“What is the Church’s coordinated scripture study plan, and why is it necessary?” Ensign, Aug. 1977, 41
Wayne B. Lynn, director of Church Instructional Development There is no intention to limit personal scripture study by any individual member to a coordinated Church plan. However, as we meet together in priesthood quorums and other meetings, a coordinated approach to our study of the scriptures is desirable. For example, if a member is being asked to read one of the standard works this year as a part Of his priesthood quorum assignment, another book of scripture for his Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class and yet another by his stake president or bishop, you can see his dilemma. If we add to this another book of scripture that his wife is being asked to read for Relief Society and another as an assignment from the Primary, the need for correlation becomes obvious.
Present courses of study are carefully coordinated to complement each other. In a given year, each of the organizations encourages reading and studying the same book of scriptures. The Gospel Doctrine class provides opportunity for both husband and wife to share in a cycle of systematic study of all the standard works, which requires eight years to complete. Melchizedek Priesthood lessons and Relief Society spiritual living lessons are likewise coordinated, using the same cycle. This might best be illustrated by the diagram shown below:
Sunday School Gospel Doctrine Class
(Systematic study of the scriptures as they unfold historically)
P of GP
B of M
B of M
Mod. Church Hist.
Mel. Pr. & R.S.—A systematic study of principles and doctrines using all of the standard works.
This sequence began with number 1 in the 1972–73 curriculum year (1973–74 for the southern hemisphere) and will end with number 8 in the 1979–80 year (1980–81 for the southern hemisphere). The sequence will then simply start again.
As we study the scriptures, it is natural to encounter doctrinal themes that we wish to explore in depth, using all available scriptures and other resources. Realizing that this desire could prevent us from completing a given part of the sequence, the Church has coordinated our scripture study to accommodate both of these needs. Thus, the Gospel Doctrine class has the primary role of studying the scriptures historically. In Sunday School we become familiar with places, characters, and events. Individuals in the scriptures become real persons to us. As we read their messages in historical context, our understanding may be increased. Doctrine is also discussed in Sunday School as it appears sequentially in the reading assignment. An in-depth treatment of doctrinal themes, however, is the primary objective of our personal study in priesthood quorums and in Relief Society. Thus, we gain both historical perspective and doctrinal understanding.
Without understanding the benefits of coordinated scripture study, a teacher may feel that a dimension is lacking in his instructional materials. Considering the unified approach, however, the coverage is very complete when lesson plans are followed.
Since the Instructional Development Section of the Church supervises the actual writing of all these courses of study, they are carefully coordinated, and unnecessary or undesirable duplication is carefully avoided. Other valuable resources like the Ensign supplement and add color and dimension to our study of these sacred records.
In the September 1976 issue of the Ensign President Kimball counseled us all “to honestly evaluate our performance in scripture study.” He further stated, “I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again.” Our prophet then gave a challenge to each of us: “So I ask all to begin now to study the scriptures in earnest, if you have not already done so. And perhaps the easiest and most effective way to do this is to participate in the study program of the Church.” (Pp. 4, 5.)