Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fwd: NY Symposium

What: The Joseph Smith Conference.
When: Multimedia presentation at 7 p.m. Friday; lectures start at 9
a.m. Saturday and include Sheri Dew at 2 p.m., Larry Porter at 3 and
Richard Bushman at 5:15. Full schedule at
Where: Palmyra Stake Center, 2801 Temple Road.
Admission: Free.
Registration: Available at .

Mormons to feature A-list speakers in Palmyra

Event to hail Joseph Smith, church growth

Marketta Gregory
Staff writer

(November 3, 2005) — PALMYRA — An all-star lineup of experts on Joseph
Smith and Mormonism will gather in Palmyra this weekend to talk about
the fast-growing faith's contributions to theology and culture.

Several symposiums have been planned around the country to commemorate
the 200th anniversary of Smith's birth, but none will have more
impressive speakers — thanks in part to this area's historical

Nearly 250,000 people visit the area every year to see Hill Cumorah,
where, according to the church, a young Smith spoke with God and
received the sacred writings of the Book of Mormon. Nearby are
historic places such as the Book of Mormon publication site and the
Peter Whitmer farm, where a handful of men formally organized The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"With so many historical sites, a stake here and a temple, the
temptation was too much," said Elder Larry C. Porter, considered one
of the top historians on the New York era of the church and a
participant in the symposium.

Symposium organizers also were able to entice Richard Bushman, the
author of one of the most respected biographies of Smith, and a long
list of other heavy hitters, including Sheri L. Dew, who is president
and chief executive of Deseret Book Co., the Mormon church's
publishing arm, and a popular speaker.

"We're thrilled with the positive response we got," said David Cook,
who as president of the Palmyra stake holds a position similar to that
of a Roman Catholic bishop. Some speakers had to be turned away, Cook
said, but that's something he hopes will not happen to potential
audience members.

"We're expecting probably 1,000 people, and we'll have overflow
available," he said. In addition, the symposium will be broadcast to
all stakes in upstate New York, including Buffalo, Syracuse and

All of the sessions will be open to the public, but organizers ask
that children attend only Friday night's multimedia presentation.
Saturday's lectures are intended for an adult audience.

Porter taught church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University
in Utah before being assigned to the Palmyra area historical sites as
a missionary. His dissertation 35 years ago dealt with the history of
the church in New York and Pennsylvania, something he has continued to
study and will talk about on Saturday.

Like the other speakers, he'll try to develop the historical Smith,
seeking to offer insight into the central figure behind one of the
fastest-growing religions on Earth.

"Joseph Smith rose from a modest background to found the largest
indigenous Christian church in U.S. history," Porter said, and it's a
church that now numbers 12 million throughout the world.

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