Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, a chaplain and Fellow at Pembroke College, delivered the forum address to campus on Tuesday. He spoke on building a beloved community — the theme for this year’s forums.
Rev. Teal advocated for unity through a beloved community, especially across religious differences, because he feels that this moment in history requires additional unification.
“This is the time, this is the place,” he insisted. We must “build each other up in truth and love, not saying brittlely, 'This is all I am; don't ask me to change’ but saying, 'Whoever I am, whoever you are, we are the Lord’s. Together, let us grow into the full stature of Christ.’”
Rev. Teal believes the first step to creating a more beloved community begins with community members recognizing their individual worth.
“The Lord has called us together because He simply can't take His eyes off us,” testified Rev. Teal. “So we need to reflect that wonder. We need to show that whoever somebody is, whatever their color, creed, background, gender, sexual orientation — the Lord loves you.”
This concept of divine love, he emphasized, is “the baseline. We don’t have to build that, that's the fact.”
But we can’t be idle and expect Christ’s love to unite us with others. To help us recognize the active role we play in building a beloved community, Rev. Teal introduced the Christian idea of sojourning.
“Sojourning doesn't just mean waiting,” explained Rev. Teal. “It means to claim this time by the power of, and in the service of, our Lord Jesus Christ." He continued that it is "finding a way of making every moment a means to invite all people into the deepest truths of their lives — into a beloved community, which takes even our inadequate energies and gifts and builds of them a kingdom with Christ.”
Through observations of Christianity’s schisms and leadership failures, online negativity and protests against friends of the Latter-day Saint Church at general conference, Rev. Teal recognizes that building a beloved community is intimidating.
“God is not an autocrat or tyrant and He invites our collaboration — individual and joint agency — at every turn," he said. "There’s a real possibility of greater unity.”
To further prove this point, Rev. Teal shared experiences he had while in the University of Utah’s intensive care burn unit this year.
The tender, nurturing staff, who ministered to people of all ages and backgrounds, and others around him helped Rev. Teal learn about service.
“Being able to love people who help us to grow and who stand with us in our pain is a beautiful example of the nature and the cost of building a beloved community.”
A nurse or physical therapist might require us to experience some pain through the administration of shots, surgery or exercises, but we know that it’s for the best. Similarly, we need to understand that the growing pains which often accompany unity efforts are essential to creating an interconnected, supportive, beloved community.
"Unity across all kinds of groups is attainable," said Rev. Teal. “My closest friends have seen that my love for the Lord Jesus has grown exponentially because of my friendship with you,” he told audience members.
“Beautiful friendships can flower and bear fruit between Christian communities” when we recognize the divine love of God, learn to sojourn with others and learn to love while being stretched into a beloved community.
Next Devotional: Julie Valentine, professor of nursing at BYU, will deliver the next devotional address on Tuesday, November 2, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.
Valentine’s remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio 107.9 FM and SiriusXM 143.