President's Message: Building Zion
A Message from President Brian K. Ashton and Sister Melinda Ashton
Zion is the Lord’s name for His people who are “pure in heart.”1 Zion can be “both a place and a people.”2 In its fullness, Zion is both a people among which and a place where Jesus Christ would be comfortable dwelling.3
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in such a place? We think it would be absolutely wonderful!
Brothers and sisters, prior to the Second Coming of the Lord—an event that prophets have identified will come in the latter days—we will have to build Zion anew.4 By building Zion and observing the Lord’s commandments, we will also be enabled to escape the judgments of God upon the wicked in the last days.5
Doctrine and Covenants 97 gives a list of requirements that Zion must fulfill so that “she shall prosper, and spread herself, and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible.”6 Those requirements include having a school (or schools) in Zion. In fact, the Savior declared, “I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion.”7
Elder Kim B. Clark, former Commissioner of the Church Educational System, taught, “BYU-Pathway is a school in Zion, wherever Zion is.”8 Therefore, the requirements in Doctrine and Covenants 97 and the responsibility to help build Zion apply to BYU-Pathway, its students, instructors, employees, missionaries, and academic partners.
So, what is our role in building Zion? Doctrine and Covenants 97 gives us one answer. Speaking of BYU-Pathway students, students of other Church Educational System entities, and others, the Lord said:
Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me. For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.9
Did you catch that? We should have honest and broken hearts and contrite spirits, and we should observe our covenants even by sacrifice. BYU-Pathway then must produce graduates who are covenant-keeping “disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.”10
In addition, BYU-Pathway has a unique role in making sure that there are no poor among us. No other Church institution has the worldwide reach and access to spiritually based, job-ready certificates and degrees like BYU-Pathway. BYU-Pathway can provide higher education that will help our students get out of spiritual and temporal poverty in nearly every place that the Church is organized. Those students in turn can help others to become self-reliant until there are no poor among us. I know that creating Zion is not only God’s will for us, it will also bring joy and peace into our lives. As we strive to love, serve, and lift others, we will more fully recognize the Lord’s hand in our lives. Our Heavenly Father and Savior love us and will help us to progress so that we can enjoy the blessings of living in Zion.
My prayer is that we will seek to build Zion by being of one heart and one mind, living righteously, and eliminating spiritual and temporal poverty.
This message was adapted from “Building Zion,” a devotional address given by President Brian K. Ashton and Sister Melinda Ashton on 20 September 2022.
1Doctrine and Covenants 97:21.
2D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Liahona, November 2008
3Moses 7:16, 64
4Doctrine and Covenants 45:68–71
5Doctrine and Covenants 97:22–25
6Doctrine and Covenants 97:18
7Doctrine and Covenants 97:3
8Elder Kim B. Clark “BYU-Pathway Worldwide: A School in Zion,” 11 October 2018
9Doctrine and Covenants 97:8-9
10BYU-Pathway Worldwide Mission Statement