Thoughts on seminary on the occasion of its 100th anniversary

In honor of the seminary 100th anniversary commemoration going on right now (find a recording here) we at BCC started reminiscing about how seminary/institute influenced and inspired us or, sometimes, frustrated and flummoxed us. Here are some of our anonymous musings:

“I learned that my seminary teacher was a rightwing dweeb that was completely unprepared for any political pushback in class.”

“I was excommunicated from 9th grade seminary for teaching evolution (and being a smug little jerk, but hey, I’m telling the story) and from 10th grade seminary for never attending (I figured it was a free period for me to hang out with friends or go hiking or play pinochle). I loved Institute, however”.

“I had one good seminary teacher and three fantastic ones. I loved seminary.”

“I honestly don’t remember much from 4 years of seminary, but maybe it had a good influence on me in ways I don’t recognize. I have two vivid memories. The first was when we were learning about Noah and the flood and our teacher wrote “The Flood — an act of love” in big letters on the chalkboard. We all giggled like Beavis and Butthead. Then my senior year I had a very weird teacher who spent lots of time warning us about rock music. The Doors were his particular bugaboo. He would hand out mimeographed sheets of the lyrics to their songs and prove to us that Jim Morrison was promoting drug use and fornication. A couple years after I graduated, he was arrested for pederasty. So, probably not something we’d want to include in a tribute to seminary.”

“I don’t remember much either (but could probably find some mentions in my journal) but had pretty nice teachers (8 here in release time Utah), although my favorite teacher was the one who was opt-teaching and found out he didn’t make it near the end (and I still remember his bitter, bitter disappointment.) I also was pretty bummed not to make seminary council senior year, although I did get put on a newsletter committee, where we made just one newsletter (but it was a good one!)”

“I had some very caring teachers. What I remember primarily from those days is not the teaching (though I remember it being based on weird anecdotes and fringe teachings), but rather the feeling that my teachers really, really cared about my spiritual welfare, like a parent.

“OK, here’s something I remember, which has stayed with me. The seminary building had a library, and I remember going in there sometimes (maybe I was asked to leave class? I can’t remember the circumstances). That is where I read “No Ma’am, That’s not History.” It was my first encounter with Hugh Nibley.”

“This isn’t my memory as it is my parents’, but when my mom would go visit my dad teaching seminary in Idaho, they would stick me up on a chair and let me draw all over the chalkboard.”

“I had early morning seminary. It was taught by the same kind sister all for years. All the kids alternated between loving her and being abominably mean to her. I don’t remember a thing she taught, but I remember if we came frequently enough she would take us out to Shoney’s breakfast bar once a semester. We loved donuts more than scripture. Also, some prior student had taken the time to draw a complete comic book on the long table regarding the formation of Thunder Thighs Airline and Jeans Company. It was there for my freshman year, but we got new tables thereafter and I regretted the loss of one more thing to distract me during slow days.”

“I dropped out because of a racist seminary teacher, then re-entered in time to hear that “Jesus Christ Superstar” was a work of the devil. I had one good teacher. That’s it. My best religion teachers have been books and Dialogue.”

“I only attended during 9th grade, and not all that frequently. My only vivid memories are: (1) a rather effeminate male student vocally expressing incredulity at Sodom’s destruction having anything to do with homosexual sex; (2) listening to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” backwards, and straining to hear the phrase “Start to smoke marijuana” over and over in the recording; and (3) various “true” stories about ouija boards and the occult, one in particular about the possibility of astrally projecting to a place called the “Red Land” if you ingest the right drugs in combination.”

“My ward had early morning seminary. In my third year I was asked by a member of the Bishopric to stop being obnoxious and disruptive or stop attending. Arrogantly I chose the latter. I don’t really think I learned anything.”

“I loved seminary, except when I didn’t. Also, I only went to 9th, part of 10th, part of 11th and part of 12th. 9th: I loved studying thing Old Testament and but not playing the stupid buzzer games. Didn’t like it when my teacher told us it was better for girls to be killed than be raped (you know, studying the guy who chopped up his wife and threw her in the river). 10th: Teacher bragged about how they didn’t use birth control; the class got really uncomfortable when while talking about the law of chastity a girl told us the she and her boyfriend confessed to her bishop and he told them they wouldn’t be able to have sex when they died if they didn’t stop now; 11th and 12th, it’s all a blur, except when the teacher told a story of how he knew a girl who really wanted to be pretty and she wasn’t. He helped give her a priesthood blessing. She turned beautiful over the next few months. This was followed by his testimony of how the priesthood and prayer could make us girls pretty that weren’t. Despite the craziness, I really liked it. I just slept in a lot, so missed it (yes, it was released time).”

“Honestly, being eligible to go to BYU and get a scholarship was a motivating factor in attending seminary, to be sure.”

“I mostly loved it, although my dad was the teacher for a couple of years, and I was too busy being embarrassed to notice that he was great. I was Stake scripture chase champion all 4 years. Just so you know.”

“I attended early morning in 9th and half of 10th grade before I moved. Mostly fond memories of riding my bike about five miles to the church and then hanging out with students before school started. The teacher was a weepy air force officer that told us stories of the good ol’ days before he was a Mormon and how much better being good was. The longing in his voice made it less convincing that it could have been. The teacher did not believe in dinosaurs and we would argue long and loudly with him. He wasn’t a bad guy and let my friend and I babysit his kids, which is odd because we were flat out longhair hippy types. I quit after my Jr. year because I found his take on the flood and evolution absurd (things have not changed much). My year of teaching Seminary was a nightmare. Because at first I was naive and green and filled with a zeal to do a good job, I put a lot of work into it and I expected the kids to stay awake. Soon I was in a war. Then I was despised. It was heartwrenchingly bad. Soon I realized that I had a class that hated my guts and it was too late for recovery. High School kids can be unforgiving. In the end we were all going through the motions.”

“I remember a teacher explaining that homosexuals were put to death in Arab countries and stating that places we consider backwards are often more righteous. I loudly asked “whatever happened to love your neighbor”. I’m still proud of myself for doing that. I also recall a teacher telling racist jokes in class while he was in the process of adopting a black baby. Sadly I did not object to those–which I am now ashamed of. Finally I remember the girl who sat to my left my freshman year leaning over and telling me she wanted to perform a very specific sexual act on me. I don’t recall anything else from that year, most likely because my ninth grade brain could think of nothing else. So yeah–seminary was a mixed bag.”

“I did 4 years of seminary. My mother was the teacher some of the time, and so was a Brother Scofield who I think is somewhat active in Mormon Studies in SoCal. I was largely motivated by an attempt to get in with a group of girls from the other ward. (If I think about it, most of my church activity from age 14 has been motivated by romantic aspirations.) I went to CSUNorthridge Institute for a semester lured in by the free parking. The teacher suffered from the impression that we were living in 1970s Salt Lake City. He just had no sense of the real issues going on with the students there, and he often made odd statements about Latinos (there was a big protest about the Latino Studies going on IIRC). He also said the earthquake was a judgement of God, supported by the minimal damage done to the institute building despite being close to the epicenter. When I pointed out that the Shakey’s Pizza down the street had even less damage and that we maybe ought to worship there with a large pepperoni while watching basketball, I was asked to leave.”

“I forgot that I also taught early morning seminary for several months after my mission (the person with the calling at the beginning of the year flaked out and stopped showing up). Obviously, this has had a big impression on me. I think we tried to pace out the size of Solomon’s temple (or the ark) in the cultural hall.”

“Four years of seminary, all early morning, all with called instructors. Two were forgettable. One I had twice, because during my junior year the stake called some new people and switched some others around, and Sister Thompson was moved from the sophomores to the seniors, so I had her for both the New Testament and Book of Mormon. I can remember, during some stake-wide seminary preview, this news resulting in a whole bunch of us kids actually cheering out loud in the chapel. She was a wonderful, sweet, earnest woman. As for what I learned, I have no idea; I usually had been up since 4:30 or 5am for milking the cows, so seminary was time to sleep. And I hate to say it, but I was rather contemptuous of the scripture chase crowd. Bunch of Pharisees that thought color-coding their quads to death and ripping pages out with their high speed flipping would get them to heaven, was my attitude. I was an enormous jerk back then.

“Oh, I was exactly a snotty Pharisee. Except that I knew perfectly well that I was a total nobody in every other context. And I was contemptuous of people who needed _markings_ in their scriptures to find them, and didn’t just know exactly where on the page things were.”

“I was a scripture chase champ. I didn’t think it would get me to heaven, but I did think it would, well, attract some attention my way.”

“Did early morning for four years…the BYU thing was a motivator for me as well. It was mostly friends-and-donuts time, with a bit of scripture study.”

“My experience teaching was horrible…Four enrolled students, but by the end of the year only one attended regularly. One-on-one teaching is hard enough, but my student was a pretty, outgoing 15-year-old with a non-member dad. I alerted the regional CES director who said it wasn’t a big deal, so I had to insist on being released.”

“My one memory of seminary, besides all the shameful ones, was from sophomore year. I’d say on balance it didn’t have too much effect on me except as an outlet for thin sin.”

“I should note that our stake also had “Seminary Bowl,” which was basically a scripture trivia game, and I competed in that with every ounce of arrogant determination that your typical self-centered whiny smart-ass would bring to a game of Trivial Pursuit. If I recall correctly, I actually pontificated on more than one occasion why Seminary Bowl was superior to Scripture Chase. Like I said, I was a jerk.”

“I did early morning. My freshman year teacher was great. I learned a lot from him (I can still remember learning the difference between apocrypha and apocalypse), such as how to use various crossreferences and study tools. My next three years was a woman who was much more socially oriented, which was fine by me at the time, because I went mainly to see my friends. They tried to call me to teach a couple of times, and although I’ve subbed I’ve turned the calling down twice. Part of it is my commute into the city, but also I overprepare lessons, and the stress of preparing a lesson every day would kill me. When I have taught, I found it extremely frustrating, as the kids would just sleep no matter how scintillating I tried to make the lesson. My daughter refused to keep going to seminary her sophomore year, and her class was so bad (she went to a woman’s house. It was just the woman, her twin daughters and my daughter. And all the woman did was read from the scriptures (or maybe it was the manual). That’s it, nothing else. I simply couldn’t ask her to endure any more of that, so we let her stop going.

“As I said earlier, I loved seminary. However, I would be okay with my kids opting out of it, if it turned out to be lame. Especially if they had scheduling conflicts. My husband feels differently.”

Ok, now it’s your turn, what are your most favorite or perhaps most frustrating memories of seminary and institute?


  1. I had release time all four years. My freshman year my teacher loved scripture mastery, and because of that I still remember all of the Old Testament scriptures I had to memorize. He had the best memorizing techniques! And his lessons were great. I think he’s quit since then.

    Sophomore year’s teacher got fired with five weeks left to go for teaching us some stuff that was downright cray-cray. For instance, he told us about a vision he had where he saw evil spirits following the football coach out of the football annex (we’re the school that produced John Beck and Max Hall). I personally thought that the demons were doing the bidding of the poor coach (he was my weight training teacher), but apparently this meant he was super righteous (a la Japanese proverb). I think that particular teacher is practicing polygamy these days.

    Junior year, my teacher was a probie. He was a fantastic teacher and great guy! But he stopped being a fantastic teacher once CES told him they weren’t going to hire him. Too bad… I liked him a lot.

    Senior year I had your typical twerpy, BYU grad. He was awesome! I wanted to be just like him. However, since we were studying the D&C that year, we ended up playing an Oregon Trail style game that involved rolling dice and stuff to simulate random events. Because I thought it was unfair for the girls to be handicapped when their husbands (on paper) died, I announced that I was entering a plural marriage with any of them who preferred that fate to losing the game. I ended up with eleven wives, I think.

  2. Wow. What wonderful treatise on seminary from what is, no doubt, the perfect cross section of the seminary-going LDS.

  3. I attended release time. My classes were huge. Most of my friends took early morning seminary, so most of my seminary classes were lonely. I do remember one class with my best friend, and we’d sometimes talk about rock music with the seminary teacher before class. I remember another teacher made a critical comment about evolution (before I knew enough to challenge him on it). Honestly, though, I don’t remember much about seminary at all. I don’t think it made much of an impact on me.

  4. StillConfused says:

    I lived in a rural area in VA so there was no morning seminary. We could just stay for an extra hour after church if we wanted. I did that for the first year (my dad was the clerk so it was not a burden on the family), after that I worked so I didn’t go anymore. The only thing I remember from that is that I had one scripture memorized and went to a scripture chase and waited til they asked for that one.

    I also went to a youth conference once (a few days at a local college). I remember there was a man there who taught us. I remember he talked about “astro-tripping” and that it was no coincidence that LDS and LSD looked the same. He also taught most of the class with a … how do I say this… leaky faucet. I had brought a non-member friend and I was so embarrassed that she was exposed to that creepy dude.

  5. I had a highly energetic, good teacher my freshman year. Due to scheduling conflicts, I was in early morning Seminary in Utah County for the last three years. I think I had the same teacher all three of those years – a great man who changed my life in a way that wasn’t related to Seminary at all. I wouldn’t have gotten the education I did without him and his advice.

    I didn’t learn a whole lot, except from the Scripture Mastery memorization, but I loved my teachers. I know I was fortunate in that regard.

    I’ve taught Seminary three times in three states: home study (with weekly meetings on Sunday in a small, Asian branch – amazing students, who generally were the only members in their families), Early Morning at the church and Early Morning in our home. Technically, I’m the Institute Teacher right now of a very small class where I work, but it’s been impossible to get it functioning properly. Meshing the schedules of only five students, when some are athletes and others are involved in Theater . . .

  6. I just returned from watching the broadcast with my daughter. I agree with Pres. Eyring that the roughly 376,000 young women and men that attend are remarkable. Does anyone have a stat on what percentage of the youth that is?

    My daughter has done the online/meet with the teacher 1x per week program as well as the early morning program for the last two years. To her credit, she has never had to be dragged out of bed. Wish I could say the same about her parent drivers…

    I attended release time seminary all 4 yrs. The only people who crossed the street from the high school were the stoners and the Mormons. One particular lesson, our seminary teacher pointed out the window to the stoners and told us that Heavenly Father loved each one of them as much as he loved us. It was a game changer for me. All those EFYs and firesides telling me I was superior were shot down in that instance. We were loved equally, the difference was I knew it. Still remember that feeling….

  7. In an area with release time . ..

    Freshmen year teacher was great. Enthusiastic, engaged. Died the next year.

    10th grade teacher — jerk. Drove more people out. Class shrunk by 2/3rd.

    11th grade — don’t even remember the teacher.

    12th grade — good guy. Sincere. Listened. Really appreciated.

    My own kids have liked seminary. Mostly because it is a break from regular classes.

    I’ve been struck by high incredibly weak seminary graduations have become. Held by stake. Lots of kids don’t attend. Kind of embarrassing.

  8. Rechabite says:

    Had release time seminary. Good overall experience with good teachers. (All male.)

    But the best seminary lesson I ever got was from my parents, who told us: “Just remember you don’t have to believe everything you hear in seminary.” God bless my parents!

  9. Had release time seminary from grade 7 through 12 in a small Utah town. Usually we played baseball outside or scripture chase if the weather made us stay in. I don’t remember much “gospel learning” going on but I do remember the day when our entire class got up and walked out because our teacher was screaming at one of our classmates. We didn’t go back until the school principal was able to elicit an apology to the student and to the entire class. No respect for that teacher.

    My children all had varying experiences with released time seminary. The standout experience for poor teaching was when one of my sons was threatened with being kicked out of class because he wouldn’t sing. When I met with the teacher to have him explain why that deserved being kicked out the response was that “If he’d just open his hymn book and act like he’s singing it would be fine.” He didn’t like it when I told him that I’ve taught my children never to do anything for appearances only. He also said that my son didn’t act like he was ever spiritually “touched” because he never got up and cried while bearing his testimony. No respect for that teacher.

  10. My wonderful early morning teacher in grade 11 was a female lawyer. She told stories about being a missionary in Mitt Romney’s stake when he was president. She enjoyed quoting both Bruce R. McConkie and Bonner Ritchie. She showed us the obligatory “Not of the World” filmstrips, and I can still hear the music…

  11. Early morning 9th and 12th grade years, for Old and New Testament; I don’t remember anything about either class, either subject matter or the teachers and the way they taught. Home study for 10th and 11th. Home study Book of Mormon materials were ho-hum, standard fill-in-the-blank workbooks, totally forgettable, although I remember we had some great scripture chases at our weekly meetings. The home study church history materials were FANTASTIC — and it didn’t hurt that we were living in Jackson County, Mo. at the time so that my family could take some wonderful field trips. Besides learning the standard narrative history of the church and routine workbook assignments for the Doctrine and Covenants, they also gave us hundreds of pages of biographies and enrichment materials on our cultural past (that stuff would all have been right at home on Keepa, come to think of is). I remember a lesson on the Missouri troubles that asked us to consider what the Mormon settlers might have done to contribute to the problem (bloc voting, superior attitudes) — that lesson didn’t blame the Mormons for their own problems, but it was the first time I had ever been asked to see church history from the other point of view, or had ever been presented with anything other than a completely rosy image of our own behavior. I don’t remember other lessons in that vein, but my memory of that lesson makes me think it must have been quite a balanced, honest look at our past. That was in about 1974. Memorable, and extraordinary.

  12. Wow, my seminary was pretty tame – release time, great teacher (same one for all 4 years), genuine focus on the scriptures (no crazy stuff at all), and a real sense of community building in classes. I have no complaints about my experience.

  13. Early morning for me. Freshman year was awesome; our teacher was enthusiastic, intelligent, and engaging. Also we smote off the head of Shiz in class. Never bothered him to have a group of smartalec over-thinkers in class, he just turned us into the top Scripture Chasers. There was a new teacher 10th/11th, she was good too as far as I remember. Most of 11th/12th grade I can’t remember at all (seminary and school both – not great times for me), but I don’t think I went with any consistency (if at all?) as a senior. Couldn’t have been that good, apparently.

    Both frustrating and awesome is that I was the only student from my stake in my HS, so it was a whole new group of people – and they were WAY more fun to be around than my regular class.

  14. Overall I loved seminary, even the weird bits (e.g., when one of our teachers was reassigned to teach seminary/institute at the prison after getting caught teaching lots o’ false doctrine). My last year of high school one of the local network meteorologists, whose children had complained that he didn’t spend enough time with them, gave up his TV weatherman gig and turned to teaching our release-time seminary. (Though he still turns up as a substitute TV weatherman now and then when the meteorologist on the FOX affiliate is out on maternity leave.) We got a real kick out of watching him draw maps on the whiteboard and gesture dramatically, as if the migration of God’s people were a storm front moving in. As far a learning specific things, I don’t feel like I made great gains in gospel scholarship in most of my seminary classes over what I was already learning in Sunday School, but I did very much look forward to the daily spiritual retreat from the social strain of high school and the very loving and patient teachers. It was a good thing, even though I had to unlearn some stuff later on.

  15. 9th grade–OT release time. The 2 teachers got in a huge fight related to a promise to show a movie in class. Not related to the fight, my teacher was a strong advocate of scripture study during toilet time.
    10th grade–My Release Time teacher answered a question about evolution by saying that since Egyptian mummies go back almost to 4000 BC, when the earth was created, and they are definitely not apes, evolution is a lie. I transferred to an after school class where the teacher used karate kicks to turn the light switch off and on. I remember that he did it a lot. He liked pretty girls more than I would have expected.
    11th grade–After school again. Pretty normal guy who was a newlywed and spent five minutes per day talking about how much he loved his wife.
    12th grade–Release Time. A very spiritual and profoundly decent Christian man in in his late 50’s or early 60’s. Seminary was reassuring and positive during a time of crisis in my family. This is the one year I am grateful for, though I think seminary was overall beneficial.
    BYU religion classes–my work schedule did not permit me to enroll in the sections with a more scholarly bent.

  16. We had early-morning, and I thought the teachers were really quite good. My father had a rule that was “if you don’t make it to seminary, you can’t go to track practice.” So I went every day.

  17. I went to early morning mixed grade seminary nearly everyday for all four years in Missouri and then Texas. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have my dad teaching my first year of seminary and how good he was until we moved to Texas and I had a new teacher that made some classes quite painful. My dad was fun and took a good approach to really give us some context and spiritual insight, plus his wit is sharp, even at 6 in the morning with a kid who showed up everyday, and remained with a blanket over his head.

    My new teacher in Texas had good intentions, I assume most do, but failed to really make me feel them when he often chastised my brother in front of the whole class on a regular basis. I was such a good girl that I wanted to be the model student, but torn watching my brother get shredded regularly because this teacher didn’t understand or connect to him and made him a target. And if I ever have to listen to or watch “Emily, my friend” segment again I might seize. That music makes my blood curdle. I had to listen to it every morning for 2 years.

    My senior year got better, I had a new teacher that really made us feel loved individually, and that was the most important thing that came out my time in seminary- not the things I learned. I learned more by reading the teacher manuals myself- which my dad had given to me from the first year on. But having a teacher that wanted me there and made me feel like my insight was valid and welcome, and I was loved and wanted was crucial in the way that I have studied the gospel.

    So for me seminary was more good than bad- but I can’t say that I would want my own kids to go to a class like I went to for part of my time- the teacher matters so much.

  18. 4 years release time. At least 10 teachers. A few dropped out mid-semester. The teachings are mostly forgotten now.

    I remember one young teacher telling us he and his wife didn’t use birth control. They had 4 kids under 5 years old. I thought he was nuts.

    I read the book of Mormon to spite a teacher I resented. He told me he didn’t think it was possible for me to finish by the end of the year. It was May; I had stalled out in the war chapters in alma when I got moved to his class. I spent all my spare time reading and plowed through. I sure showed him!

  19. Jack #2: We would love to hear any Seminary memories you would like to share.

  20. I worked hard on my home study booklets while living in Connecticut, sometimes wondering what classes would be like if lived in Utah where Seminary must have been unimaginably wonderful. We had a class on Sunday then once a month was a three hour class/activity called Super Saturday, which I loved and looked forward to. Then, out of the blue my Senior year we moved to Utah. Seminary was going to be great, I just knew it. It took about two weeks for me to fall off of my “I’m in Zion” cloud. Needless to say, I’m a little cynical about it all. My first teacher (Grant Palmer) started saying crazy things and many of the kids were disrespectul, snobby and sluffed all the time, etc. I switched teachers to a nice guy who liked us and I don’t remember anything in particular that he taught us, only that he was nice. So much for Zion.

  21. My 9th grade (released-time) seminary teacher was fantastic. I can’t tell you a single doctrinal thing that he taught me (IIRC it was the New Testament that year), but I remember fondly that our class was right before lunch, and a bunch of us who brought lunches from home would all eat lunch in his office with him after class. I knew that he genuinely cared for us and for me. (Aside: He later taught at the Institute where I took a shortened summer class on the New Testament from him. I remember him bearing his testimony on the last day of class; he said, “I love Jesus.” He said that sometimes we complicate the gospel a lot, but in the end, if you can honestly say “I love Jesus,” you’ve got most of it right.)

    I have only vague memories of 10th grade seminary. One of my teachers played the guitar and sang a song with the lyric “Choose the Sprite when a Coke is placed before you.” (He didn’t really mean it.) I remember one lesson whose theme was “were Adam and Eve set up?”.

    That was the entirety of my seminary experience proper; due to reasons, I started taking institute classes in essentially 11th grade.

  22. Early morning seminary in a fairly rural southern California ward. Sadly, I attended primarily to spend time with my “true loooove.” My only real memories are longing glances exchanged with said love, inappropriately lusting after a fellow student who worked out and typically attended seminary in semi-revealing sweatpants and a tank top, and the time our teacher lost patience with sleeping students and actually got up and walked across the desktops in order to yell at the sleepers in the back row. I spent most of seminary being really, really tired. When i tested out of high school in the middle of my sophomore year, my YW Pres kicked me out and i stopped attending seminary. Institute was vastly superior and is most likely what kept me active in my fairly unusual youth-to-adult transition. I remain skeptical about early morning seminary’s effectiveness, and since I don’t intend for my kids to attend high school I am selfishly happy to think that perhaps we can skip it.

  23. Peter LLC says:

    I attended four years of early morning seminary and more or less enjoyed it for what it was, though I was grateful that band commitments prevented me from attending Seminary Bowls. I can recall three of my teachers, two of which were outstanding. My freshman year teacher was particularly well suited to the calling, being young, energetic and able to balance a sense of humor with gospel chops and the occasional box of donuts. Rest in peace, Brother L.

  24. Assistant to the Assistant to the President says:

    1992: My teacher said with tears welling up in his eyes: “Some people think it’s okay to read Playboy magazine. Some people think it’s okay to take showers together.”

  25. When I was in a smal branch a few years ago, the local CES guy came to do a little Institue pep talk during a 5th Sunday meeting. In it he asked the Seminary graduates in the room to stand. As I looked around the room, I noticed that there was a direct correlation of Seminary garduates with Returned Missionaries (it was 100% there–everyone who stood had served a mission, and we were the only RMs in that branch). Sure, it was a small sampling, but I bet there is a significant relationship elsewhere, too. Whatever problems there are with Seminary, I think an individual’s commitment to it is the same kind of committment that gets people on a mission. My take away: if I want my kids to serve missions, which I do, I better make Seminary work for them.

  26. My favorite part about seminary was the fact that I went during the wee hours of the morning, so I could lord this over those Utah wimps who call my righteousness into question later. (oh yeah? well, I woke up at 515 all during high school to learn about the book of mormon in rural ohio. Did you? no. pfffft).

    I don’t have pioneer stock. This is all I have. Please don’t take it away from me.

  27. whizzbang says:

    Four years of early morning seminary here in Canada. I remember going but remember absolutely nothing about what I learned. My teachers were sincere and I appreciated their efforts. One teacher though I had for most of the experience was a lady who taught CRAZY things! i.e the Jaredites cut down all the trees in the the midwest and that’s whey when you drive south to the dakotas there aren’t any trees left. She was single, never married and totally lusted after the Stake President, “If I had known him 30 years ago he’d be mine!” She got disfellowshipped for a year while teaching us. I remember the CES guy coming in and being all positive, “new teacher, new year”. The guy they got to replace her was (deceased now) the SALT of the earth, older fellow. When he taught he used no notes, nothing he just opened the scriptures and just started talking-he was a professional High School teacher so he knew teens. When the lady came back into the Church she was the same and taught nutty stuff. Actually I tell a lie-I wrote down what that crazy lady taught us and it took me 10 years to unlearn it! That is what I remember from seminary, the unlearning. Today she teaches Gospel doctrine class in her ward and still crazy.

  28. One seminary teacher told our class that some authors, like Stephen King, cursed their books so readers would be scared by evil spirits. I believed him at the time and even remember repeating it to others.

    My strongest memory is one that makes me very ashamed. In a small group discussion of the recent general conference, I referred to one talk as being “pretty good for a girl.” Sorry. In my defense I was only repeating what I heard an adult say. I remember my seminary teacher looked uncomfortable at the comment, but he didn’t say anything. I wish now that would have.

  29. it's a series of tubes says:

    9th grade: release time in a Utah junior high school. Old Testament. Great instructor who cared about the kids and taught the core of the gospel. A little crazy in his own way, though – his daughter was born during the year and they gave her the middle name “M’Darlin” (think “my darling” pronounced with a twang) because it rhymed with his Scottish last name. During a lesson about the fall of Jericho, he once tactfully corrected me that the proper church term is “harlot”, not “whore”. I was never the most verbally graceful kid in the class.

    10th grade: release time at an extremely large high school in the south end of the SL valley. New Testament. Two excellent instructors who helped me build a testimony of Christ. Our class scripture for that year, John 16:33, remains my favorite. Class was a mix of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, which was a significant difference from the freshman-only class of the year before. Many kids sluffed and generally hated seminary, and I know some of the instructors frankly sucked. But the two I had were excellent.

    11th grade: early morning seminary in the SF Bay Area. D&C. Great instructor (a member of the stake serving as a calling) who emphasized making the class enjoyable. During the winter, he took the entire class on a snowmobiling trip. Class was juniors only.

    12th grade: same. Book of Mormon, seniors only. Different instructor (another member of the stake) who focused more on doctrine and was a bit more serious, but still did a good job.

    All in all? Seminary was worth a lot to me.

  30. All early morning. I remember sleeping part of the time so my memory is pretty hazy. I do remember acting out stories which was cool. I was grossed out from watching a video of a circumcision with a screaming baby. Overall I had good memories. But it must have helped and stuck with me. When I entered the MTC I thought I was unprepared. But no, I knew every scripture in the discussions. I was ahead of all the Elders; and they had graduated the year before.

  31. My daughter, a Jr in high school, listed her seminary teacher as her most influential teacher in an English essay. It makes the 5am alarm bearable…some mornings.

    A couple in our ward (she’s from Michigan, he’s from Utah) shared their differing seminary experiences with me. She said that her dad would drive her and her brother 20 mins, kick them out into a snowbank, and then drive on to work. Another family would then come by, pick them up and continue on another 15 mins to drive her to the home of her seminary teacher. Her husband, Mr UT, only had to walk down the hall to seminary, and would go to 7/11 instead, drinking slurpees and picking up on the girl seminary slackers hanging out there. I would say these two are equally faithful in the church. They joked that thinking of seminary brought back memories for both of them of being cold. Her–MI snowbank. Him–Slurpee shivers/brain freeze.

  32. Last Lemming says:

    What I learned in Seminary:

    9th grade – Martin Luther King was a troublemaker. Singing “Do What is Right” 5 times a week can really get on your nerves. The Jaredite barges had holes at both the top and bottom so that it didn’t matter which side was up at any given time.
    10th grade – The mining of Haiphong Harbor was an inspired act. Black people will have white skin after the resurrection. The Book of Genesis is worth three times as much attention as the rest of the Old Testament.
    11th grade (the only one I had early morning) – Tom Trails is the highlight of any morning. The priesthood is the authority to act in the place and stead of God. What is the priesthood? It is the _________ to act in the _____ and _____ of God. (Repeat for about 10 pages). I choke in high-pressure scripture chases among strangers.
    12 grade – Masturbation leads to homosexuality. Not much else.

    Not getting much gospel instruction at home, I did learn a fair amount about the scriptures, but I had to unlearn at least as much as I learned. Or maybe it just seems that way because unlearning is so much harder than learning.

  33. When I went to seminary you could graduate with either three or four years. So I went three, got my diploma, and still got admitted to BYU. (Actually, back then, I don’t know if they even looked at that.)

    All released time, mostly unmemorable. The action was in the other classrooms–in 9th grade, the other teacher was Virgil Carter’s father (BYU’s first star quarterback, in the mid-1960s.) And in 10th grade my sister’s teacher had a “George Wallace for President” bumper sticker on the class bulletin board. My dad wasn’t pleased.

  34. I went to 4 years of early morning seminary. I had to drop my dad off for work before seminary so I was always on time. For several months, I was the only one on time. I don’t remember too much about those years, but two of the teachers were really great. One was the D&C taught by Brother Albright. He was enthusiastic and interesting. The other was New Testament taught by Sister Hightower. She was very earnest and sweet. She really helped me build a good foundation for my testimony.

  35. Seminary was a sleepy blur of scripture chases, film strips, videos, weird stories, and goofy anecdotes from two teachers right off the CES assembly-line (nerdy, trying-too-hard-to-be-cool guys who were sincere, but just a bit off-kilter). I guess I learned some stuff, but there isn’t much to remember. Although I do remember some awkwardness when one teacher tried to describe circumcision to the female students.

    There was a teacher in a neighboring town who had a revelation that one of his students was to be his second wife. I guess the three of them are now living happily ever after.

  36. Joined Church when I was 16, so I had 2 years of early morning seminary.

    First year was taught by the bishopric (stake president wanted bishoprics to know the kids, and what better way than to see them every morning). Good experience, as my bishop was a very inspiring man. It was essentially due to his spirituality that I joined when friends brought me to church.

    Second year I had an excellent and caring instructor. He inspired me enough that I asked him to be my temple escort prior to leaving on my mission. I find it wasn’t so much what was taught, but who was teaching, that made the difference.

  37. In Jr. High, I overheard my home teacher opining to my dad that I would surely be a troublesome teenager and probably be one of those slacker kids who “figured out EXACTLY how many days of Seminary they could miss and still pass.”

    I had 100% attendance of Early Morning Seminary all four years, just to prove that man wrong.

    My first three years was an in home mixed grade affair and it was great. The teacher was earnest and a little wacky (she believed in and showed us a video of faith healing, for example) but her goodness outweighed her crazy. My last year was in a church classroom with only seniors from a different high school, and much less memorable.

  38. 4 years of early EARLY morning seminary in MN. I don’t even remember some of my teachers, but they tended to be young couples with kids, probably late 20’s early 30’s, enthusiastic. I don’t recall any crazy space doctrine or anti-evolution/rock music/culture rants. I also don’t recall anything I actually learned, since I spent much of the time drowsing/asleep, or checking out the girls in class (hence my surprise at being branded the “scriptorian” in the mtc)

  39. I also managed to never even hear of “Johnny Lingo” or other such classics, so I’m convinced my teachers were doing something right.

  40. I am very amused that BCC has taken this anonymous a la depression and p0rn discussions! Attending Seminary isn’t that shameful, is it?

  41. Four years of early mornings in Massachusetts. Since we had a more dense Mormon population than some other parts of the stake, we actually had two classes: a freshman/sophomore & a junior/senior class. I was always in class with either my older brother or younger sister. We also had an hour long Super Saturday with a scripture chase before stake dances each month because there were still a lot of kids who had to do home study.

    The year I remember best was probably my freshman year. It was Church History/Doctrine & Covenants and the only year we met at the church instead of somebody’s house. Our teacher for the first half of the year was a convert and a recovering drug addict and taught a lesson about the WoW that I don’t think many of us will forget. And if we covered all of the lesson material for the week before Friday, he would show us videos on Fridays. At first it was the old stop-action seminary filmstrips, but when he ran out of those he just started showing bullfighting videos. He was a telephone line repairman and left halfway thru the year to go help rebuild infrastructure somewhere in the Caribbean after Hurricane Hugo. A couple of women were called to replace him, but I don’t remember if they team taught or traded off days. I remember one particular day where they had us illustrate our scripture mastery verses and include clues to help us remember the references. One of my friends did a drawing of a couple who were “anxiously engaged” and about to be married; the bride had a dress with 58 buttons down the back. I have never forgotten that scripture reference, even after more than 20 years.

    After that, we met at various teachers’ homes. I can’t really remember who taught which years, but I do remember one sister who had joined the church as an adult talk about her first experience going to the temple before she got married. She talked about how it disturbed her so much that she didn’t go back for several years, until a sensitive stake president asked about her reservations and helped her work thru them. I had never heard anyone talk about the temple as being a negative experience before, and hearing her story helped me realize that it was a little more complicated than I had imagined. Having an active member that I respected talk about long-term doubts that took effort to reconcile helped me better deal with questions I had about the gospel later in my own life.

    One of my seminary teachers had grown up in Chicago and said “warsh” instead of “wash” and I remember that her own daughter gave her grief about her pronunciation when we were studying the Book of Mormon. That same teacher was totally freaked out when we had a visit from a CES administrator from Salt Lake. He could not understand how in the world teenagers were going to learn anything by showing up in pajamas and blankets and eating muffins in someone’s living room. He wasn’t too thrilled that we only met 4 days a week and didn’t ever take tests, either. We did our best to prove him wrong, but I think he still wondered if we were doing it right.

    While I don’t remember a lot of specific lessons from seminary, I do remember feeling a pretty strong commitment to attend. In an area where being Mormon definitely put me in the minority, it was nice to be able to meet with other kids my age and discuss our beliefs. It helped me feel connected to my faith community and getting up early was a small sacrifice that made me feel more invested in my gospel learning. During my freshman orientation at BYU, someone speaking to our group asked if we knew what was the highest indicator of on-time graduation from BYU. Apparently, it was graduation from EARLY morning Seminary. I can see why that would be true.

  42. Chris Gordon says:

    @Matt (26), rock on.

    Four years, early morning (6, not 6:30), had a great teacher for two of them, pretty darn good for the other two (though noticeably, NOT morning people). Took no small amount of pride (likely as not the unrighteous variety) in only missing two days, and those for a road trip to and from General Conference.

    Two lessons stand out:

    1) It was there that my parents really drove home the point that some things in church weren’t to be optional in our house–okay, all things. If I woke up moaning about being sick or whatever, Mom always said, “Go to seminary. If you’re still sick after seminary you can stay home from school.” I know that there are many who might argue that more about church should be optional, but I’ve found real strength in this over the years.

    2) Had a crazy experience where we showed up to find our seminary classroom at church having been blown out by a molotov cocktail. Fire suppression worked so it was the only room damaged. I’m humbled at the memory of us all shocked, but quietly relieved that the cupboard where our supplies were was relatively undamaged. Someone called the cops and fire department, and then we casually grabbed our scriptures and had class in another room. Didn’t really make much more of an issue out of it than that.

  43. Hated early morning seminary. I slept through most of it unless there were donuts. My teachers were well-meaning but dull and one year we went through four different teachers without any explanations for why the previous ones had left. Most of them were very interested in “deep doctrine” that was neither deep nor accurate. Due to gerrymandered ward boundaries, nobody else in my seminary class attended my ward or my school, so the other kids (who were thick as thieves) assumed I was inactive and were artificially nice. One year I had a teacher who often began bearing long tearful testimonies right about the time class was supposed to be over. Although my parents instructed me to just leave because they were sick of me being tardy to school, I never had the heart to walk out while my teacher was bawling her eyes out.

    Driving to and from seminary was more memorable. My siblings and I liked heavy metal music, but the girl we regularly carpooled with thought it was the devil’s music and would stick her fingers in her ears the entire trip. It was hilarious, I thought, so I’d sing along loudly. I also remember listening to the radio on the morning that the planes crashed into the World Trade Centers. Since I lived on the west coast, the incident was first being reported on my way to seminary. I remember how much it creeped me out even before I knew that it was a big deal.

    These days, I like institute just fine.

  44. 40. That was my choice, I decided in the interest of timeliness to just go with it without worrying about getting quote permission. Most, if not all, of the BCC writers would probably be fine with attaching their names to their statements.

    I also thought about making it a game of “guess who said what” but then thought, nah.

  45. I had a mix of release-time and home study in Utah, which included a large proportion of faith-promoting rumor (“The two prophets who will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem have already been told about it in their patriarchal blessings!”) One friend’s father was on the committee that produced priesthood manuals; he went in and had a heated exchange with the director over the false doctrine his daughter was bringing home. I was more indignant that the seminary teachers had mailboxes in the high school office. At some point my dad told me I could drop out if I would read Jesus the Christ that year, complete with footnotes–definitely my best seminary experience. Another year a nice old man came by once a week to direct my home study. I remember only one of his lessons, which included some remarkable information about the exact dimensions of the New Jerusalem. Did you know it will be 400 miles high? He didn’t seem interested in my contention that the 20-mile thickness of the atmosphere might be inconvenient.

  46. Oh yeah, and does anyone remember the video “Cipher in the Snow” about the kid who dies because no one loves him? At my high school (was it more widespread than this?), “ciphe” was slang for a friendless loser, as in “You’re such a ciphe.”

  47. Sharee Hughes says:

    I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, Canada. When my family and a few other people were baptized in 1950, we were the beginnings of the branch in our town. We didn’t have seminary at all. I wish we could have. When I was in grad scool at the University of Utah, I took numerous institute classes and loved them all, but I envy those who were able to attend seminary.

  48. Bro. Jones says:

    The friends who introduced me to the church not only didn’t attend seminary, but they openly disdained it. They knew the scriptures better than anyone of their age that I’ve encountered. Also, they got full scholarships to BYU despite not going to seminary.

  49. Random seminary memories:

    1. We lived five miles away from the Church, where seminary was held. For a few weeks, a friend and I got up early and ran the five miles instead of taking the carpool. That didn’t last long, but I have fond memories of running in the early morning darkness.

    2. Once I climbed into the maple tree in our front yard, and when my ride pulled up I dropped out of the tree. Scared the bejeezus out of the kids in the car.

    3. One year we had this album with these seminary songs that I actually kind of liked: “Like unto us, so the Savior said…”

    4. One year our seminary class took a trip to Nauvoo. We all slept in one big coed tent in Nauvoo State Park. I’m guessing that would never fly these days…

    5. One of our carpool drivers had a tape of a Jefferson Starship album. The music seemed so haunting as we drove in the dark.

  50. Released Time all four years.

    9th Grade (Jr. High): Great teacher who used to be on ski partol at a local resort. We could try to get him to tell us cool skiing stories about bottomless powder. During lunch we’d eat our lunch and play ping-pong in the Seminary building. I think we studied the BOM and the teacher had a systematic way to mark scripture mastery scriptures. I took the triple comb that I used on my mission several years later and still have it today.

    High School: Formative years and was make or break. Even though I was “wandering” off the strait and narrow a bit, I still went to Seminary and even graduated a full 4 years. One teacher had a great, dry sense of humor and he had a folk band when he was younger. Was a later girlfriend’s bishop later in life so I would see him alot. Another teacher was a Vietnam vet and a wonderful sensitive man who told us what it was like to go see the film “Platoon” after having expereinced all that in real life (traumatic). I really connected to him and even went to him for some advice and counsel….he lovingly encoraged me to visit with my bishop (which was tough because it was my dad). A lot of the kids were mean to one of the female Seminary teachers. Seminary was a fun place to hang out, but we were rebels as well.

    I went on to also graduate from Institute and lord that over my siblings and give them a hard time about not graduating from the ‘tute. :-)

  51. I remember my released time seminary (teachers? council?) sponsoring an event at which students were encouraged to bring all their bad music and burn it in a big bonfire. Cassettes, of course. (Would CDs even burn?) One of my friends wrote an impassioned editorial in the school newspaper about how it was censorship. Looking back, what I find surprising is how unsurprised I was. Now, if my kids came home and said they were going to do this for seminary, I would think it was loony. (Plus, my kids are too young for seminary.)

  52. I went to high school in Utah as a non member. I remember being kind of pissed that my LDS friends were getting out of school for an hour of released time. Half way through my senior year my friend talked me into signing up for seminary under the guise that we would just sneak out of class and go drink beer. I went into see the Seminary Teacher and told him I wanted to sign up. He said it was too late to in the year so I mentioned that I was a non member and wanted to know more about the church and lo and behold I was in. He tried very hard to make me feel included on the days that I went (probably couldn’t score beer on those days). He always asked me to be the guy to advance the slide projector when the audio went beep. All in all it was a good experience though I do remember getting stink eye becuased I giggled when some girl was crying while giving her testimony. I joined the church after I graduated that summer and went on a mission a year later. After my mission I hunted down the seminary teacher to show him what a good guy I turned out to be. He didn’t remember me.

  53. I remember at first thinking my Seminary teacher was a bit too “spiritual”. Then,as I talked with him one on one, visited him in his home, I saw it was the real deal. He was just a normal down to earth man dealing with the junk life hands to you, always trying to get help from heaven. His wife had cancer, they were poor and couldn’t have children. He was a propless, plain clothes, say it like it is sort of guy. A lot of students hated him becuase he refused to be a game show host or bribe us with goodies. I wish all teachers in the church were like him.

  54. Cipher in the Snow. We watched that for FHE when I was 9 and had just moved to a new school and had a hard time making new friends. That dang movie destroyed me. I still tear up every time I see a pussy willow.

  55. One year of early morning, three years of homestudy (yay for leaving the country and not knowing Portuguese [yet]). Seriously, guys, you’re missing out. Homestudy seminary is THE way to go–although we had a mini-class taught by my mom. Learned a ton the first year, coasted through the other three, but did it ’cause I was supposed to. Did not mind it that much, but felt like it was redundant in light of Sunday School.

  56. Jessie T. says:

    Since we moved every year during my high school days, I went to seminary in a lot of different places. They were all “early morning”, though. An in-home, and three church buildings. I remember hearing about kids attending seminary Utah in buildings that were just for seminary. I thought that was weird.

    Scripture Mastery champ, yes, and do I remember much of what I learned today? No. But I do remember heading out in the crisp mornings and being totally awake for my first period class, more than I can say for most of my school mates.

    What I remember the best was my sophomore year in North Carolina. We arrived at school an hour before school started every morning. We’d go to the library and play Spades with the black kids who were bussed in from the projects…the only other kids who were at school at 7 am. It must have looked comical–my sisters and I, sweet little white mormon girls, playing cards with the “big scary gangmembers” and having a grand old time. Most mornings we dominated the card tables. Mormons Represent!!

  57. 34: I’m certain your 12th grade teacher was wrong.

  58. I remember writing cuneiform symbols in some small pieces of clay with a triangle shaped “pencil” using a quick translation guide. I would get part way through a sentence and realize I messed up and couldn’t really erase anything without starting over. The next time I read a really long run-on sentence in the BOM I laughed and thought, “I know why he did that!”.

    that’s about it

  59. 46, SoCal: My parents bought a DVD that has a small collection of ‘old-time’ seminary videos. Cipher in the Snow is one of them.The movie makes waay more sense now that you explained it–my young stupid mind made the connection that he died because his parents got a divorce. Divorce is deadly! PEOPLE DIE!!

    The only thing I remember is finding out that the guy who plays in a video discussing how bad it is to have sex before marriage (the girl go together with a guy before getting engaged, and it magically came up during the temple interview. I think her fiance stayed with her but the entire take-away was “That guy is so admirable, he stayed with her!”, never mind the idea of truly loving the person you’re with.) is the same guy who was in the movie Dark Knight.

    The rest I have to really think about before the memories start to crop up.

  60. Anon due to potty humor says:

    I had a seminary teacher bear his testimony and say the only thing that ever made him doubt the gospel was the fact that humans defecate. He thought we should have been designed differently, if we really were created by God. Haha… I can’t argue with his logic.

  61. I got kicked out in either the 10th or 11th grade, but in the end ran the teacher off because I was impatient when he couldn’t deal well with my questions.

    Yeah, I was a jerk.


  62. Early morning seminary here in Las Vegas.
    9th grade was Old Testament and we had an elderly sister who put me to sleep faster than trying to read Numbers.
    I had joined the Church when I was 14 so I was really taken back when I saw other kids who had been born into active LDS homes being either mean to this teacher (sticking a potato in her car’s tail pipe so it wouldn’t start) or just totally ignoring her during class.
    10th & 11th grade. Don’t remember a thing.
    12th grade. We had a sister whose husband was the stake president. She was great although I likewise can’t remember a thing from her class. HOWEVER, I do remember her telling me she was so impressed with the fact I had stayed not only active in the church but served a FT mission given how the other kids treated me in class. Kids are kids are kids…
    Needless to say, didn’t graduate from seminary.

    Did attend and graduate from the Institute program. Enjoyed Institute far more, maybe because I had actually not only studied the scriptures but did everything else I was supposed to do as a missionary so that I was not only prepared but willing to engage in discussions without feeling stupid (as compared to my experience in Sunday School after being baptized and they asking how many books of Nephi are there in the Book of Mormon and I saying “5”….

    I taught a 1 1/2 of early morning seminary here in Vegas years later. Some of the kids were great, some couldn’t care less other than being able to tell their parents that they did attend my class. Had to give it up since I was taking night courses in biochem and working a FT job as a litigator, just too much on my plate.

    My oldest and my youngest (both daughters) both graduated from seminary, one is now a hardcore conservative and active in the church, the other somewhat liberal and not as active. My son who didn’t graduate from seminary didn’t serve a mission and is wholly inactive but that’s a tale for another time since it has nothing to do with seminary….

  63. I had release-time seminary for four years in high school in Utah. I had the same teacher for 10th-12 grade, who is now in the ancient scripture department at BYU, and at the time spent his summers in Israel (this was pre- BYU Jerusalem Center, IIRC), and spent lots of time in class showing us slides of the Holy Land, so much so that by the time I left high school I could probably have been a tour guide. I do remember him using the absolutely abhorrent Abraham-and-Isaac object lesson that a seminary teacher in Cache County used not long afterward (and flipped out and murdered his kids). It was creepy then, and perhaps creepier in retrospect.
    Also, the teacher had a peculiar penchant for asking the exact wrong students to do the “devotional” (scripture and prayer) on days that he wanted to be particularly spiritual–he always called on someone that would pick “Jesus wept” or the 1 or 2 Kings scripture about peeing on a wall, or the drama kid who got up to read his devotional scripture, opened his Bible dramatically, then quoted (verbatim, and with the correct accent), “From the book of Armaments; chapter 3, verse 33 . . .” And then he’d wonder out loud why such-and-such a student had to ruin the mood that he had wanted the class to have, because we were going to talk about [spiritual topic]. Sigh.

  64. I taught early morning (6:00 am.) seminary here in North Carolina for 3 and 1/2 years, and I’m sure I never got any blessings because, according to my calculations, my murmuring + early morning + crabby, sleepy adolescents = preview of hell. But, I had one wonderful moment: 3 male students were the first to arrive one morning. After an earnest, whispered debate, they asked me point blank about oral sex. I was thrilled to have their trust and to have a teaching moment. I told them that it is sex, falls under the law of chastity, and it is between the couple to determine if they feel it is appropriate. (I told a little joke to myself in my mind that on this issue the Church did not have an official “position”–hahahahahaha–I still laugh.) Thrilled by this teaching moment, I anticipated a very engaged class. They promptly feel asleep.

    When one of the three had a reception in his parents’ home before leaving for his mission, the four of us lined up for a picture. Under my breath but loud enough for the three to hear, to get them to smile, I said, “Okay, on three everyone say “oral sex”.”

  65. I attended a year of early morning seminary as a non-member my senior year. It worked out ok so my buddy and I could carpool together to school. There were typically three of us awake, a couple of girls chatting and putting on makeup, and several sleeping people. I want to say the teacher was Sister Chandler (John C., can you back me up on this? Is yours the Shoney’s one?)

    As you might imagine, I was horrible at the Scripture Chase.

  66. 4 years of released time seminary in utah county. during missionary week in 9th grade, my teacher handed out candy to everyone who dressed up. only catch was that girls only got the candy if they shaved their legs. he checked. ended seminary in 12th grade w/ a teacher who spent 2 solid months proving that evolution was wrong and evil through a combination of quotes from lorenzo snow and scriptural verses which somehow proved that both adam and the earth had bellybuttons (i still don’t entirely grasp the relevance of either of these facts). the highlight of the 4 years was when i was called to be on the birthday committee. however, as soon as the (evolution-hating) teacher discovered i was putting verses from the song of solomon on the birthday cards, i was kicked off the committee.

  67. I went to 4 years of early morning seminary in Maryland, which were pretty underwhelming. But since the topic of seminary videos has come up, I have to ask – does anyone remember one that featured a Nephite TV news anchor delivering stories from the BOM? I saw it around 2000. It was totally wild; I think it stuck with me because it was so out of the ordinary for Church materials. I’ve never come across anyone else who’s seen it.

  68. FHL,
    Yep. Sis Chandler. And Shoney’s.

  69. I went to four years of released time seminary (East side of Salt Lake City). The first day of my junior year in 1974, the seminary teacher introduced himself with a microphone. He explained that he had been assaulted outside of the seminary building before the school year began. His jaw had been broken and “wired” shut so that it could heal. Of course, the students asked questions like “do you know who assaulted you?” The answers were vague.

    Later that year some men from CES came to our class, excused the teacher, and said that they wanted us to fill out (anonymous) surveys about our teacher. Answering the questions on the survey took the entire class period. The survey was very detailed including questions like “does you teacher ever have bad breath?” Brother V. (our instructor) was not permitted in the room.

    A few years later I found out that Bro. V. had been making “inappropriate advances” with some of his female students. Some of their male friends were angry and roughed him up, breaking his jaw. He was removed as a seminary teacher and given a job in church media. It all makes sense now – comments one girl made during the year, and the cancelled trip to Europe that two seminary teachers (yes, one was Brother V.) instigated and planned. When we asked why, the answers were the usual vague “I don’t know.”

  70. Bro. Jones says:

    #66 – Truth stranger than fiction, indeed. One wonders if, nowadays, the same teacher would have demanded to check if any of the females were wearing “immodest” underwear.

  71. #67, I remember seeing a video like that in seminary. It was in 1992 or 1993. It had a newscaster, but was in Jerusalem around the time of Jeremiah and Lehi. I thought it was a bit corny, but I still remember it.

    I remember another video from the same time that really made the Book of Mormon feel real (even though it wasn’t a BOM year). The video showed a couple of Nephite warriors tracking Lamanites from the trees with bows and arrows. I don’t remember the point of the video, but thought at the time a BOM movie would be awesome. When somebody did finally make a movie it was much less awesome than that video.

    When I started seminary, we were still using the old slide projector movies, when I finished, the church had transitioned to some really spectacular videos. I liked seminary, I still feel bad about the way we treated our Sophomore teacher though, our behavior was, well sophomoric. All of my teachers were good though. Early Morning Seminary started at 6, and really helped me bond with my fellow LDS students through High School.

  72. To Jane and Joan Ashman, two of my peers in my released-time seminary class many years ago, I say thank you for giving the BEST devotional ever, how they fervently prayed when they got lost on their snowmobiles! And, naive idiot and geeky nerd that I was, I thought it was true! Yikes, seminary and CES needs some serious re-working. Love to all the Richfield Wildcats out there. Kevin Rex.

  73. Raymond Takashi Swenson says:

    My ninth grade seminary class was released time from junior high. The teacher was pretty intense and inflexible, and had served as my ward’s bishop, but sadly a few years later had apostatized for some unknown reason. But it was my first real intense study of the Book of Mormon, and the time that I read it, prayed, and gained my first testimony. I also ran across Hugh Nibley’s book Since Cumorah in the public library a block away, which gave me a sense that the Book of Mormon was not just a thin sheet of aluminum foil, but more like steel plate, with real depth and strength.

    My sophomore year I was on the Seminary Bowl team, competing for Granger High School against other schools in the area. I discovered I had absorbed a lot of gospel trivia over the years. I can’t remember anything about the classes. In spring semester of my junior year we had sort of an experimental Seminary class, in which a small group of us were allowed to pursue more advanced topics, actually doing research in the Journal of discourses on the School of the Prophets. It was pretty trivial, but my first experience doing anykind of real historical research. It was the prelude to writing my law review article based on original research in the Church Archives.

    I didnt have a senuior year of high school; I was in college and taking Institute. The two most memorable experiences were atrtending a lecture by hugh Nibley in which he read from his essay on the origins of the written word at the temple, and a small lunchtime meeting with Henry ?yring, the scientist.

  74. My most memorable seminary teacher challenged a student to a fight one day– after several other class periods talking about his experience in martial arts competitions that he claimed were illegal for some reason. This was in Southern California at what felt like 5:30 AM.

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