Saturday, August 4, 2018

Elder Pearson at FAIR 2018

The FAIRMormon 2018 Conference was held August 1 - 3 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo. This three-day conference drew 450 participants who attended in person and another 470 who watched the event remotely over live streaming. Book of Mormon Central (BMC) was a conference sponsor. I volunteer as Executive Director of BMC and this article highlights our involvement.

On Wednesday, Lynne Hilton Wilson gave a masterful presentation on women in the New Testament, laying a foundation for understanding Peter and Paul's sometimes contradictory statements in the King James Version. Lynne co-founded BMC along with John W. (Jack) Welch.

Right after Lynne's presentation, oohs and aahs filled the hall as BMC's Nicole Shepard and Jasmin Rappleye unveiled Robert Pack's breathtaking new painting of Mary Whitmer being shown the plates by Moroni. She was the first of the June, 1829 witnesses. On Thursday, BMC's KnoWhy article #455 entitled "What Does Mary Whitmer Teach Us About Enduring Trials?" showcased this wonderful new addition to the corpus of Book of Mormon art. Bob Pack was the artist who painted the portrait of Jack Welch with Paul Gaechter that we unveiled at the Chiasmus Jubilee celebration on August 16, 2017 at BYU. The blog article entitled "Recent Book of Mormon News" includes an image of that painting. I presented the new Mary Whitmer painting to Lynne as a token of our appreciation for her founding role in our organization. Many people asked for prints and those will be available soon through Altus Fine Art in American Fork. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Book of Mormon Central People around the New Mary Whitmer Painting
L to R Standing: Tyson Yapias, Jonathon Riley, Jasmin Rappleye, Lynne Wilson
L ro R Standing: Robert Pack, Jack Welch, Stephen Smoot, Israel Gonzalez
L ro R Kneeling: Robert Starling, Neal Rappleye, Noe Correa, Trace Mayer
L ro R Kneeling: Kirk Magleby, Matt Cutler, Zander Sturgill

Photo by Michael R. Ash August 3, 2018
Wednesday evening, Jack Welch and I from BMC met with Scott Gordon and John Lynch from FAIR along with Lindsay Hadley, Stephen H. Smoot, Dick Gordon, Bob Babcock, Tyler Perry, and Trace Mayer who are advisers to Mormon Voices, the association of BMC with FAIRMormon and Interpreter Foundation.

The lead presenter on Thursday was Sara Riley who gave a terrific presentation on Exodus narrative elements found throughout Mosiah 11-18. Dozens of cell phones were snapping photos of her Powerpoint slides as she showed layer upon layer of coincident literary motifs between the two texts. Sara is married to Jonathon Riley, one of BMC's researcher/writers.

Ever popular Brad Wilcox gave an insightful presentation on grace as it is understood in Protestant and LDS thought. He gave several shout outs to BMC that generally mirrored his sentiments in one of our YouTube videos from August, 2016.

Friday opened with Wade Miller talking about paleontology. He is the world's expert on the animals in the Book of Mormon and his current research interest centers on horses. The blog article "Horses" gives more information about his work. BMC has sponsored Wade's expeditions for the last couple of years. He showed a photo of myself, Matt Roper, and Daniel Smith in Coahuila in April, 2018 filming a team of Mexican paleontologists who were bringing a new horse bone out of the ground.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson, General Authority Seventy, talked about the need for all of us to advance the Church's mission through digital outreach. He formerly headed the Missionary Department and currently serves on the Communication Services Committee and Strengthening Church Members Committee. He was assigned to speak at FAIR 2018 by M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve and he told the audience he was speaking on behalf of the Church.
Elder Kevin W. Pearson at FAIR, August 3, 2018
Photo from LDS Church News
Elder Pearson had everyone's attention as he showed a graphic of the 7.6 billion people currently on planet Earth, then indicated that 6.6 billion of them have never even heard of the Church. Of the 1 billion who do know we exist, more than half have a negative impression of us. He characterized the amount of missionary work to be done as enormous and lauded Mormon Voices: BMC, FAIRMormon, and Interpreter Foundation, for helping the Church accomplish its mission. Elder Pearson said people should get behind these independent groups as volunteers and donors as well as do their part as individuals to spread the good news of the restored gospel worldwide.

I enjoyed lunch on Friday with cryptocurrency thought leader, Trace Mayer, a couple of his friends, and prolific author Jonathan Neville. Jonathan and I agree on 90% of contemporary Book of Mormon studies. We are diametrically opposed on the other 10% (geography) but we remain friends.

FAIR 2018 was the 20th anniversary of the annual FAIR Conference. Dan Peterson was the closing speaker as he has been in each of the previous 19 years. Dan, chairman of Interpreter Foundation, reiterated the importance of the work BMC, FAIRMormon, and Interpreter are doing to help people discover their way into truth through study and faith D&C 109:7, 14.