The Chattanooga Stake (region) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its annual seminary graduation. According to the Church, seminary is a “four-year religious education program for youth ages 14 to 18. There are currently over 400,000 seminary students in over 170 countries. In seminary, hundreds of thousands of students and their teachers meet to study the scriptures, including the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.”
In Chattanooga, early morning seminary is held typically from 6-6:50 a.m. Monday through Friday during the school year. Most students find that rising before the sun to study the scriptures is worth the effort. “Spending a few minutes in the scriptures each day not only has a strengthening effect as students go to school, but it also has a healing effect as the Atonement of Jesus Christ acts in their lives,” said Kelly Haws, an assistant administrator for seminaries and institutes of religion. “Seminary is a great opportunity for youth.”
Seventy-eight high school students from the Chattanooga Stake received either certificates of completion or four-year graduation diplomas this year. The Stake graduated 17 seniors. Students that went above and beyond the seminary curriculum – including memorizing over 25 scripture passages or writing a doctrinal essay – earned the Stake President’s Award. Over 40 percent of the Chattanooga Stake’s seminary students successfully earned the Stake President’s Award, and each was presented a leather bound set of scriptures.
Youth speakers for seminary graduation were Liam Smartt of the Ringgold branch and Sarah Fawson of the Chattanooga Valley ward. Other speakers included Melanie Christensen, an early morning seminary teacher in the Collegedale Branch, and Zuggeyly Mendoza, a member of the Young Single Adult branch. Judd Rambo, regional seminary and institute director, also spoke, as did Chattanooga Stake President John Griffey, who presented diplomas and certificates of completion.
Following seminary graduation, Chattanooga Stake youth leaders provided dinner and a dance for the attendees, and expressed their love for this year’s graduating class, especially for their personal commitment to understanding and relying upon “the teachings and Atonement” of Jesus Christ – the Savior and Redeemer of the world.