“Is there any chance that someone older or younger than Seminary or Institute of Religion age could have some of the same advantages for gospel study?” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 15
Joe J. Christensen, associate commissioner, Church Education System Similar questions are often asked, since the Seminary and Institute of Religion program is operating in sixty countries and territories for more than 300,000 students of high school and college age.
Naturally, many parents new to the Church have asked if they might receive the same opportunities for daily gospel study that their children have. Others have wondered if Seminary classes could involve younger students, since the temptations of drugs, immorality, etc. are occurring even earlier today. And many of our older Saints who have leisure available for the first time are anxious to add to their gospel knowledge by some concentrated study.
The First Presidency and other Brethren who guide us in the Church Educational System have carefully considered extending Seminary to younger children, and for a variety of reasons, have determined that for the time being, Seminary will continue to focus only on high school age youth—basically ages fourteen to eighteen.
Those who are older can attend Institute classes on a space-available basis, but many other opportunities are also available to aid continued study.
Recently I spoke with a good friend of mine in his sixties. He is thrilled with his study of the Institute of Religion individual study materials he has purchased from the Distribution Center.1 During the last few years, he has pored over the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and New Testament materials. The other day he mentioned, “I was inactive in the Church until a few years ago, and I’m trying to make up for how little I knew about the gospel. These course materials have really been a great help to me! My wife and I will be leaving for the mission field next June, and I’ll be a lot better prepared!”
Some other opportunities are available through “Know Your Religion” lectures, “Education Weeks” (or Days), BYU home study courses, adult degree programs and other continuing education courses.
Fundamental resources for gospel learning are our priesthood, Sunday School, Relief Society, and other classes. A diligent effort to prepare as a student for these classes will provide rich dividends. President Kimball has given some powerful counsel in his September 1976 Ensign article “How Rare a Possession—the Scriptures!” We should reread his counsel periodically. Gospel understanding and scriptural understanding should be a lifelong pursuit, motivating us to dedicated, concentrated effort. In this Church, we really believe in the concepts of continuing education.
For further information, contact your stake Church Educational System representative. He will have information about individual study course materials and other adult religious educational opportunities in your area.