“Chapter Three: Follow the Brethren, 1953–1969,” By Study and Also by Faith—One Hundred Years of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (2015)
“Chapter Three,” By Study and Also by Faith
In the postwar world, the Church found itself poised on the brink of an unprecedented worldwide expansion, which brought with it a number of challenges as well as opportunities for the seminary and institute programs. The work of the Lord moved forward with the raising up of new leaders. In 1951 President David O. McKay, who had been in the First Presidency as a counselor to President George Albert Smith, became President of the Church. He may have been one of the most consistent advocates of education among the General Authorities. Two years later he launched a complete reorganization of the Church system of education.
As early as 1938, consideration had been given to combining the Church’s colleges, schools, seminaries, and institutes under one administrator. In 1942–43 Commissioner Franklin L. West had “prepared a plan for the appointment of a chancellor in order to unify LDS education,”1 but, at the time, there were strong opinions on both sides of the issue.
When Ernest L. Wilkinson became president of Brigham Young University in 1951, he told members of the Church Board of Education that such unification would strengthen and make the Church’s educational system more efficient. He believed that uniformity of religion courses and faculty hiring and recruitment “would eliminate the rivalry among BYU, Church institutes, and Ricks College over enrollment and other issues.” Other advantages included strengthening the training of teachers, enhancing the BYU summer program, and having one leader setting educational goals. Combining the executive staffs of the seminaries and institutes and BYU would make it possible that “a uniform accounting system could be set up to check on comparative costs.” Religious teaching aids could be prepared and published at the university, which would also reduce expenditures. Moreover, the university’s television station and motion picture studio could economically produce programs and films to assist religion teachers.2
Opponents of unification believed that institutes would lose some autonomy and that schools like the University of Utah and Utah State Agricultural College, soon to become Utah State University, might resent having LDS institutes that were administered by a rival university should the president of BYU become the chancellor.3
The central idea behind unification was to treat all the different branches of Church education as one unified entity. President Wilkinson even proposed naming the entire system the “University of Deseret.” He rejected another proposed title, the “Church Educational System,” because he felt the title would be meaningless to nonmembers. President Wilkinson continued, “Furthermore, it does not have the connotation of the entire system being a part of a great University.” His vision was to have the BYU campus serve as the central hub of his proposed University of Deseret, with seminaries, institutes, and other schools acting as the spokes of a great wheel.4
Following Commissioner West’s retirement in 1953, Church leaders decided to act on President Wilkinson’s unification proposal, but adopted the name of Church Educational System.5 In President Wilkinson’s first two years as president of BYU, he had won the confidence of the Church Board of Education, and they appointed him administrator of the Unified Church School System on June 26, 1953. As chief executive officer, he was responsible for Brigham Young University, Ricks College, LDS Business College, McCune School of Music, and Academy Juárez in Mexico,6 as well as 27 institutes7 and over 100 seminaries.8 He chose two vice presidents, William E. Berrett and William F. Edwards.
In his role as vice president, Brother Berrett was assigned to supervise the seminaries and institutes as well as religious education at all of the Church schools.9 He held a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Utah and had taught seminary, served as the editor for the educational system, and authored widely used textbooks.10 He had also worked as a religion professor at BYU and spearheaded the implementation of the school’s ROTC program.11 A tall, white-haired, dignified man, President Berrett, as he was called by young and old alike, had long since proven his devotion to the Church’s education programs. In the 1920s he spent summers walking along dusty roads in rural LDS communities recruiting students on a salary of $159 per month. Early in his career he had helped construct a coffin for his own deceased baby and returned to his classes while still mourning his loss.12
President Berrett was a man of commanding presence. The papers he prepared and delivered on the doctrines of the restored gospel were like law briefs, carefully reasoned and heavily footnoted. Many of his discourses were kept and filed by the seminary and institute teachers and were used again and again in lesson preparation. He listened carefully, laced his decisions with kindness, and was merciful as well as just. The entire office staff developed close friendships under President Berrett’s leadership. One member of the staff, George D. Durrant, recalled that President Berrett was “the kind of man that it’s easy to be loyal to.”13 President Wilkinson trusted President Berrett to administer the seminaries and institutes with considerable if not total freedom.
President Berrett brought a different set of experiences to the seminary and institute programs. Previous heads of the programs had all come from collegiate backgrounds in the fields of science or literature. President Berrett was the first to have a background in LDS religious education. Except for a brief stint as an assistant attorney general in Alaska, he had spent all of his professional life writing and teaching in the seminary and institute programs. During the 1930s, while working as a curriculum writer for the Church, he had taught at the mission home, a training center for LDS missionaries in Salt Lake City. While there he had developed a close relationship with some Church leaders and, as a result, saw the importance of relationships with Church leaders to the success of his administration.14
The administration operated out of what became affectionately known as the “central office,” or the nerve center for all operations of seminaries and institutes during this time, which consisted of two locations. When President Berrett assumed his new responsibilities, religious education was housed in three small rooms in the Karl G. Maeser Building on the campus of Brigham Young University. The second location of the central office, consisting of research, finance, and support personnel, was housed in what was often referred to as the “Old Presiding Bishop’s Building,” directly across from Temple Square at 50 North Main Street in Salt Lake City.15
When President Berrett took over the administration, seminaries were supervised by Brothers J. Karl Wood and Joy Dunyon, who filled their positions from 1941 to 1953 and 1945 to 1955 respectively, while each of the institute directors reported directly to President West. Soon after his appointment, President Berrett learned that Brother Wood wanted to retire from his supervisor responsibilities, so President Berrett granted his request and assigned him to spend his last years teaching at the Logan institute. President Berrett began to ponder and pray regarding Brother Wood’s replacement. Firmly believing that he was entitled to assistance from the Spirit, he was still somewhat surprised when a story he had heard regarding the director of the Reno, Nevada, institute came into his mind.16
The story President Berrett recalled was of a presentation that A. Theodore Tuttle had made at a meeting of institute directors and teachers in which he “brought out a big pie with about four inches of whipped cream on top of it. He passed out some old soiled paper plates, and he said, ‘I’m sure you would like a bit of this pie’ … and with his hand picked three or four hand fulls out of this pie and put it on each of the old plates.” None of the instructors seemed eager to eat the offered treat. Allowing them to dispose of the pie they had not touched, he brought out another pie, nice plates, and napkins, and he carefully sliced the new pie for the instructors. As they ate, Brother Tuttle observed that this illustrated the way some people teach and the way teaching ought to be done. Sometimes, he said, students do not accept gospel principles in part, at least, because of the way they are presented.17
A. Theodore (Ted) Tuttle was born in Manti, Utah, on March 2, 1919. He was influenced by his high school seminary teacher, Leland E. Anderson, and young Brother Tuttle decided in high school that seminary teaching would be his life’s work.18 After graduating from high school, attending Snow College, earning a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, and getting married, he served as a U.S. Marine lieutenant in the Second World War.19 Brother Tuttle saw action during the horrific battle of Iwo Jima, and early in the battle he carried up the mountain the flag used in the iconic photograph of the U.S. Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi.20
After his discharge on January 26, 1946, he visited Commissioner Franklin L. West and told him of his desire to teach seminary. “Well, this is January,” Brother West told the ex-marine. “We don’t have any jobs.” Three weeks later there was a job. A teacher had quit and the Tuttles were on their way to Menan, Idaho, near Idaho Falls, to begin teaching at the Midway High School Seminary.21 Brother Tuttle later recalled, “I didn’t find out till I got there that the kids a month or two before … had run the seminary teacher out because they were such little rascals.” Brother Tuttle wore his officer’s uniform from the Marine Corps the first few days of school, which seemed to help counter any rowdiness. He remembered, “I told them the story about our landing on Iwo Jima and something about the battles. And of course it was so current and the war was so much on everyone’s mind at that time that they were really interested.” He gradually was able to begin teaching the lessons for the course of study. Brother Tuttle enjoyed teaching, and the students were pleased with the way he served the gospel “pie.”22
Later, after teaching seminary in the Salt Lake Valley and Brigham City, Utah, Brother Tuttle was appointed director of the institute in Reno, Nevada. Before he and his wife, Marne, left Reno to spend a summer in Salt Lake City while he worked on his doctorate degree, he promised the stake president that he would return to the institute in the fall.23 As the summer of 1953 drew to a close, however, his plans changed. He attended a three-day seminar for Church Educational System leaders, and at its conclusion President Berrett called him into his office and asked if he would like to leave Reno and supervise the seminaries and institutes.24
President Berrett’s second assistant, Joy Dunyon, continued as assistant administrator until he retired in 1955 and Boyd K. Packer was asked to fill the vacancy.25
Born September 10, 1924, Boyd Kenneth Packer was the tenth child of Ira and Emma Packer. He grew up in Brigham City, Utah, and served as a bomber pilot in the Second World War. After the war he married Donna Smith, graduated from the Utah State Agricultural College, and then began his seminary career teaching at the Brigham City seminary, where he taught with Abel S. Rich and A.Theodore Tuttle.26
After calling Brother Tuttle as one of his assistants, President Berrett drove to Brigham City and asked Boyd K. Packer to replace Brother Tuttle as director of the Reno institute. Having just been made a member of the city council and only weeks into teaching a new seminary class for American Indians boarding at the Intermountain School, Brother Packer declined the offer. Still, both Brother Packer and his wife, Donna, left an impression on President Berrett.27 Brother Tuttle had taught seminary with Brother Packer in Brigham City, and he suggested to President Berrett that Brother Packer was the right man for the second supervisor’s job. President Berrett returned to Brigham City and asked Brother Packer to serve as co-supervisor along with Brother Tuttle. This time, Brother Packer accepted the invitation.
With new leadership came new titles. William E. Berrett became the administrator of seminaries and institutes, and Brothers Tuttle and Packer became assistant administrators, now with stewardship over not just seminaries but institutes as well.28 As the two men assumed their duties, they prayed for guidance. Brother Packer wanted to secure and train teachers who would be strong in the Church and focus on revealed doctrine and scripture. This, he thought, would reduce the number of complaints coming from ecclesiastical leaders and parents that their students were not always being taught sound doctrine nor having their faith and testimonies strengthened.29 He made an appointment with Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who had agreed to give him counsel and guidance. When they met, Elder Lee listened and then said, “You must decide, to begin with, where you stand and which way you face. You must decide whether you are a delegate representing the seminary and institute men before the Brethren, or whether you will, as I think you should, represent the Brethren to the seminary and institute teachers.”30
Sometime later Brother Packer and Brother Tuttle went to their office in the BYU Maeser Building to discuss their responsibilities. Brother Packer recalled, “We put our feet up on the desk, locked the door, and talked for half a day. We asked ourselves the question, ‘What can we do most to help [our] brethren?’ Out of that meeting that began on our knees with prayer, there came an inspiration and it was three words. We adopted it as something of a creed, and it saved us many times when decisions—rationally and academically—would have led us in other directions. The three words were simply: ‘Follow the brethren.’”31 Encouraged by President Berrett, they worked to build a closer working relationship between the seminary and institute teachers and Church leaders. Brother Tuttle recalled, “There was a definite attempt on our part to bring the Brethren and the teachers closer together.”32
Years after his retirement, Brother Berrett said his fondest memory of those first years as administrator of seminaries and institutes was “the close association with my assistants, because we were pretty much [of] one mind. … There had developed a close association between Bro. Packer and Bro. Tuttle that you couldn’t separate them.”33 Brother Berrett later described his two assistants as “a David and Jonathan in their friendship.”34 When he sent them to separate assignments, they found ways “to get together, even if they had to work extra hours on their trips. … Theirs was the closest of associations,” he concluded, “and [it] lasted all their lives.”35
During the years President Berrett led religious education, the growing programs remained close-knit. President Packer affectionately remembered the smaller nature of the organization in those days, calling it “kind of a mom and pop operation.”36 Brother Tuttle later commented, “I’ve always thought those were the golden days of the seminary system, because for a few years there we knew every man in the system, had visited personally his class once or twice or three times a year. … Brother Packer and I hired every man, interviewed them, knew them, tended them when they were new.”37
The work of President William E. Berrett and his assistants was fundamentally administrative. They hired and trained personnel, directed a summer school every other year, visited seminaries and institutes, conducted group training meetings, and interfaced with stake presidents. They also visited seminary teachers, often spending the entire day with them and sitting through all of their classes. At the end of such a day they met privately with the instructor to evaluate his teaching and offer suggestions for improvement.
Recalling those days, President Packer remembered moving “hesitantly and nervously among the men, most of whom were senior to me in years, in service, in academic achievement, and, I thought, in almost every other way.”38 President Packer recalled one experience in a training meeting when an older teacher delivered a presentation critical of Church history and impugning the integrity of several past and present Church leaders. The teacher ended his presentation with a call for his peers to “wake up and be more critical and selective.”39 Asked to comment, Brother Packer arose and felt inspired to speak about the famous Greek sculpture the Winged Victory. He pointed out that over the years, the statue had suffered many cracks and scrapes and even lost its head and arms, but it was still regarded as immensely valuable. He explained:
Regarding the Church, I suppose if we look we can find flaws and abrasions and a chip missing here and there. I suppose we can see an aberration or an imperfection in a leader of the past or perhaps the present. Nonetheless, there is still absolute, hard-rock, undeniable, irrefutable proof, because the Church is what it is and because that someone, sometime, with supreme inspired spiritual genius set to work obediently under inspiration and organized it, and so it came into being. It is best that we should enlarge ourselves to appreciate the beauty and genius of it, rather than debunk and look for the flaws.40
Brother Packer then cautioned, “My fellow teachers, it isn’t the Church or the gospel that is on trial. We are.”41
During the April 1958 general conference, A. Theodore Tuttle was called to the First Council of the Seventy.42
At first Elder Tuttle continued in his role as assistant administrator of the Church Educational System. He spent Saturdays and Sundays presiding over, conducting business in, and speaking at stake conferences. Mondays were his day off. Tuesdays he worked in the CES central office in Provo. Wednesdays and Thursdays he worked at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, and on Fridays he visited seminary teachers. After two years of this hectic schedule, President Henry D. Moyle, recently called into the First Presidency, asked Elder Tuttle to leave the Church Educational System and work full-time as a member of the Church’s missionary committee.43
When Elder Tuttle left the Church Educational System in 1960, President Berrett asked Dale T. Tingey to become one of the assistant administrators. Brother Tingey had begun his Church education career in 1950 teaching an early-morning seminary class at West Jordan Junior High School while finishing his degree at the University of Utah. After only a few weeks in the classroom, to use his own words, he “got the spirit of the work and enjoyed it immensely.”44 Recognizing his abilities, supervisors offered him a full-time teaching position in December 1951 in the Cedar City, Utah, seminary. He replaced a teacher who had resigned because of serious classroom discipline problems. Brother Tingey later recalled that experience as “the hardest thing he had ever done in his life.” Despite the challenges, Brother Tingey found unique ways to deal with class discipline. He later remembered approaching his most difficult student and enlisting his help to quiet the class:
He was a big kid, around six feet two inches. He was always causing trouble or going to sleep in the back. I finally won his heart over by telling him, “Now, Bud, I’m going to make you controller over this class. I want you to take over and get things started.” I’d give him the signal, and this big kid would stand up and say, “Now I want you kids to shut up and listen to Tingey, or … I’ll punch your lights out.” Then he’d turn to me and say, “All right, start preaching, Tingey.”45
After three years in Cedar City, Brother Tingey enrolled in graduate school at Brigham Young University and helped train prospective seminary teachers while he earned a master’s degree. With degree in hand, he responded to a request to begin an institute program adjacent to Washington State University in Pullman and supervise several early-morning seminary classes in the area. Before becoming one of President Berrett’s assistants, he also completed a PhD at Pullman in educational psychology. Known for his enthusiasm, wit, and ability to recruit students, Brother Tingey loved the teachers with whom he labored and tried to help them succeed. He became a good friend of President Berrett, whom he considered an important mentor.46
More changes in CES leadership were necessitated when Church members sustained 37-year-old Boyd K. Packer as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on September 30, 1961. With Brother Packer joining A. Theodore Tuttle as a General Authority, “Brother Berrett jokingly referred to his office as a training ground for General Authorities.”47
President Berrett then asked Alma P. Burton, with whom he had coauthored a three-volume history of the Church, to replace Elder Packer as an assistant administrator. Brother Burton was at the time serving as Brigham Young University’s dean of Admissions and Records and as president of the Sharon stake in Orem, Utah. He also had experience as a public school superintendent and as a religion instructor at Brigham Young University. Brother Burton remembered that he, President Berrett, and Brother Tingey “were constantly having to make decisions about buildings, about finances, about how to meet the expanding needs [of the Church Educational System], and have the brethren feel good about what [they were] asking for. There was a challenge all the time to … keep abreast of what was going on and keep [themselves] prepared in a way that [they] could be seen as leaders.”48
In addition to taking these administrative steps, President Berrett labored to improve the quality of life of his teachers. He later wrote, “I had spent many years as a Seminary and Institute teacher and was well aware of the hardships under which such teachers labored. Now that I was in a position to do something about it, I proceeded to remedy the situation as far as possible.”49 On May 22, 1954, President Berrett announced a new salary schedule. New teachers would be paid $3,400 a year. After their second year, 5 percent of their annual salary would be sent to Beneficial Life Insurance Company for retirement purposes.50 Sabbatical leaves became policy, as did part-time employment at Church universities for teachers on sabbatical leaves who were there earning higher degrees.51 In addition, a voluntary “flower fund” was implemented. When an employee passed away, a dollar was deducted from every participating full-time teacher’s paycheck and sent to the surviving spouse or dependent to help cover funeral expenses.52
In 1953 President Berrett persuaded President Wilkinson and the Board of Education that “seminary and institute teachers should be considered on a par with those teaching at the university, both as to salary and as to other privileges.”53 He also developed a retirement program linked to Social Security that allowed a teacher to retire on a salary comparable to what he received while working.
Though all of President Berrett’s reforms began with the best of intentions, not all of them were successful. Merit rating, a teacher self-improvement program initiated in 1955, was one program that did not function as planned. The rating system included student-teacher appraisals and a year-end teacher evaluation in concert with the coordinator.54 This evaluation was based on evidence of depth in scholarship, good communication and organizational skills, level of student interest, variety and creativity in teaching techniques, and, finally, evidence of the teacher’s testimony and conviction.55 The merit ranking influenced the amount of money a teacher received, as did the hours of graduate classes he or she completed and the degrees earned.56 In addition, stake boards of education submitted evaluations of the teachers within their stewardship.57 Eventually it was found that the ratings were very subjective and differed significantly from area to area and from supervisor to supervisor, creating morale problems. A later administrator said of merit pay, “It was such a terrible divider among men, and it was so subjective. It was a disaster.”58 The program was discontinued.
Early in his administration President Berrett dispatched a series of memorandums to CES personnel that reaffirmed old policies or noted new ones. Seminaries were to be named after the community in which they were located rather than after the high school to which they were adjacent. Seminary buildings could be used by Church members but should be left clean. Non–Latter-day Saints who agreed to keep the standards of the Church could also use seminaries. Seminaries were not to be utilized for weddings or sales projects. Teachers were to teach from approved outlines and from the scriptures. Reports were to be sent in promptly, and a yearly budget was to be carefully prepared and sent in on time. But, President Berrett noted, “to have an itemized budget does not necessarily mean that you are authorized to spend the amount budgeted.” All equipment and furniture purchases had to be made through the Church Purchasing Department. Buildings were to be kept in top condition. Teachers were required to attend monthly faculty meetings.59 Seminary libraries were to be upgraded, and a copy of any article or book published by a teacher was to be sent to the central office library and to the Brigham Young University library.60
President Berrett and his assistants also looked for ways to improve the quality of the instruction given in seminary and institute classrooms. As early as December 1953, President Berrett, with the approval of President Wilkinson, began reorganizing the method of training prospective seminary teachers. In 1954 Leland E. Anderson, who had taught seminary and been a school superintendent, accepted an invitation to establish a seminary teacher training program in the College of Education at Brigham Young University.61 Everyone who wanted to teach seminary was required to enroll in a methods course and to teach a seminary class for six weeks. The student teachers were evaluated by the cooperating teacher, the seminary principal, a seminary supervisor, Leland Anderson, and President Berrett on their ability to teach and to reach students as well as on their commitment to the Church and its doctrines.62 A similar training program was launched at the Logan institute, drawing prospective teachers from Utah State University’s College of Education and using Cache Valley seminaries for student teaching.63 In time, additional training centers were created at institutes in Salt Lake City and Cedar City.64
As Brothers Tuttle and Packer traveled throughout the Church, they looked for men they thought would make good teachers. Several of these men became fine teachers, including Dean L. Larsen from Lovell, Wyoming. After a successful career as a seminary and institute teacher, and after serving in the Church’s correlation program, Brother Larsen was called to the Quorum of Seventy in October 1976.65
Another effort to increase teacher effectiveness began when President Berrett reinstated the summer training program, which had been discontinued several years earlier.66 Beginning in 1954, teachers were required to attend a five-week CES summer school on the campus of Brigham Young University every other summer. President Boyd K. Packer recalled that these summer sessions were “occasioned by the need to retrench” because the “subterranean influence” that President J. Reuben Clark Jr. had warned against was again beginning to manifest itself.67 President Packer stated that “there had grown up among many teachers the feeling that the teaching of basic principles of the gospel might somehow be left perhaps to the Sunday School.” Some teachers felt “they could explore some of the side roads, those that had not received attention in Sunday School or from the Brethren.”68
As part of the relaunch of the summer training program, President Berrett secured President Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to instruct the teachers. “Where the summer schools of the 1930s had focused on biblical archaeology, theology, and textual analysis, Elder Lee focused instead on the importance of faith and testimony.”69 Brother Tuttle remembered that Elder Lee allowed his students to ask questions, some of which were very difficult to answer. He was often heard saying, “I don’t know, and you can quote me on that.”70 President Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also addressed the teachers.71 For many of those who attended, those were days, to use a phrase by Oliver Cowdery, “never to be forgotten.”72
In August 1954 all the teachers gathered at BYU for a five-day convention. President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke on the origin of man and on the fundamentals of the gospel. President Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, discussed authority and doctrine.73 On Friday evening, the teachers and their spouses met in the Salt Lake Temple and Elder ElRay L. Christiansen, a temple president, Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and former seminary teacher, discussed with them matters that pertained to the house of the Lord and answered questions.74
Teachers also received training at the local level. Seminary faculty and area meetings, which sometimes included institute teachers, provided devotionals and instruction regarding teaching methods. Some teachers were asked to demonstrate giving a lesson and then were critiqued by their peers.75 The course outlines were discussed in detail, as were objectives, the use of visual aids, and ideas regarding how to lead good discussions.76 Leaders also developed a Student Teacher Appraisal form (a “student opinionnaire” or survey), and teachers were urged to administer it once a year and privately study the results to strengthen their classroom performance.77 Seminary and institute libraries were upgraded, talks by general Church officers were sent to each teacher, and the newsletter Pinpoints for Digestion (which included teaching hints) was periodically published.78 In an effort to help teachers understand the background of the Bible, the central office maintained a library available for their use with books such as The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times by Ralph Gower and History of the Hebrew Commonwealth by Albert Edward Bailey and Charles Foster Kent.79 Faculty meetings generally included demonstrations on how to effectively use pictures, charts, object lessons, diagrams, maps, filmstrips, models, and exhibits.80
The central office prepared monthly teaching helps urging instructors to remember that each lesson should include an objective, justification of the objective, motivational items, and a plan to maintain discipline. The complete lesson plan, which included specific time frames for each segment, also featured a discussion of the objective, an introduction, a study of the material to be covered, a summary and conclusion, and application of the lesson to daily life.81
Coordinators and principals were asked to observe older teachers once each quarter (new teachers more often) and then in a helpful way critique their performance. They were encouraged to have teachers do the same for them.82 Faculty meetings were held on Monday evenings before the First Presidency set that night aside in 1970 for family home evenings.
An August 31, 1955, memo noted that during the coming years three types of faculty meetings would be held. The first type, a district convention, would include a temple session, instruction from central office leaders, and a talk by a General Authority. The second type would include meetings with a General Authority in connection with quarterly stake conferences. The third type consisted of five regular faculty meetings where teachers would discuss in detail course outlines and objectives and participate in demonstrations of how lessons might be taught. Attendance at the last type of faculty meeting was required of those who signed contracts.83
Brother Packer felt faculty meetings that merely focused on a chapter from a seminary textbook were not always as helpful as they could be and advocated that time would be far better spent in helping teachers improve their classroom skills. These meetings, which became known as faculty workshops, provided a spiritual uplift for the teachers, encouraged the development of brotherhood, and, when possible, included faculty members’ wives.84
Seeking another avenue to deepen the well of the teachers’ knowledge, administrators in 1958 approved a tour of Church historical sites in the eastern and midwestern United States. In lieu of attending summer school, participants spent 22 days listening to on-site lectures and discussing Mormon history as they traveled from site to site.85
In the first five years of President Berrett’s administration, the curriculum department expanded as he organized committees to prepare new courses of study and textbooks that were approved by the Board of Education’s executive committee. The Church Reading Committee was the final judge of whether the material was suitable for the classroom.86 President Berrett and his assistants also created art, translation, and transcultural departments in the central office, each with its own director and personnel.
In January 1958 Alma Gardiner, the Salt Lake County seminary coordinator, accepted an assignment as director of curriculum. His first task involved collecting all teaching materials, textbooks, teacher manuals, and other materials for both seminaries and institutes that had been created since the program began.87 For four years Brother Gardiner also supervised the production and distribution of curriculum courses and teaching supplies and also took care of financial matters.
It was felt that seminary textbooks should be as attractive as those used in the high schools. President Berrett’s book The Restored Church, used as a text for the Church history course, was republished with a brightly colored cover and with graphics integrated in the text. This change increased the book’s visual appeal and also became important where documents and pictures had a direct relationship to the Church’s history.88
In 1960 the Church Board of Education formally approved 12 foundation courses for the institutes of religion and the religion departments of the Church’s colleges and universities. These core classes focused on the four standard works, Christian history, Latter-day Saint history, world religions, courtship and marriage, missionary training, and genealogy. Among other course and hour requirements to graduate from institute or a Church college, students were required to successfully complete a year of Book of Mormon courses.89
In 1962, President Berrett asked Ernest L. Eberhard Jr., the division coordinator of the Northern Utah and Southern Idaho seminaries, to direct a larger curriculum department and charged him to “revise the seminary courses of study.”90 With the founding of a curriculum department in the central office in Provo, Utah, efforts were made to create standardized lesson plans that teachers could adapt to individual needs. Brother Eberhard believed that in order to be valuable, each lesson should lead to some good action or behavior. Each class period was to be driven by one important idea, which the curriculum writers expressed by pondering the question “On what one great idea will I hang my lesson today?”91
In 1968 curriculum development responsibilities for the Lamanite Seminaries and for Church schools in the Pacific Islands were combined and given to George D. Durrant.92 Translation challenges led to the appointment of five language coordinators who oversaw the work of full-time translators.
In the late 1960s the need for new institute manuals for both teachers and students caused President Berrett to ask E. LV Richardson, director of the Tempe Arizona Institute of Religion, to move to Provo and become the director of a new institute curriculum department.93 In preparing these manuals, Brother Richardson hired William O. Nelson, who later became the director of the Church Correlation Department, to identify the basic doctrines of the Church. Brother Richardson and Brother Nelson felt that lesson materials should reinforce basic gospel truths and Latter-day Saint values as well as Christlike living. Lessons were never published and distributed without first being read, corrected, and approved by the Church Correlation Committee.94 Working with the editing department, which helped prepare the graphics and layouts, the institute curriculum department produced “testimony building material that could be used for different levels of students,”95 those with minimal Church experience as well as those who had studied the gospel for many years. Writers met together and critiqued each other’s work, which helped them polish their prose, close holes in their logic, consider other approaches, and make their lessons congruent with the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets.96
When faced with serious challenges, Brother Richardson sometimes went with his writers to the temple and secured a room.97 They prayed together and discussed the difficulty until they reached a consensus or a solution agreeable to everyone. Though the curriculum writers were individuals of great ability and strong opinions, there was a spirit of unity among them that made it possible to produce, in Brother Richardson’s own words, “some of the most rich, edifying materials that I had ever experienced in any religious manual that I had ever read.”98
The seed for what eventually developed into scripture chase and later scripture mastery developed during the early 1960s as well. Vernon W. Mattson, a young seminary teacher in Firth, Idaho, chose a number of important scriptures, had his students mark them, and then held competitions to see which students could locate the passages the quickest. By 1967 a booklet titled “Scripture Chase” was printed and sent out with the seminary curriculum materials. In 1968 a booklet with a list of “Basic Minimum Scriptures” and “Basic Missionary Discussion Scriptures” was sent out, followed the next year by a 12-page booklet titled “Introduction to the Scripture Chase.”99
President Berrett late in his administration also enlarged the personnel department in the central office. Leland E. Anderson retired as director of personnel and was replaced by Marshall T. Burton. In 1968 Boyd D. Beagley, a 10-year CES veteran who had served as a teacher and coordinator, and F. Weldon Thacker, another man with a decade of field experience, came to the central office to assist Brother Burton. These men supervised the preservice training of seminary teachers, selected new hires, prepared salary schedules for all personnel, and authored a handbook of instructions. Because the Old and New Testament courses still earned high school credit, they saw that seminary teachers held teaching certificates, and they tried to keep qualified people teaching those classes.100
Beginning in 1967, a quarterly religious education journal named Impact was mailed to all teachers. It gave CES personnel an opportunity to display their research and writing skills, and it described new teaching methods and helped teachers hone the skills they already had. Some articles focused on the lives of past administrators, allowing CES personnel to identify with those who had participated in making the seminaries and institutes such a vital force in Latter-day Saint students’ lives. Other articles assisted teachers in increasing personal influence, becoming teacher-scholars, developing more love, communicating more effectively, exercising tolerance, teaching the scriptures, and avoiding being deceived. After three years and 12 issues, it was announced in the summer 1970 issue that Impact would no longer be published.101
Beginning in 1969, a monthly periodical titled The Growing Edge was sent out during the school year. It contained messages from department administrators, administrative news, news about personnel, the status of courses of study, suggestions to improve teaching, temporal hints for employees, usually a copy of a speech or essay by a CES employee, and quotes to ponder from General Authorities or other inspiring sources.102
In the very first Growing Edge, teachers were asked to utilize newly acquired VTR (video tape recorder) equipment to film one or two of their classes and then privately watch themselves teach. In that way they could see themselves as others saw them. It was hoped that classroom performance would improve when teachers saw themselves interacting with students.103
During the Berrett years, the central office staff grew into a strong professional corps designed to help the teachers reach more students and build stronger testimonies. Many of the teacher recruitment, training, and curricular practices implemented under President Berrett’s direction continued to be used into the twenty-first century.
With the continued growth of the programs, soon these administrators recognized the need to delegate some of their duties. Brother Burton, especially, believed too much was being done from the central office and suggested that more district coordinators be appointed and that these men be given added responsibilities of evaluating teachers, recommending budgets, compiling statistics, sending in reports, and seeing that policies were implemented.104
During the last week of January 1962 all the district coordinators were called to attend a convention in Salt Lake City. At the opening session President Berrett announced that on January 31 at 10:30 a.m. they would all gather at Church headquarters and meet with the Church Board of Education. President Berrett explained that he and President Wilkinson wanted the Church Board of Education to become acquainted with the district coordinators and wanted the coordinators to become familiar with how the Church Board of Education functioned.105 As the appointed hour neared, the district coordinators, or CES field leaders, lined the wall that bordered a long table, at which the Board would sit. Feelings of excitement and apprehension engulfed the group as they awaited the Brethren’s arrival.
President Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came almost as early as had the district coordinators. He visited a moment with each person, asking about his family, his assignment, and his well-being, endearing himself to each man. Then the others arrived, including President David O. McKay and his counselors in the First Presidency, Henry D. Moyle and Hugh B. Brown. Following the invocation, President Wilkinson briefly introduced each coordinator, telling the Board where he lived and the area he supervised. Following the meeting the district coordinators and the Board lunched together. Each of the coordinators sat by a member of the Board and chatted with him while they ate. January 31, 1962, was a day the CES field leaders never forgot.106
By 1963, 23 men held the title of district coordinator. The areas they were responsible for ranged from Southern California to Washington and east to Colorado. The coordinators met each year in Provo and received instruction from central office personnel regarding finances, course outlines, instructor evaluation, buildings and property acquisitions, and Church doctrine. There was time allotted for discussion about what worked and what did not. District coordinators also listened to talks by their CES leaders and by General Authorities.
When Dale T. Tingey was called as the president of the Southwest Indian Mission in 1968, Franklin D. Day, a native of Hunter, Utah, and a veteran seminary and institute teacher and district coordinator, was selected to replace him as an assistant administrator. Brother Day, after serving as a U.S. Marine in the Second World War, married Mary Brown, graduated from Brigham Young University, and began teaching seminary in Panguitch, Utah. He spent his first few weeks in Panguitch recruiting students and preparing lessons as well as scrubbing the floor, varnishing the hardwood, painting the walls, and repairing the desks in the bishop’s storehouse where the class was to meet. His only teaching equipment was some chalk and an eraser.107
After a successful experience in Panguitch, he was transferred to Shelley, Idaho, and then to Cedar City, Utah, where he was appointed district coordinator of seminaries and taught at the Cedar City institute. He also served as the first president of the Cedar West Stake. In 1964 he moved to Provo, Utah, taught part-time in the College of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University, and earned his doctorate degree. In 1966 he and Mary moved east to Washington, D.C., where Brother Day served as the first division coordinator in the Eastern States, a region that ran from North Carolina to Maine.108
When he moved back to Provo in 1968 to begin his assignment as an assistant administrator, Brother Day brought with him several concerns. Growing older himself, he felt that something should be done for the more experienced teachers, many of whom were not as happy or as effective as they had been when they were younger. He also believed that the teachers “should be teaching the gospel as it is restored and not as it is speculated” and that teachers should not discuss their gospel hobbies in class and potentially hurt students’ testimonies. He felt that more priesthood involvement would strengthen both the seminaries and the institutes, and he looked for ways to increase the participation of bishops and stake presidents in recruiting students, approving out-of-class activities, and evaluating individual teachers’ worthiness and orthodoxy.109
While attending Brigham Young University, Brother Day had taken a number of President Berrett’s classes. He admired President Berrett’s teaching skills and his grasp of gospel doctrine and Church history, so he was “a little bit threatened when [he] came into the assignment as his assistant.” But he found President Berrett to be a very kind man who seldom said anything negative about anyone. “I can only remember a time or two,” Brother Day said, “when President Berrett was irritated enough to say anything negative about somebody, and then it was mainly something like, ‘Why he should have known better than to do that.’” Many times President Berrett instructed Brother Day to, in a quiet way, “find out how [their] men and their families [were] doing” and if “they [had] enough to live on.”110
As both seminaries and institutes continued to grow, Church Educational System administrators sought to maintain close ties with local priesthood leaders. In 1954 the Church Board of Education sent out a general policy letter to stake presidents. Every stake that included a seminary in its boundaries was to establish a board of education. Where more than one stake in an area had students attending a seminary, a district board of education was authorized, and general Church leaders appointed one stake president to chair the board, while the other stake presidents served as board members. These boards met with seminary teachers and coordinators to set goals, approve socials, and adopt policies. They were also charged with motivating every student to attend a seminary class. Board members recommended stake coordinators for early-morning seminaries and identified prospective teachers. In cooperation with the area coordinator and his assistants, stake coordinators evaluated seminary teachers’ performance.111 District boards of education were also involved in institute matters. They provided feedback regarding institute teachers and assisted the coordinator in solving problems brought to their attention.112
In 1957 Church leaders also approved the creation of ward education committees consisting of three members who lightened the load of bishops by taking over the responsibility of contacting all seminary-age students each year and inviting them to take seminary. These committees enrolled high school students in seminary, contacted college-age students and encouraged them to take an institute class each quarter, and provided student ward bishops with lists of students who would be on campus. They also urged students to transfer their membership records to the campus wards. Many of these committees were led by women and were instrumental in increasing the number of young people enrolled in seminary and institute classes.113
The remarkable group of leaders assembled by William E. Berrett was paralleled by dedicated teachers and administrators in the field. Changes within the central office reflected the dynamic nature of seminaries and institutes as they spread throughout the United States, reaching students in new areas. During this era the early-morning seminary programs began to spread across the rest of the country, reaching thousands of young Latter-day Saints.
In 1953 Ray L. Jones, who oversaw the new early-morning seminary programs in Southern California, petitioned education leaders in Salt Lake City for more help in administering the rapidly growing work. He was authorized to hire Paul H. Dunn, an early-morning seminary teacher who was finishing his doctorate degree at the University of Southern California, as a part-time assistant coordinator. In 1954 Lyman C. Berrett received an assignment to take his family to Southern California and assist in the coordination of early-morning seminaries.114 Boyd K. Packer reported that when he visited the area in 1957, he was impressed with the spirit of cooperation and unity among the personnel and between the teachers and the priesthood leaders, which he described as a “warm brotherhood.”115
One of the main coordination efforts these new administrators faced was deciding how to best serve local high school seniors who had already taken the three officially approved courses of study—Old Testament, New Testament, and Church History—leaving them with no seminary their final year of high school. Brother Jones and his assistants secured approval to officially add a Book of Mormon course, making the early-morning seminaries in Southern California a four-year program.116
When Brother Jones left the Church Educational System after six years to finish a doctorate degree, he had established “a program of Priesthood supported, professionally administered, and student/parent backed education.” He had witnessed the establishment of a cumulative total of 323 classes, with 9,356 students, 906 graduates, and 125 convert baptisms.117
In November of 1956 President Berrett visited Southern California and asked Paul H. Dunn to accept the full-time assignment as coordinator of the six institute programs in the area.118 Full-time teachers who taught at more than one institute, which was nearly all of them, were said to be “on the ‘milk-run,’” a phrase that stuck.119 Within a few years the institute program in the area grew substantially: “From a handful of students at six scattered institutions he sculpted a network of fifty-three programs administered by forty-four faculty members reaching thousands of students.”120
When Latter-day Saints in other areas of the state learned of the CES successes in Southern California, they petitioned for classes of their own. J. Wesley Christensen, a seminary teacher from Utah, organized some of the first seminary classes in northern California.121 Other classes followed, including one taught by future Apostle L. Tom Perry, who lived in the Sacramento area.122 During this time Church leaders also created a quartet of institutes at Sacramento City College, Sacramento State College, Chico State College, and Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, as well as a coordinating council of student leaders. As was the case in Southern California, part-time institutes were created in San Francisco, San Jose, and other communities that hosted junior colleges. By 1970, only Utah counted more seminary and institute students than California.123
During the turbulence and social changes of the 1960s the institutes of religion and their accompanying student organizations provided a safe haven for young Latter-day Saints on college campuses around the nation. The civil rights movement led to student protests on many university campuses, and there were also Vietnam War protests and other social and political events that not only concerned Church and education leaders but also impacted institutes.
In some instances, the institutes themselves were targeted due to tensions surrounding the Church’s policies at the time regarding black members of the Church. In Tucson, Arizona, students planned to picket the institute one Sunday morning as Latter-day Saint young people gathered in sacrament meeting. Following the advice of a General Authority, all meetings were canceled. Only nine protesters came, but they did bring photographers and were disappointed when they found the building locked and empty. They did not know the institute director was inside, determined to protect “his” building.124
Windows of the institute at Las Cruces, New Mexico, were broken, and the institute located adjacent to Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, was fire bombed, but little damage was done to the building. A demonstration against the Church planned to take place at a region-wide Latter-day Saint Student Association activity failed to attract participants, but the rumors kept everyone on edge until the event was over. Students attending the University of Texas at El Paso threatened harm to the institute in late February of 1970, and student guards were assigned to spend the night in the building. Education officials in all cases exercised good judgment, and soon those “non-events” were only memories.125
In the midst of these troubles, Church leaders continued to promote institute participation. In July 1967 the First Presidency—President David O. McKay and his counselors, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, and Joseph Fielding Smith—sent a letter to new college students encouraging them to enroll in the institute program. The letter stated, “We have now established 208 full or part-time L.D.S. Institutes of Religion at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. We strongly urge you to participate in the L.D.S. Institute of Religion program. … The Institute program of the Church makes available excellent classes in religion which can enrich your college life. Through the Institute of Religion program there is a wide variety of social activities and the opportunity to study and worship together.”126
As the Church education programs continued to develop through the 1950s and ’60s, student organizations like Delta Phi Kappa and Lambda Delta Sigma had continued to grow. In 1959 the University of Utah’s Delta Phi Kappa chapter had 110 members and 85 pledges and was the largest chapter in the Church.127 In the following decade, Lambda Delta Sigma spread in Southern California and saw great success there.
However, Delta Phi Kappa and other LDS student social clubs came under scrutiny. With the expansion of student stakes and the coming of the Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) during the 1960s, Church leaders began to question whether Delta Phi Kappa was needed and if the work its chapters were doing could better be done in the Church units and by the LDSSA. Some Church officials expressed concern about social units whose practices and attitudes were sometimes out of harmony with gospel teachings and who had become too similar to fraternities, which were considered by many to be questionable in their initiation practices, snobbish, and rowdy. In 1961 “General Authorities banned social units from the BYU campus,” and Delta Phi Kappa’s future seemed uncertain.128
In 1965, under the direction of Elder Paul H. Dunn, who was then serving as a member of the First Council of Seventy, a study was made of LDS college students and their needs. The results showed that “the Church needed to expand its present college student program to be more comprehensive and in keeping with the total life of the Latter-day Saint college student.”129 “In 1966 [he] was asked by the Church General Board of Education to formulate an organization that would … function as an arm of the priesthood” in coordinating the Church and social activities of college-age Latter-day Saints. The purpose of the new organization was to help families and priesthood leaders make “the influence of the Church and the teachings of the gospel active forces in the lives of Latter-day Saints during their college years.” This eventually led to the creation of the Latter-day Saint Student Association.130
Foreshadowing the organization for the whole Church were activities started at the University of Utah by institute director Joe J. Christensen. In 1962 when he assumed his duties as director, he found that only 27 percent of LDS students were enrolled in institute. He soon discovered that few returned missionaries took institute classes and that student leaders often opted out as well. Very few members of fraternities or sororities were involved in the institute, with the exception of those associated with Lambda Delta Sigma, which identified with the institute. Many of those who did not join Lambda Delta Sigma also chose not to be affiliated with the institute.131
Brother Christensen’s solution was to develop an institute program that would attract returned missionaries and other students who were looked up to and respected and get them involved. After visiting with many young people on campus, he formed a returned missionary committee of peer group leaders. They organized a fireside for former missionaries to be held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and arranged for President Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Paul H. Dunn of the Seventy to speak. About 3,500 people showed up, with the overflow being seated in the Tabernacle.132 The response so excited the committee that they wanted to do something for all LDS students at the university. They decided on an evening of tribute to President David O. McKay in 1965. Many students attended, as well as 33 General Authorities. Local television covered the event. Again, the student leaders wanted to keep the enthusiasm going, so under Brother Christensen’s direction they formed an “institute council” that represented all LDS students on campus.133 A number of students, including University of Utah student body president James Moss, who later helped pioneer seminary and institute programs in the British Isles, drafted a constitution to present to university leaders that would give them an entree to the campus and permission to advertise their events, and the LDS Student Association of the University of Utah was established.134
In 1965 Elder Dunn also became the national president of Delta Phi Kappa, which “signalled that a period of closer cooperation was dawning between” the organization and the Church Educational System.135 The decision was made to “unite the separate efforts of student branches, wards, and stakes, the institutes, [the Mutual Improvement Association], Lambda Delta Sigma, and Delta Phi Kappa” under the umbrella of the Latter-day Saint Student Association. Delta Phi Kappa, which had enriched the lives of many young men for such a long period of time but had become redundant and problematic, soon became a memory.136
The LDSSA grew to become a coordinating and correlating body on hundreds of university campuses while at the same time maintaining close ties with the institute. After serving as the coordinator of institutes in Southern California, Frank M. Bradshaw was asked to move to Salt Lake City and work as an assistant managing director of the student association. He recalled early efforts in organizing the LDSSA: “We did a lot of research, struggled a lot, talked a lot, and finally one day we came together and it all seemed to fall into place, that there ought to be the Priesthood leader who was called and directed by the General Authority, and under him the Institute Director as an Educational Advisor, and then the Student Council Advisor. That pattern worked sometimes at an Institute level, sometimes at an Area level, depending on the nature of the program.”137
Five sites were chosen to begin pilot programs—Utah State University, Weber State College, the University of Utah, the College of Southern Utah, and the Southern California area.138 The LDSSA was founded on principles such as individual involvement and flexibility, priesthood leadership, and correlation and coordination of student activities with wards and stakes, the institute, and the college. As Elder Marion D. Hanks, an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained, the Latter-day Saint Student Association was organized to offer “a sheltering wing for all Latter-day Saint students, active or inactive,” to provide the influence of the Church in their lives.139 Married students formed their own LDSSA groups in most of the larger institutes. They had their own officers and held meetings and activities that fit their needs.
Early in the history of the LDSSA, at a time of unrest on college campuses due to the unpopular war in Vietnam and other social issues, 300 student officers representing Latter-day Saint students on university campuses all over the United States gathered in Salt Lake City with their leaders in December 1969 for a three-day convention. Elder Marion D. Hanks, managing director of the LDSSA, and other national officers, including CES leaders from the institutes, met at the Salt Lake Institute of Religion on the evening of Friday, December 5, to have a banquet and hear the featured speaker, President Harold B. Lee, then one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Prior to the meeting, in two separate conversations, President Lee had been advised that it would be appropriate for him to “bear testimony of personal experiences in an effort to spiritualize these student leaders who had been brought from many distant places” and that the youth “needed to know that God indeed was not dead.”140
That evening, even though he had not been enjoying particularly good health, President Lee delivered a sermon filled with experiences and modern miracles in which he had been involved, with special emphasis on Jesus Christ and feeling His presence and influence at critical and important times in his own life. As President Lee finished, “the windows of heaven seemed to open, and the Savior’s spirit flowed over the entire congregation.”141 After the closing prayer, the audience felt overcome by the Spirit. Sister Elaine Cannon, who later served as the Young Women general president, recalled, “A sense of being one of God’s own and being known to him came over us.”142 The experience had been so powerful that the student leaders canceled the scheduled dance and returned to their hotel rooms to dwell on the outpouring of love and the Spirit they had felt. Years later, Elder Hanks said, “The total effect was not like any other experience of my lifetime. It is still the most powerful spiritual experience of my life.”143 “We all knew,” Sister Cannon testified, “even felt, the presence of the Lord. We were incapable of resisting it.” It appeared that the Lord wanted those Latter-day Saint student leaders to know they were not alone as they pursued knowledge in the nation’s finest universities with only small clusters of Church members, whose faith and goals matched their own.144
Another student organization, Sigma Gamma Chi, was formally founded on November 4, 1967, at a national convention for delegates from several western colleges and universities in Salt Lake City. The delegates voted to accept the name and a constitution that had been drafted with divine assistance. W. Rolfe Kerr, who later became the Church commissioner of education, traveled to a national fraternity conference a month later to present the Church’s new fraternity. Brother Kerr wrote in his journal of an experience that “had been a truly significant personal experience” while attempting to create a document that “would convey to new members of the fraternity sound spiritual principles and at the same time elicit from them commitments of meaningful service to school, community, church, and fellowmen.” He recorded:
The first several hours of this day were very frustrating. I had great difficulties in collecting my thinking in any kind of logical manner. In frustration, I finally knelt in prayer, seeking the Lord’s direction. … I remember distinctly saying, “If this project is not in accordance with Thy will, allow my frustrations and stupor to continue, but if this is a project of worth please let me be an instrument in Thy hands.” To my amazement, the next several hours were spent in systematic sifting and assembling of all the information that I had gathered. It was not until the early hours of the next morning that I realized the logical sequence which had been followed and the obvious assistance which had been received.145
These organizations supported and supplemented the expansion of the institute program throughout the Church by providing social opportunities and places for fellowship among college-age Latter-day Saints.
In April of 1960 Ernest L. Wilkinson’s title was changed from administrator of the Unified Church School System to chancellor. President McKay explained the change by saying that “administrator is a title given to educators on a lower status than that of the president of a university, and that where one is head of several universities he usually has the title of chancellor.”146 Brother Wilkinson led the Unified Church School System until 1963, when he resigned in order to run for office in the United States Senate. During his absence, Harvey L. Taylor was appointed as the acting president of Brigham Young University. When Brother Wilkinson lost his senate race in 1964, he was reappointed as president of BYU and Brother Taylor was appointed as the administrator over all Church schools except BYU.
Along with these changes, President Berrett was released as the academic vice president over religious education at BYU and appointed as the administrator of religious education under Brother Taylor.147 Perhaps the crowning achievement of William E. Berrett’s leadership came in the expansion of seminaries and institutes beyond the western parts of the United States and Canada into a number of new countries. A crucial tool in this expansion was the home-study seminary program.
During the early 1960s requests began to pour into Brother Berrett’s office for seminaries all over the world.148 One letter from an American officer in Germany who had received an assignment to teach an early-morning seminary class began with one brief sentence: “Dear Brother Berrett: HELP!”149 In response to these requests, President Wilkinson and the First Presidency asked Brother Berrett to find a way to introduce the seminary program in other countries. In 1963 and again in 1965, Brother Berrett traveled to Europe.150 Both times he returned home deeply discouraged. No school in any of the countries had enough LDS students for a released-time program, and a lack of transportation made early-morning seminary seem infeasible. Frustrated, he noted, “Until we could come up with a new program we could not extend the seminary program into England and other foreign countries.”151
In the midst of his discouragement, Brother Berrett received a strong spiritual prompting. He later recalled:
[I was visiting with] one of our full-time teachers … who … felt that students in England would be willing to study a course of instruction at home if they could be brought together once a month in a chapel by a leader. There came into my mind at that time the inspiration of the Spirit that the problems of such a program could be worked out. … There flashed into my mind the words of the Apostle Peter:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).152
After two years of study and prayer, “I got an inspiration,” Brother Berrett later stated. Calling the curriculum staff together, he asked them to “get busy and prepare some courses of seminary for home study.”153 The same inspiration also came to other people. For instance, Donald Wilson, a seminary teacher in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, proposed a program in which students studied the scriptures on their own time and occasionally met with a teacher and larger groups of their peers. The travel required could be reduced to weekly and monthly meetings.154
In response to Brother Berrett’s charge, Ernest L. Eberhard Jr., the head of the curriculum team, began to push the curriculum staff to create a new program. He often took his writers on fieldtrips to help them gain perspective. Visits to American Indian reservations proved the need for innovation. In many important ways, the conditions on the reservations mirrored those of the youth in areas outside of the United States and Canada: the youth were widely scattered, had limited transportation, and lacked qualified teachers.155 One staff member recalled, “I often thought that the only reason he took us on these trips to the reservation was to drive home the point that, ‘Hey, you have some isolated Indians out here. What can we do for them?’ I don’t think he felt like we could relate to that, if we were just sitting in the curriculum office. … It really did drive the point home.”156 In 1967 seminaries and institutes launched a special home-study program for the American Indian seminaries that was designed to reach students who could not attend seminary classes.157
Brother Eberhard assigned curriculum writer Arnold Stringham to work with E. Mack Palmer, head of the home-study department at BYU, to develop a home-study course for regular seminary. Brother Stringham later said, “The white space was more important than the printed space (the black space) and the graphics were more important than the words. I became convinced that turning the page frequently was more important than reading lots of words on the page.”158 Brother Stringham worked with graphic designer Thomas L. Tyler and with Don Jessee, head of production and shipping, to develop a general outline for the program.159
With a rough outline of the program completed, the time was right for a field test. Brother Berrett did not have written permission from the Church Board of Education to conduct the pilot but felt so strongly about the idea’s merit that he went ahead anyway. He later noted, “I don’t know whether I really had full permission to ride that. They didn’t exactly turn it down, but the minutes don’t show they approved it.”160 The whole venture was an experiment, but Brother Berrett and his team felt it was worth the effort. Brother Berrett just needed to find the right teacher to lead the first effort.
Donald R. Bond was only a fourth-year teacher at the East High School seminary in Salt Lake City when he was selected to lead the pilot program, which would take place in the midwestern United States. Brother Bond had worked on curriculum committees in the summer months, and in 1967 he had visited his curriculum-writing friends and found them “excited to tell [him] that they were working on a new curriculum for students to study at home.” He learned that areas being considered to test this program were Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. When it became evident that Brother Bond was deeply interested in the new home-study program, had served a mission in the states where the program would be launched, and had in-laws in the area, a meeting was arranged that same day with Brother Berrett. As they talked, Brother Berrett asked Brother Bond to move to the central states and pilot the new curriculum in preparation for taking seminary to England the following year. After consulting with his wife and gaining her approval, Brother Bond accepted the assignment.161
A convert to the Church, Brother Bond had an infectious enthusiasm for the work. He was familiar with released-time seminary teaching but recognized home study as an exciting new approach. He later recalled, “It was exciting and refreshing to see the Church’s outreach to help the youth.”162 While meeting with the curriculum team for only a few days, Brothers Bond and Berrett chose three central locations with clusters of branches for the pilot.163
In July 1967, less than a month after first hearing about the new venture, Brother Bond moved his family to Davenport, Iowa, to launch the program. President Berrett worked behind the scenes to coordinate with the mission and district presidents in the region. From the beginning, Brother Bond felt full support from the local ecclesiastical leaders. “It was not difficult at all to talk with these men about this program, because they felt that for the first time something was being designed for them. … They were really excited about it and made it a special emphasis.”164 One district president even took a few days off from work to personally drive Brother Bond to the home of each branch president to introduce the program.165
Brother Bond faced the challenge of not only training and recruiting the teachers for the program but also constantly working to develop the curriculum. He was frequently on the phone with Brother Eberhard as the program took shape. Both men felt strongly that an adult leader was needed within each ward or branch to guide and provide accountability for the students in the classes. Brother Bond noted, “We felt like they just couldn’t wait a month to meet with somebody, and they needed more motivation, and more role models.”166 Despite the challenges, the program moved forward with astonishing speed and was ready for launch by September 1967. According to Brother Bond, “In June, the idea was crystallized. In July, we went out and found the audience, and in August, we trained the audience. In September, it was underway.”167 Each student would receive four booklets, one for each week of the month. A local member, called to coordinate the program, would meet with the students once a week to ensure they completed their assignments. Then once a month the students and the coordinator would meet with a full-time teacher for a lesson and a social activity.168 If properly implemented, the plan provided both accountability and social interaction with minimal travel.
Brother Berrett plainly stated the historic significance of this first home-study experiment: “Upon the positive outcome of this experiment depended the expansion of seminary work into England, Europe, and other parts of the world.”169
Meanwhile, back in Utah, the curriculum team scrambled to prepare the necessary materials for the program. The pilot launched without the program of study prepared beforehand, so the team finished the materials and shipped them to the areas piloting the program often in the nick of time. One curriculum team member recalled the frantic pace:
We would put these lessons together and have them on Ernie’s desk on Monday. We had to mail them out on Thursday so they could teach them on Saturday. So we were writing lessons on Monday, and refining them on Tuesday and Wednesday. … We crashed these lessons out, took them up to the airport and put them on a flight Thursday night. Then Don Bond would pick them up on Friday and unwrap them and take them out and distribute them to the teachers Friday night, and they were out teaching Saturday morning. I don’t remember going to bed for about a year or two years during that process. It was hectic. …
We would start at 6:30 in the morning and we would be lucky to get out at eleven o’clock some of those weeks.170
Anxious to gather feedback on the curriculum, Brother Eberhard personally visited Brother Bond in the field, taking Brother Stringham along with him to gauge the effectiveness of the new program. The visits reflect the harried nature of the program in its first year. They would arrive at a meeting, observe Brother Bond teaching, gather feedback from the students and teacher present, and then all three would drive together to the next meeting. Brother Stringham recalled, “Ernie and Don would sit in the front seat and chat. I sat in the back and wrote the next month’s materials.”171 The pace was so hectic that Brother Bond often didn’t have time to see the curriculum himself before distributing it to the teachers.172
Home-study student manuals were concept-focused and detailed, with specific assignments and scripture references to be studied, and came with explanations of certain scriptures. Lessons were designed around themes such as “How to have the Spirit with you always (the sacrament),” “I am your advocate with the Father (Jesus Christ),” “The relationship of the Atonement to repentance,” and “How to forgive and be forgiven.” Each bound unit contained an answer sheet, which was to be opened after the student had completed the associated quiz. Other home-study materials included units focused on character development, journal keeping, scripture marking, the nature of God, avoiding deception, “How we got the Doctrine and Covenants,” and “A voice of warning.” Brother Stringham’s work “won wide praise in educational circles in and out of the Church, and he became a pioneer in home-study teaching materials.”173
Despite the challenges, the program evaluations arriving at Brother Eberhard’s office rang with praise. One evaluation complimented the course as “a practical type of experience which can be equated to daily problems without having the effect of being preached to.”174 The branch president from Nauvoo, Illinois, praised the program for giving the youth “some responsibility of their own as to when and how much they are going to do.”175 In an interesting reflection of the period, one branch president stated, “This program gives them the cause of the Gospel, and there can be no better. I only wish that those young people on the ‘lunatic fringe’—the Hippies, draft card burners, protesters, etc., could catch a glimpse of this Seminary program.”176
Nearly all of the evaluations mentioned increased church attendance and unity among the youth in the branches with the program.177 One teacher summed up home-study’s advantages by saying, “The students as a whole have become much more conversant about their personal problems of reverence, spirituality, and morality; they will talk of their testimonies and beliefs which were previously seemingly dormant.”178 The only complaint sent to the central office about the program during Brother Bond’s first year came from a branch president in Evansville, Indiana, who wrote that “there were several (6) individuals in the Branch, three of them recent converts, who were aggravated because the age for Seminary participation did not include them.”179
Positive results continued to pour in, and the Church Board of Education began to seriously consider the program as a way to take religious education to the worldwide Church. Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was assigned to investigate personally, and he began phoning Brother Bond and asking questions. Regarding the day in May 1968 when the Church Board of Education met to discuss the program, Brother Bond recorded:
I was en route to Vincennes, Indiana. I pulled off the highway and found a secluded place where I knelt by the roadside and bore my solemn witness of the powerful impact I had personally felt from the students as they regularly associated with this daily scripture and gospel study; I prayed that this influence would be felt by the Brethren in the ongoing meeting being held at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. As I pulled back on the interstate, I had a feeling of certainty that President [N. Eldon] Tanner would see seminary in England within a few months. Sure enough, Elder Romney’s report was given with an excitement of how favorably the program was actually increasing the effectiveness of home evening and home teaching.180
Brother Bond’s prompting came true. Before the end of the summer, the first teachers were assigned to introduce the seminary and institute programs to England and Australia, and a program began in New Zealand the following year.
In 1963 President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency, Elder Theodore M. Burton, then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and presiding over the European Mission, and Brother Berrett had visited with Church leaders and mission presidents in Europe and shared their findings. They saw promise in Austria and Germany for both secondary and college-age classes. In June 1969 Brother Berrett visited New Zealand to assess whether it was feasible to start home-study seminary there. He found enthusiastic leaders eager to have the program.181
Under William E. Berrett’s direction, the first seminary and institute courses began in Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand and the groundwork was laid for further expansion. Harvey L. Taylor, administrator over Church schools except BYU, remarked, “[The international expansion of the Church Educational System] is the most exciting and profound thing in religious education in the last fifty years.”182
Acting on the mandate to expand seminaries internationally, Brother Berrett and his assistants assigned John M. Madsen, who was in his fifth year teaching seminary in Salt Lake City, to develop home-study seminary in England. Brother Madsen and his wife and daughter moved to England in August 1968, traveling with Brother Berrett, who helped acquaint them with their new assignment. They visited many areas in England and Scotland to meet stake presidents, high councilors, bishops, and mission presidents. Brother Berrett explained the program at each stop and later reported the thrill these leaders expressed at the thought of receiving home-study seminary for their youth.183
The very first seminary class in the British Isles, however, was not a home-study but an early-morning class. The Glasgow Stake in Scotland enthusiastically embraced the idea of youth learning the gospel together and felt they could sustain an early-morning class.
Even with this wonderful beginning, one challenge Brother Madsen and others after him faced was getting supplies to set up their programs. He said:
To get the first major shipment, I had to go down to London Heathrow Airport and virtually walk those seminary supplies through the customs process, because they said these materials were illegal. “They have to be printed in our own country in order to be used here.” And I had to convince them, by some miracle, to allow these religious materials to be used in an educational program that only involved and benefitted their British people. It was a challenge that made me feel like Moses before the Pharaoh. … They had to take every little item apart, and they would question this and that and say, “This cannot be.” But somehow, they finally yielded and allowed me to bring those materials in.
This seemed to happen every month. After each ordeal Brother Madsen had to deliver the materials to the home of every teacher because usually there wasn’t time to mail them. He said, “Miraculously, they were always on time.”184 One teacher in England commented on the hectic nature of these early efforts: “We seemed habitually to operate on the thin edge of disaster, having the things often arrive the day before they were needed, or on the very day.”185
This was a time when seminary lessons emphasized fun and games to learn gospel concepts. Seminary involved a “high degree of activity, laughter, and physical participation” with scripture chases, attractive booklets, and materials with graphics and pictures.186 Monthly Super Saturdays were extravaganzas filled with high-quality lessons and activities. Eventually the lessons became more scripture based, with less emphasis on educational games.
Institute classes in the British Isles followed a short time after the seminaries began. It was also a challenge to get locally produced home-study institute materials out on time. Not only were materials developed, but they had to be printed, collated, stapled, and sorted into units. The collating machines often broke down, necessitating that the work be done by hand. LaVelle Moss, the wife of James Moss, one of the early leaders, remembered:
We would set up long tables in the rooms and halls upstairs in the Hyde Park Chapel, then work for hours on it. One night, I kept the staff up all night long until we had completed a particularly large unit. They all tried to mutiny at various stages throughout the night, but eventually got it done. We had breakfast together the next morning, and then went back to our areas. For months after that, I heard about “[James] Moss’s all-night collating party.” This was somewhat of a sore point with some of the staff who complained this wasn’t what they were trained or hired for, but for others it represented a prime example of getting [things] done when they needed to be done.187
Prior to the program’s formal commencement, many adults attended “seminary” classes that had been formed to teach older members using the seminary materials. When institute formally began, it was based almost exclusively on young adults because of the small numbers of LDS university students in most areas. A directive from the Church Board of Education stated that institutes were for college students, not young adults, which caused “considerable disruption and confusion.” In time it was understood that if a majority of young adults signed up for institute and only a few college students enrolled, then the program became a priesthood-sponsored rather than a CES program. CES still provided training, direction, and encouragement but did not have the primary teaching and supervising role. There were very few classes in the country with sufficient students to justify a CES-sponsored and -directed organization.188
Australia was fertile ground to begin a religious program for young people. Typically Australian high schools devoted a small amount of curriculum time to voluntary religious instruction, so there were no barriers to beginning such a program for LDS students. In 1967 the president of the Brisbane Stake wrote to the Church Board of Education requesting a religious program of education for Australia’s students. The First Presidency received the request and appointed Brother Berrett to give them a recommendation regarding the matter. In response, it was determined that a pilot program be put in place to see if it could be extended throughout the country.189
In 1968, after supervising seminaries and institutes in the Central States district, J. L. Jaussi was asked to start the pilot program in Australia. Soon after arriving he started visiting stake presidents and bishops to tell them about the seminary program. He asked the bishops to interview every young person and encourage them to sign up for religious instruction. He found that high schools were close enough to the chapels in most areas that early-morning classes could be held, and only one area called for home study.190 “By February 1969 there were 143 students ready to enroll in a home-study program. John R. Gibson, a recently returned National Serviceman, was invited by Brother Jaussi to teach the first seminary class and John’s love and enthusiasm for young people and for the seminary program turned that first class at Kangaroo Point [Chapel, now the site of the Brisbane Temple] into a great success.”191
Brother Jaussi also established the institute program in Brisbane that year, teaching two weekly classes—one on Wednesday night and the other on Thursday morning. At that time only 10 percent of Australian high school students continued on to universities, so there were few prospective students. With special permission Brother Jaussi enrolled young single adults in the 18–25 age range as well as university students.192
In June 1969 Brother Berrett visited the Australian stakes, where he was enthusiastically welcomed. Seeing the support of the Saints in the area, he recommended that “seminary and institute programs … be introduced in all of the stakes in Australia.” As a result, Paul M. Hokanson was sent to begin religious education in Sydney. Classes mushroomed, and CES representatives were sent to sites throughout Australia to supervise and teach. Gail W. Ockey was sent to supervise the Brisbane program, and Brother Jaussi took Adelaide, Perth, and Melbourne.193
Encouraged by the successes in England and Australia, Brother Berrett next set his sights on New Zealand. Rhett James, a former missionary in New Zealand, was teaching institute in Tucson, Arizona, when he received word of the contemplated move to put seminaries in New Zealand. He later recalled, “I had one of those ‘Mormon theophanies’ where a small voice spoke to me and said tell them you will go. It took me by surprise, but I did it.”194 A few months later Brother James spoke with Brother Berrett, who asked him to take his family to New Zealand and launch the programs there.195
Brother Berrett counseled Brother James about the challenge of bringing religious education to an entire country. Brother James remembered, “His concern was we had to take it to the entire country, because everybody wanted it, and he didn’t want there to be hurt feelings. I was quite enthused and agreed with him. We needed to take it to the whole island the first year.”196 “One of the reasons that I was away from home so much is that in New Zealand, you have regional pride. … So when I went, I knew that the program had to go to the whole country, or there would be a feeling of favoritism.”197
When Brother James arrived, he took Brother Berrett’s advice and launched an ambitious agenda designed to make seminary available to every Church member who desired it. Brother James stressed to the local members the advantages seminary offered in helping their youth toward missionary service and temple marriage. Some adults were so enthusiastic they wanted to enroll before their children did. For the first few years of the program in New Zealand, many parents attended seminary classes along with their children. Brother James recorded in his journal, “It has been my vision that the seminary and institute program might stabilize this country’s Mormon youth and check the negative trends. … If successful, the pattern of increased missions, temple marriages, and strong local leadership should follow.”198
Over time remarkable changes began. Brother James later reflected, “Within three or four years, I think there were a hundred missionaries from New Zealand. And that was one of the things that the seminary program facilitated. … Temple marriages began to increase enormously.”199 Brother James recognized the need to train local leaders to run the program. Before his departure, he turned the program over to native New Zealander Rex Kennerley, who became the area director, and Rick Morehouse and Wallace Wihongi became full-time CES employees. Brother James completed his assignment teaching institute at Church College. Looking back on the experience years later, Brother James saw the inspiration in the first whisperings of the Spirit that had prompted him to volunteer to serve. “We had the kinds of experiences in New Zealand that you read about in the New Testament. I mean, we had some very sacred and spiritual experiences that had a profound effect on all our children. It was a wonderful odyssey.”200
Brother Berrett followed up successes in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand by sending additional American teachers abroad. Teachers enthusiastically answered the call to take seminary and institute to other countries.201 The launch of the programs in English-speaking nations, without the challenge of translating curriculum, served as an important trial run for the gathering wave of global expansion.
As the work moved forward, all of the teachers and families involved felt they were participating in a historic event. John Madsen recalled a meeting with President Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, when he arrived in Britain for an area conference in which Elder Lee said, “The most important development that has taken place in the British Isles in recent years has been the introduction of the home study seminary program.” Brother Madsen continued, “He explained his statement, saying that as a result of the introduction of the home study seminary program, more of our people were studying the scriptures than ever before. … I was thrilled. It was a glorious confirmation that the work had been established, and was obviously having its impact upon the youth and members of the Church throughout the British Isles.”202
Against the backdrop of the postwar resurgence of the 1950s and the social unrest of the 1960s, Brother Berrett quietly worked to bring the gospel to the American Indians. These efforts, beginning with the local work performed at the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah, eventually grew to encompass a number of programs scattered across the United States. Reaching out to the American Indians in turn brought changes to seminary and institute programs as new and innovative techniques in media and curriculum influenced the continued development of the programs.
In the fall of 1954 CES assumed the responsibility of supervising a class for American Indian youth at the Brigham City school.203 At the end of the 1954 school year, when Brother Boyd K. Packer departed to assist President Berrett as one of the CES supervisors, Don C. Hunsaker replaced him as the first full-time teacher of what would become the Indian Seminary program. Ground was broken for a seminary building and chapel, which were dedicated by President David O. McKay in January 1956.204
Brigham City became a training school for teachers who would later take the seminary program to groups of American Indians throughout the United States and Canada. George D. Durrant, one of the early teachers, described the logistics and rewards of working with the LDS students there:
We used to get the Indian students one hour a day, once a week. … They would come up at about 4:00 o’clock. We would get about 100 of them on Monday and we [professional teachers] had a bunch of volunteers from the community. So when 100 would come we would usually have about six or seven classes and teach those kids, then a different group would come on Tuesday, [and so forth]. So we just got them once a week for one hour, but it was pretty wonderful. They were choice people to teach, they just used to drink it in and seemed to love it. They were ages all the way from 12 to 19 or 20.205
Part of Brother Packer’s new assignment as a supervisor in 1954 was to develop religious education among Latter-day Saint American Indian students. Brother Packer met to discuss this topic with President Ernest L. Wilkinson as well as President Spencer W. Kimball, then an Apostle, and Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who were on the Indian subcommittee of the Church Missionary Committee. Brother Packer felt more information was needed before any action should be taken and proposed that he and others visit each of the government schools to determine whether a seminary program could be adapted for the students there. They would also gather data regarding the number and status of LDS students and other information such as the course material and methodology being used by other denominations. Then they would weigh the relationship of the Indian schools with local Church units and missions and determine if they merited seminaries.206
In visiting reservation and off-reservation schools in the Southwest, western United States, and Canada, Brothers Packer and Tuttle found a wide variation in the type of schooling offered. Of the 18,000 American Indians attending government schools, only 1,532 were known to be Church members. However, using the information gathered and estimating the numbers of possible seminary students, the Church Board of Education requested that the Unified Church School System go forward with an Indian religious education program. Doing so required the cooperation of the government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).207 Brothers Packer and Tuttle met with government officials in Washington, D.C., and received authorization to create seminaries on Indian reservations where there were enough Latter-day Saint students, many of whom resided in boarding schools. All students at the Bureau of Indian Affairs schools had to have a signed parental release to participate in religious instruction by any church. The schools then allowed the students to be released for one hour a week for religious study.208
J. Edwin Baird was called in 1959 to be the first coordinator of Indian seminaries. Two years later, in 1961, he was assigned to preside over the Southwest Indian Mission and “a district coordinator, Don C. Hunsaker, was assigned in 1961 to Holbrook, Arizona, to administer all Indian seminaries in the Southwestern United States, most of these seminaries being in or near the Navajo Indian Reservation.”209
By the 1969–70 school year there were Indian seminaries in 18 states and in Canada. There were 32 full-time teachers and coordinators, 270 part-time teachers, 473 missionaries, and 116 volunteer teachers who instructed 14,245 students.210 As time went on, the focus for instruction turned to older American Indian youth, who seemed to be in greater danger of being lost.
In the eastern United States, seminaries were started among the Lumbee, Catawba, and Cherokee tribes of the Carolinas. In 1966 the Church constructed a seminary and chapel near the high school and college in Pembroke, North Carolina.211
After Chief Blue of the Catawba Indians converted to the Church with many of his tribe, his example of forgiving someone who shot and killed his son was included in seminary outlines for all of the youth in the seminary program to learn from.212 A historian of the Catawba tribe later noted the positive influence of the Church on the tribe: “Paradoxically, the religion that at first set the Catawbas apart from other people later became an important medium of assimilation. This was particularly true in education, where the Mormon religion benefited the Catawbas both directly and indirectly. A direct benefit was that the Mormons believe that man has an infinite capacity for improvement; accordingly, they place high value on free will, rationality, self-improvement, and education.”213 Later, one of Chief Blue’s direct descendants, John Beck, served in many positions in CES, including as an area director and a zone administrator.214
Some success was also noted among the Cherokees. A summer recreation program was begun to encourage the youth to attend church and then sign up for seminary in the fall. Although the recreation program was successful, the dedication to seminary participation waned. Students would attend for a while and then stop coming.215 However, one young woman named Penny Otter graduated from seminary and then went on to BYU, where she represented the Cherokee Indians as “Miss Cherokee” in the Miss Indian America Pageant. After graduation she worked for the Social Service branch of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.216
Several gifted writers, including Wayne B. Lynn, Douglas J. Larson, and George D. Durrant, were transferred to the central office to work on the curriculum for the American Indian seminaries.217 Brother Durrant recalled, “We were the first ones to write stories and have them made into film strips. … I wrote Tom Trails and a whole bunch of other things. I’d write stories, and they’d make them into film strips. Either through cartooning, [or] living characters. It was one of the highlights of my life. I used to go to bed dreaming up new stories, and get up eager to go to work.”218 These efforts resulted in age-targeted lessons with characters named Benny Builder, Freddy Finder, Davy Doer, Gary Grower, and Tom Trails. The stories were very popular, and seminary teachers used them for a number of years.
Another group that received attention during Brother Berrett’s administration was Latter-day Saints with disabilities, or, as they were often reffered to, special needs. Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord taught Israel: “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.”219 Teachers followed that same pattern in creating new programs termed “special education.” They visited the homebound, met with young unwed mothers to strengthen them in the gospel, taught in mental institutions, instructed blind and deaf students, conducted seminaries for students with mental disabilities, and instructed individuals in prisons and jails. Through these teachers’ dedication, Latter-day Saints with a wide variety of needs received seminary and institute instruction in the gospel.
In 1956 seminary classes began at the Utah State Industrial School, an incarceration facility for juvenile offenders, in Ogden, Utah, with Wallace D. Montague as the teacher and principal. “The classes were successful in giving students some knowledge and appreciation of the gospel. Even with voluntary attendance, enrollments grew over the years.” Students only attended the Utah State Industrial School for short periods of time, so seminary personnel worked closely with the students and their home ward bishops “to fellowship the student when he [or she] returned to his [or her] own home and community.” When the student was due to be released from the training center, the seminary principal sent a letter “to the student’s home bishop informing him of the date when [the student] would be released from the school” and go home, and “another letter was sent … to the local seminary principal in the community to which the boy or girl returned.” These letters urged that special effort be given to the student so that religious instruction continued and so that the young person was welcomed back into the ward and classroom.220
By 1967 the Church Board of Education granted permission to construct a seminary building on the grounds of the industrial school, which served students who had stopped attending high school or had gotten into trouble with the law and were in detention.221
In the fall of 1961 classes for deaf students began taking place in Ogden, Utah, at the Ogden Branch chapel, with G. Leon Curtis assigned as the first teacher.222 There were 18 students registered for the first class, but 31 showed up the day class began. Brother Ken Sheffield, the area coordinator, was so moved by the first seminary class for the deaf he wrote a letter to Elder Boyd K. Packer that night to share his experience: “All the students could talk (sign) about was the Seminary and how thankful they were.” Describing the class, Brother Sheffield continued: “All signing stopped. All eyes were glued on this fine LDS young man [Brother Curtis]. He told them … that they would sing (silently of course), pray, have scripture the same as other Seminaries. Every child beamed approval. They were told that Seminary is school, but school to develop their testimonies so that they can become missionaries and serve others. Bro. Curtis had a letter from the brethren, stating that the deaf should be trained to preach the Gospel to the deaf. Later full time deaf missionaries will be called. The Spirit of prophecy was with us.”223
In 1962 the first seminary class for deaf students in Salt Lake City was organized. Seeing the need for teachers to have further training, Brother Berrett sent Grant B. Bitter to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, to develop his skills and understanding of teaching young people with disabilities. In the fall of 1967 he began to supervise the religious education of students with special needs.224
The program grew rapidly as classes were organized throughout Utah, Idaho, and Arizona as well as in Washington, D.C., where a Deseret Club commenced at Gallaudet College for the Deaf.225
In March 1964 a youth center was established at the Utah State Mental Hospital in Provo, Utah. The next year the Church Board of Education approved a seminary for the center. For the first four years children ages 6–13 were allowed to attend the seminary, but beginning in 1970 only teenagers could participate. The seminary teacher, in addition to teaching religion, served as a facilitator during panel discussions and provided activities that the typical seminary class did not have. He was also a counselor for students and worked with local school teachers, doctors, social workers, and psychologists.226
The Utah Training School, located in American Fork, was a school for students with learning and intellectual disabilities. In 1965 President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency visited the school grounds and promised that a “suitable chapel would be built.” Before the construction of this building was even completed, seminary classes were organized and students began to meet there. There were 180 students enrolled the first year. Teachers used “pictures, filmstrips, overhead projectors, flannelboards, and charts” to give the students visual references to what was being taught. President Brown’s earlier promise came to fruition in November 1967 when he returned to dedicate the completed structure, which would house church services as well as the seminary program.227
Joseph Smith said, “Let the penitentiaries be turned into seminaries of learning.”228 Around 1966, with the assistance of President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Brother Berrett was asked to provide a teacher to assist the Latter-day Saint chaplain at the Utah State Prison in teaching several classes. Ernest L. Eberhard Jr., the director of curriculum, accepted the assignment and began leading a discussion at the prison twice a month. The first seminary classes began in the fall of 1967, and eventually a full-fledged institute program with a director began at the Utah State Prison. The prison had provided a classroom in the chapel, but the furnishings needed improvement. To help the prison reach this goal, seminary students from schools in the area contributed to a fundraising program. With their assistance, physical facilities were enhanced—two pianos were provided, the lighting was upgraded, teaching materials were added, and the walls were painted. Even the prison library benefitted from additional books, bookcases, literature display racks, bulletin boards, and chalkboards. Media aids included “record players and records, a 16-mm movie projector, a 35-mm slide projector, and other teaching and audiovisual materials.” Classes were held in both the chapel and the minimum security area.229 Other local jails also hosted Church education classes.
Assistant Administrator Dale T. Tingey summed up the era when William E. Berrett led religious education by declaring, “I have to admit in the early years there was a devotion and a commitment that is rarely matched today. The early teachers loved their work, they did not work just for the money because it was barely a living, they were totally committed to bringing these young people into full activity of the Church, help[ing] them catch the vision of going on missions, marrying in the Church, and serving in the Church.”230
Under the energetic leadership of William E. Berrett, the seminary and institute programs underwent profound change and growth. Brother Berrett later looked back with satisfaction on the growth of the program: “In the year 1953, when I become Administrator, there were some 34,000 Seminary students. Most of these, 29,497, were in Seminaries in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming and Colorado.” He added, “The Institute Program in 1950 was limited to nineteen locations with a total enrollment of about 4,000. The Institutes were adjacent to Colleges in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, with two in the Los Angeles area in California.” Giving credit to the students, teachers, and priesthood leaders who helped the program grow, Brother Berrett noted, “By the 1970–71 school year, when I was retired, the Seminary enrollment had grown to 126,000 and the Institute enrollment to nearly 50,000. The Seminary Program had become nearly worldwide and Institutes of Religion had been established at more than 300 colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia.”231
Brother Berrett set new standards in teacher training and in curriculum, and he raised the quality of life for all of the teachers in the system. Moreover, he and his assistants established strong ties to the Church leaders and their instructions. By the end of his administration, “Follow the Brethren” became an engrained slogan for all members of the LDS religious education programs. Perhaps most important, by the end of the 1960s, seminary and institute programs had been proven in English-speaking countries abroad, and the time now approached when seminaries and institutes would go “unto every nation.”232