One of the many ways for Church-service missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve the Lord while living at home is with BYU-Pathway Worldwide. In 2018 this organization served more than 40,000 students with only 100 employees. BYU-Pathway Worldwide President Clark G. Gilbert explains that the Salt Lake City staff members are supported by: “about 2,500 missionaries, 1,600 instructors at BYU-Idaho, 300 [self reliance services] managers around the world, and 500 institutes” (Marianne Holman Prescott, “Ten Years of BYU-Pathway Program Brings Education to Tens of Thousands,” Church News, Oct. 22, 2018).
Taking Education to Students
When Gilbert was inaugurated as the organization’s first president on November 16, 2017, President Russell M. Nelson noted that Pathway Connect has served nearly 73,000 students in the past nine years, many of whom have graduated or gone on to either online or degree programs. President Nelson explained, “BYU-Pathway Worldwide brings an innovative approach to education—one unique to the Church Educational System (CES). Because many students cannot go to CES campuses, Pathway Connect has found a way to take CES experience to the students” (R. Scott Lloyd, “President Nelson Installs First President of BYU-Pathway Worldwide at Inauguration,” Church News, Nov. 17, 2017).
Beginning in April 2019, students have the option to choose from 28 certificates in the following categories: business, technology, marriage and family studies, family history research, and professional studies. In addition to a certificate-first approach curriculum, another big change is the addition of a mentor for every student enrolled in Pathway. Steven K. Thomas, who oversees mentoring for BYU–Pathway Worldwide, explains, “We want our students to know they aren’t alone and that they have someone cheering them on who wants them to succeed. Our number-one goal is to keep them in the program” (Prescott, “Ten Years of BYU-Pathway Program,” Church News, Oct. 22, 2018).
Church-Service Missionaries Offer Ongoing Support
Elder Ed and Sister Helena Goldthorp describe their experiences in providing a divinely inspired education plan for students living in the Lethbridge, Alberta region.
“When we were first called to a Church service mission for BYU-Pathway Worldwide, we were intrigued by the educational resources made available to students. These resources inspired students to better themselves.
“With the mentorship of Brother and Sister Creed, we caught hold of this service with our hearts and minds (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2). Following in their footsteps, we embraced the work and immersed ourselves in contacting individuals wanting to improve their education.
We generally spend at least four to five hours preparing for the weekly class.
“Outside of that, our communications can range from an additional one to three hours assisting and guiding students through their own concerns and in some cases addressing their financial situations.
“Currently 26 students are registered. One of the students developed a Facebook group that has been appealing for many of our students. It offers an online network to grow and help others through connectivity. It provides a means for us as service missionaries to see how each student is doing. We can also post important items for them relating to such matters as: registration, timeline demands, and conference reminders. It also allows them to share how their involvement is changing their lives, and these types of postings have peaked the interest of friends and family.
“A lot of new students are enrolling from word of mouth as well as being referred by the leaders of stakes and wards.
“We have enjoyed learning more about each student. We talk about how PathwayConnect can be the educational ticket to achieve the goals they are setting. What we like about this coordinating effort is seeing individuals grasp the understanding of the self reliance principles of temporal and spiritual success. An important part of self reliance is taking charge of their temporal or personal development. Students are taught to work toward achieving personal goals.
“Additionally, students are also encouraged to seek greater spiritual awareness. The gospel teaches that we each have a responsibility to seek answers to our problems from God and to help and serve others (Matthew 22:37-40). Individuals can begin not only to find answers for their own lives but also to help others around them. They learn that they can quietly strengthen those, whom they may not even realize, needed them at a particular juncture of their lives.
“An example of this is when students sit before classes each week with a friend and learn how to resolve some of their problems. Others have seen someone’s specific needs and tried to find ways to help them. By bearing their testimonies of the gospel principles that they are learning, it is evident they have come closer to the Lord in finding needed answers. They are enabled to find ways to succeed.
“On a personal note, serving a Church-service mission aligns with our desire to want to fulfil a full-time mission together, which is in our plans in the foreseeable future. God does love each one of us personally, is aware of our needs, and will help us.”
For More Information
Go to ChurchofJesusChrist.org, click on the Search option, and search for “byu pathway.”