Church News and Events

New Sunday School President Urges Class Participation

Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 24 April 2014

Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, looks to the day when “every parent becomes the prime gospel teacher for his or her children.”

The quality of the Church’s worldwide Sunday School program will be largely determined by the quality of gospel learning happening in Latter-day Saint homes.

That’s the conviction of Brother Tad R. Callister, 68, who was sustained as Sunday School general president on April 5 during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference. He looks to the day when “every parent becomes the prime gospel teacher for his or her children.”

Brother John Sears Tanner and Brother Devin G. Durrant, who will serve as first and second counselors, respectively, will join Brother Callister in the new Sunday School presidency.

If Brother Callister’s name sounds familiar, there’s good reason. For six years he answered to “Elder Callister” while serving in the Seventy. He also served three years in the Presidency of the Seventy before being released as a General Authority on the same day he accepted his new calling.

He met with the Church News minutes after being sustained to his new calling. His counselors were not available; Brother Tanner is president of the Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission, while Brother Durrant presides over the Texas Dallas Mission. Both men will complete their mission assignments on July 1.

Brother Callister discussed a wide range of Sunday School topics, including the influence that the Come, Follow Me curriculum is having on the youth of the Church. He saluted the former Sunday School general presidency and their “remarkable” leadership in directing the relatively new program.

The positive results of Come, Follow Me are already being enjoyed across the Church, particularly among young men and young women who are preparing to serve missions.

“I don’t think there is any question that as our youth [pass] through Come, Follow Me classes they are going to go out and be much better teachers,” he said. “They are going to be teaching to the needs of the people.”

He marveled at the power that the Holy Ghost can have on young students when they catch the vision of Come, Follow Me by participating and taking ownership of their Sunday School classes. The resources offered by Come, Follow Me, he added, can be precious teaching tools in the home.

The new Sunday School president recognizes the divine role of teaching. “It would be hard to find anything in the Savior’s life that He ever did that was not a teaching moment.”

Teaching, he noted, plays a primary role in the ongoing, global efforts to hasten the work of the gospel.

“At the very foundation of hastening the work is increasing the caliber of teachers in the Church,” he said.

Adult Sunday School classes can enjoy the same spirit of learning found in the youth classes, he said. Students of any age can contribute.

“Sometimes we don’t like a meeting because we don’t contribute or we don’t add to the meeting. Members need to contribute [in class], not only for themselves, but for others.”

Brother Callister is excited to work with his new counselors. “I believe there will be perfect unity between us.”

Brother Tanner, he said, possesses a passion for learning in the home, the classroom, and the mission field. Meanwhile, Brother Durrant (who BYU fans will remember as a former star on the Cougar basketball team) is a skilled teacher and writer with the capacity to reach the “common man.”