Thousands of Education Week participants who came to Brigham Young University to fill up on various types of knowledge were told by an LDS Church apostle Tuesday that an understanding of Jesus Christ's mission and ministry should be foremost on their educational agenda.

"Knowledge is a wonderful thing," said Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "Not all information is of equal importance, however."Elder Nelson spoke to a half-filled Marriott Center at BYU, and his address was scheduled to be transmitted to a widespread audience by KBYU-TV and the LDS Church satellite system. His remarks highlighted the first day of Education Week, which continues through Friday.

BYU President Merrill J. Bateman, during brief remarks preceding Elder Nelson, emphasized the great lengths to which BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to make opportunities like Education Week available to as many people as possible. In turn, he said, the participants contribute much to BYU.

"You don't know how much you add to this university as you come here seeking learning in light of the gospel," Bateman said. "You bring something with you to campus."

Approximately 30,000 people are expected to attend at least portions of Education Week this year. The program's success has spawned look-alikes at other LDS Church-owned schools and a miniature version at Southern Virginia College, which is owned by a group of LDS businessmen.

Elder Nelson outlined five characteristics of Jesus Christ that he advised Education Week participants to emulate: love, focus on ordinances, prayer, use of knowledge and commitment to endure to the end.

Although Christ suffered great pains at the hands of his crucifiers, he did not quit, Elder Nelson said. In a similar fashion, LDS Church members should not give up.

"A commitment to endure to the end means that we will not ask for a release from a call to serve," he said. "It means that we will never, no never, give up on a loved one who has strayed."

Christ's love includes "compassion, kindness, charity, devotion, forgiveness, mercy, justice and more," Elder Nelson said. He loved his family and others, and expressed that love by serving. Elder Nelson advised listeners to ask themselves, "Is there anyone whom I love more than the Lord?"

Elder Nelson emphasized that Christ's Atonement not only provided for resurrection and immortality but also the forgiveness of sins and "the way by which we could be united with him and with our families eternally."

The Atonement was foreshadowed by the commandment God gave in the Old Testament to offer sacrifice by the shedding of blood, said Elder Nelson, who holds a medical degree from the University of Utah and was a practicing surgeon for many years.

"May I say how significant that statement is to a medical doctor? Physicians know that whenever blood ceases to flow to an organ, trouble begins," he said.

Christ instituted the sacrament as a symbol of his flesh and blood, which he shed "for all mankind," Elder Nelson said.