The mission of The John A. Widtsoe Foundation is to be a respected, independent voice regarding Latter-day Saint perspectives on global religious issues among both academic and interfaith communities.
"Every [person], however humble, of whatever race, has the same origin and possible destiny"
John A. Widstoe, Conference Report, October 1936
The John A. Widtsoe Foundation was created in 2015 in consultation with the University of Southern California's Office of Religious Life. It was named in honor of Elder Widtsoe (1872-1952), a retired university professor and president, who in 1935 was invited to teach academic courses at USC about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Widtsoe was serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during this time. These classes about the Church were among the very first taught at a university outside of Utah.
At the inaugural symposium announcing the Widtsoe Foundation, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (then serving as Second Counselor to the President of the Church) spoke to a gathering of university administrators, faculty, and religious leaders in Los Angeles. During his keynote address, Elder Uchtdorf stated that "The effort to throw off traditions of distrust and pettiness and truly see one another with new eyes—to see each other not as aliens or adversaries but as fellow travelers, brothers and sisters, and children of God—is one of the most challenging while at the same time most rewarding and ennobling experiences of our human existence."
In response to this commission from Elder Uchtdorf, the Widtsoe Foundation has organized a variety of events and initiatives to further the legacy of Elder John A. Widtsoe in both academic and interfaith communities. Our continuing mission is to provide a forum and resources to produce innovative, academically rigorous scholarship on issues of significance to the global Latter-day Saint and other religious communities. We also seek to advance stronger cooperative relationships with influential faith leaders in order to expand the reach of Gospel-centered principles. To achieve these goals, the Foundation is committed to:
Support scholarship that provides new insights and perspectives on issues of significance to both the global Latter-day Saint and other religious communities;
Provide Latter-day Saint scholars throughout the world advanced resources (including cutting-edge technology) to empower them to serve as respected local sources for their media and scholarly communities on matters of global religious significance from the perspective of the Latter-day Saint community in their area;
With the University of Southern California as the hub, offer fellowships for Latter-day Saint credentialed disciple scholars pursuing advanced studies at approved universities worldwide in areas that advance the mission of the Foundation; and,
Foster cooperation and discourse with influential faith leaders in order to advance appreciation of the doctrines, culture, and life of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We're proud to collaborate with the following organizations and institutions to create meaningful, interfaith programs.
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute For Religious Scholarship
The USC Office Of Religious And Spiritual Life
Chapman University's Fish Interfaith Center