News Release

Southern Virginia to Host 18th Conference, Spiritual Retreat June 20-21

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The 18th Annual Education Conference, a spiritual retreat at Southern Virginia University, will feature a keynote presentation by Elder Spencer J. Condie, an emeritus general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The conference, which will feature two days of spiritual presentations on the theme, “By Their Fruits,” will take place on Friday and Saturday, June 20–21. Held in the historic Shenandoah Valley, the annual conference also features other activities and entertainment, including the Southern Virginia Theatre Program’s production of the musical “Dear World.”

“The conference theme this year, ‘By their Fruits,’ was inspired by the Lord’s words,” said Kathleen Knight, who has organized the conference since its inception in 1997. “To his disciples and followers, in both the old and new worlds, Jesus gave a simple, fail-proof test by which his followers might avoid deception, which is most applicable today: ye shall know them ‘by their fruits.’”

In addition to fulfilling numerous Church callings throughout his life, Elder Condie has served in both the first and second quorums of the seventy during a time span of more than 20 years. After receiving emeritus general authority status in 2010, he served for three years as president of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.

Professionally, he worked at Brigham Young University as a professor of both sociology and ancient scripture for more than 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree from BYU, a master’s degree from the University of Utah, and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.

In addition to Elder Condie, this year’s presenters include Bruce Olsen, the former managing director of public affairs for the Church. Olsen oversaw the LDS Public Affairs Department for nearly 20 years, directing worldwide offices in 11 countries and domestic offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles. He has previously served as president of the Massachusetts Boston Mission and the San Diego Temple.

Lee Donaldson, who served as president of the San Diego Mission while Olsen served as temple president in San Diego, will speak at the conference for the second year in a row. Donaldson currently serves as manager of proselytizing services in the Church’s Missionary Department and previously served as global director of Leadership Development for the Church. He also has 26 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in the Church Educational System.

Other presenters will include Dr. Barbara van Kuiken, professor of chemistry at Southern Virginia; Rod L. Meldrum, an author and lecturer who has written and presented on the historicity of The Book of Mormon; Tyson and Brittany Anderson, a dentist and stay-at-home mother raising four children; and Linda Schneider, who will present a textile display.

“Our theme will be expanded by fabulous presenters in the areas of missionary fruits, fruits of the Spirit, fruits of service, and more,” said Knight. “A fruitful life is a happy life. It is an abundant life. It is a Christ-centered life. … It is our hope and prayer that this conference will prove valuable, inspiring, and uplifting and give us renewed determination and skill to avoid deception in our personal lives and to motivate us to a more fruitful life.”

In addition to the theatrical and musical entertainment provided, many conference attendees take advantage of highlights in the area including scenic views at the Blue Ridge Parkway, historic sites in nearby Lexington, Va., and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello — located one hour away from the university’s campus.

Full biographies of each presenter and registration information are available at