The temple adjacent to campus adds eternal perspective to university life.
The spiritually enriching atmosphere of BYU–Idaho, with ninety-two wards, nine stakes, and a temple of the Lord bordering the top of campus, provides students with innumerable opportunities to develop as disciples of Jesus Christ. Church activity and temple service are woven into the overall spiritual environment that makes up the BYU–Idaho experience.
Carolina Dias, a student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, explained how the BYU–Idaho experience extends beyond the classroom. She said, "It starts with the relationships we have with our roommates and with people in our wards. It includes church attendance, fulfilling callings, and helping our fellow men. It includes temple attendance, and service in the community and on campus. A student who comes to BYU–Idaho just to get an academic education will leave here without the whole experience. I am trying to grasp all the knowledge that I can, both secular and spiritual, so I will be prepared to make a difference in the world."
While the mission of BYU–Idaho is to “provide a quality education” and “prepare students for lifelong learning,” the first and final parts of the Mission Statement convey that the university is also here to “build testimonies” and “maintain a spiritual environment.”1 To those who really know this place, this statement of balancing temporal and spiritual aspects seems natural. But consider this wonderfully unique characteristic of BYU–Idaho in contrast to the world’s view of college life.
Certainly, students participate in many typical events during this developmental period of life at a university, but at BYU–Idaho textbooks are frequently set aside for scriptures, and students don their Sunday best to attend church, mid-week devotionals, and the temple together.
Nathan Smith, a student from San Jose, Calif., explains, “One of the greatest aspects about the BYU–Idaho experience is the Zion-like unity that is felt on our campus. There is a strong bond of trust that we have one with another. We have a sense of unity because of our common purpose and goal.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed the idea of the university being “Zion-like” when he spoke at Commencement in December 2006. He said, “BYU–Idaho and its host environment here in Southeastern Idaho becomes the newest of the Lord’s experiments in attempting to create yet again a kind of Zion, or at least the newest opportunity to show how the whole soul is edified when a temple and a university join hands to bless a very fortunate student community.”2
The dedicated young men and women at this “fortunate student community”—this experiment to create “a kind of Zion”—show outward and inward devotion to their God and their brothers and sisters. They help fulfill the mission of the university as they serve and worship side-by-side.
The Temple On The Hill
The Rexburg Idaho Temple stands visible to the surrounding community as a shining reminder that the Lord watches over what President Kim B. Clark calls a sacred and set-apart place, preserved for a very special purpose.
From campus — couples, roommates, and individuals walk up the hill to attend the temple at all times of the day and even between classes. Taking time to visit the House of the Lord as part of the educational process is a testimony of the goodness of BYU–Idaho and the students who attend.
Elder David A. Bednar stated, “The temple, as a quiet but consistent reminder in our midst of the centrality of Jesus Christ and of the immortality of the soul, cannot but elevate the quality of our education and the depth and beauty of our associations. The Rexburg Temple will contribute to a potent and powerfully protected place of preparation for disciples of Christ who will be an influence for good all over the earth.”3
Students who come from every state across the nation and over sixty countries around the world recognize the blessing of having a temple so close to campus. Back home, in Dos Palos, Calif., Emily Cuhna drives an hour to the closest temple. Although she realizes this is still relatively close, she said, “In Rexburg, I can walk to the temple! I know that I will only be here for a short amount of time, and I probably won’t be this close to a temple ever again in my life. So while I am here, I’m trying to attend several times each month.”
Since Sophie Smith, from Nauvoo, Ill., is not yet endowed, she goes with her roommates each week to perform baptisms for the dead. She commented, “At the end of the week we get to go into the temple for about two-and-a-half hours and just do something for the Lord. It makes the rest of the hectic world disappear and allows us to remember our covenants and pray, ponder, and learn.”
Along with regular attendance, endowed students also have opportunities to be temple workers. It is not unusual to walk through the front doors of the temple and see a smiling young man checking temple recommends or to enter one of the endowment rooms and see another student standing at the front of the room, serving as the officiator for the session.
Lyle Hamblin, from Gilbert, Ariz., spends five hours each Saturday serving in the temple with his wife, Emily, and said that regular temple service complements his studies. “It gives me an eternal perspective on education that motivates me to greater academic efforts,” Hamblin remarked. “It increases my charity toward others and my humility toward God.”
Making the BYU–Idaho Experience Possible
Each semester, about 11,500 students have the opportunity to learn and grow through the BYU–Idaho experience. Approximately 70 percent of those students receive some form of financial assistance. Some would not even be able to attend the university without help. Giving to BYU–Idaho is one way alumni and friends of the university directly impact students and help nourish their souls as they attend BYU–Idaho.
Referring to the help he received, Hamblin said, “Grants have freed me from unnecessary monetary worries, allowing me to put more time, thought, and effort into spiritual, familial, and academic efforts.” And Dias speaks for many when she said, “If it were not for the scholarships that I have received I could never have attended this university. To those who give, I say thank you for your generosity and for believing in me. You are allowing me to become what Heavenly Father wants me to become. You are investing in my future, and I will be eternally grateful for your efforts.”
The BYU–Idaho Board of Trustees approves and supports the university’s efforts to raise funds that make the BYU–Idaho experience possible for more students. The Trustees/President’s Fund (unrestricted, discretionary donations) and Scholarships & Grants-in-Aid are the main avenues through which students receive assistance. If you would like to know more about opportunities to offer philanthropic support at any level, please contact LDS Philanthropies at 800-227-4257 or visit www.give.byui.edu.
The students thank you; and we thank you.
1 Brigham Young University–Idaho, “Mission Statement,” www.byui.edu/PR/General/BYUIMission.htm 2 Jeffrey R. Holland, “Zion Revisited,” (BYU–Idaho Devotional, Dec. 20, 2006) 3 Elder David A. Bednar, “Brigham Young University–Idaho: A Disciple Preparation Center (DPC),” (BYU–Idaho Devotional, Aug. 31, 2004)