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Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Timeline: A Century of Seminary

September 2012
Timeline
1888
  • The Church General Board of Education is established.
  • Karl G. Maeser is appointed as first superintendent of Church schools.
1890
  • Religion classes begin. These classes are designed to supplement secular learning by adding a class in religion at the close of the regular school day.
1893
  • Religion classes are established in every ward of the Church (which continues until 1929).
1901
  • Joseph M. Tanner is appointed superintendent of Church schools.
1905
  • Annual conventions for teachers and administrators of Church schools are held in Salt Lake City in connection with the Deseret School Teachers’ Association meetings.
1906
  • Horace H. Cummings is appointed commissioner of Church schools.
1911
  • University of Utah professor Joseph F. Merrill conceptualizes seminary during a family home evening. As second counselor in the Granite Stake presidency, he proposes that a seminary program be established near Granite High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. His plan is approved by the stake presidency and the Church General Board of Education.
1912
  • Joseph F. Merrill’s proposal for seminary is approved by the district and state boards of education. Construction on a building begins, and the Granite Seminary opens in the fall with 70 students as the Church’s first daily released-time seminary program. Thomas J. Yates is hired as the first teacher and teaches afternoon classes.
1913
  • Guy C. Wilson takes over at Granite Seminary as the first full-time teacher.
1916
  • The Utah State Board of Education grants limited credit for classes in biblical history.
1919
  • David O. McKay is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
  • Stephen L Richards is appointed Assistant Commissioner of Church Education.
  • Richard R. Lyman is appointed Assistant Commissioner of Church Education.
  • Adam S. Bennion is appointed superintendent of Church schools.
1920
  • Seminary enrollment: 2,982.
  • The Church Board of Education announces the closure or transfer of most of the Church academies.
1921
  • John A. Widtsoe is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
1925
  • Seminary enrollment: 8,527.
1926
  • President Heber J. Grant sends J. Wyley Sessions to Moscow, Idaho, United States, to start “collegiate seminaries.” The first institute of religion classes are held near the campus of the University of Idaho, with 25 students. J. Wyley Sessions is the first institute director.
1927
  • Adam S. Bennion calls all seminary teachers to a five-week summer session at Brigham Young University’s Aspen Grove in Provo Canyon, Utah, United States.
  • Institute of religion classes are taught in a rented building in Moscow, Idaho, United States, with 57 students attending.
1928
  • Joseph F. Merrill is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
  • The first institute of religion building is completed in Moscow, Idaho, United States, and is dedicated. J. Wyley Sessions serves as the first director and teacher.
1934
  • John A. Widtsoe is appointed Commissioner of Church Education for the second time.
1936
  • Franklin L. West is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
1938
  • J. Reuben Clark Jr. gives “The Charted Course of the Church in Education” address at Aspen Grove as part of summer school for seminary and institute teachers.
  • There are 98 functioning seminary programs, all in the United States: 64 in Utah, 23 in Idaho, 5 in Arizona 4 in Wyoming, 1 in Colorado, and 1 in Nevada.
1946
  • There are 17 established institute of religion programs operating—7 located near junior colleges and 10 near universities.
1949
  • The American Indian seminary program begins at the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah, United States. J. Edwin Baird and Boyd K. Packer of the North Box Elder Stake are called to develop a program to meet the spiritual needs of the American Indian students.
  • Marion D. Hanks teaches early-morning seminary at West High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.
1950
  • Seminary enrollment: 28,677. Institute enrollment: 4,309. Total enrollment: 32,986.
  • Ray L. Jones is sent to Los Angeles, California, United States, to begin the early-morning seminary program in California. The first early-morning seminary classes are taught before school in Church meetinghouses near public schools. There are 6 classes with a total of 200 students.
1953
  • Ernest L. Wilkinson is appointed as Administrator of Religious Education when the Unified Church School System is established.
  • William E. Berrett is appointed Vice Administrator of Religious Education.
  • Early-morning seminary is expanded to states outside of Utah and California, United States.
1960
  • Ernest L. Wilkinson is appointed as Chancellor of Church Education.
1962
  • In response to requests for programs outside of the United States and Canada, early-morning seminary is introduced in Finland and Germany, where there are a total of 34 students.
1963
  • William E. Berrett visits Europe to investigate the possibility of establishing additional seminary and institute programs outside of North America.
1965
  • William E. Berrett is appointed Administrator of Religious Education.
  • Harvey L. Taylor is appointed Administrator of Church Schools.
1966
  • The Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) is organized on college and university campuses to coordinate LDS student activities and programs.
1967
  • Donald R. Bond is sent to the United States Midwest to pilot the home-study seminary program. The first home-study classes are held in scattered rural areas for secondary students in Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois, United States.
1968
  • The home-study seminary program is expanded to include five more locations in the United States and two more international locations.
  • John M. Madsen is sent to England and J. L. Jaussi is sent to Australia to launch home-study programs in those countries.
1970
  • Neal A. Maxwell is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
  • Joe J. Christensen is appointed Associate Commissioner of Church Education, serving Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.
  • Kenneth H. Beesley is appointed Associate Commissioner of Church Education.
  • The Church Board of Education announces that seminary and institute programs will follow the growth of Church membership throughout the world.
1975
  • Seminary enrollment: 183,670. Institute enrollment: 88,678. Total enrollment: 272,348.
  • The An Evening with a General Authority program begins. The meeting is originally held in September, but the meeting date is changed to the beginning of the year in 1988.
1976
  • Jeffrey R. Holland is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
1977
  • Henry B. Eyring is appointed Deputy Commissioner of Church Education.
  • Stanley A. Peterson is appointed Associate Commissioner of Religious Education.
  • The first annual CES Religious Educators’ Symposium is held in August at Brigham Young University. Teachers and administrators from throughout the Church Educational System attend. Beginning in 2000, the title is changed to the CES Religious Educators’ Conference.
1978
  • Lanner v. Wimmer,a lawsuit in Logan, Utah, United States, raises the issue of awarding academic credit for released-time seminary courses in biblical studies. The verdict of this case confirms the constitutionality of released-time programs and awarding credit for studies in biblical history. The Church, however, chooses to discontinue issuing credit in order to (1) teach restored doctrine as it relates to the Old and New Testament courses and (2) address “unconstitutional entanglement” issues associated with the ruling. (For additional information, see Lanner v. Wimmer,662 F. 2d 1349, 1358 [10th Cir. 1981].)
1979
  • Franklin D. Day is appointed Associate Commissioner of Church Education.
1980
  • Henry B. Eyring is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
  • Sequential scripture teaching is introduced, emphasizing the importance of using the scriptures more directly in teaching and applying the scriptures in the lives of students.
1985
  • Henry B. Eyring is called as First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
1986
  • J. Elliot Cameron is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
  • The title Associate Commissioner of Religious Education is changed to Associate Commissioner of Religious Education and Schools.
1988
  • The Professional Development Program (PDP) is introduced to help teachers understand the foundations of religious education.
1989
  • The position of Commissioner of Church Education is vacated temporarily when J. Elliot Cameron retires.
1990
  • Stanley A. Peterson’s title is changed to CES Administrator of Religious Education and Elementary and Secondary Schools.
1991
  • Clarence F. Schramm is appointed Executive Assistant to the Administrator.
1992
  • Elder Henry B. Eyring is appointed Commissioner of Church Education.
  • The administrator’s title is changed to CES Administrator of Religious Education and Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • The BYU Multistake Fireside is renamed CES Fireside for Young Adults, and worldwide satellite broadcasts of the firesides begin.
1996
  • The seminary course of study is standardized throughout the world. Prior to the 1996–97 school year, the seminary course of study for students in the Northern Hemisphere non-English-speaking areas was different from the course of study for students in the Northern Hemisphere English-speaking areas and all Southern Hemisphere areas.
1997
  • Bruce M. Lake is appointed Executive Assistant to the Administrator.
1999
  • A. Bryan Weston is appointed Executive Assistant to the Administrator.
2000
  • Seminary enrollment: 380,386. Institute enrollment: 342,491. Total enrollment: 722,877.
  • The CES Religious Educators’ Symposium is renamed the CES Religious Educators’ Conference.
2001
  • Paul V. Johnson is appointed Administrator of Religious Education and Elementary and Secondary Education when Stanley A. Peterson retires.
  • The new official CES Internet site (www.ldsces.org) is announced in September. (This website is no longer in use.)
2002
  • Garry K. Moore is appointed Executive Assistant to the Administrator.
2003
  • Garry K. Moore’s title is changed to Associate Administrator.
  • The CES Religious Educators’ Conference, held annually at Brigham Young University, is discontinued. It is replaced with the annual worldwide CES Satellite Training Broadcast (title later changed to Satellite Training Broadcast: Seminaries and Institutes of Religion), which is transmitted for the first time in August.
  • The Current Teaching Emphasis is introduced. It focuses on teaching the scriptures by the Spirit and helping students identify, understand, and apply doctrines and principles of the gospel. Students are encouraged to explain, share, and testify of these principles in order to deepen their understanding and conversion and better prepare them to teach the gospel to others.
  • Teachers are placed on year-round contracts.
2005
  • Elder W. Rolfe Kerr is appointed Commissioner of the Church Educational System.
  • Paul V. Johnson is called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
2007
  • Elder Paul V. Johnson is called to serve in an Area Presidency.
  • Garry K. Moore is appointed CES Administrator of Religious Education and Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • Randall L. Hall is appointed Associate Administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.
2008
  • Elder Paul V. Johnson is appointed Commissioner of the Church Educational System.
  • On March 10, the Church Board of Education announces an organization name change from the Church Educational System (CES) to Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (S&I). This change is made to eliminate the confusion previously caused when people used the term CES while referring only to S&I. The Church Educational System encompasses Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, Brigham Young University–Idaho, LDS Business College, and Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (which includes elementary and secondary schools in the Pacific and Mexico).
  • Chad H. Webb is appointed Administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion when Garry K. Moore retires.
2010
  • Seminary enrollment: 369,373. Institute enrollment: 348,111. Total enrollment: 717,484.
2011
  • All young single adults are encouraged to attend institute at stake-based or campus-based programs.
  • The CES Fireside for Young Adults is renamed CES Devotional for Young Adults.
2012
  • Seminary celebrates its 100-year anniversary. On January 22, 2012, President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addresses seminary students, teachers, parents, and leaders at a special broadcast titled “Commemorating 100 Years of Seminary.” A short video is also presented, narrated by President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency. The video reviews the growth of seminary over the last 100 years and provides a reenactment of the first seminary class held at Granite Seminary in 1912.