During my first few weeks serving as the administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, I, like Elder Paul V. Johnson, received a phone call from the office of President Boyd K. Packer, inviting me to meet with him. When I went to his office, he did not waste very much time before asking me, “What do you know about the history of seminary and institute?” He took that opportunity to make sure that I knew our history and suggested I read some things that would deepen my understanding. Later in the conversation, I told him that I loved the statement I had heard him use by Isaac Newton, that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” I assured him that I loved and respected those who had gone before and that we would do all we could to honor our history by the decisions we made and by the way we worked to teach and bless our students. He seemed to be excited that I was familiar with that statement and pulled from his desk an English coin with that phrase printed on it. I have often remembered that experience. It taught me how important it is that we know our history.
The history of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion is one of faith, sacrifice, and devotion. It is a history of commitment to and love for our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. It is a history of love for the sacred word of God; of love for youth and young adults and of lives dedicated to teaching, lifting, preparing, and protecting them.
A study of this history offers enriching context for recognizing the spiritual and educational commitment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It provides a sense of community and a spirit of fellowship among teachers, administrators, students, and priesthood leaders, past and present, who are involved in the instruction and operation of this worldwide organization. Our desire in compiling this history is to share the spirit of this inspired program and make it accessible for all to feel its influence.
As we reflect on this history, I hope all who read it will feel a sense of being part of a grand endeavor with divine purpose. I express my sincere admiration to the thousands of teachers and students worldwide who are not named in these pages, but for the past century have participated in or taught seminary and institute classes. For those who continue to strive daily to bless the youth of the Church, may we find inspiration from this history and recognize that we truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
Chad H Webb
Administrator, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion