March 15, 2022
“‘Pathway is for the kingdom,’” said Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Commissioner of the Church Educational System, referencing a remark President Russell M. Nelson made to former Commissioner Kim B. Clark in 2017, when BYU-Pathway was in its early stages of growth.
The inauguration of BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s second president, Brian Ashton, on March 10, 2022, was a celebration of this truth, as speakers shared insights on how the organization is continuing to build Zion by helping students grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
BYU-Pathway’s unique mission
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland discussed why learning is so vital to the Lord’s restored Church. Take a look at the impact: The Church Educational System (CES) hosts a network of institutions, including BYU-Pathway; 60,000 instructors; and nearly one million students across the world.
And how does BYU-Pathway fit into the big picture? Elder Holland said, “I consider the creation of BYU-Pathway Worldwide to be the most important and most far-reaching development in the Church Educational System of this Church since the creation of seminaries and institutes of religion over a century ago.”
One reason BYU-Pathway is so impactful is that it not only helps students earn a degree and become more self-reliant but also helps them strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ. Elder Holland said, “Part of [President Ashton’s] charge in undertaking this exciting new program is to help your students of whatever age become self-reliant and independent.… This has obvious temporal, day-to-day application, but it is important as a spiritual blessing even more than a temporal one.”
Dorothy, a mother of four sons from Kenya, is one of many students who has benefited from BYU-Pathway. Despite the many hardships she faced, Dorothy persisted in her education and was able to find better employment as a marketing manager at a real estate company. She said, “In BYU-Pathway, we are inspired to believe in ourselves and have faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. This year has been a blessing to me.”
Finishing his remarks, Elder Holland spoke about the challenging circumstances around the world and how the education offered by BYU-Pathway is the solution. He said, “Whatever the problem — an education, especially an education in discipleship of the Lord Jesus Christ, should be a central, majestic part of the solution.”
The House of the Lord is our standard, and Zion is our goal
Adding to Elder Holland’s remarks on BYU-Pathway’s significant role in building Zion, President Ashton explained how the House of the Lord must be a key focus. Following his installation as BYU-Pathway’s second president by President Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Holland, President Ashton said, “As we prepare to consider the future of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, it is essential to recognize that in God’s kingdom on the earth, the holy temples provide the divine pattern for education and learning.”
President Ashton summarized this divine pattern of learning as “focusing our students on Jesus Christ, teaching pure truth in the context of the plan of salvation, emphasizing the need to make and keep sacred covenants (especially in the temple), providing opportunities to serve, and helping students become self-reliant.”
The pattern the Lord teaches, which BYU-Pathway is mirrored after, is to help students experience the influence of the Holy Ghost more in their lives and to prepare them to enter the House of the Lord.
Elder Gilbert said, “… I believe that when we are taught that ‘Pathway is for the kingdom,’ we must remember its deepest purpose: to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities. I believe that BYU-Pathway was created in part to prepare the Church for the return of the Savior.”
Preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior may seem like a lofty goal at times, but BYU-Pathway seeks for this by focusing on each of its students, the obstacles they face, their needs, and how to best help them succeed and grow.
Elder Gilbert continued, “BYU-Pathway is one of the resources the Lord has prepared for the great gathering ahead of His return to the Earth. One of the ways this will happen is by helping students all across the Church deepen their discipleship so they can build others and build the Church.” The success of BYU-Pathway is achieved through ensuring the success of its students.
The learning pattern in action
So what does this divine pattern of learning look like in the lives of students? Sara McGill also spoke at the inauguration and shared the experiences she’s witnessed as a service missionary for BYU-Pathway.
Alina, from the country of Georgia, is a full-time teacher, has a young family, and enrolled in BYU-Pathway as a newly baptized member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Regularly attending her weekly gathering at 11:00 p.m. (her time), she is an example of dedication, completing her foundational courses and now completing an online degree.
Zveki, a BYU-Pathway student from Croatia, said, “I came for the English, but I stayed because of the Spirit and the friends. … I was in a dark time, but BYU-Pathway has helped me regain my testimony. I had such strong spiritual experiences during the whole year. I felt a healing power through each assignment and gathering. I feel like a new person now.”
Sister McGill shared another experience she had in the middle of a virtual gathering with seven male students, priesthood leaders, and friends from Central Africa: “All of a sudden, the Holy Ghost washed over me like fire and the words came clearly to my mind: ‘You are in the presence of great men.’” For Sister McGill, that moment helped her understand the meaning of BYU-Pathway’s mission to build disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their home, the Church, and their community.
BYU-Pathway is growing exponentially wherever the Church is organized, but its greatest accomplishment is found in the hearts and lives of students, as they learn not only how to improve their lives professionally but also spiritually in coming closer to the Savior.
View highlights from the inauguration below, or watch the full event here. What were your favorite parts?