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Students and Employees Gather as Disciple Leaders at Devotional

Students and Employees Gather as Disciple Leaders at Devotional

For more than half a century, weekly devotional addresses were one of the spiritual pillars of Ricks College. At Brigham Young University-Idaho, attending devotional every Tuesday continues to be a significant part of the disciple leader training experience.

Over the past three semesters, attendance records show only one in five BYU-Idaho students attended devotional each week. This is why the University Relations has supported so many efforts to encourage students to partake in this weekly gathering.

The individual spiritual aspect of devotional encourages students to attend. However, the event can be much more meaningful when focused on gathering as a university. Brandon Isle, Radio Services Supervisor, and a member of the school’s Devotional Leadership Committee, said one of his first dates with his wife was at devotional when they were students.

“Gathering for devotional helps strengthen students — not just spiritually, but socially,” said Isle. “It’s a time to connect spiritually with those around you and really get to know Christ through those messages.”

The university administration encourages all students and employees to attend the university devotional every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in the BYU-Idaho Center. Offices are asked to close so that employees can attend as part of their work experience as well as set an example to encourage students to attend as well.

Because of the spiritual influence that BYU-Idaho’s weekly devotionals can have on students, BYU-Idaho Human Resources allows s tudent employee supervisors to include devotional attendance as work time if the student employee is scheduled to work directly before, during, or after devotional.

“Supervisors can make appropriate decisions based on unique needs and schedules in order to provide this approval. However, if student-employees are assigned or required to attend as part of their work, they must be compensated for their time,” said Brecca Ponce, Human Resources student-employee coordinator.

Ponce and her team understand the primary reason employees and students are here at BYU-Idaho is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ.

“Devotional is a blessing and such a sacred opportunity for those who attend the university that we make it possible for employees and students alike to have a moment to separate themselves from the world and gather with like-minded people to strengthen our faith in Christ,”

Rebekah Sommer, institutional events coordinator, works to prepare each week’s devotional speaker and understands the countless hours of work to prepare their spiritual messages. She emphasized that the root of the word “devotional” is “devotion.”

“Students and employees of the university community can come and show devotion to our Savior,” Sommer said. “That’s really what it centers on. We are here to help build disciples of Jesus Christ. We’re there together to show this devotion by sharing testimony, learning from others’ testimonies, and really capturing that spirit of gathering.”

Sommer has one of the most unique perspectives when it comes to campus devotionals. Through her role, she sees how each speaker prepares to share a message catered to students. She says that for on-campus students, attending devotional in person is key to learning from those messages.

“You can watch it online, but it’s a different experience coming in person and feeling that spirit of gathering and the unity it creates here at BYU-Idaho,” Sommer said.

In a 2011 address to the student body at the dedication of the BYU-Idaho Center and the newly renovated Manwaring Center, Elder David A. Bednar, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and former president of BYU-Idaho, emphasized the importance of gathering. He specifically talked about how the buildings would be used in gathering the student body for activities such as devotional.

“You gather together to learn and to prepare for your mortal and eternal opportunities and responsibilities,” Elder Bednar said. “You gather together to strengthen each other. You gather together to develop appropriate relationships and to create eternal families. You gather together to increase in understanding about the purpose and measure of your creation.”

That purpose is to become more like Jesus Christ. Attending weekly devotional addresses can help students and employees draw closer to the Savior, which is why the university does everything it can to encourage bring people together in the BYU-Idaho Center.

For information on upcoming devotionals and to view past addresses, visit the BYU-Idaho devotional web page.