The seminary program started in 1912 with 1 teacher and 70 students. We learn in the Book of Mormon that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; … and by very small means the Lord … bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (Alma 37:6–7). Truly, great things have come from that small beginning in 1912. For example, tonight there are 300 times that original 70 people here in the Conference Center, and that is just a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people watching this broadcast throughout the world.
The most important “great things” that have resulted from that humble beginning 100 years ago aren’t the size of the program or the number of buildings and teachers, but most important are the great things that have happened in the lives of millions of students over the years as they have been willing to do some small things. Small things like attending class and studying the scriptures daily and then living the principles of the gospel in their daily lives. As they have done these small things, great things have been brought to pass in their lives. They have come closer to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and have been richly blessed in countless ways.
In the video we just watched, we saw that President Henry B. Eyring’s mother was in that very first seminary class 100 years ago. What a remarkable connection! If we could somehow see all of the connections over the span of years, we would have a greater appreciation for so many things “the hand of the Lord hath wrought” (Job 12:9). Another of those remarkable connections is between our speaker tonight, President Boyd K. Packer, and the seminary program. I would like to tell you a little about President Packer and then touch upon some of his connections with seminary.
President Boyd K. Packer was born September 10, 1924, in Brigham City, Utah. He served as a pilot in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, he married Donna Edith Smith in 1947. They are the parents of 10 children, grandparents of 60, and great-grandparents of 78.
As part of his educational preparation, President Packer received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University and a doctorate from Brigham Young University.
President Packer was sustained as a General Authority in 1961 at the age of 37 and ordained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in April 1970 at the age of 45. He was Acting President of that Quorum beginning June 1994 and was set apart as President of the Quorum of the Twelve on February 3, 2008.
I mentioned that President Packer has connections with seminary. He was a seminary student in Brigham City, the second seminary established in the Church.
While President Packer was serving in the military in the Pacific, the war ended, and he needed to decide what he would do with his life. On a small island in the Pacific, he made that decision—he decided to be a teacher. The specific type of teacher he became was a seminary teacher. He began teaching in 1949 in the same seminary he attended as a student and taught alongside Able S. Rich, who was one of the first seminary teachers in the Church—hired not long after the first seminary opened 100 years ago.
President Packer had extensive experience with Indian education and directed the development of the system of seminaries for Indian students. He also instituted Book of Mormon as a course in seminary.
After teaching for a few years, he served as supervisor of seminaries for the Church. After his call as a General Authority, he served for 34 years on the Church Board of Education and the Executive Committee of that board.
Each of us has been blessed because of his decision to become a teacher, which he made many years ago on a tiny island. His ability to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ plainly has blessed not only his students when he taught seminary but has been a blessing to all of us throughout the world who have heard him teach. We understand the gospel better because of him, and we are more committed to live it. He loved his students when he taught seminary years ago, and he loves all the youth of the Church today. We have the opportunity tonight to hear from one of the great teachers in this dispensation, President Boyd K. Packer.
May the Lord bless us as we open our ears and our hearts to his message. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
© 2012 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. English approval: 12/11. Translation approval: 12/11. Translation of Remarks and Introduction of President Boyd K. Packer. English. PD50038521 000