“Open your eyes,” BYU professor Brad Wilcox testified, "and you will see Christ shaping you, changing you, perfecting you.”
At 11 a.m. on Thursday morning, thousands of women gathered in the Smith Fieldhouse at BYU to hear Professors Barbara Morgan Gardner and Brad Wilcox speak on the subject “Lest Thou Forget: Staying Converted to the Gospel,” a reference, perhaps, to Elder Rasband’s General Conference address in October 2016. The first breakout session of the day, participants were chatty and excited to be at what President Worthen called “EFY for Relief Society” during the keynote opening session of the day.
Gardner was the first to speak to the crowd, immediately capturing listeners’ attention by sharing personal experiences she’s had with her students at BYU. As a professor, Gardner said she will often “talk to people who stay in the church and people who leave the church,” with her focus on “why people are staying.” After meeting a number of students and learning they’ve had struggles with missions, church doctrine, and same-sex attraction, Gardner will bluntly ask them, “Well then, why are you staying? Why are you still active? Why are you here?”
The responses are unique to their specific situations, of course, but they all have a common thread:
“‘Because even in the moment, I felt God’s love,’” said one.
“‘Because I’ve experienced so much, and I know the atonement is real, and I couldn’t imagine leaving it over something so insignificant,’” said another.