Youth gathered in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and around the world to celebrate 100 years of the seminary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).
Seminary is a four-year curriculum of study that includes the holy scriptures and Church history for youth ages 14 to 18. It started very small in Utah in 1912 and now has an annual enrollment of more than 375,000 youth in 143 countries with 38,000 volunteer and full-time teachers.
“We invest much in our youth,” said President Packer. “We know of your worth and potential.”
A product of the seminary program himself, President Packer decided to become a seminary teacher while serving as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.
He first taught the Book of Mormon study course in Brigham City, Utah, in 1949 under Abel S. Rich, the seminary principal. “He taught me to consider a problem, determine what gospel principle was involved, and then make a decision,” recalled President Packer.
Wise counsel came from a member of the First Presidency of the Church early on in President Packer’s teaching career. When teaching the youth, President Marion G. Romney said, “Do not just tell them so that they understand; teach them so that they cannot misunderstand!”
Life turns out to be a succession of trials and errors, explained President Packer. “Add ‘repent often’ to your list of things to do. This will bring you lasting peace that cannot be purchased at any earthly price. Life is not guaranteed to be either easy or fair. That is the test.”
A video presentation was aired during the broadcast with comments from President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church. His mother was one of the first seminary students at Granite High School in Salt Lake City. He discovered that fact when someone gave him the roll from a 1912 seminary class in which Mildred Bennion was a student.
She was 16 at the time and came from a home where her father was not active in the Latter-day Saint faith. “Some thoughtful individual in that day must have invited Mildred to seminary,” explained President Eyring. “Someone caught a glimpse of how this program would bless the lives of each and every young man and woman in the Church. That [seminary] teacher blessed the lives of tens of thousands of unseen individuals because of the message he taught one girl.”
President Eyring said in the 100 years of seminary that have come and gone, countless lives have been touched. “Our task has been and will always be to teach and to learn so that the gospel of Jesus Christ will go down into the heart of the one — the individual son or daughter of Heavenly Father.”