Soon, all Latter-day Saints — from the youngest teenage seminary student to the oldest adult Sunday school participant — will be on the same page. Literally.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday that the curriculum for its seminary program of religious instruction will shift to the calendar year, not the school year, and will align with other classes throughout the global faith.
Beginning in January 2020, seminary students will study the same book of scripture used in the church’s “Come, Follow Me” study outline. Seminary classes will focus on the first half of the New Testament in June 2019, then join the rest of the church in studying the Book of Mormon, the faith’s foundational scripture, in January 2020.
“Making this change will enhance the home-centered, church-supported approach to gospel study through a unified study at home, Sunday school and seminary," the faith’s governing First Presidency, led by church President Russell M. Nelson, writes in a letter to be read to congregations across the world.
“We hope that [seminary students] will have a great experience on Sunday at the meetinghouse," apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said in a news release. “We hope that they will go home and have an experience with their family on Sunday, and we hope that through the week they will have a great experience in seminary studying the Book of Mormon.”
President Bonnie H. Cordon, leader of the Utah-based faith’s Young Women organization, said aligning the study topics will strengthen homes.
“As students learn of Christ and testify of Christ in seminary, they will have the opportunity to share what they learn with their families,” Cordon said in the release. “A power will come into their lives that will enlarge their souls and help them deal with the challenges they face.”
The church noted that seminary and family weekly study guides may not always align each week because of various school calendars. But the scriptural course of study will match.
The seminary program, for students ages 14 through 18, enrolls more than 400,000 students in 140 countries.
In Utah, for instance, these religious classes — open to all teens but overwhelmingly populated by Latter-day Saints — are taught by full-time, church-paid instructors in buildings usually located next to secondary schools. In areas with fewer Latter-day Saints, volunteers often teach these classes, sometimes in the early morning before the school day begins.
“Students will gain a deeper love for the scriptures," said Chad Webb, who administers the seminary program, "and discover things that are most relevant and valuable to them at this time in their lives.”