain of windows.

Education in Zionis divided into five sections. The concepts in these areas explore a Zion tradition in which truth is shared freely so that every person might learn and grow and, in turn, strengthen others. Each of these sections contains the stories of educational pioneers, men and women who were inspired to seek learning and then used that learning in the service of others.

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