The pandemic has unnerved everyone globally, and members of the Church have been similarly affected. Some people have asked me, “When will we have seminary again?” and “When will the Church reinstitute institute classes?” There is no perfect answer since so much depends on local circumstances and the restrictions for local schools.
We know there are disappointed seminary and institute students out there who are anxious to gather. We are anxious to have them get back together, but none of us wants to rush back or put anyone at risk.
The youth and young adults have been very resilient. I am proud of them. They understand the situation and are making the best of it. We know it isn’t quite the same as having a teacher in the room and the association of classmates, but they’re creative with their study. They’re studying hard, doing things online, and doing some things together where they can be in groups or nearby as neighbors.
Continue to Participate in Seminary and Institute
The need for continued participation in seminary and institute remains. It’s not a coincidence that Latter-day Saint youth start seminary at the age of 14—the same age Joseph Smith was when he received the First Vision and started his education and preparation for his prophetic role.
By the time young people get to junior high or middle school and move toward high school and then on to college, they need more fortification and reinforcement than a once-a-week Sunday experience provides. That’s where the idea of a daily scriptural experience and faith-promoting exchanges with a teacher and other students come in.
From students’ first seminary class on through to their college experience, ideally, they’re having a scriptural experience and a spiritual education every day of the week. Given the world we’re in, they need it.
The Lord is interested in the whole man and the whole woman. He wants the entire soul rewarded and edified. Reason and revelation, the physical and the spiritual, the temporal and the eternal—those always dovetail. The Lord intended it that way. We’re missing something if we neglect either the spiritual or intellectual side of learning. And in the gospel, we don’t have to. I’m grateful the Church Educational System is built around the concept of an integrated, whole-souled man and woman.
Be Hopeful for the Future
It causes me great concern to think somebody might be so discouraged that they want to give up or turn their back on life. I’m concerned particularly for young people who feel overly fearful or convinced that there’s no future and no reason to continue their education or get married or go on with a profession, because, somehow, all of this is going to be a mess.
Life has always been a little messy, but there is always a way through. Marvelous things are still ahead for each of us individually and for all of us collectively. We have wonderful blessings in the future—greater than we’ve seen in the past.
We—as a Church and as individuals—have a lot of work to do and a lot of opportunities to do it. So, I say, onward and upward. We need to go forward in “so great a cause,” as the Prophet Joseph said (Doctrine and Covenants 128:22). And that great cause is not just the gospel. It’s the living of life and the whole breadth of our experience. Nobody ought to be very discouraged. Every now and again, a pandemic will come along. With God’s help, we’ll handle it, we’ll be better for it, and we’ll be eternally blessed by the lessons we learn from it.