Early Morning Seminary Begins For LDS Youth
Friday, August 18, 2017
Early morning seminary is underway for the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). According to the LDS Newsroom, “seminary is a worldwide, four-year religious educational program for youth ages 14 through 18. It is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but is open to teenagers of all faiths.”
The program provides teens with the opportunity to study the scriptures on a daily basis before the school day begins. In the greater Chattanooga area, seminary is held at 6:00 am, five days a week, and coincides with high school calendars.
Early morning seminary was established so that young Latter-day Saints could develop doctrinal mastery of The Old Testament, New Testament, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Church History. According to the LDS Church, “seminary classes are held in every state in the United States and in 140 countries around the world…. [As of 2011], more than a million young Latter-day Saints have benefited from early-morning seminary since its beginnings some 65 years ago” (lds.org, Ensign 2011).
The history of seminaries “is a history of commitment to and love for our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ…and for the sacred word of God…. It is a grand endeavor with divine purpose,” as stated in the preface of By Study and Also by Faith: One Hundred Years of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. The intent of seminary is to help youth develop Christlike attributes, and “to understand the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ” (The Purpose of Seminary, lds.org).
In the greater Chattanooga area, over 100 students participate in early morning seminary or by home-study or online. Classes are held for students in Dalton, Chattanooga Valley, Brainerd, Harrison Bay, Hixson, Cleveland, Athens, and on Signal Mountain. All youth of high school age are welcome to attend. Seminary is free of charge.
Jim Ward serves as the Chattanooga Stake Seminary Coordinator. He is married to Celeste Smartt who serves as president of the Chattanooga Stake Relief Society, the women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. and Mrs. Ward are the parents of five children.
Like all who serve in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mr. Ward is a volunteer, and gives of his time freely, as do the seminary teachers serving throughout the Chattanooga Stake. By profession, he is an attorney and currently works as CBL’s Vice President of Marketing & Digital Strategies. In addition to his professional and family responsibilities, he visits each seminary – observing, teaching, training, sharing devotionals – and sometimes he even brings refreshments.
Mr. Ward has previously served as an early morning seminary teacher. Of his service, he says, “Working in the seminary program has been a great blessing to my life, and that of my wife and children, and I am grateful for our youth and their commitment to Jesus Christ.”
This year, teens will be studying the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ, a volume of holy scripture, like the Bible, written by ancient prophets. According to lds.org, the Book of Mormon “documents the lives of the inhabitants of the ancient Americas,” just as the Bible details events in the eastern hemisphere.
“The Book of Mormon refers to Jesus Christ almost 4,000 times…and the crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ…after His resurrection” (lds.org, What Is the Book of Mormon?).
As noted at lds.org, we invite all to read the Book of Mormon, “to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.”