Chapter Four: Go Ye into All the World, 1970–1979

    “Chapter Four: Go Ye into All the World, 1970–1979,” By Study and Also by Faith—One Hundred Years of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (2015)

    “Chapter Four,” By Study and Also by Faith

    Chapter Four

    Go Ye into All the World


    Neal A. Maxwell

    Neal A. Maxwell was called as Church commissioner of education in 1970 and served until 1976.

    By 1970 the administrators of the Unified Church School System had overseen tremendous growth and an entire generation of change. Most of the seminary and institute teachers then serving had known only William E. Berrett as their leader. President Ernest L. Wilkinson had presided over Brigham Young University for two decades. President David O. McKay had established education as a top priority of the Church. The passing of President McKay on January 18, 1970, signaled the beginning of a new generation of leaders. This reorganization of the Church’s religious education entities was accompanied by a desire to establish both unity and a clear direction for all of Church education.1

    Commissioner Neal A. Maxwell

    In the spring of 1970, Neal A. Maxwell, then serving as the executive vice president of the University of Utah, received a telephone call from the new First Counselor in the First Presidency, President Harold B. Lee, asking if he had time to meet with him at Church headquarters. When Brother Maxwell arrived, he found President Joseph Fielding Smith and both of his counselors—Presidents Lee and N. Eldon Tanner—waiting for him. President Lee asked Brother Maxwell to serve as the new Church commissioner of education, overseeing the Church’s universities and colleges, its schools in the Pacific Islands and Mexico and the rest of Latin America, and all seminaries and institutes. The three men then filling these roles would eventually retire that year—Chancellor Ernest L. Wilkinson as president of BYU, Harvey L. Taylor as head of the remaining Church schools, and William E. Berrett as head of seminaries and institutes—leaving Brother Maxwell to direct the entire system in the reconstituted post of commissioner. He was to remain in Salt Lake City, “near the Brethren,” with an office near Church headquarters.2

    Maxwell, Neal A. Biography

    Robert T. Stout and Neal A. Maxwell, whose service as commissioner came during a crucial period of international expansion.

    Brother Maxwell had a rich background in education and Church service but was new to Church education. He held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Utah and had worked in the United States government from 1952 to 1956. During his time in Washington, D.C., he worked as a staff economic analyst in a government intelligence department and later as a member of Senator Wallace F. Bennett’s staff.3 He returned to Utah in 1956, where he was employed as a professor of political science at the University of Utah and, starting in 1967, as the executive vice president of the university. His distinguished work in higher education was complemented by dedicated Church service, including serving as a bishop, as a member of the Mutual Improvement Association board, and as a member of the Adult Correlation Committee.

    He was well liked and respected by both Mormons and non-Mormons at the university.4 When Brother Maxwell’s new position was announced, a farewell dinner was held in his honor. At the dinner James Fletcher, the university president, quipped, “I don’t really feel we’ve lost an executive vice president, but we’ve gained a church.” Brother Maxwell also told his colleagues that he was “a better Mormon because of my non-Mormon friends at the university. In a gentle way, they have reminded me of what I should be.”5

    As the new commissioner, Brother Maxwell was given no job description except that he was to evaluate and reorganize the entire system of Church schools and religious education as needed. His newness to Church education enabled him to bring a fresh perspective to the problems facing the system, and he also possessed a rich intellect and a natural gift for statesmanship. President Lee noted that the new commissioner was skilled at analyzing and having fresh ideas and “felt free to make suggestions.” President Lee wrote Brother Maxwell a letter saying, “Be assured of my full confidence and my prayers,” and told him his door would always be open.6

    Part of Commissioner Maxwell’s task was to bring together the various elements of Church education—K–12 schools, universities, seminaries, and institutes—which had all functioned fairly independently up to that point, and form a new organization, christened the Church Educational System, “with its own sense of identity, visibility, and brotherhood.”7 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland later commented on Commissioner Maxwell’s work: “Neal created this new world and new logo, new offices, and new appointments. He legitimized [CES] in a new way, and it’s been that way ever since.”8

    The first top administrator Commissioner Maxwell met with was William E. Berrett. Brother Maxwell later recalled, “We went to lunch at the Hotel Utah—and I told him how much I loved and respected him but I felt it was time for a change. … And his first response was, ‘That’s your prerogative; how can I help you?’” It was Brother Berrett who suggested that Commissioner Maxwell consider Joe J. Christensen for the position of associate commissioner of seminaries and institutes.9 Brother Christensen was later called as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.

    Joe J. Christensen as Associate Commissioner of Education

    Joe J. Christensen was asked to serve under Commissioner Neal A. Maxwell as the associate commissioner of education in charge of religious education.

    A New Administrative Team

    Joe J. Christensen was a Church education veteran, having taught at the Granite, Utah, seminary and directed the Moscow, Idaho, institute, the two founding institutions of seminaries and institutes. Brother Christensen had also served as the Salt Lake Valley division coordinator and as the director of the Salt Lake Institute of Religion. In 1970 he was called to serve as a mission president in Mexico City. He had been in Mexico only a few months when he received a call from President Harold B. Lee requesting that he return to Salt Lake City to serve as a Church Educational System administrator. Elder Christensen later said, “All of this was … such a shock to me.” He was invited to call the recently appointed commissioner and talk with him about this new assignment. “That first conversation,” he remembered, “was very warm and encouraging,” and Brother Maxwell insisted that Brother Christensen fly to Salt Lake City and speak with him personally.10 When they met, Brother Christensen found the commissioner to be sensitive and genuinely open. When talking with those he led, Commissioner Maxwell always gave the impression of having “all the time in the world.”11

    After talking with Commissioner Maxwell in Salt Lake City, Brother Christensen traveled to Provo and met with Brother Berrett, whose place he was taking. As Brother Christensen entered the office, Brother Berrett rose and greeted him warmly and then, over Brother Christensen’s objections, insisted that he sit in his chair, the chair of the administrator of seminaries and institutes. Brother Christensen recognized his former leader’s act as a truly magnanimous gesture.12

    Franklin D. Day, only two years into his assistant administrator duties, told Commissioner Maxwell that he need not feel obligated to retain him, as Brother Day would be happy to serve out the remainder of his career as an institute teacher. However, Associate Commissioner Christensen called Brother Day and asked him to stay on.13

    Alma P. Burton, the other assistant administrator, was ready to retire and was permitted to do so. He was replaced by Dan J. Workman, the Utah North division coordinator and the director of the Logan, Utah, institute.14

    Joe J. Christensen, Frank Day, and Dan Workman were only the beginning of the remarkable team Commissioner Maxwell assembled. Within the first few years of Commissioner Maxwell’s leadership, Dallin H. Oaks was chosen as the new president of BYU, Henry B. Eyring was appointed as the president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, and Jeffrey R. Holland was selected as the dean of BYU’s religion department.

    In late 1971 another valuable team member was added when Frank M. Bradshaw accepted the assignment to serve as an assistant administrator. Brother Bradshaw began his career in 1955 as a teacher at Olympus seminary in Holladay, Utah, and was asked to serve as principal just two years later. He remained at Olympus until 1960, when his next assignment took him to San Luis Obispo, California, to serve as a seminary and institute supervisor. After a year he was asked to move again to assist with the work in Los Angeles, California, serving under Paul H. Dunn, the division coordinator for Southern California. He taught classes at the University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology, Mt. San Antonio Junior College, and other schools, following a rigorous schedule traveling back and forth to Pasadena, San Bernardino, and Alta Loma, California.15 At Mt. San Antonio he taught his class in several different garages owned by local Church members and later recalled, “I got a letter from one of the non-member students that did join the Church, and she said she just loved that dear little garage because that was where she got her testimony.”16 During this busy time Brother Bradshaw finished his PhD while also serving as a bishop. When Brother Dunn was called to serve as a General Authority in 1964, Brother Bradshaw took over as division coordinator, supervising an area from Fresno, California, to the Mexican border. During his service in Southern California the seminary and institute programs grew from 9 full-time personnel to 42.17

    In 1968 Brother Bradshaw left California to serve as an administrative assistant under William E. Berrett. In that capacity he worked with Elder Paul H. Dunn of the Seventy in developing the student organization Lambda Delta Sigma and presided over the convention in which Lambda Delta Sigma was organized to become a sorority for female students.18 Frank Bradshaw remained in that position until he received the assignment in 1971 to serve as an assistant administrator under Joe J. Christensen, then associate commissioner.

    CES Zone Administrators ca.1980

    To manage the worldwide expansion of seminaries and institutes, additional administrators were called and designated as zone administrators. Back row left to right: Frank M. Bradshaw, Franklin D. Day, Dan J. Workman; front row: Bruce M. Lake, Alton L. Wade

    Administrative Challenges and Developments

    Brother Christensen and the other administrators soon developed a good working relationship, although they worked in different locations: Brother Bradshaw and Brother Christensen’s offices were in Salt Lake City (Brother Christensen’s at the Salt Lake Institute of Religion on the University of Utah campus), and Brothers Workman and Day still worked out of offices in Provo, traveling to Salt Lake City once a month to meet with the rest of the administration.19

    From time to time, Commissioner Maxwell, Brother Christensen, and the assistants met together in what Brother Christensen called “‘little black cloud’ sessions.” Commissioner Maxwell opened these meetings by saying, “All right, what do you see in your program out there on the horizon? Is there any black cloud? What will be the challenges that we’ll be facing ten years, twenty, thirty years from now? … Can the Church, or the economy, or the system handle that?” Early in his administration Commissioner Maxwell grew concerned about the program’s future costs. His staff learned that they “needed to be fiscally accountable and responsible and anticipatory.”20 The general feeling was that they wanted to do what they had been assigned to do for an increasing number of students for less cost.

    Commissioner Maxwell traveled extensively to the new areas where seminary was taking root and promised people that materials and teachers would be ready when they were ready. Some of the commissioner’s promises frightened Brother Workman.21 Perhaps he felt the weight of the commissioner’s promises more than the others did because he was responsible for curriculum.

    In 1974 Frank Bradshaw accepted a call to serve as a mission president in San Diego, California. Brother Christensen asked Bruce M. Lake to take Brother Bradshaw’s place. Brother Lake worked in the dean of students’ office at the University of Utah; his Church educational experience included seminary and institute teaching, service as a coordinator, work with the LDSSA, and time as director of the Brigham Young University California Continuing Education Center in Los Angeles, California.22 Brother Lake brought to his new position a wide range of skills and experiences, which gave him the perspective he needed in his global assignment. One of the administrators who served with Brother Lake later said, “Bruce had the gift of speaking to the heart of the issues or subject with remarkable insight from experience and scripture. [He had] the ability to counsel and discipline, when needed, with great empathy and personal insight.”23 “Brother Lake loved his students, he loved the classroom, he loved his CES colleagues and the great feeling of brother and sisterhood everywhere around the globe. … He loved his administrative duties and he loved the Lord.”24 Looking back on his experiences in CES and the many classes he taught around the world, Brother Lake said, “All that really matters [in teaching] is that you have the teacher, the student, the scriptures and the Spirit.”25

    Brother Christensen witnessed the expansion of Church education into countries across the globe. He later referred to this period of growth as a “Camelot” era, explaining, “It was a time when the presiding brethren were giving unusual support to internationalized religious education and the Church Educational System in general.”26 Brother Christensen’s time working in CES was marked by “an increasing degree of confidence expressed on the part of the Brethren with regard to the place and role of the Church Educational System in helping the ecclesiastical leaders of the Church accomplish their objectives.” He continued, “I really don’t believe that we could have been led by a more insightful or effective group of people than we have had the privilege of serving with as leaders on the Board of Education of the Church.”27

    A Four-Year Seminary Curriculum

    In March of 1972 the Church Board of Education determined that seminary graduation would be based on completion of four rather than three years of seminary. A letter signed by the First Presidency sent out that month stated that it was anticipated that more students would participate in the fourth year of study and that transition from seminary to institute would be facilitated. In the past, students who had completed three years of seminary received certificates of graduation and those who completed a fourth year received a special achievement certificate. Beginning in 1973 only four-year students would receive the certificate of graduation and seniors who would not be completing four years of seminary would receive the certificate of achievement.28 The First Presidency wrote, “It is our desire that more young people be involved in the seminary program, and thus receive additional training in gospel study to help them prepare for future assignments in church leadership, missionary service, and for temple marriage.”29

    The Book of Mormon had been taught in early-morning, noncredit courses as far back as the 1940s. In 1961 the Book of Mormon had been approved as a ninth-grade course of study in certain areas. Finally, in 1972 Brother Christensen, in conjunction with the four-year requirement for seminary graduation, brought a proposal before the Church Board of Education to make the Book of Mormon a required part of the seminary curriculum. The recommendation met with overwhelming approval. President Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, later told Brother Christensen, “I have wondered why we hadn’t done this years ago.” Looking back, Brother Christensen reflected, “From that time on, every seminary graduate has had the privilege of completing a course of study in this most important, life-changing volume of scripture—the Book of Mormon.”30

    An Evening with a General Authority

    Under Joe J. Christensen’s direction, “an evening with a General Authority” began in 1975 when President Spencer W. Kimball delivered his address “Men of Example,” which is still available online. First held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square during the fall, these meetings became an annual event drawing hundreds, then thousands, of teachers and their spouses, who gathered in Salt Lake City, listened to instructions from one of the men they sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, and then socialized together. Later the meeting was moved to February and held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. As technology developed, teachers around the world joined in at their local stake centers, first by listening through closed-circuit audio feeds and later by watching satellite transmissions. These talks were printed and distributed and helped shape the course of seminaries and institutes.

    Kimball, Spencer W. 197?

    President Spencer W. Kimball delivered the first address at An Evening with a General Authority in 1975.

    One regular theme in these evenings with a General Authority was a reiteration of the importance of President J. Reuben Clark Jr. of the First Presidency’s 1938 address “The Charted Course of the Church in Education.” The influence of this address grew over time, in large measure because of President Boyd K. Packer, who, while serving as an assistant administrator in CES in the late 1950s, began frequently referring to it. After his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Packer continued to emphasize the talk in his writings, even including it in its entirety as an appendix in his book Teach Ye Diligently. President Packer said of the speech, “It is revelation; it is as much revelation as that which you find if you open the standard works.”31 Speaking to a group of religious educators in 1974, he declared, “President Clark was a prophet, seer, and revelator. There is not the slightest question but that exceptional inspiration attended the preparation of his message. There is a clarity and power in his words, unusual even for him. I know you have read it before, some of you many times, but I assign you to read it again. Read it carefully and ponder it. For by applying the definition the Lord Himself gave, this instruction may comfortably be referred to as scripture.”32

    Teacher Training

    As assistant commissioner, Joe J. Christensen and those who worked with him wanted to develop greater unity within the seminaries and institutes, strengthen the teaching base, and make sure that teachers who were unable to interest students and make a difference in their lives found other areas of employment. As did others before them, they desired to develop the means of identifying who could be successful in seminary and institute work.

    Not long into his administration, Brother Christensen met with those responsible for hiring new teachers and suggested that they explore the possibility of hiring what he termed “outstanding prospective teachers” (OPTs) before they graduated from college to instruct one or two released-time seminary classes for a school year on a part-time salary before potentially being offered full-time positions after their graduation. This, he believed, would give student teachers more time to sharpen their skills, provide a better chance for them to be evaluated as teachers and employees, and help them decide whether they really wanted a career in Church education.33 This program, under the direction of Boyd D. Beagley, “came into fruition” and was “of great value to the Department.”34

    Joe J. Christensen Speaks

    Joe J. Christensen speaking at a training meeting

    In response to new laws passed in the United States preventing discrimination of potential employees on the basis of sex, education leaders began to consider how to employ more qualified female teachers while maintaining the Church’s position at that time that “mothers should remain at home if at all possible.” After the passing of the new laws, the Church Executive and Board Committees sent out a letter admonishing CES leaders and teachers to obey, honor, and sustain the new law. The letter read in part, “It is our counsel and direction that in the employment, promotion and compensation of women—as in all other matters—you give careful observance to the requirements of the law.”35 A small number of female teachers had always been part of the seminary and institute system,36 but this counsel opened the door for a greater number of female employees.

    CES leaders also looked for ways to improve the teaching skills of those already employed. Teachers were urged to keep a “growing edge,” and studies were made and evidence presented to the Church Board of Education showing that salaries should be increased. Brother Christensen felt that more emphasis should be given to teaching the scriptures in their historical context. He wanted those who graduated from seminary to have sufficient background so they could comfortably use the scriptures as they taught the gospel.37 He declared:

    I would not want my children to be taught by a teacher who, in a very stilted, factual, and perhaps boring way, would spend all his time teaching just the subject matter, nor would I want a teacher who somehow felt it his obligation to leave the scriptures on the shelf and spend almost all the time teaching in the area of personal experience, application, testimony and mere feelings. Somewhere between these two extremes we find there are great teachers who have the ability to teach the scriptures effectively and to do it in a way that a young person leaves with an increased testimony, [as well as] a very positive feeling toward the scriptures and the Church.38

    He expressed concern that “we may be graduating many young people from Seminaries who have had a pleasurable experience, a foray into feelings, but have not experienced the blessing of having sufficient scriptural contact to be able to give reason for the hope or faith that is within them.”39

    New seminary teachers and their spouses were brought together in two-day conventions for instruction by CES leaders. They reviewed policies on the salary schedule, sabbatical leaves, what to do the first day and the first week, and how teachers related to local Church boards of education, which were composed of local stake presidents. Instruction was also given regarding finance and budgets, reports, faculty meetings, classroom devotionals, and how to best work with and relate to supervisors. While there was ample room for creativity and individual teacher differences, new teachers also learned that following course outlines would protect them from teaching false doctrine. If what they taught had its foundation in scripture or could be found in Correlation-approved teacher or student manuals, they were above criticism with respect to course content.

    Personnel Matters

    Not many months into Brother Joe J. Christensen’s administration, he became aware of a variety of pressures teachers experienced, which included home and family and the high expectations of students, the community, and ecclesiastical leaders. Many teachers felt that “they were being judged, in a sense, from many persons.” Some instructors were afraid to express these challenges to their leaders, fearing the effect it might have on how they were seen by those who chose new principals and institute teachers and coordinators. To help alleviate this situation, the position of personnel specialist was created in 1971.40

    Wendell Johnson, who began his CES career in the Uintah Basin, accepted the invitation to serve in this position. He was given full autonomy to work with teachers and their families and was under no obligation to disclose what he learned or the steps he was taking to make things better. The personnel he labored with soon learned they could trust him completely. Over the years, he spent time with principals, coordinators, and central office personnel, “assisting them to be of greater help with the teachers’ problems” in order to prevent them from unknowingly adding to or being the primary cause for a teacher’s stress.41 Brother Johnson also met with a number of teachers preparing for retirement who, to use his own words, “were just hanging on.”42

    As the number of teachers increased and as Brother Johnson himself neared the age of retirement, Brother Christensen asked George Jackson “Jack” Kidd, division coordinator of the Utah North Area and director of the Logan, Utah, institute, to work with Brother Johnson and eventually take his place. Brother Kidd and Brother Johnson worked together for two years before Brother Johnson’s retirement in 1981.43

    Brother Kidd and those who succeeded him helped good people cope with, manage, and overcome personal and family challenges that seemed to cover almost the gamut of human experience.44

    A major theme throughout Brother Kidd’s sojourn in the central office was servant-leadership, as he stressed that everyone should be treated with respect. As a counselor Brother Kidd realized he was powerless to heal anyone, but he became convinced that listening with love, encouraging prayer, and seeking the Spirit of the Lord, as well as teaching the purpose of life and the “gospel pattern,” engendered hope and in most cases assisted those he worked with so they could pursue their righteous desires.45

    In his role as personnel specialist, Brother Kidd traveled to Europe, where he conducted training workshops and “slept on floors of teachers’ homes,” becoming friends with teachers and their families. He also visited Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, the South Pacific, the Philippines, and Canada.46 Brother Kidd and others in the personnel office believed that competition, lack of communication, and discrimination between men’s and women’s privileges were at the root of many problems. One of the overriding management themes in Brother Kidd’s mind was that employees should never be released before they were trained and given the opportunity to succeed.47

    The Church Educational System Symposium

    One of the signature developments during this time was the annual Church Educational System symposium. Beginning in 1977, teachers and their spouses were invited to attend what became an annual three-day religious educators’ symposium held at Brigham Young University. CES employees responded to the opportunity to listen to General Authorities, CES administrators, and their CES educator peers, who presented papers or taught lessons on topics relevant to CES teaching. One administrator later recalled, “The symposium was a wonderful experience. … [It brought] our people together in an excellent teacher training experience. The teachers that are out in the hinterland and have no other teachers around them, maybe one or two teachers in a huge area—it gave them a feeling of being a part of something much bigger than just what they had in their assigned area.”48

    In August 1978 the second of these symposia focused on the Book of Mormon. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered the keynote address, titled “The Book of Mormon: Its Eternal Destiny.” The next day Elder McConkie gave a talk titled “All Are Alike unto God” and gave a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding President Kimball’s receiving the revelation that had been announced two months earlier allowing all worthy male members of the Church to receive the priesthood.49 His presentation was among the very first to provide Church members with a behind-the-scenes, eyewitness account of this pivotal event in the Church’s history. In his closing remarks, Assistant Commissioner Joe J. Christensen said that in holding these symposia it was hoped that more and better scholarship would be stimulated, new and improved teaching methodology would be demonstrated, and opportunities for fellowship would be enhanced. He also warned his listeners that current events should “become kind of a seasoning rather than the major substance” of classes. The major task of teachers was to teach the scriptures while at the same time making them “relevant to [young people’s] lives and to the time in which they live.”50

    Lands of the Scriptures Workshop

    One of the most life-changing experiences offered to CES teachers was the lands of the scriptures workshop. Before the formal inauguration of the workshops, several teachers and their spouses, including Joe J. and Barbara Christensen, toured the Middle East and the Holy Land in lieu of taking a typical sabbatical leave.51 The workshop officially began in 1974, when several members of the CES curriculum team received the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. Stewart E. Glazier, one of the curriculum writers, remembered the conditions leading up to the trip: “We were preparing to write Old and New Testament [curriculum]. They decided that if we were going to write it that we needed to know something about it. So they sent twelve of us to Israel, and we took two little Volkswagen buses. None of us knew Hebrew, and we traveled around the land trying to become acquainted.”52 Those on the tour realized how powerful their experience in the Holy Land was in bringing the scriptures to life for them.

    This trip led to a proposal brought before the Church Board of Education to allow each religion teacher in the system to travel to the Holy Land once. Brother Christensen later remembered, “I brought the presentation before the Brethren, and to my surprise they approved it!” The board felt so strongly that they made it a set part of the CES budget not subject for approval every year.53

    In the following years hundreds of CES teachers made the journey to the Holy Land with their spouses. The experience was a workshop, with participants attending classes for almost an entire year before their trip. The itinerary changed from year to year and included various stops in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and extensive travel in the Holy Land.54

    Many of the teachers from the first excursion became tour guides on later trips. Brother Glazier commented, “We used scriptures on site. It’s one thing to read your scriptures without having the backdrop, but when you’ve been there and … you see the relationship between this place and that place, or where this person was; then you begin to read the scriptures differently.”55

    Church Elementary and Secondary Schools

    The 1970s were a time of rapid change for the elementary and secondary schools operated by the Church. A small collection of Latter-day Saint schools had long existed in the South Pacific islands and Latin America; some in American and Western Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, and Hawaii had been around for more than a century. Prior to the 1950s, the schools in the South Pacific were largely operated by missionaries and used primarily as proselyting tools. During President David O. McKay’s administration, a major program was undertaken to build new facilities throughout the South Pacific and raise the schools to a more professional level.56 Inspired by the example set in the South Pacific, CES administrators established school systems in Mexico beginning in 1960 and in Chile in 1964.57

    When Commissioner Neal A. Maxwell took over in 1970, he appointed Kenneth H. Beesley as the associate commissioner over all Church schools except Brigham Young University. In 1972 two assistant administrators were appointed to help oversee Church schools around the world: Benjamin I. Martinez oversaw Church schools in Latin America, and Alton L. Wade oversaw those in the South Pacific.58 Under Kenneth Beesley the worldwide K–12 schools reached their zenith, with 75 different schools operating around the world by the mid-1970s.59

    Commissioner Maxwell felt strongly about examining each of the Church schools in the context of its own environment and adapting to fit local needs. He later remarked, “I recall coming back after … looking at our schools in the Pacific. They were good schools, but they had not been looked at or evaluated for quite a while. Here, in some cases, would sit the superintendent’s beautiful luxurious home on top of a hill near the school. Good superintendents, good families. But was that the signal we wanted of the American on top of the hill? Shouldn’t we begin to bring in system administrators out of those various cultures?”60 Other programs moved to make the curriculum taught in the schools a better fit for the local culture. Commissioner Maxwell continued, “The curriculum had not been examined. … In one of those schools, we were giving a class in agriculture and it was the wrong agriculture for that island.”61

    Commissioner Maxwell also felt strongly about using local leadership in the Church schools rather than continuing to rely on American teachers and administrators. The change required a leap of faith but ultimately yielded positive results. Looking back on the change years later, Elder Maxwell commented, “I kept wondering, ‘How do we take an American thing and put it into this or that culture?’ The Lord had already handled that. He had men and women out there who could help us do that. I should have known that from what we read in Alma, that he has enough in every nation to preach and teach his word. I didn’t need to worry about how to go across cultures. People were in place.”62

    One American teacher at the Church College of Western Samoa remembered the announcement of the changes: “Elder Packer and Elder Maxwell came through the islands and they made a statement … that indigenous personnel would be taking over from those who had come from the states. It’s to be like a tidal wave sweeping the islands. We were to have indigenous personnel begin to be trained to take over. … So we gathered six brethren, two to replace each of the ones of us that were religion teachers, and just to see if we could train them to take over the religion department. They did extremely well.”63

    Institutes in the Midst of Turmoil

    The 1970s in the United States bore residual effects from the social controversies of the 1960s. The Church policy of excluding members of African descent from holding the priesthood frequently led to protests and even occasional boycotts of BYU athletic teams. Administrators began to worry that protests directed at BYU might lead to attacks on institute buildings. Some of the institutes, particularly those at San Jose State University, Stanford, and the University of Washington found themselves near severe civil rights protests.64

    Institute students during this era were often criticized by their classmates over Church policies, but for the most part violence was averted. In 1970 a minor incident occurred at the institute adjacent to the University of Washington in Seattle. A group of members of the Black Panther Party, a militant black revolutionary organization, made threats against the institute. The institute director was informed of plans to vandalize the building and called President Harold B. Lee, then a counselor in the First Presidency, for instructions. President Lee advised the institute teachers to evacuate the students and avoid violent confrontation. The institute director led the students out the back of the building while another teacher locked the front doors. When the armed group arrived at the institute, however, their leader ordered them back to their cars, “since they were looking for ‘the Mormon Church,’ not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the sign on the front of the building read.”65

    As is common with most generations, many older people during this era became disillusioned with the nation’s young people. Jack Yount, a non-LDS contractor in Los Angeles, was among these. Yount was well-known throughout Southern California and responsible for several high-profile building projects, such as the Harbor Freeway near San Pedro, the Lopez Dam in the San Fernando Valley, and Dodger Stadium. His wife, Blonda, was a member of the Church, and through her and his business he came into contact with Frank W. Hirschi, the CES division coordinator for Southern California.66

    While showing them land for a future institute building, Yount began a series of conversations with Brother Hirschi and Brother Frank M. Bradshaw, in which he expressed his deep disappointment in the behavior of the youth in his day. The two CES leaders challenged Yount’s assumptions about young people and pointed out the active participation of high school and college students in the seminary and institute programs as an example. They took him to one of the local institutes, where Yount was immediately impressed but skeptical; he wondered if he had been set up to see what he wanted to see. So Brothers Hirschi and Bradshaw took him to several more institutes. Yount was delighted to find a group of clean-cut, wholesome youth and was so impressed that he spoke with his wife about changing his will and set up a substantial trust fund specifically for seminaries and institutes. Half of the endowment was set up to assist institute students, and the other half would provide loans to needy Latter-day Saint students. Yount never joined the Church, citing an aversion to organized religion, and he passed away in 1980. When Blonda passed away in 2004, their gift became active and blessed the lives of thousands of seminary and institute students over the following years.67

    American Indian Seminaries

    Three years after being sustained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1943, Spencer W. Kimball was appointed chairman of the Church Indian Committee. During his administration in that position in the 1950s, the American Indian seminary program spread throughout the United States. It grew to serve more than ten thousand students, ranging in age from kindergarten to high school. Some classes met daily, but most only met once a week.68 New Mexico had classes in Shiprock, Sucorro, Los Alamos, Roswell, and other cities; a small group met in Rico, Colorado; and in Arizona classes met in Window Rock, Eagar, Flagstaff, Holbrook, and Snowflake. Classes were also reported in the Arizona towns of Chinle, Crown Point, Fort Apache, Greasewood, Kayenta, Winslow, Tuba City, and St. Johns. Four district coordinators directed these programs under division coordinator Kenneth W. Godfrey.69

    A 1973–74 report from the seminaries in the Northern Arizona District noted that of their American Indian high school students, there were 1,636 daily seminary students and 1,464 weekly seminary students. These students were instructed by 25 full-time teachers, 65 part-time weekly teachers, 7 part-time early-morning teachers, and 8 part-time home-study teachers. Two successful S-Days, gospel-study themed activity days for seminary students, were held—one in St. Johns, Arizona, and one in Flagstaff, Arizona.70 As one teacher recalled, “There was a great spirit at that time. President [Spencer W.] Kimball, of course, was a real champion for the program and we had a lot of support financially. There was a real push to rescue the Lamanites. The coordinators were in strategic points all over the Reservations. They lived with their young families in trailer homes under some pretty severe conditions at times to help line up the teaching of these classes. There were virtually thousands of Indian youngsters enrolled. … We all had a great love for those Indian people.”71

    A report from the Alaska District in 1972 said they were more encouraged than ever as 235 American Indian children were enrolled in 30 classes throughout Alaska—mostly in the southeast part of the state. “Stronger missionary activity and local volunteer teacher participation accounted for most of the increase.”72 The Vancouver District History for the 1972–73 school year reported 873 American Indian students spanning ages five to eighteen.73 It was hoped that through this effort the promises given to the Lamanites would come to fruition.74

    Missionaries and missionary couples in South Dakota taught seminary classes on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Every week about 170 Sioux children attended the classes, 80 percent of whom were not Latter-day Saints. To create interest in the program, the missionaries put on a play titled “A Better Way,” found in the Church history course of study for American Indian high schools, and involving 20 young people. In the audience was the superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the area. The production became a great blessing to many of the students, who developed stronger testimonies by taking into their minds the words of the songs from the play.75

    While American Indians continued to receive special focus from the leaders of the Church, during the 1970s President Spencer W. Kimball expanded the vision of where the children of Lehi lived and how the Church could help them achieve their potential. In an address to a group of young American Indians, President Kimball declared, “Who are the Lamanites? The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people. … There are no blessings, of all the imaginable ones, to which you are not entitled … when you are righteous.”76 Just as President Kimball’s words marked the beginning of a more inclusive view of different cultures around the world, this period marked a shift in the global perspective of seminaries and institutes.

    Going Global

    Some of the greatest Church stories of the early 1970s came through the remarkable spreading of the seminary program across the globe. In November 1970, only months after Brothers Maxwell and Christensen were called to their new assignments, the Church Board of Education made the decision that seminaries and institutes would follow the Church as it became established in countries throughout the world. A report issued by the commissioner’s office in 1971 included a challenging goal that, “ultimately, all high school and college-age Latter-day Saints should have access to weekday religious education.”77 There would be no additional Church colleges or junior colleges in the United States, and only where the Church’s young people had no opportunity for education in their own countries would consideration be given to establishing elementary and secondary schools.78

    Commissioner Maxwell visiting CES Teachers in Japan.

    Commissioner Neal A. Maxwell and his wife, Colleen, visiting newly called CES teachers in Japan

    Translating and Transculturizing Curriculum

    For the administration in Salt Lake City, the largest concern with globalization was translating materials. Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Seventy later noted that the initiative to launch the seminary and institute programs internationally was “an easier thing to say than to do, because we literally had people that were, in effect, … establishing the seminary and institute program without the curricular [materials]. We were frantically working on translation and reproduction in almost any way: mimeographs, ditto machines, etc. We did all we could to get the materials into the hands of these CES brethren. … They were getting it almost on a month-to-month basis, if not week-to-week, to pass out to their students.”79

    Translation required individuals with not just time and expertise but also spiritual and doctrinal maturity. Dan Workman described the difficulty, saying, “The major challenge was … finding the appropriate translators. The translation department wasn’t geared to take care of our material. … The priesthood leaders really wanted to have seminary. When they came to conference, they would hear all these reports about home study seminary and what it was doing for the youth.”80 After some study it was decided to begin with Spanish, Portuguese, and German, followed by Japanese, Korean, and other languages.81

    In Europe, CES coordinator James R. Christianson was more concerned about the trans-culturization of the curriculum than the translation. He worried over the “Americanness” of the materials, saying, “We usually think of England as being a close ally of the United States, and because we both speak English we think that there ought to be no problems of communication. And yet the English have been most vocal in their rejection of our materials because of the Americanisms that are in them. … They’re excited about Seminary and they’re excited about learning the gospel, but they just reject those things that are typically American.”82 Speaking of his experience in Germany, he noted, “When we show them a filmstrip or when we present the materials that talk about American things such as a baseball game, or a football game, or a basketball game, or cheerleaders, or going to drive-in movies, they refuse to work it in because they say, ‘We can’t understand this, we don’t have anything to refer to.’ … It’s the Americanisms as such that they tend to reject.”83

    Zone Administration

    Frank Day and Rhee Ho Nam

    Rhee Ho Nam and Franklin D. Day at a CES conference in Korea

    The global spread of seminaries and institutes also necessitated some changes to the central office organizational chart. An international personnel director was appointed to deal with those issues that involved employees outside the United States and Canada.84 In addition, Brother Joe J. Christensen perceived the need to assign his three assistants to supervise specific geographical areas, and he changed their title from assistant administrators to zone administrators to match the Church’s new organizational system of zones.85 Frank Day, who had served in the South Pacific as a marine and had been taught to hate the Japanese enemy he fought in World War II, worried that he might be assigned to Asia. Brother Christensen asked that his assistants choose which area they preferred to supervise—Europe and South Africa, Mexico and South America, or the South Pacific and Asia—and asked Brother Day, his senior assistant, to go first. Brother Day replied, “Why don’t you just assign us?” Brother Christensen said he would think about it and make the assignments the following day. The next morning, just as Brother Day feared, Brother Christensen asked that he supervise the South Pacific and Asia.86 Brother Workman was given Europe and South Africa, and Brother Bradshaw Mexico and South America. They still retained their central office assignments and also supervised divisions within the United States and Canada.87

    As Frank Day flew across the Pacific Ocean toward Japan, the fires of his Marine Corps–instilled feelings still smoldered in his heart even though he prayed sincerely that they might be extinguished. As he prepared to land, Brother Day was filled with a deep dread. But he made his way through the airport to find the mission president and approached him. As he looked into the mission president’s face, he saw only love there and was overwhelmed by his own feelings of love, which extinguished all his previous negative feelings.88

    Frank Day with CES teachers in Japan in 1976.

    Franklin D. Day (second on back row) with CES teachers in Japan in 1976

    Not only did Brother Day feel that his work as an administrator removed his own hatreds and prejudices, he also saw how it built bridges between former adversaries, creating a brotherhood irrespective of national boundaries. As part of his extensive travels as zone administrator, Brother Day inaugurated a series of conventions designed to build relationships among the CES personnel and their families. During his tenure, meetings were held in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan. He vividly remembered one meeting held in Osaka, Japan. “At the conclusion of the conference and at the conclusion of the testimony meeting we had a very interesting experience with two of our brethren. The history of Japan and Korea has not been a history that has run smooth. Japan controlled Korea for forty-seven years. They would not allow them to use their language, made them take Japanese names, and they were not above killing,” Brother Day remembered. “So there was a great deal of animosity and even bitterness between the two people. But at this meeting, Brother Rhee from Korea, spoke excellent Japanese as well as Korean, and he was able to help our Japanese brethren who did not speak English that well.”89

    Watching the teachers from the two nations work together, Brother Day was deeply touched by the friendships he saw developing. He later said, “The feeling of love and respect and unity was so strong that when the meeting was over, these two brethren, … one Korean, one Japanese, put their arms around each other and expressed their love for each other and their gratitude for the help they had received from each other during the convention. I felt that if we could do no more than bring people together and let the spirit of the Lord work on them, whatever else they learned would be worth it.”90

    With the zone administrators in place and the mammoth task of translation underway, the seminary and institute programs were poised to spread across the globe.

    English-Speaking Countries

    Under the leadership of William E. Berrett, John M. Madsen, J. L. Jaussi, and Rhett S. James, the home-study and early-morning seminaries had already been introduced in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.91 The work begun in the late 1960s in the British Isles had expanded under the supervision of John Madsen, who, after spending two years establishing the seminary program, was called as the president of the Southwest British Mission. James Moss took his place. In 1971 David Cook, an Englishman, was called as a member of the full-time staff. By 1974, all the American leaders had returned home and Brother Cook was left to oversee programs in the British Isles.92

    Several years into his career in Church education, Brother Cook said, “I think I’ve probably got the best job in the Church, teaching the youth of the Church to be good citizens, to have testimonies of the gospel, to prepare for missions and temple marriage.”93 He saw seminary classes as a great tool for missionary work. In 1977 he reported, “There are about 150 young people in the classes who would like to be members but don’t have their parents’ permission to join the Church. We even have some four-year seminary graduates who are nonmembers.”94

    British CES Staff in 1971

    British CES staff in 1971. David Cook (center) was the first CES teacher called in Britain.

    Under Brother Cook’s leadership, the programs found unique ways to overcome local challenges. In one English ward the bishop was struggling to find an appropriate time to hold an early-morning class. A number of the students told the bishop they couldn’t attend because they were earning funds for missions by working newspaper routes in the mornings. So the bishop launched a fundraising drive to purchase bicycles for all the students. With help from the ward, the students began to attend seminary at 6:00 a.m. and then arrive at their appointed rounds an hour later in time to carry out the paper routes.95

    The work begun in the late 1960s in Australia also continued to grow. Classes mushroomed and men were sent to sites throughout Australia to supervise and teach. With such a large area to be covered, a local brother, Derek Edwards, was made a part-time supervisor in Perth. Due to the large Church population in the area, Mervin W. Adair was sent from the United States to assist.96

    By 1974 an all-Australian faculty was running the program. Pioneer employees included Derek Edwards, who was hired as the first full-time Australian coordinator; Lionel W. F. Walters, who served full time as a coordinator in Adelaide and later became an area director in Hong Kong; and John Jeffery, who supervised the Brisbane area and later became the area director in Australia. Paul Parton supervised the program in the Sydney area.97 Brother Walters remembered the camaraderie among the first local teachers in Australia:

    “The four of us Aussies would meet with Wayne B. May [an expatriate from the United States who directed the programs for a time] in the South Harbour chapel near the Kingsford Smith airport. These were one day affairs, where each of us would fly in to Sydney … and at the end of the day, we’d fly out of Sydney and back to our homes in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne. … We could share news of the Church in our states and learn from each other how the Lord was blessing his saints all across the land.”98

    Non–English-Speaking Countries

    With programs up and running in English-speaking nations, the CES administration prepared for the next wave of international expansion, this time into non–English-speaking countries. Joe J. Christensen, associate commissioner, and his staff decided that they would send, whenever possible, bilingual individuals who knew the seminary and institute program to open these areas.99 The first teachers were instructed to accomplish three objectives in a three-year period: “(1) Develop a positive working relationship with local priesthood leaders. (2) Start the home-study seminary program, enrolling interested secondary and college-age students. (3) Find and train a person who could provide local native leadership, thus removing the necessity of exporting others from the United States.”100 These instructions reflected more the enthusiasm to get the programs started than any specifics about how to carry out the assignments.

    Before the previous Seminaries and Institutes of Religion administration launched a preliminary effort to take religious education programs to non–English-speaking countries, they conducted feasibility studies and solicited endorsements from presiding priesthood authorities. Before he retired, William E. Berrett had chosen four men to establish seminaries and institutes in different nations: Robert B. Arnold was selected to go to Guatemala, Richard Smith to Argentina and Uruguay, David A. Christensen to Brazil, and James R. Christianson to Germany.101 Brother Arnold recalled the instructions he was given before leaving:

    I was a little nervous about our assignment and felt I needed some orientation. I called William E. Berrett and made an appointment and drove clear down to Provo to the administration building on BYU campus, and sat out in the hall, nervous about meeting President Berrett. I went in and sat down and I said, “Hello, I’m Bob Arnold and I have been asked to go to Guatemala and I was just wondering if you could give me some instructions as to what you want us to do?” He said, “Well, go down and start seminary, and use the Book of Mormon, of course.” I said, “Well, what should we do about all of the things that we need?” And he said, “Well, just go down and do what needs to be done. We won’t leave you stranded.” And that was the end of the interview. That was the total orientation I had about Latin American seminary.102

    Like their predecessors in the English-speaking countries, these men depended largely upon the support of the local members, particularly the mission president in each area, and overcame many harrowing experiences.

    Guatemala and Central America

    In Central America Robert B. Arnold and his wife, Gwenda, faced political instability that brought government-enforced curfews and a constant military presence in the cities where the seminary program operated. Because of the dangers associated with local travel, Brother Arnold was allowed to switch his entire student population to the home-study program rather than risk having his students travel to early-morning classes.103

    Robert and Gwenda Arnold and Family

    Robert B. and Gwenda Arnold moved their young family to Central America to assist in setting up seminary and institute programs there.

    Troops often searched homes for signs of insurgency. Brother Arnold recalled once coming face to face with the local military:

    One day I was at home and I looked out and the soldiers were coming down our street, searching door to door and I had all this equipment: typewriter, overhead projector, and ditto machines so that I could reproduce things and that’s exactly what they were looking for, [equipment that could produce] anti-government propaganda. When they knocked on our door, the sergeant came and asked us what we were doing there. I told him that we were working for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [and] that I was working with the youth in an educational program. When I said that we were Mormons, he said, “You’re Mormons? I have a niece who is a Mormon.”

    Already familiar with Church programs and aims, the sergeant made a perfunctory search and left.104

    Brother Arnold’s challenges were intermingled with sweet experiences as well. He later related one such experience that occurred during a five-and-a-half-hour drive home:

    It was twelve-thirty or one o’clock in the morning. About this time, I got this terrible lonely feeling that nobody in the world knew where I was. My family thought I was asleep somewhere. The people in the United States had no idea what I was doing. I felt so alone. As I drove through those beautiful pine areas near Patzicia, with the sky full of bright stars, I glanced up and the Spirit whispered, “I know where you are.” The loneliness left and I wept much of the rest of the way home. The feeling of joy and peace came from knowing that my Father in Heaven was aware of me and what I was doing.105

    Another positive experience occurred in El Salvador. In the San Miguel seminary class a boy came in, sat down, and was introduced to Brother Arnold. Later in a faculty meeting Brother Arnold asked who the boy was. The teacher explained that his mother had left the family and that the boy and his sister were the only members of the Church and his sister was inactive. The next month when Brother Arnold visited again he looked for the boy and was told by the teacher that the boy had gone inactive. Brother Arnold challenged her to have the students help her get the boy back in seminary. Brother Arnold recalled, “He was there the next time and the next time, and by the time seminary graduation came around, his countenance had literally lightened and he was active in the Church. Later as a mission president I had the opportunity of laying my hands on that boy’s head and setting him apart as a missionary. Had it not been for the seminary program, that would never have happened.”106

    Brother Arnold remained in Central America for three years supervising seminary and institute programs and then stayed an additional three years as a mission president. Sister Gwenda Arnold later explained that it took their family almost ten years to become financially stable again once they returned to the United States, but the Arnolds never questioned the sacrifice. She later commented, “I would do it again. I think it was worth it for our children and for us. We learned to depend on each other.”107

    Robert Arnold was replaced by Gilberto Cerda, the division coordinator in Central America. Soon afterward Brother Cerda recruited a young architect named Carlos H. Amado as his replacement. Bruce M. Lake, one of the zone administrators at the time, recalled meeting Brother Amado in the airport for a hiring interview: “I spent about two hours in Guatemala City at the airport interviewing Carlos Amado. Well, that was a great decision. … The work that Carlos Amado has done as a Church leader, [and a] CES man … has just been outstanding. From that point on he became a bishop. He became stake president. He became a mission president serving for four years. He then became a Regional Representative and [later] he was called as a General Authority.”108


    In 1970 James R. Christianson and his wife, Helen, were sent to Germany, where Brother Christianson had served a mission from 1953 to 1955. His first year back in the country was spent introducing the seminary program to stake presidents and mission presidents and expanding its influence with American servicemen who had seminary-age children. Local members indicated they would support such a program, and in December 1970 translation work began. Materials were ready for distribution to teachers in the fall of 1971.109

    Along the way Brother Christianson recruited strong members to assist in the program. His wife, Helen, recalled, “It seemed like he was always overwhelmed when he came home from those trips at the quality of the people that he was meeting, whom the stake presidents were giving him as teachers. He would come home knowing that the program was going to go great guns if he could just get the material to them, if he would just not goof up.”110

    Where others expressed skepticism, Brother Christianson saw potential with an eye of faith. Sister Christianson later remembered, “When I met the students, I thought, ‘This is a ragamuffin group of kids.’ But that isn’t how he saw it. He saw their potential. And he was right. Those kids are now bishops, and they got a lot of the education and training they needed from seminary.”111 The program grew from about 1,500 students in 1971 to 3,500 in 1974. A large portion of Brother Christianson’s time was spent teaching institute classes and coordinating the early-morning seminary classes that the servicemen’s children attended.112

    Kenneth and Gisela Myers were also sent to Germany to help establish home-study seminaries. Brother Myers said his biggest challenges were training the teachers to be dedicated in the classroom, getting priesthood leaders to allow the seminary teachers to teach more than one year, and having materials translated and published quickly enough. Brother Myers would often “jump in [his] car and drive to Frankfurt, pick up materials, and take them to Hamburg,” where they were needed, a journey of approximately 300 miles. He emphasized the importance of priesthood support and found that teachers’ attitudes were crucial to success.113

    Brother Myers noted, “The second year certainly was a lot easier than the first. … Each year was better. … It was moving forward all of the time. … I think what Church Education has done in Europe in essence, is awakened the young people … who are now the leaders and are becoming the leaders of the Church and the Church has become much more spiritual.”114


    Brother Christianson also helped launch seminaries in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway, all in 1973.115 A touching story came from the Finland seminary. At the beginning of the year, the teacher taught a lesson on loving your enemies. A 17-year-old girl was deeply impressed by the message. She had carried on a feud with a classmate for some time, but after this lesson she went to her adversary and talked to her, showing her love and friendship. This led to the former enemy attending seminary. Later, two more girls in the same class began to attend seminary regularly, and all of the girls became very active in the Church.116

    In Norway, a young man named Ole Podhorny was hired to supervise the program in that country. One of Brother Podhorny’s supervisors remembered, “Ole was a great young man. He had this image that all of the kids looked up to.”117 Coordinators like Ole Podhorny, who later became the country director, oversaw dedicated teachers like Tor Lasse Bjerga, who was only 18 years old when he was called as the first seminary teacher in Stavanger, the fourth largest city in Norway.

    Brother Bjerga felt a particular prompting to reach out to the less-active youth in his area, including one named Stein Arthur Andersen. He visited Stein at home, traveling 35 minutes by bus, 45 minutes by ferry, and another 30 minutes by foot to get there, but sensed that Stein was preoccupied with soccer, scouting, and musical pursuits. Brother Bjerga persisted and invited him to attend seminary. Stein recalled later, “By all logical thinking, I should have turned him down because I didn’t have time. But I said yes.” Doubtful, but true to his word, Stein began waking up every morning to study the scriptures and the home-study lessons and began making the sometimes arduous journey to Brother Bjerga’s weekly classes. Slowly, a change came over him. “After a while I felt like the day wouldn’t be what it could be if I didn’t study in the morning. And I started to gain a testimony without even knowing that I was.” Within a year, Brother Bjerga decided to serve a mission. Impressed by the example of his teacher, Stein Andersen followed suit a few years later. Years later, Stein Andersen reflected on the importance of his decision to attend seminary: “That night when Tor Lasse came to our house—that basically changed my whole life. … I have been a branch president, district president, bishop—all because Tor Lasse came to our house and I started the seminary program.”118 When Brother Andersen was called as a stake president, he frequently related the story of his recruitment to motivate his seminary teachers.119

    In the city of Moss, Norway, Sverre Rui wondered how to motivate his son, Tom, to complete home-study seminary courses. Brother Rui’s wife was not a member of the Church and refused to allow her two children, Tom and his sister, Bente, to be baptized, though both of them had testimonies. Bente immediately took to the home-study program, but Tom struggled, so Brother Rui recruited the help of a young missionary named Paul V. Johnson. Brother Johnson spent several sessions with Tom, assisting him in understanding the new curriculum. Years later, Brother Johnson, who became a member of the Seventy in April 2005 and then the Commissioner of the Church Educational System, returned to Norway for a countrywide youth conference and asked the local members about the Rui family. He was delighted to find that both Bente and Tom had joined the Church and were serving actively. At a fireside he met Tom’s son, who was about the age Tom had been when he had studied with Elder Johnson. Elder Johnson later recalled, “The thing that was striking to me after all these years in S&I is to actually have witnessed in a person’s home, the beginnings of S&I in another country. That has always been a remarkable thing for me.”120

    Portugal and Spain

    Cory W. Bangerter, a returned missionary fluent in Portuguese, had an assignment in international curriculum in the central office when he received a call from Bruce M. Lake asking him how his Spanish was. When he responded that it was adequate, Brother Lake told him that the CES administration wanted him to open seminary in Portugal and help strengthen the program in Spain. Over the next three years Brother Bangerter and his family lived in Portugal and traveled extensively within the Iberian Peninsula, providing direction and training to the teachers throughout the region.121 He later reflected on “the incredible amount of travelling that I did over those three years. I don’t think I sat down and put an exact amount of mileage on it, but it must have easily been hundreds of thousands of miles.”122

    On his trips, Brother Bangerter would often ask one of the local supervisors to accompany him so he could provide training. “I would fly into Barcelona, and that night we would have a class that I would attend, speak at, and give encouragement to. Then we would get on the train and go all night to somewhere else, and the next morning we would get up and go to another early-morning class. Then we would drive somewhere else and do the same thing that night, and that’s the way it was. All of the time in between I would spend training the supervisor.”123

    Amid the rigors of his travels, Brother Bangerter felt the way was prepared before him. One example of this occurred when the wife of one of the local supervisors, Faustino Lopez, received a mysterious phone call asking what the Mormons were doing “relative to the new law passed by the Courts dealing with religious education in the schools.” The caller told her that Jewish leaders were moving ahead, and he wanted to know what the Mormons had done. Before she could get his name, he hung up. She told her husband, who looked into recent laws passed by the Spanish parliament and found a new law permitting “religious education from any denomination in the public school system.” Brother Bangerter later related the experience: “[Brother Lopez] began to research it out and was led spiritually from one step to another until we were able, in a fairly short period of time, to have he and I and Bryan Weston (the zone administrator at the time) meet with the Minister of Education. We made our presentations and he received it very well. We then became legally recognized and authorized to hold religion classes in the public school system in Spain. That began a real thrust on our part to hold daily seminaries, and we had pretty good success with them.”124

    One of the most significant challenges Brother Bangerter faced was finding his own replacement. “I began to look for someone early on to take my place. My eye would focus on one individual, and then as I would observe and watch, I would have to change and focus on another. I think I mentally went through at least a dozen or so men before it became very clear who I should choose to take my place.”125 Only about four months before the Bangerters were scheduled to return to the United States, Jose de Castro, a Portuguese returned missionary who had served in the Brazil Recife Mission, became the answer to their prayers.126

    Looking back over the tremendous responsibility placed on them, the Bangerters cherished their experiences in Portugal. Brother Bangerter later said, “We have had people come to us and say, ‘It’s just not fair that the Church should ask you to do this again and again. … That is a terrible sacrifice the Church is asking of you.’ We would just look at each other, giggle, and say, ‘Sacrifice? Heck, this is a great opportunity!’ We have always looked at it that way, and I think it has made a big difference.”127

    Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay

    Richard Smith and his family were sent to Montevideo, Uruguay, with the charge to establish home-study programs in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. Upon arrival, Brother Smith discovered an institute program had already been launched in Montevideo, Uruguay, several years before by the local stake president, Vicente Rubio. With strong support from priesthood leaders, Brother Smith began traveling throughout the region to identify and train potential teachers.128 The greatest challenge came from the sheer size of the area. Brother Smith later reflected, “We were responsible for about 3 million square miles, which is like the U.S. west of the Mississippi. So it was big territory, and we were initially starting off with just the stakes, only two stakes at the time. … Telephone service even within countries was not reliable. … There would be times when [my wife] would not know where I was for a few days at a time.”129 Frequent bus strikes sometimes prevented him from getting to church meetings, and he often met with problems getting to and from the airport, which he overcame by hitching rides.130

    Brother Smith had to fly often to get across the 150-mile-wide La Plata River between Montevideo, Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and to get to other locations. He said that on such flights “you were really taking your life in your hands,” and he told of one flight where “it was overcast, so instead of flying above the clouds, we flew below the clouds. We flew a 737 at about a thousand foot elevation and three hundred plus miles an hour.”131

    When Brother Smith informed local leaders that they would be getting home-study seminary, not early-morning, he met with some resistance because the leaders felt they were being shortchanged. Brother Smith also couldn’t see why they shouldn’t be given an early-morning program when there were well-established wards in the stake. He talked to Frank M. Bradshaw in the central office, but his request was denied—not because the area’s interest and population couldn’t support an early-morning program but because the materials hadn’t yet been translated into Spanish. Brother Smith recalled, “We had nothing translated, and this was getting into September, October, and we were to start in January. Nothing had been translated or printed, so it was ultimately a crash program to translate the very essentials and print them locally the first year. There were relatively few illustrations. There were no games, no real enrichment material that the kids would enjoy, so that first year was a pretty skeletal curriculum.” Finally, with the beginning of the school year closing in, they hurriedly prepared just these “very essentials.”132

    Richard and Pamela Smith and Daughter

    Richard and Pamela Smith moved their young family to South America as part of the effort to launch international CES programs.


    When David A. Christensen arrived in Brazil with his wife, Patricia, and three young children, he contacted the local mission president, hoping to find accommodations in the mission home until he could locate proper housing for his family. Not wishing to inconvenience the mission president, he offered to take his family to a hotel if it was more convenient. The mission president told him it would be, and the Christensen family checked in to a nearby hotel, wondering how long their funds would allow them to stay. The hotel charged $65–70 a day, and Brother Christensen had only $900 in his possession. He recalled:

    “We went to sleep, and then the next day we asked ourselves, ‘What do I do? Where do we eat? How do I get a place to live? What am I doing here? What am I doing here with my kids?’ … After several days I would take my family to the mission home. They allowed them to stay in the mission home while I ran out and tried to find a place to live. … I had been in the hotel for about six days. With the food, that was about half of my money gone.”133

    The Christensens finally received assistance from another Church official, who took them into his home. Shortly thereafter, their infant son, Cary, contracted a severe fever. Unaware of how to get medical help, the Christensens attempted to cool his temperature on their own. After three or four days his temperature went down, but they later discovered that he had suffered brain damage during his illness.134

    Brother Christensen soon relocated his family to a small apartment with only a mattress for furniture. Frustrated and desperate, he finally called Joe J. Christensen in Salt Lake and petitioned for more funds:

    I said, “We do not have a bed. We don’t have a chair. We do not have food. We do not have anything. …” And he said, “Do you want to put your wife on the plane? If you want, we will telex a ticket.” I said, “Joe, it is too late for that.” I said, “Just a minute. Pat, do you want to go home?” And she said, “Now, after all we have been through? No, we’re not going anywhere.” I said, “No, she doesn’t want to come home. Put the money in the bank, Joe.” And Joe, bless his heart, walked across the street, and put two thousand bucks in, and it came like that.135

    Conditions began to gradually improve for the Christensen family.

    Despite the improving conditions, the Christensens worried over their son, Cary. A few years after their arrival in Brazil, they received a visit from Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who gave Cary a blessing. Brother Christensen later recalled, “Elder Ashton said in the blessing, ‘[Cary], what seems like a great price for you to have paid for the establishment of the seminaries and institute program in this great land will in the end be a great blessing.’ I remember that very clearly. He blessed his sight and blessed his ears. [Cary] got better. His sight improved tremendously, and his ears improved.”136 When the Christensens later visited Elder Ashton in his office, Cary was greatly improved. Elder Ashton wrote, “[Cary], now four, was walking, jumping, and running. He was so wiggly that his parents were embarrassed.”137 Though Cary never recovered full use of his mental faculties, Brother Christensen and his family were strengthened by the blessing. “It was a marvelous blessing from an apostle,” Brother Christensen remembered. “That promise gave us courage and has given us great consolation.”138

    With his family’s immediate needs taken care of, Brother Christensen began visiting with stake presidents in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His first two experiences left him discouraged because the stake presidents were very skeptical of such a program ever working in Brazil. His third visit, with President Saul Messias de Oliveira, was different.139 “This is what Brazil has been waiting for,” President Messias said. “You begin in my stake, and I will get you the teachers.” Buoyed by this response, David A. Christensen began training teachers. There were challenges along the way, including getting the materials translated on time, but classes began in February of 1971. The initial weekly gatherings were held during Sunday School. Brother Christensen later bore testimony of the Lord’s hand in his efforts: “The teachers caught the spirit. Oh my, the Lord went before my face and prepared the way and those teachers caught the spirit of it, and boy, did they go to work.”140

    Reflecting on the experience years later, Brother Christensen expressed no regrets. “There are so many faith-promoting experiences that I could go on forever and ever about watching the Lord open it up, despite my weaknesses and my fear and despite the reactions of the ecclesiastical leaders. He saw the sacrifice and he accepted it. … We had in Brazil almost a thousand seminary students. Not bad for one year.”141 He continued, “Despite our unpreparedness, there was no lack of preparation on the Lord’s part. Sure, there was great sacrifice made and a lot of frustration, but to watch the hand of the Lord in that work and to see the people that were already prepared before I ever arrived in the zone to assume responsibility and control for the program was awesome.”142


    After a visit to Chile in 1971 as part of a tour of South America to assess seminary implementation, Joe J. Christensen and Frank M. Bradshaw felt a great urgency to start seminary and institute programs there as quickly as possible. Brother Bradshaw later recalled, “Our hope was that we could get the program in Chile in the fall of 1972. But when Brother [Neal A.] Maxwell talked to Elder [Harold B.] Lee, Elder Maxwell said he just paused for a while, then gazed into a corner of the room, and then he said, ‘We must get the program there now.’ And so we put wheels into motion and [Richard L.] Brimhall was then assigned to go to Chile and he went in January.”143 Frank Bradshaw later credited President Lee with making an “inspired decision” from a prophetic vantage point, because not long afterward a Marxist government was elected in Chile and permission to begin such a program after that time would likely have been denied.144

    When Brother Brimhall and his family arrived in Chile in 1971, they found the Saints there hungry for religious education. Previous to his arrival, the only Chilean students who received religious instruction during the week were those attending a Church school. The home-study program made seminary available to the rest of the young Chilean Latter-day Saints. Brother Brimhall commented, “Our goal for the three years was to reach 1500 students in the program. We had 1200 by the end of the first year. The people were absolutely starving for this type of program, especially the youth.”145 Brother Brimhall taught a monthly teacher training program for a year. At the end of the class 50 individuals graduated and were ready to teach.146

    The program thrived during a period of serious turmoil in Chile in which different groups supported and protested the policies of the Marxist government. “These were all home-study programs,” Brother Brimhall later said, “which turned out to be extremely inspired by the Brethren … because of the chaotic nature of strikes, mobs, all types of chaos, economic, political and civil strife going on. The regular type seminary or institute program would have not survived at that time.”147

    While in Chile, the Brimhall family found themselves caught up in events surrounding the overthrow of the Chilean government in 1973. Years later, Brother Brimhall recalled lying on the roof of his house with his children, watching as military jets bombed the Chilean presidential residence.148 Sister Brimhall remembered, “At every turn, there were major problems to overcome. And we talked about it very often. We would lay in bed at night and stare at the ceiling and talk about the problems and how Satan did not want this program in this country, especially at this time when it was needed most.”149

    With constant effort, however, the programs grew and spread. Brother Brimhall later commented, “Without the excellent support of the Brethren in Salt Lake, the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve, and the people in CES, much of what each of us did individually and in every country never could have happened. They really put themselves on the line with us. They had to say, ‘There it is. What budget do you need? Here is the budget.’ … I often look back and wonder ‘How could they do that?’ But they did, and for the most part, it worked out marvelously well.”150


    In early 1972 Robert T. Stout and his wife, Kay, arrived to begin the home-study program and coordinate Church education in Japan. Brother Stout had served a mission in Japan and Korea and had studied Chinese in college. Because of his expertise in languages, he was later asked to assist in Taiwan and in Korea, as well as supervise Church education in Hong Kong and Japan.151 Enrollment grew rapidly, and by 1978 there were 642 seminary students and 3,582 home-study institute students.152

    Robert Stout with Shozo Suziki

    Shozo Suziki, one of the first native seminary and institute employees in Japan, and his wife with Robert T. Stout

    The biggest challenge to setting up home study proved to be convincing new members, who were already overwhelmed with all that membership required, to agree to yet another responsibility. For instance, when they received lesson books, they said, “We don’t have time to read the lesson book. … We’re just bewildered by all we have right now. … We’re supposed to be doing home teaching. We haven’t even started the home teaching in our little branch. Should we wait on that until we [get it going?]” Brother Stout responded, “This will give you understanding and strength, leadership, the skills to carry out these other programs. This will give you faith to do it.”153

    In the Fukuoka area, mission president Kan Watanabe told Brother Stout they were short of leaders and couldn’t spare anyone for the new seminary program. Again, Brother Stout bore his testimony “that the solution to [the] leadership shortage problem could be found in the seminary and institute programs.” President Watanabe said, “We threw our whole support behind it and asked Bob [Stout] to lecture at a few strategic meetings to promote this plan.” A year later nearly all the leaders, including branch presidents, were “coming from this body of veteran seminary teachers. They come with valuable experiences, knowledge of the doctrines, a willingness to serve, and powerful testimonies in their hearts. I’m very grateful for the church education and that it came how and when it did.”154

    The Philippines

    In July 1972, Stephen K. Iba, a former missionary to the Philippines, and his wife, Patricia, and their children arrived in Manila during a typhoon to initiate the seminary and institute programs. Brother Iba later recalled his feelings when he found out he was assigned to return to the Philippines, saying, “Of course I was just jumping through the ceiling and rejoicing. As a young couple with a two year old child and a baby in arms, I thought Pat would be as excited as I was. She acted excited, but I realize now that her desire was to make me happy. She would support me in the assignment, but it would be a very frightening, challenging experience to leave home, to leave parents, to leave all behind for an unknown country and culture.”155

    As in other new areas, getting materials to teachers was a continual challenge. Brother Iba said, “I literally would take boxes on the airplanes with me, fly down, meet the teacher at the airport, spend an hour at the airport, give her the materials. Then I would fly to another city, spend an hour or two at the airport, go by train to another city, do the same, and then fly back to Manila by night.”156 On one occasion Brother Iba paid his driver 20 extra pesos to drive through a flood in order to reach the pier where the materials for his teachers waited. When the car was swamped, Brother Iba jumped out to push in his white shirt and tie while his wife, clutching a baby, knelt on the seat to escape the water rushing into the car.157

    Steve and Pat Iba with Children

    Stephen K. Iba and his wife, Pat, traveled to the Philippines to launch seminary and institute programs.

    Brother Iba explained his strategy in spreading the program: “I had a plan, and I think that most of it came from the counsel that I received from Frank [Day] before I left, and that was ‘First, sell the priesthood [leadership] on it.’” With full support from priesthood leaders, Brother Iba began the process of training his teachers. He later said, “I can still remember the first faculty meeting we held. A typhoon had come through, and we were meeting in a small room with a kerosene lantern. As I recall, there were 13 teachers gathered around the light. I can still remember the reverent feeling in this little room.” Brother Iba told the teachers, “You will always look back upon this evening with great joy because the work that we are about to commence with the blessing of the priesthood will outlive all of us and will become larger and grander in preparing the youth of the church for missions and for marriage than we have any conception of at this time.” He later related, “I remember that evening because there was a special spirit of confirmation as we all sensed that we were just going to be the ones to begin a magnificent work in the Lord’s church.”158


    One of the first seminary classes held in the Philippines

    When the Iba family left the Philippines in 1974, Senen J. Pineda, whom Brother Iba had hired shortly after arriving, took his place.159 In addition to the support given by Brother Pineda and the local priesthood leaders, Brother Iba recognized the support of his wife, Patricia. He said, “I could not possibly have done it without her, without her support, and without her sacrifices.”160

    South Africa

    E. Dale LeBaron’s first few weeks in South Africa to set up home-study seminary were harrowing to say the least. He and his wife, Laura, arrived in 1972 with their six children, ages 12 years to 18 months, to find that the items they had shipped earlier were stuck on a dock in Montreal, Canada. When their belongings finally arrived two months later, much had been stolen. Needing to travel to Durban, South Africa, for meetings, Brother LeBaron decided to take his family so they could see the countryside. They packed the car and then returned to the house for family prayer. By the time they got back to the car, someone had stolen their cameras.161

    The family visited the beach near Durban. At one point during the day, Sister LeBaron decided to take their son back to the hotel. Brother LeBaron stayed with the rest of their children so they could swim in the ocean for a bit longer. Sometime later, one of his daughters screamed for help. He dove into the water, but the current was too strong and soon they both were being pulled out to sea. No one heard their cries for help until they caught the attention of some surfers who dove in and helped them swim in a different direction to shore.162

    After they arrived on the beach exhausted, Brother LeBaron took the rest of the children back to the hotel, where he discovered that his wife was at the hospital because their toddler son had eaten all the contents of a medicine bottle. Brother LeBaron rushed to the hospital and administered to his son. The blessing and the treatment by the hospital were successful in restoring the boy’s health.163

    The final trial was a terrible car wreck on the drive home from the hospital. They miraculously escaped serious injury, but Sister LeBaron said, “We have to get a blessing.” Later the mission president blessed their home and the family and “commanded the adversary to depart and not have any further effect upon us or the work we were doing.” From then on, they reported, they had no more trouble.164

    Despite the difficult beginning, Brother LeBaron managed to recruit and train enough teachers to stay on schedule. He attended South Africa’s first major meeting of the seminary and institute programs in January 1973. It was a moving experience for Brother LeBaron to begin to see the impact that those programs were going to have on the lives of the young people in preparing missionaries, building leadership, and strengthening the Church.165

    E. Dale and Laura LeBaron and Family

    E. Dale and Laura LeBaron took their family to Jerusalem on their way to South Africa to begin the first seminary and institute programs there.

    Soon after completing this CES assignment, Brother LeBaron returned to South Africa as president of the South Africa Mission. He was thrilled to see all of the new missionaries who were so much better prepared because of the seminary and institute programs.166 Near the end of his time in South Africa, a 15-year-old student from the Transvaal stake shared the following experience with him: “Last night I decided that I needed more than the testimonies of others. I went to my room determined to do something positive. I prayed as I have never done in my life before. When my Mom came to call me for Seminary at 5:30 this morning, I was still on my knees, perhaps cold and pale but so much the richer. I know now of myself that God lives and that he hears our prayers and that he is waiting for us to call on him.” When the young girl’s mother, who was also her seminary teacher, walked in and saw her daughter praying, she decided to join her in a prayer of gratitude. She told Brother LeBaron that seeing her daughter pray was “the greatest joy that I ever experienced.”167

    Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador

    John Harris arrived in Peru in 1972 with one of the most cosmopolitan backgrounds of any teacher in the Church. Descended from Chinese and Peruvian ancestors, Brother Harris was a native Chilean by birth but had grown up and joined the Church in Uruguay. He later served as one of the first native South Americans called on a mission. After his mission he traveled to the United States to attend Brigham Young University. He was hired as a CES translator for the new home-study curriculum and from there was recruited to introduce the programs in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.168 Brother Harris later recalled the irony of his assignment to introduce the program when he was still new to it himself. “I had never gone to seminary, I had never taught seminary, I had never been in seminary except for one or two classes, but that didn’t matter. We explained it to them with a lot of enthusiasm.”169

    Brother Harris was given responsibility over a large geographical area covering Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. After six months a local teacher named Justo Frutos was recruited to help with the programs in Ecuador, leaving Brother Harris with a slightly smaller but still impressive amount of territory to cover.170

    Faced with such a large area, Brother Harris began his work strategically by holding recruitment and training meetings in the capital city of each country. He soon began to see a positive response, especially in the monthly “Super Saturday” meetings (similar to the S-Days mentioned in chapter 4) where all the local youth would gather. He later remembered, “It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the young people. I remember a few months later … we held our first monthly meeting and … I remember organizing the scripture chase for 300 young people in the Lima Tambo building, and the kids were so enthused they would get on the benches with their scriptures.”171

    His stewardship necessitated a lot of travel, so Brother Harris and his wife, Nydia, and their three small children spent many days bouncing up and down dirt roads in a beat-up Toyota pickup. Local Church leaders, taking advantage of the Harrises’ extensive travels, assigned Sister Harris to help organize the Latter-day Saint women in the region. The first year she worked in Primary, the second year she organized the Young Women program, and the third year she supervised Relief Society.172

    Along the way, Brother Harris recruited capable local members to assist in the work and take over after his departure. Carlos L. Pedraja and Jose Souza helped manage more than 250 volunteer teachers and nearly 3,500 seminary students.173

    Years later, when Brother Harris visited the area, he was amazed at the growth of the program: “I went down there a few years ago. I cried. I mean, thinking from the time when we had one little room in my house, an electric typewriter, and suddenly I find myself with Institute buildings with hundreds [of students]—I could see the kids playing and studying in the big buildings, and I had no idea when we started that it was going to develop like that. In other words, we went by faith. I really didn’t know very much what I was doing, but I was going to do it and we did it!”174


    Home-study seminary in Colombia commenced in 1972. The first course of study was the Book of Mormon, and 110 students between ages 13 and 28 were taught in 12 classes. Nine of the teachers were students themselves who took a Book of Mormon class at the same time they were teaching. These teachers, although lacking knowledge of the gospel, willingly shouldered their responsibilities.175

    A favorite story from this time came from a teacher in Bogotá named Sister Benavides. Sister Benavides began teaching when she was single, but over the course of time she married. When she was expecting her first child, she arranged for another teacher to take over her class, but her students insisted that she stay on as their teacher and she eventually relented. One day in the middle of class her students noticed that she seemed ill and asked her to sit down. She told them she wasn’t ill, she was going into labor. Her class of 14- and 15-year-olds helped her out to the street and tried to flag down a taxi, managing instead to stop a truck. Several students piled into the truck with Sister Benavides, telling her to hold on; they didn’t want to see her have the baby in front of them! Laughing about the whole incident years later, Sister Benavides’s supervisor recalled, “The students would not leave their teacher. They were a great family. It shows the love that existed in that classroom.”176


    The first home-study courses in Venezuela began in 1972, only five years after the first missionaries had arrived in the country, and were directed by local member Alejandro Portal Campos. The first year 110 students enrolled and followed the standard home-study model of an hour of daily student study at home complemented by a weekly lesson from a teacher and a monthly Super Saturday. The programs increased steadily until a few years later a local history mentioned 55 missionaries serving from the country, all of whom were former seminary students. A notable group during this time was “the Helaman Ten,” a musical group formed from seminary students, which helped provide positive publicity for the Church in Venezuela.177

    Brother Portal served as the director of the Maracaibo institute over a period of decades and witnessed the growth of the Church while he also served as a bishop, district president, mission president, and Regional Representative. His positions allowed him to see the long-term impact of the gospel on the lives of his students. In an article he wrote on Venezuela for the Ensign in 2000, he mentioned Jose Luis and Paula Castellano, who both graduated from seminary and institute, served missions, married in the temple, and graduated from college. Brother Castellano told Brother Portal, “All we are, all we have become we owe to the teachings of the gospel and our continued study of the Book of Mormon.”178


    Allan R. Hassell was called as a division coordinator over Taiwan in January 1973, only four years after he had served on the island as a missionary.179 He recalled the enthusiasm of the local Saints to hear the gospel: “They were so thirsty for the knowledge of the gospel. … They would sit there absolutely silent and you couldn’t get them to carry on a conversation. No discussion. They expected you to lecture. And I don’t like to lecture. I like to discuss. It must have taken two or three months before they would finally start conversing and then it was really rich, fertile ground. It was a lot of fun then.”180

    Alan Hassell with Wan Kon-Leung

    Allan R. Hassell and Wan Kon-Leung, here with their wives, served as the first CES teachers in Taiwan.

    Brother Hassell was concerned that he was not visiting the southern part of his division as often as he should because he was teaching an institute class in the north, so he called Wan (Joseph) Kon-Leung as the southern district supervisor.181

    By the end of 1974, Brother Wan had gained enough experience to take over the coordinator duties, and the Hassells returned home. Brother Hassell had expected to stay in Taiwan at least another two years and was disappointed to leave, but he saw the virtue in turning over the program to a local leader. Years later he reflected, “He [Wan Kon-Leung] had been trained. He knew what to do. And he just slid right into the process.”182

    South Korea

    When L. Edward Brown was called from his position as an instructor at the Pocatello, Idaho, institute to be a mission president in Korea, Associate Commissioner Joe J. Christensen asked him to encourage the beginning of the seminary and institute programs there. When President Brown arrived in Korea, he began working to establish the programs. CES had planned to send a returned missionary to begin the programs, but President Brown pointed out that there were Korean Church members capable of teaching. He recommended Rhee Ho Nam. Brother Rhee had joined the Church in the 1950s and began a long, faithful life of service. At the time he was approached to teach for CES, he was a professor of English and Spanish at a university in Seoul, and it was not an easy decision to change careers.183

    Communication with the administrators in Salt Lake City was slow, and Brother Rhee didn’t know whether he had been hired. Finally, President Brown, thinking CES would go ahead with employing Brother Rhee, opened an office for him at the mission home. Brother Rhee quickly went to work and hired several teachers, including Pak Byung Kyu, who later became the area director. Brother Rhee’s hiring was later confirmed.184

    Classrooms for institute classes were leased in a building in downtown Seoul. The students were delighted to be able to take classes there, and attending was considered a prestigious opportunity. When the first graduation was held in the mid-1970s, the valedictorian was a member who already had a PhD and taught philosophy at the university.185

    Rhee Ho Nam and Jeffrey R. Holland

    Rhee Ho Nam and Commissioner Jeffrey R. Holland; Brother Rhee served as the first CES teacher in Korea and later as the first stake president there.

    Brother Rhee recalled that the greatest challenge to the seminary program was nonmember parents who were concerned that seminary would take their children’s time away from preparing for their high school and college entrance exams. Brother Rhee invited the parents to visit with him so he could explain how important it was for their children to have religious education to blend with the secular things they were learning.186

    In his report for the 1972–73 school year, Brother Rhee said that many adult members in Seoul took institute classes, and their experience resulted in them enrolling their children in seminary and institute. Church activity also increased, and youth were encouraged to serve missions. That year there were 23 converts from the classes.187

    Brother Rhee, who also served as the first stake president in South Korea, was amazed at the success of the program.188 He later said, “The Lord blessed me with this program because I’m a Korean and I know the cultural background and the mentality, and I was in the educational field for years, along with my leadership position in the Church. Surprisingly, everybody supported me. I think I had complete support from both the members and leaders.”189

    A report in 1977 noted that “the seminary and institute program in that area had grown to over 10,000 students.” Because of seminary and institute, more South Korean young adults “were serving missions, and more of them were going to the temple for their marriage.” Additionally, “in Korea, only 49% of those taking entrance examinations for college pass[ed] successfully, but 95% of the seminary graduates taking the exam passed successfully this year [1976].”190


    On August 28, 1973, at a youth conference in Ravenna, Italy, James R. Christianson, the area coordinator, and Dan J. Workman, the zone administrator, with local leaders Lorenzo Botta and Felice Lotito, “gave a tremendous message to the youth” regarding the seminary program. Priesthood leaders, however, felt they had little time to implement the program and weren’t quite ready to assume the responsibility. So teachers moved forward on their own until, realizing the program’s worth, the priesthood leaders took the leadership role.191

    Seminary instruction was introduced in several cities and eventually made its way to Rome, Terni, Ostia, Salerno, Napoli, and Cagliari. At first, these new programs faced problems with communication and lack of understanding and support from Church leaders.192 As the programs progressed, Brother Lotito wrote that he saw students “changing and growing” with “better spirituality” and also saw some baptisms take place. “I believe that in a few years we will see the fruits of seminary,” he said. “We will reap the harvest made of good missionaries, good temple marriages, good families and better priesthood leaders.”193

    Local Leadership

    The CES personnel who were sent out to different countries only laid the foundation for the growth of the programs. One of the strengths of the seminary and institute programs was their reliance on native teachers and leaders. Even in the infant stages of the programs, expatriates provided supervision and guidance while the supervisors, teachers, and directors all came from local populations. Native teachers helped build the superstructure and fully establish seminary and institute programs.

    Elder Joe J. Christensen later reflected, “There is no doubt that these early CES pioneers who were sent out were inspired in many of the people they selected to work in the system. And what a work they did and do.”194 These remarkable teachers became a boon in developing global leadership within the Church.

    When asked to address the high number of CES personnel later called into ecclesiastical leadership, Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented, “We found able local leaders for seminaries and institutes. Then as the Church matured, the Brethren would come in and call them as the stake presidents. I finally ended up with some criticism. ‘How come our CES men end up as the stake presidents?’ I said, ‘Brethren, we were there first. We didn’t come along and pick stake presidents. You picked seminary and institute people as stake presidents.”195 In a Church led by lay leaders, Elder Christensen noted the sensitivity necessary in drawing clear lines between the roles of Church employees and ecclesiastical leaders: “There has been, and maybe still are, some concerns about the fact that we do have an organization in a lay church led by professional people—people who work full-time and who receive compensation for their services. We see in these international areas that so often the people who have been selected to serve in the seminaries and institutes are later called to very significant ecclesiastical positions. So that sensitive balance between professionalism and the ecclesiastical and lay nature of the Church needs to be monitored carefully.”196

    During the late 1970s the Church Board of Education officially approved the practice of calling older, retired couples on Church service missions to give support to religious education as needed.197 Elder Neal A. Maxwell compared them to scaffolding. The goal was to build locally and then take the scaffolding down and let the building stand on its own.198 With a few exceptions, the decision to send missionary couples ended the practice common in the 1970s of sending a professional expatriate teacher to start CES programs in a new country. The move was a leap of faith by the Board of Education, but the wisdom of sending missionaries to international assignments and then having them recruit local leaders to take over was demonstrated in future years. Clarence F. Schramm, one of the zone administrators from this period, commented on the Lord’s guidance in finding the right teachers to run CES programs in each country: “We found the local people and they just seemed to materialize about the time we needed them. … We [also] established an informal program, taking [an employee] who was very close to retirement. We would offer them an opportunity to go to one of these countries, literally move, and spend their last year of employment in that country and then the next year as a retiree volunteer as a missionary doing the same thing.”199

    International Education Fund

    With the increase in the number of institute students in countries outside of the United States, the Church Board of Education as early as 1972 agreed to provide an international scholarship fund to give financial assistance to young people in underdeveloped countries who had extraordinary potential to return and provide Church leadership in their own country. Steps were also taken to help students around the world gain professional skills along with their religious studies. In 1978, the International Education Fund (IEF) was created under the direction of the Board of Education to provide scholarships, loans, and grants to help students pursue education within their own countries. It was funded annually by operating budget and private contributions from generous donors. Over the years the IEF gave thousands of loans and grants to students around the world. CES administrators approved these based on budgets for specific areas of the world. Repayment of the loans was desired, but very little pressure was placed on students to repay them, and the percentage of repayment was very small.200

    Simplifying and Reducing Curriculum

    From the very beginnings of the seminary and institute programs, curriculum materials had largely been written by committees made up of teachers during the summer months or vacation periods. Reduced teaching loads were sometimes approved for curriculum writers, but on-site instruction remained part of their assignment. Writing an effective teacher or student manual was never an easy assignment. Not only did lessons have to be anchored in truth and sound doctrine and possess student appeal, but they also had to pass the scrutiny of fellow writers, who provided detailed critiques. These critique sessions assisted in elevating the quality of lesson material before it was passed along and reviewed by administrators, editors, and the Correlation Review Committee. Writers learned that having six, seven, or eight people read and critique their work improved the quality and helped avoid errors of fact, false doctrine, and faulty logic.

    In 1970 all the departments that prepared and distributed teaching materials merged under one director, George A. Horton, who had extensive experience as a teacher and as a division coordinator.201

    Beginning in 1972 the number of full-time seminary and institute writers and editorial assistants was increased.202 As the staff grew, so did the student and teacher manuals, some of which were close to a thousand pages long. Administrators grew concerned with the number of pages, and at one point Assistant Commissioner Christensen met with the curriculum staff and asked that they “trim the fat and leave the muscle.”203

    In the 1970s seminary lessons were tied to the scriptures but not necessarily to a specific chapter or chapters. Teaching in this period followed a conceptual model, with teachers building a lesson around a key concept. Ernest L. Eberhard Jr., one of the heads of curriculum during this time, counseled teachers to ask themselves, “On what one great idea will I hang my lesson today?” For example, a teacher might relate the story of David and Goliath on a day when he was focusing on faith or a related concept. Curriculum during this period was extremely comprehensive: full of games, activities, stories, and simulations.204

    The institute student manuals, especially those for courses of study directly linked to the four standard works, focused on explaining the scriptures. These manuals, some of which exceeded 500 pages, included maps, pictures, and graphics. They brought together quotes from Church leaders as well as background material from the history of the Church. Writers were urged to use caution as to how things were written: “This is one way of looking at this scripture” was preferred over “This is the only or correct way to interpret this scripture.”205

    Another key consideration following the period of global expansion during the early 1970s was the challenge of writing for a global audience. After introducing the home-study seminary and institute program in Brazil in 1970, David A. Christensen was asked by Franklin D. Day to serve as the director of international curriculum at CES headquarters.206 Brother Christensen’s duties included getting materials translated, adapted for cultural understanding, printed, and into the hands of country coordinators. He later recalled the troubles they had with this process: “In those days we had tremendous problems getting our materials printed. We were in South America [and] Mexico. We were in Europe, and just beginning in Asia. So there were all kinds of printing problems. … Everything was correlated through translation, through printing, through the culturalization. Everything was done, and in English everything went through correlation, and we could not print anything that was not correlation approved.”207

    After working in this position for a few years and serving for a time as the executive assistant to Commissioners Jeffrey R. Holland and Henry B. Eyring, Brother Christensen was given the assignment as director of curriculum working with Jay E. Jensen, Gerald N. Lund, and Gordon B. Holbrook, who were responsible for seminary, institute, and special needs curriculum, respectively.208

    In 1978 these men and other CES leaders were invited to see a Church curriculum display on the 27th floor of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. The display was sponsored by the Correlation Department at the request of the General Authorities, and the room was filled with hundreds of items containing instructions on how to operate Church programs, plus all the teacher and student manuals. The quantity and the cost of these materials, which would only escalate as the number of Latter-day Saints in the world grew, prompted this display request from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and dramatized their instruction that a great reduction in printed material had to take place in every department; considerable effort must be made to simplify instruction, training, and supervision. One seminary lesson at that time that focused on teaching the concept of faith through the Book of Mormon story of Nephi obtaining the brass plates was 13 pages long and accompanied by an overhead transparency and a student worksheet. While all of the material was helpful, the doctrine sound, and the focus supportive of the objectives of the Church Educational System, leaders realized that for seminaries and institutes to be extended to the ends of the earth, a serious reduction in page count was absolutely necessary.209

    Commissioner Jeffrey R. Holland

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell was called in 1974 as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. While he remained Commissioner for two more years, he had a new relationship with Church members, and his colleagues observed that although his leadership style did not change, he developed noticeably “more overt spirituality.”210 When he was called to serve as one of the seven Presidents of the First Quorum of the Seventy and also asked to become the managing director of the Correlation Department in 1976, he was released as Commissioner of the Church Educational System. In a meeting of the Church Board of Education held on April 15, 1976, he received “individually expressed appreciation” for his almost six years of service. In response, Elder Maxwell “circulated a letter of appreciation for the support, counsel and wisdom he had received from the Board in carrying out his assignment as Commissioner.”211

    Holland, Jeffrey R.

    Jeffrey R. Holland served as Church commissioner of education from 1976 to 1980.

    Jeffrey R. Holland, then the dean of religious education at Brigham Young University, was chosen to replace Elder Maxwell as commissioner. Brother Holland grew up in St. George, Utah. A seminary graduate, he attended Dixie Junior College (later known as Dixie State University) before earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at Brigham Young University. A few years later, he left his post as director of the institute adjacent to the University of Washington in Seattle to earn a PhD in American Studies at Yale University, where he also taught institute classes and served in the stake presidency. After turning down an offer to become a professor at Yale, he returned to Utah and a teaching position at the Salt Lake institute. Only a short time passed before his assignment changed and he was appointed as one of Brigham Young University’s youngest deans. Charged with leading that school’s College of Religious Instruction (later known as Religious Education), he worked with many faculty members who had been his teachers only a few years before.

    Described by those who worked closely with him as friendly, happy, and filled with enthusiasm, he settled well into his new position as commissioner.212 Employees remembered that as commissioner, Elder Holland exuded love and could often be found walking through the halls and speaking to people, waving and asking how people were.213 The new commissioner was seen as a “tremendous motivator, a great speaker, [and] a great peacemaker” who focused on planning and the needs of people.214

    In 1978 Commissioner Holland taught: “Brethren and sisters, every profession has occupational hazards. Coal miners have to watch out for black lung. Deep-sea divers must avoid the bends. Chemists have to guard against noxious fumes and deadly poisons. Librarians may develop squeaky shoes. The list goes on to cover every conceivable manner of employment.” With this introduction, Commissioner Holland provided several specific admonitions to the teachers in his charge: “Please be cautious and restrained and totally orthodox in all matters of Church doctrine. This is, as you might suppose, of great concern to the Brethren, our employers in this great work. And while they love us and help us and trust us individually and collectively—and they do—they cannot fail to respond to some anxiety expressed by a member of the Church who feels that some inappropriate doctrinal or historical position has been taken in the classroom.” He continued, “As professional employees, we are teachers of the gospel, not preachers. … In our classroom work we are not ordained. One great teacher among us who understands this potential danger announces at the first of each term, ‘Students, this is school, not church. I am your teacher and your friend, but not your bishop or your stake president, and I do not speak for the prophet, seer, and revelator of the Church.’”215

    Brother Holland concluded with a warning to not stray from the basic tenets of the gospel: “With this appropriate restraint, what we then teach must be in harmony with the prophets and the holy scriptures. We are not called upon to teach exotic, titillating, or self-serving doctrines. Surely we have our educational hands full effectively communicating the most basic and fundamental principles of salvation. You will all know more than you can teach. You can hardly be called a religious educator if that is not so.”216

    New Administrators

    Stanley A. Peterson with Joe J. Christensen and others

    CES administrators (left to right): Dan J. Workman, Franklin D. Day, Frank M. Bradshaw, Marshall T. Burton, Joe J. Christensen, and Stanley A. Peterson

    As commissioner, Brother Holland sensed the need for unification of assignments and decided to make some administrative changes. First he asked Stanley A. Peterson to leave his position as dean of Continuing Education at Brigham Young University and serve as an associate commissioner of the Church Educational System with Joe J. Christensen.217

    Stanley A. Peterson

    Brother Peterson was born April 20, 1938, in Sacramento, California, and grew up in Provo, Utah. While pursuing a degree in secondary education, he met Anna Josephson, and they were married June 6, 1958, in the Logan Temple. After graduating from Brigham Young University, he moved his family to Southern California, where he was a teacher and administrator in schools in a low-income area of East Los Angeles. He was invited by officials at the University of Southern California to direct a program that trained prospective teachers in methods for succeeding in low-income or inner city schools. After only half a decade enjoying a degree of prosperity and finding his work rewarding, he received a call from Brigham Young University president Ernest L. Wilkinson, who invited him to fly to Provo, Utah, and visit with him. Brother Peterson remembered, “I had flown up on my own nickel to see him at his [Wilkinson’s] request, and then after two hours he said, ‘Thank you very much for coming,’ and that was it.”218

    While in Provo, Brother Peterson was offered the position of chairman of the Brigham Young University California Center for Continuing Education. The job would mean a very substantial salary reduction, but Brother Peterson felt impressed to accept it and his career in the Church Educational System began. Two years later, in 1970, he accepted an appointment as associate dean of Continuing Education at Brigham Young University, which required that he move his family back to Provo. In 1971 the new university president, Dallin H. Oaks, appointed Brother Peterson dean of Continuing Education, a position he then held for six years. While serving as dean he fostered a close personal relationship with the new dean of the College of Religious Instruction, Jeffrey R. Holland.219 After he accepted his appointment as associate commissioner of Church education under Commissioner Holland, Stanley A. Peterson helped define the course of seminaries and institutes.

    Henry B. Eyring

    In 1977, about the same time Brother Peterson became a member of the commissioner’s staff, Commissioner Holland asked Henry B. Eyring, then the president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, to move to Salt Lake City and serve as the deputy commissioner of Church education.

    Henry B. Eyring as Deputy Commissioner of Education

    Henry B. Eyring served first as deputy commissioner of education and later as Church commissioner of education.

    Prior to his association with Church education, Brother Eyring had led a distinguished career teaching at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his time at Stanford he taught his first early-morning seminary class.220 Extremely content in his position at Stanford, he was surprised one night to be nudged by his wife, Kathy, who asked, “Are you sure you are doing the right thing with your life?” Sister Eyring suggested he should seek out an opportunity to work for Neal A. Maxwell, then the new commissioner of Church education. Brother Eyring was a bit taken back; after all, he didn’t even know Commissioner Maxwell. But he determined that he would pray about it. At first he received no answer, or so he thought.221 Soon after, however, he received a phone call from Commissioner Maxwell asking him to come to Salt Lake City. Upon his arrival in Salt Lake, Brother Eyring was shocked to be asked to serve as president of Ricks College. He recalls, “I had only met him [Brother Maxwell] once before in my life. To this day, I have no idea how they knew who I was or where I was. … I had never been to Ricks College and did not know what it was.”222

    Henry B. Eyring was inaugurated as president of Ricks College on December 10, 1971. As part of his duties as president, he co-taught a religion class, teaching through all four scripture courses during his time in Rexburg. Instead of teaching a few sleepy early-morning students, he now taught hundreds of students coming from every area where the Church had been established. He later commented, “It was from those wonderful days at Ricks College that I learned something to add to my prayers as a teacher. I learned to ask that my students would pray in faith that the Spirit would come to teach us all.” President Eyring later remarked that he also learned during this period how the blessings that come from teaching the gospel spilled over into every facet of his life.223

    Landmark Court Case

    Near the end of the 1970s, Church education leaders closely followed a lawsuit initiated by the Logan, Utah, chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the legality of school boards granting released time for religious instruction and giving high school credit for Bible study classes.224 Stanley A. Peterson later explained:

    “I said at the beginning of that lawsuit that if we win I’ll be embarrassed. … What the school district was really trying to show [was] that we were not teaching Mormonism, or we were not teaching the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the court case the school district was claiming that we were merely teaching a history of the Old Testament and the history of the New Testament. … I said if we win I’ll really be in trouble, as far as I am concerned, because if we can prove we have not been teaching the gospel in seminary, then we better quit.”225

    Rex E. Lee, a prominent attorney and member of the Church who later served as the first dean of the Brigham Young University Law School, Solicitor General of the United States, and finally president of BYU, reviewed the case and the court’s decision before the Executive Committee of the Church Board of Education. Released-time seminary, he said, passed the tests of the Zorach Case, which the Supreme Court had declared constitutional. In January of 1979 the judge in ACLU v. Logan School District issued the same ruling. However, the court also ruled that the granting of credit for Bible courses was unconstitutional. Brother Lee and others recommended that this part of the court’s ruling be appealed.226 The Church Board and CES administrators concluded, however, that Latter-day Saint students would still participate in seminary even though they would not earn high school credit and that without the worry about credit implications, Old and New Testament courses could now be strengthened using insights from the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon, and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

    The court’s decision, and the lack of an appeal, had a significant positive impact with regard to the focus and content of new curriculum materials for these courses. Although the court decision focused on Logan, Utah, its effect was for the Church to withdraw from asking for credit for Old and New Testament courses at every seminary in the United States.227 In many ways this brought feelings of great relief. Teachers and students welcomed the opportunity to study the Bible using insights that came from latter-day scriptures and the words of the living prophets. Fears that students would drop out of seminary by droves proved to be unfounded, and both seminaries and institutes, as leaders predicted, attracted even more students every year.228

    Merging Administrations

    In a meeting of the Church Board of Education held in the fall of 1976, Commissioner Holland announced that he was planning to change some supervisory assignments so that the Church Educational System would be “more consistent with the new area organization of the Church.” Area Authority supervisors, General Authorities, and local leaders “would be able to look to one person representing the Commissioner’s office for all Church Educational System programs operating within their areas.” The Board was pleased by this announcement and “indicated that they felt this was an administrative matter” and the commissioner should feel free to act as he saw fit.229

    Commissioner Holland chose to streamline the chain of command by placing the Church K–12 schools and the religious education programs under the same administrators instead of continuing the system in which the Church elementary and secondary schools and the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion program were overseen by separate administrations. He had noted the problems of running the two programs separately when he first arrived in the commissioner’s office: “We had a religious educator going to the South Pacific, and he might be followed the very next day by a school administrator going to the South Pacific. … I thought, ‘As fast as this Church is moving and as streamlined as we are going to have to be, … I couldn’t see double coverage.’” Hoping to simplify the chain of command, Brother Holland fused the administrations over K–12 schools and religious education. All international programs came under the same area leadership, bringing the Church K–12 schools into the family of seminaries and institutes and reducing the tendency toward rivalry between the two organizations.230

    Commissioner Holland later said, “Relatively soon in my day as Commissioner, I pled for a chance to talk with one voice. … We could cut down problems. We could cut down travel and cost. We could certainly cut down on confusion if one man going to the South Pacific talked about everything, one man going to Asia talked about everything, and one man going to Latin America talked about everything.” Existing CES zone administrators Frank Day, Dan Workman, and Bruce Lake took over all education in their geographic stewardships, and Alton L. Wade and Benjamin I. Martinez, previously assistant administrators over the Church schools, became zone administrators over other geographic areas.231

    Commissioner Holland appointed Deputy Commissioner Henry B. Eyring to help supervise this transition and head up the international educational programs. President Eyring remarked, “I think a main reason for my being assigned the international program was to put together schools and seminaries and institutes worldwide.” In his first 18 months in the position, he visited over 40 different countries to evaluate the educational needs of Church members around the world.232

    Commissioner Henry B. Eyring and Joe J. Christensen

    Assistant Commissioner Joe J. Christensen with Deputy Commissioner Henry B. Eyring in a training meeting about 1978

    Brother Eyring received important mentoring from many Church leaders, particularly Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then a relatively new Apostle. He recorded in his journal an important insight from Elder Packer concerning the international growth of the Church: “[Elder Packer] taught me that ‘treating every member of the Church equally’ means meeting his [or her] needs in a way appropriate to his or her needs and country, not imposing the same chapel designs, the same organization structures, or the same programs on everyone everywhere. Giving [members] in Peru what is preferred on the Wasatch Front can be giving [them] less than giving [them] a simpler building and program suited to [them]. And it can cost a lot more.”233

    Brother Eyring worked closely with associate commissioners Joe J. Christensen and Stanley A. Peterson to develop a more cohesive system. This trio at first experienced a relationship that “proved to be stretching and often uncomfortable” but they later became close friends. Brothers Christensen and Peterson came from educational backgrounds where new ideas came and went constantly, and they had developed “a healthy skepticism” and a desire for stability.234 Brother Eyring, however, had presided over a carefully chosen group of associates at Ricks College and was used to operating within clear lines of authority. In the new CES administration, the responsibilities of the three leaders overlapped to a considerable degree, and the arrangement often led to conflict.235 The men’s differing perspectives often led to new perspectives, which in turn led to better decision-making. All three men worked together to overcome their differences, and over a period of months, the partnerships began to come together. After one productive session, Brother Eyring wrote, “Unless optimism clouds my view, meetings today seem to have brought us close to resolving three of the main organizational questions I was brought in to resolve. … My feeling is that the Spirit softened hearts to help us negotiate; it was never hard to see what would be best, but almost impossible to see how to get people to agree. We’re started.”236

    Brothers Eyring, Christensen, and Peterson served together until 1979, when, after nine years as associate commissioner and administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, Joe J. Christensen responded to the First Presidency’s call to serve as the president of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Before assuming his new responsibilities, Brother Christensen addressed the coordinators and presented some of the wisdom he had garnered over the course of his career in religious education. “Often the task of administration,” he said, “is to find out how something can be done rather than reasons why it cannot.” Other important points he made included (1) “a good guide for decision-making is [to ask the question], ‘What will be best for the most in the long run,’” (2) organizations and activities that survive by artificial means or extraordinary effort “should be allowed a dignified death,” (3) “with thought and planning, it is possible to do better for more for less,” (4) a budget crisis can bring about some of the most creative thinking, (5) “there is no place in God’s service that does not require more of us than the talents we bring to the assignment,” (6) “it is hard, if not impossible, to in-service train wisdom,” (7) “a good teacher with poor course material” is better than “a poor teacher with the best course material,” (8) “commitment is more important than competence, but it is [better] to have both,” (9) “if termination is in order, prompt decisive moves are best for all concerned assuming that care for individual dignity is exercised,” (10) “generally, people given latitude and confidence do not disappoint you,” (11) “there is much more good than bad in people generally in all the world I have visited,” (12) “you can tell a lot about the value of a man by observing how he treats his wife and children,” and (13) “it does not pay to take oneself too seriously.”237

    Church Schools

    While he merged the two administrations, Commissioner Holland maintained the Church Board of Education’s policy that “Church programs will not duplicate otherwise available [educational] opportunities.” At the same time, the report acknowledged that without Church schools, many members around the world “would be almost totally deprived of basic education.” The Church schools continued, but as the quality of education provided by the local governments improved, Commissioners Maxwell and Holland both followed a policy of gradually phasing them out in favor of seminaries and institutes.238

    Church Schools in Chile

    At the peak of Church schools, there were at least nine LDS schools in Chile, several of which existed mainly to prevent the seizure of Church property by the Marxist government.239 Following the overthrow of the Marxist regime of Salvador Allende in 1973, three of the schools established for these purposes were closed.240 In 1978 Church leaders announced a phased closing of the remaining schools in Chile.241 Benigno Pantoja Arratia, the head of the Chilean schools, gave two major factors behind the closures: “1. That the Church has grown in an extraordinary way in [Chile] and the schools cannot keep pace, therefore, a great majority of the young people of the Church will not be receiving the blessings of the Church-operated schools,” and “2. The government of Chile is now able to provide education for all Chilean youth.”242 The last Church Chilean schools closed their doors in 1981.243 Brother Arratia later commented, “The Church schools fulfilled a purpose in the growth of the kingdom in Chile … and perhaps, thanks to the existence of the schools during the difficult times, they helped mature and train many leaders and to prepare good missionaries.”244 Berkley A. Spencer, another administrator over the Chilean schools, felt just as strongly about the value of the schools. He commented, “There are a number of people who feel that the schools probably saved the Church in Chile during the Allende years. … I think if it hadn’t been for the schools, which were seen as something that the Allende government could benefit from, the Church might have been eliminated from Chile.”245

    The closure of the schools was difficult for the Church members in Chile. Elder Boyd K. Packer personally visited the country to explain the move to the local membership. Elder Eyring remembered, “Giving up these schools was very hard. In a number of cases, like in Santiago, it was one of the best private schools. There’s a touching story here. Elder Packer promised them that if they were faithful, some great thing would come, maybe even a temple. A temple is now on the very place were the school was. Beautiful prophecy. It was very hard for them, but they did it.”246 Alongside the closure of the Chilean schools, the Church also phased out a set of smaller schools in Lima, Peru; La Paz, Bolivia; and Asuncion, Paraguay, during the late 1970s.247

    Students in Cultural Celebration at Church Elementary School in Chile

    Student participants in a cultural celebration at a Church elementary school in Chile

    Church Schools in Mexico

    Throughout the 1970s, Benjamin I. Martinez traveled throughout Latin America overseeing the schools. As the new Board of Education policies were implemented, Brother Martinez collected data so the Board could decide if the schools in Mexico were a redundant effort to public schools and if they might need to close in order to free up resources to take religious education to every part of the country.248 Brother Martinez had served as a counselor in a bishopric to Brother Eyring when they were both at Stanford University, and the two enjoyed a close working relationship. Soon after Brother Eyring became the deputy commissioner, Brother Martinez took him on a tour of Mexico and explained the reasons for and against continuing the schools there. Deputy Commissioner Eyring recorded in his journal, “As Ben told me of the 50,000 converts per year, on a base of 250,000 members, I felt a spiritual confirmation that this country has the special blessing of the Lord.”249

    In 1978 Benjamin Martinez was called as a mission president, and Dan Workman became the zone administrator over the Mexican schools.250 Shortly after Brother Workman’s appointment, the First Presidency directed the CES administration to carry out another thorough review of the schools in Mexico. The country was divided into five geographical regions, and five pairs of administrators were sent, one pair to each region, to conduct interviews with local ecclesiastical leaders and school personnel.251

    The study yielded some encouraging findings about the schools. Over 90 percent of the teachers in the schools were active Church members, 8 percent were inactive, and 2 percent were nonmembers. Of 36 ecclesiastical leaders surveyed, 18 reported very good attitudes toward the schools, with 10 good, 5 fair, and 3 poor. Other statistics raised some concerns. Only about 52 percent of the elementary-age LDS children were benefitting from the Church schools in areas where they were operated, and only 20 percent of the LDS children throughout the entire country were benefitting from the schools. The report also indicated that the cost of tuition played a greater role in limiting school enrollments than did lack of space. The elementary schools, for example, were more than 1,600 students below their capacity. Enrollment was higher in the secondary and preparatory programs but still below capacity. Perhaps most pertinent to the Church Board of Education was the statement in the report that “almost all of the LDS students who are presently enrolled in our elementary schools could enroll in other schools in their communities.”252

    With other opportunities for secular education available, serious questions were raised about the need for the vast school system the Church operated throughout Mexico. The costs of maintaining the system were rising, and there were also questions about the future feasibility of bringing all the students together to attend the schools. Brother Workman summarized some of the issues weighing on the administrators’ minds during this time: “We were bussing students past government schools that had vacancies in them to get to our schools. Some of the kids were on the bus from 7:00 in the morning until 9:00, and then from 3:00 in the afternoon until 5:00. They were spending four hours a day on the bus.”253

    Even before the report was submitted, the closure of the Church schools was discussed with the local leadership. After weighing the information contained in the report along with input from the local leadership, the Board announced a six-year phaseout of all but two of the schools in Mexico. Brother Workman remembered the day the announcement was made:

    Elder [Richard G.] Scott was the area president who was living in Mexico City, and he organized it in such a way that when the announcement was made, there was a meeting in every schoolhouse at the same hour with the teachers. The announcement was first made to the teachers, and then to the priesthood leaders and parents. These meetings were held simultaneously all over Mexico, in all forty of the schools that were going to be closed, all but two. They announced that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve had met. They had been given the information about the schools, and it was the will of the Lord that these schools would now be phased out and they would utilize the public schools. Then each congregation or group was asked to sustain the Brethren in that decision, and they were given the opportunity to object. There were only two or three in all forty schools who raised their hands in objection, and none of them were members of the Church.254

    When the phaseout announcement came, Benjamin I. Martinez, the former administrator over the Latin American schools, was still serving as mission president in Merida, Mexico. Brother Martinez later recalled, “It was emotional. There were tears.”255

    Brother Workman was deeply impressed by the local members’ attitudes toward the closures. “It was a great revelation to me about the loyalty of those people in Mexico, because none of them wanted to lose their schools. But if the prophet said they were to be closed, they were to be closed, at whatever sacrifice. I was really impressed with that.”256

    All of the schools in Mexico were phased out in the early 1980s except the Juárez Academy in Colonia Juárez and the Benemérito School in Mexico City.257 This was the last large-scale divestiture of Church schools. After that time each school was considered individually, with periodic pruning taking place when local circumstances could provide an adequate education and seminary programs were in place to provide religious training.

    With local teachers and administrators running the two remaining Church schools in Mexico, for the next several decades Academia Juárez and Benemérito served as important hubs for Church education.

    Academia Juárez

    Located in the LDS colonies in northern Mexico, Academia Juárez was, early in its existence, made part of the Church school system that existed throughout the western United States, Canada, and Mexico during the end of the 19th century. Like its home colony, the academy had endured challenges like relocation, drought, and revolution.258 In continuous operation since its opening in 1897, the academy functioned as a social and cultural hub for the LDS youth in Colonia Juárez and nearby Colonia Dublán.259 Academia Juárez also had a historic connection to the origins of the seminary program: the first principal of the school was a young law student named Guy C. Wilson, who later returned to Utah and became the second seminary teacher in the Church, teaching at the Granite seminary.260

    Academy Building

    Academy building in Colonia Juárez

    When the majority of the academies closed in 1920, the Juárez school remained open because of the unique role it played in the cultural heritage of the colony. At the time it was also the only school available for the colonists and, with no competing government schools, was deemed necessary for the youth in the colonies to receive a proper education.261 The schools in the LDS colonies operated largely as an independent entity until the 1950s, when Superintendent Daniel P. Taylor worked to receive accreditation for the schools under the Mexican school system. During the 1960s and 70s, school officials also worked to provide the school’s students with a greater sense of Mexican heritage and culture, beginning with celebrations for Mexico’s independence day and cultural celebrations with other communities.262

    During most of its existence, Academia Juárez operated in conjunction with several Church-owned elementary schools spread throughout the colonies. The elementary schools were phased out in 1982 along with the rest of the LDS elementary schools in Mexico.263

    The arts and athletics of the academy reflected the bicultural nature of the community as well. Over the years, the school drama department staged such productions as The Sound of Music, The Mikado, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Women, and La Tia de Carlos. The academy’s sports programs, the male “Lobos” and female “Lobas” (wolves), boasted state and national champions in basketball and track. American football was introduced by Max R. Spilsbury shortly after he became the school’s athletic director in 1965. Academy teams competed against high schools in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.264

    Though the academy was small by most standards, its alumni made a disproportionately great contribution to the Church. During a visit to the school during its centennial celebration, President Gordon B. Hinckley commented, “I marvel at the contributions that have come out of these colonies, not only mission presidents who have gone across the world, but bishops and stake presidents, area presidents, regional representatives, General Authorities of the Church, including counselors in the First Presidency.”265 The quantity of leaders coming from the academy’s halls led to the school being called the “seedbed of the Lord.”266

    Centro Escolar Benemérito de las Américas

    While the Juárez Academy functioned as the center of a pioneer community, the Centro Escolar Benemérito de las Américas (commonly called Benemérito) on the outskirts of Mexico City created a unique new community. Named after a revered Mexican patriot, Benito Juárez Garcia, president of Mexico from 1861 to 1865, Benemérito was designed as the central hub of the LDS schools in Mexico.267 At its groundbreaking on November 4, 1963, President Marion G. Romney prophesied, “This school that we are beginning today is destined to become a great cultural center, a Spanish language center; its influence will reach beyond the Valley of Mexico; this institution will also influence Latin America, South America and all the Continent. Hundreds of thousands of people will come here, and the nation will be edified in its education, in its culture, in its spirituality.”268

    Students at Benemerito de las Americas

    Students at Benemérito de las Américas in the 1970s

    Benemérito was designed as a boarding school. Some students were organized into smaller cottage dormitories, with each cottage supervised by house parents. Under this system, students lived in “a family-like setting” and “participated in group prayer and scripture study.” By 1968, fifty cottages of this nature had been built to accommodate the students.269 Other students were housed in traditional dormitories, and students who lived at home were bused in to attend classes.

    Albert Kenyon Wagner served as the school’s director from its opening in 1964 until 1975. He immediately began to notice the extreme backgrounds of some of the students. He wrote, “60% of them are children who have been abandoned by their parents, or by one parent; or come from homes broken by divorce. … 90% of them come from homes with less than $160 per month income. The other 10% would come in what we would refer to as the ‘middle class’ bracket.”270 Many of the arriving students had never slept in a bed, eaten at a table, or owned pajamas or extra clothes.271 Providing a stable, gospel-centered environment for the students to grow and progress in was as high a priority for the school as was academic excellence. Benemérito began receiving praise for its thoughtful planning and operation almost immediately after its opening. While he was campaigning for his presidency, the president of Mexico José López Portillo visited the Benemérito school because he was so impressed with the quality of the school. In the midst of such praise, the leaders of the school remained focused on the role of the school in the larger work of the Church. One school official said, “This good academic record, of itself, would be of insufficient value to justify the expenditure of Church funds unless the schools also played an important role in the building of the Church. … In the Church’s schools in Mexico, students receive superior scholastic training. Aside from that, through example and comparison, they receive a moral and ethical foundation for living.”272

    Committed to its motto of “Inteligencia, Poder, Luz y Verdad” (Intelligence, Power, Light, and Truth), the school made valuable contributions to the development of the Church in Mexico. A survey of the first 400 students to attend the school conducted decades later revealed that 90 percent of this group of alumni held jobs in professional fields and 90 percent were active in the Church. Brother Wagner reported in 1989 that “Forty have been stake presidents, four are now serving as mission presidents, and several have been regional representatives.”273 Another survey revealed that nearly 80 percent went on to receive university-level education, a figure among the highest of all the schools in Mexico.274 Eder L. Ontiveros, a school administrative assistant, captured the importance of the school in the development of the Church and the nation, saying, “We teach our students that they are the leavening for the whole of Mexico.”275

    Benemerito School in Mexico

    A gathering of students at the Benemérito school in Mexico

    A valuable part of the work of the Church schools in Mexico came in providing religious education to the students. Religion classes at the academy in Colonia Juárez date back to before the inception of the seminary program in that country. The first weekday religion classes in Mexico began at Benemérito in 1966. Harold Brown played a key role in introducing the seminary home-study program in 1970. In 1971, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion officially took over responsibilities for religious education in all the schools throughout the country. With over 11,000 students, Mexico suddenly became the largest division of seminaries and institutes outside of the United States, and it continued to grow. By 1974, there were over 16,000 students enrolled in religious education classes throughout Mexico.276

    The first official seminary in Mexico was organized at Benemérito under the direction of Brother Brown. One account of the first years of seminary there records, “Seminary classes for Secondary students evoked mixed emotions the first two years. Some were enthusiastic about gospel study from the beginning, others participated because they were asked to, but others showed their lack of enthusiasm by irregular attendance and passive participation.”277 The situation began to improve when Juan Palaez was hired as the assistant director of the seminary and a program of student activity began. “Teachers began to be trained in the interesting arts of seminary teaching. … Students learned through ‘scripture chases’ that the scriptures could be fun and that life’s problems could be overcome by applying scriptural principles. … The complexion of seminary changed almost miraculously.”278

    Church Schools in the Pacific

    Church schools directed by Latter-day Saint missionaries had existed in the Pacific as far back as the 19th century.279 During the late 1970s, the majority of the Church’s elementary and middle schools in Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti were closed as government schools continued to improve upon the modernization that began during the 1950s. In other places, like Kiribati (Gilbert Islands), Indonesia, and Fiji, schools opened to meet the needs of young Latter-day Saints.280

    The Church College of New Zealand281

    Latter-day Saint roots in New Zealand run all the way back to 1854, when the first missionaries arrived to preach the gospel. Though the work proceeded slowly at first, missionaries eventually found a people well-prepared to hear the gospel among the Maori inhabitants of the islands. Local lore tells of a prophecy by a leader in the Ngatikahungunu tribe who told his people, “My friends, the church for the Maori people has not yet come among us. You will recognize it when it comes. Its missionaries will travel in pairs. They will come from the rising sun. They will visit with us in our homes. They will learn our language and teach us the gospel in our own tongue.”282 The work progressed rapidly among the Maori people. By 1897, 90 percent of the 4,000 Church members in the country were of Maori descent. Recognizing the need to provide proper educational training for this growing population, in 1913 the Church established the Maori Agricultural College (MAC), which operated until 1931. Shortly after the closure of the school was announced, an earthquake badly damaged it, quickly ending its operation.283

    In the 1940s, Church leaders under the direction of President George Albert Smith launched a program to rebuild the entire school, transforming it into the Church College of New Zealand (CCNZ).284 The revolutionary program of construction performed by labor missionaries inspired President Smith’s successor, President David O. McKay, to sponsor similar programs throughout the Pacific, effectively creating the first united system of LDS education in the region. By the end of the 1950s, the sacrifices of the Church members in New Zealand produced not only a school but also a stately temple and the surrounding community of Temple View.285 At the dedication of the CCNZ in 1958, President McKay issued a profound challenge to the local Saints, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be fit to live as well as to think.”286

    From its opening the CCNZ operated as a boarding school, attracting students from throughout the Pacific region. The college grew to serve over 600 students during the 1960s. Curriculum was designed specifically for Maori students, though those of any nationality who qualified were allowed to attend. A 1971 survey of the student body showed that out of 662 total students, 324 were Maori, 264 were of European descent, and the rest came from other Pacific islands.287

    While the new school was revered by the local Church members, its almost entirely American staff caused some friction with the New Zealand government. Some New Zealanders saw it as “an American school with American teachers teaching American propaganda” to New Zealand youth. To remedy the situation, the Church began replacing American teachers with native New Zealanders. By the late 1970s the staff consisted entirely of New Zealanders.288 Barney Wihongi, the first student body president in the school’s history, was later selected as the CCNZ’s sixth principal and served in that position until his death in 1983.289

    Church Schools in Samoa

    As in other areas of the Pacific, the Church schools in Samoa played a vital role in converting souls to the gospel and strengthening the Saints.290 The early 20th century saw 26 Church schools in Samoa operated by missionaries, and the graduates of these schools became the Church’s support system in that nation.291 As the number of converts in the islands grew, enrollments in the Church schools rose until facilities were nearly bursting at the seams. Golden H. Hale, the Samoan mission president, wrote to the Presiding Bishopric in 1949, “We have a large school here at Pesega this year. The enrollment is over the 500 mark and we are having such a time to house them. … At present we are holding one class here on the veranda of the mission home and [one] in the garages, and wherever we can put them.”292 Due to the help of Elder Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the First Presidency approved construction of a new school in March 1949.293

    During the 1950s the Samoan government suffered severe financial shortages and dismissed nearly 40 percent of the teaching staff in the government schools. The number of students in the Church schools skyrocketed, reaching over 1,200 in May 1962. The schools followed a policy of “restrained growth” throughout the remainder of the 1960s and the 1970s, emphasizing the importance of a quality education.294

    In 1974 Church leaders announced the sale of Mapusaga High School in American Samoa to the local government. Elder Maxwell later explained some of the reasoning behind the move: “When it [Mapusaga High School] was built the government schools weren’t up to sufficient quality, but now they were and our students could get into them. Should the Church go on expending tithing dollars for a high school when our students could be admitted to government high schools in American Samoa?”295 Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles traveled to American Samoa to explain the closure, and he invited the local priesthood leaders to pray and gain their own confirmation of the decision. Elder Maxwell continued, “They prayed and came back and said, ‘It is right. We will do it.’ But they were unhappy. It was tough.”296 The land was sold to the government and converted into a junior college. By 1978 the country had just six Church elementary schools and the Church College of Western Samoa (CCWS), with a combined enrollment of 1,613.297

    Brett MacDonald, a former director of Church schools in Samoa, spoke about the importance of these schools:

    The schools remain an important link between the Mormons and the rest of the country. The rest of the country doesn’t experience the temple, but they all know the schools, and they see the schools perform academically and athletically and in parades. The face of the Mormon Church in a lot of these countries is the schools. It is the most open to visits, it is probably the most easily experienced expression of Mormonism for those who aren’t members of the Church. They come to campus, or hear one of our choirs, watch an athletic team play in competition. The identity of the Church is inseparable from the Church schools here.298

    Church Schools in Tonga

    A statue celebrating the importance of education appears in front of Liahona High School on the island nation of Tonga. The sculpture, fashioned by Viliami Toluta’u, a former student of the school, captures the moment in 1807 when Tongan Chief Finau Ulukalala Feletoa II saw written language for the first time and thought it was magic.299

    The first Church schools in Tonga opened in 1892 and functioned largely as an outreach program for missionary work.300 They were staffed primarily by missionaries and operated in poor conditions. In 1947 Evon D. Huntsman, the mission president at the time, purchased a plantation in the hope of expanding the Church school at Makeke. He began calling the location “Liahona,” and the name stuck.301 Six years later, thanks to the contributions of thousands of dedicated labor missionaries, a modern campus was built on the site. Liahona High School opened on February 11, 1952.302

    Over 200 students attended Liahona High School during its first year of operation, around 35 percent of them not LDS. The school soon became one of the Church’s greatest tools for missionary work in Tonga. High educational standards drew students to Liahona like a magnet, and then the faculty, students, and curriculum introduced nonmembers to the virtues of the gospel.303 In later years it became rare for nonmember students to graduate from Liahona, because most were converted during their time at the school.304 One non-LDS scholar described the school’s effectiveness in strengthening the Church in Tonga: “Liahona High School became a prime context in which students, both members and nonmembers, reconstituted themselves as Mormons. … Liahona High School became not only the most important socializing body of the Church and the primary source of youthful converts, but also the hub of a sacred center.”305

    Success at Liahona High led to the spread of Church educational programs throughout the islands. In 1975 James William Harris, a native Tongan, took over as head of the Church schools in Tonga, serving until 1981.306 In 1978 a sister school to Liahona opened: Saineha High School in Neiafu, Vava’u. The Church also operated several middle schools, including one at Liahona and others at ‘Eua, Havelu, Koulo, Malapo, and Pakilau.307 In 1978 early-morning seminary classes started in chapels throughout Tonga, and 830 students were enrolled by the end of the year.308 With the addition of seminary and institute classes, every young member of the Church in Tonga had the opportunity to participate in Church education.

    Church Schools in Tahiti

    The first LDS schools in Tahiti, part of the French Republic, opened in 1914 but quickly closed after the start of World War I. Mission presidents in Tahiti frequently made requests to the government for Church schools but were constantly denied because French laws required that French-speaking citizens operate and teach all schools. By the early 1960s, discussions with the government finally bore fruit and a French convert of just three years, Louis Bertone, was asked to move to Tahiti to serve as the director for a new school called École Primaire Élémentaire, S.D.J. Thanks to the work of a dedicated team of labor missionaries, the elementary school was completed and opened in September 1964. All of the classes at the school were taught in French. French law required that half of the teachers come from France, so six teachers from France and six native Tahitians made up the first staff. By 1978, 530 students attended. Brother Bertone retired in 1969 and was succeeded by Raymond R. Baudin, who had been on the faculty since the school’s opening.309

    In 1975 Brother Baudin was called as the mission president in Tahiti, and Jean Tefan, the assistant principal and a native of the islands, took over as the school’s director. Brother Tefan was a graduate of BYU–Hawaii and an enthusiastic leader who was fluent in Tahitian, French, Chinese, and English. Only 26 years old at the time he became principal, Brother Tefan knew every student by name. When asked about his stewardship, Brother Tefan commented, “My goal is to educate the children to know that God is their Heavenly Father and to prepare them to fit into society. We want to teach the students to be good leaders and to fill missions.”310

    Brother Tefan served until 1978, when he took a sabbatical to BYU–Hawaii to further his education. He was succeeded by Yves Robert Perrin, a former French missionary to Tahiti. Under Brother Perrin’s supervision, the school launched an intensive English language program for students who wished to continue their education at Liahona High School in Tonga.311

    Moroni Community School in Kiribati

    Before 1972 there were no Latter-day Saints in Kiribati (Gilbert Islands). The British-overseen government of the country limited education among the natives, allowing only a small percentage of elementary-age children to attend school. The move was a pragmatic one, designed to educate only the number of people needed to fill available positions. Hoping to overcome these challenges, Waitea Abiuta, a teacher and administrator at several different schools in Kiribati, established a small elementary school on Tarawa in 1969. Seeking to provide high school training for his students, in 1972 Abiuta began sending letters to high schools throughout the world in an attempt to place his graduates. Some of these letters reached George C. Puckett, the superintendent of Church schools in Tonga. Brother Puckett forwarded them to Alton L. Wade, head of the Pacific schools. At first, Brother Wade put them aside since they came from a nonmember and the Church was in the midst of streamlining its educational efforts. But impressed by the sheer volume of the letters from Kiribati, Brother Wade eventually discussed them with Elder Neal A. Maxwell, then the commissioner overseeing the Church Educational System. The decision was made to investigate the matter further, and Brother Wade and Kenneth H. Beesley, the associate commissioner over Church schools, were sent to meet with Abiuta.312

    Impressed with Abiuta and his work, the two men returned to Church headquarters and recommended that George Puckett travel to Tarawa and select 12 students to attend Liahona High School in Tonga. The first group of students from Kiribati arrived in Tonga in February 1973. By that May all 12, with parental permission, had chosen to join the Church. A second group of 13 students who arrived the next year were all baptized as well. During a routine visit to Tonga, President Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, met personally with the students from Kiribati. President Monson later pointed out to Church leaders that if the majority of the incoming class continued to be baptized there could soon be enough members of the Church in Kiribati to consider opening missionary work there. By 1975, six young men from the original group of students were ordained elders and called as missionaries. After six months in the Tongan mission, the young elders were reassigned to the Fiji Suva Mission and sent to Kiribati to open the island for missionary work. Assisted by several missionaries from other countries, these elders soon converted a number of their countrymen, including Waitea Abiuta.313

    Brother Abiuta’s school in Tarawa soon became the center for LDS activity in Kiribati, providing facilities for Church meetings and other functions. Opposition arose in the form of local ministers counseling parents against enrolling their children in the school. Because the school was dependent on student tuition, it soon ran into financial difficulty, and Brother Abiuta was forced to ask the CES administration for help. Recognizing the school’s importance to the future of the Church in Kiribati, Alton Wade recommended a temporary takeover. He also sent a professional teacher, Grant S. Howlett, to supervise the school. CES officially took over the school and renamed it Moroni Community School in 1977.314

    Under Grant Howlett’s leadership, the school grew, constructing several more buildings to accommodate more students. Because of the difficulty of finding qualified teachers, the school was headed by American expatriates and CES missionaries for several years. CES also hired several local Church members who had graduated from Liahona High School to teach. Conditions were primitive. The school lacked running water, electricity, and phones for the first several years of its existence.315

    Over the years the school grew along with the Church in Kiribati and functioned as a model for the entire country of a successful educational facility. Teacher training programs at BYU–Hawaii allowed the school to build a fully qualified and prepared staff.316

    Looked at as a missionary venture, the school was an amazing success story. When the first students from Kiribati arrived in Tonga in 1973, there were no members of the Church in the entire country of Kiribati. Three decades later there were over 11,000 Church members—nearly one person in ten of the population of Kiribati.317

    Fiji LDS Church College

    During the mid-1960s Church leaders in Suva, Fiji, began to look at the large Suva chapel as a possible facility to hold an elementary school for Church youth. Within a few years, the Church Board of Education approved the creation of a small elementary school and sent Brother Charles Mohi from New Zealand to be the first principal. Several teachers, most of whom were local Church members, filled out the staff. The school opened in February 1969, and by the end of 1973 it had over 100 students and met the educational standards of the Church and the government.318

    Jeffrey R. Holland & Alton Wade 1979

    Commissioner Jeffrey R. Holland with Pacific schools administrator Alton L. Wade during a visit to the Pacific

    During a trip to Fiji in the early 1970s, the president of the Fijian mission, Ebbie L. Davis, discussed with Brother Wade, head of the Pacific schools, the possibility of providing education through the 12th grade for students in Fiji. President Davis, a former teacher at Liahona High in Tonga, felt that too many of the local youth drifted into inactivity in the Church once their association with the Church school ended. Brother Wade passed President Davis’s comments on to Commissioner Maxwell, who presented the idea to the Church Board of Education. The Church had anticipated no further Church schools in the Pacific, and therefore the Board replied that no additional school construction was being considered at that time. Brother Wade recalled breaking the news to President Davis: “I will never forget President Davis’s response when I told him of the decision. Without any hesitation he said, ‘Well, I have seen the school in a dream and Fiji will have a high school.’”319

    In 1974 President Spencer W. Kimball, who had recently become President of the Church, asked that the proposal for the school in Fiji be reconsidered. Soon after, Brother Wade was given clearance to begin negotiations with the local government for the construction of the new school. President Davis asked a local member, Josef Sokia, to assist Brother Wade in finding a suitable site. They considered dozens of sites ranging in size from six to fifteen acres. After fasting and praying about it, a suitable site was located on “a narrow neck of land adjacent to [a small] village and jutting out like a finger toward Laucala Bay.” The first time the search team saw the site, they had to hack their way through the surrounding jungle to get to it. Brother Wade later described his first visit to the location with President Davis: “The view from the top of the property out over the ocean was breathtaking. As I stood with President Davis he said that he had seen this location in a dream.”320

    The campus of the Fiji LDS Church College opened in 1975 with Howard F. Wolfgramme as the first director and was formally dedicated in July of the following year. The curriculum emphasized training in trades and vocations (the original name of the school was the LDS Fiji Technical College) but also provided academic and spiritual training. As one historian pointed out, one of the most promising aspects of the school was that over half of the students were of Indian descent, perhaps opening a door toward future missionaries in India. Operating in tandem with the seminary program, which had launched in Fiji in 1973, the Church schools and religious education programs in Fiji were available to all Latter-day Saint youth.321 In the ensuing years Church membership in Fiji grew from just a handful of members to over 17,000 in 2014.322

    Jakarta Elementary School in Indonesia

    In late 1975 Brother Alton L.Wade arrived in New Zealand after a three-week tour of the Pacific schools. Upon his arrival he received a call from Commissioner Neal A. Maxwell requesting he travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, to inquire into the feasibility of establishing a school there. When Kenneth H. Beesley, the associate commissioner over Church schools, provided more details about the errand, Brother Wade began to protest. His trip notes include the following: “I indicated to Ken that I didn’t have a visa to Indonesia, I was out of money, didn’t have the appropriate shots and I didn’t think there was even an Indonesian consulate in New Zealand. Ken didn’t have much sympathy.”323

    Brother Wade called in all of his connections and found himself on a plane to Indonesia the next day. He met with the mission president, Hendrik Gout, who was excited about the prospect of a school but doubtful the local government would allow it.324 President Gout suggested meeting with the mayor of Jakarta, Siang Silalahi,325 but cautioned it might take several days to even obtain an appointment with him. To their surprise, when they called the mayor’s office they received an appointment for 10:00 a.m. the next day. When they arrived at the mayor’s office, they were ushered to the front of the line. Brother Wade described being met by “a large and handsome gentleman who rushed over to us, put his arms around me, grabbed me by the arm and ushered us into his office. As we entered, he pointed to his Master’s Degree graduation diploma from Brigham Young University. He also had several other framed BYU certificates on his wall. His excitement at seeing us was as though we were long lost friends.”326 Over the course of the conversation Brother Wade discovered that not only was Mayor Siang Silalahi an alumnus of BYU, but they had attended at the same time and even shared some of the same classes!327 According to Brother Wade, Mayor Silalahi told them, “If there is anything in the world I can do to help you establish the Church in this country, I am here to help. I am mayor of this city today because of my experiences at Brigham Young University.”328

    Brother Wade returned to Church headquarters a few days later and reported to Commissioner Maxwell. Even though all of the Church members in the country had access to education and a Church school was not strictly necessary, Commissioner Maxwell felt strongly that the school could be a great tool in helping establish missionary work.329

    Over the course of the next year, Mayor Silalahi was very helpful as he made introductions and sorted through government formalities to get approval for the school’s opening. On January 6, 1977, the Church opened the S.D. OSZA, the LDS elementary, commonly called the Jakarta Elementary School.330 The school employed only LDS Indonesians as teachers and administrators. During the first year 70 students enrolled, 12 of whom were members of the Church. According to Alton Wade, the large nonmember enrollment was “according to design because the school was intended to expose the church to the non-member community.”331

    Expanding into All the World

    Under the leadership of Joe J. Christensen as an assistant commissioner and Neal A. Maxwell and Jeffrey R. Holland as commissioners, global Church education flourished in dozens of new countries in the 1970s. The programs were remarkable for their reach and adaptability. In spite of the many challenges, thousands of students outside the United States were enrolled in seminary and institute. E. Dale LeBaron, who helped start seminaries and institutes in South Africa, later commented, “It’s interesting that it happened in such a brief window of time, such a small window of time there, four or five years, almost a blitz. It’s interesting to see that not only were certain parts of the world ready, but almost all the world was ready.”332 Bringing the Church elementary and secondary schools under CES supervision also created a number of new responsibilities and opportunities. Elder Christensen commented, “We have been moving to the point that now every young person in the world, who is a member of the Church, can have access to one form or another of the Church Educational System. When you consider the home study materials, the early morning and released time seminary opportunities, now everyone in the world can say we have a weekday religious educational program that can adapt to their circumstances.”333

    Looking back, Elder Christensen recognized the remarkable nature of the period: “It really was an explosive growth period. … I think the Lord was behind that. I think He wanted those young people to learn the gospel and many things fell into place. It went far beyond what we would have anticipated. The cooperation of people in the field was just admirable. We went in those first few years from nothing in any international language to sixty-six countries and sixteen languages other than English. … And it has continued to expand since then into other languages and other countries.”334Notes