Photo of Sister Gilbert

“Inaugural Luncheon Remarks”

Sister Christine Gilbert
September 15, 2015

To President Uchtdorf and the other brethren and sisters from Salt Lake joining us today, we admire and respect you so much and are grateful for your presence at this inaugural event at BYU-Idaho. Also, to the faculty and staff from BYU-Idaho, we are so grateful for your commitment to the students and to the mission of this university. President Gilbert will address this today in his inaugural message, but both of us remain in awe of your dedication, sacrifice, and leadership. And of course to our dear family and friends, we love you and are grateful to be with you today. Our parents planted a love in us for learning, and for Church Education in particular, that began long before this appointment.

We are so grateful for all of you and for your investment and impact in our lives. Indeed, this day feels very much like our wedding day, almost 22 years ago in the Salt Lake Temple. Our parents and dearest friends are all here. And like that day, Clark and I are once again asked to speak briefly before hearing from Elder Holland. Thank you.

It’s been just 8 months since we sat outside President Uchtdorf’s door in the Church Administration Building wondering “why are we here?” We wondered whether it was an assignment to serve in the mission field or a change at Deseret Management Corporation. But we had no idea it would be a call to return to Rexburg and the work of Church Education that we love so much. The counsel we received that day from President Uchtdorf was short and similar to subsequent counsel from President Nelson, who was then serving as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Church Board of Education. Their counsel was simply: “Put your family in front of the students.” We have pondered that counsel and reflected deeply about the tremendous opportunity and responsibility it is for our family. President Uchtdorf, please know this is something that President Gilbert and I, and our children, take very seriously and want to magnify to the best of our ability.

As we have thought about this charge, impressions have come about how to teach the doctrine of the family to the students. Through spending time in the scriptures, studying conference talks, and participating in student forums and campus home evenings, we have felt strong feelings about how we can teach these doctrines through both word and deed. We know that the Lord is trying to teach the young people of the Church the joy that is possible in families.

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we read: “Family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”1 I have a testimony of this doctrine. I know it is true. We all have the opportunity as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to be defenders of this doctrine. As Sister Bonnie Oscarson has said in a recent conference address: “Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance or number of children, can be defenders of the Lord’s plan... If it’s the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!”2

At this moment in time, I have found myself in a unique opportunity to stand as a defender of marriage, of motherhood, and of family to the students at BYU-Idaho. I love being a mother to James, Paige, John, Emma, Mary, Grace, Lucy, and Claire. Even as I am called upon to support university functions and events, I am a mother first and foremost. I pledge my devotion and commitment to you this day and leave you with my testimony as I bear witness that Heavenly Father lives and loves each of us. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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  1. The Family: A Proclamation to the World. This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  2. Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Defenders of the Family Proclamation,” Ensign, May 2015.