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Seminary: Spiritual Preparation is Key to Missionary Service

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics. The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel, and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ.

Speaking about the need to prepare for missionary service, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, "The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission."

To help the youth in their spiritual preparation, the Church's seminary program teaches them to understand the doctrines and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This four-year religious education program sponsored by the Church is offered to all youth ages 14 through 18, regardless of religious affiliation. 

A major focus of seminary is that students read daily from the scriptures and read each book of study for that year. Daily personal study of the word of God provides opportunities to learn the gospel, develop testimony, and hear the Lord’s voice.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Seminary instruction concentrates on a different volume of scripture each year, rotating between the following four courses: Old TestamentNew TestamentBook of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants and Church History. By the time a student graduates from seminary, he or she will have completed the study of all of the standard works of scripture.

Arleen Nava shares how attending seminary helped her gain a desire to serve a full-time mission. This is a photo of Sister Nava during her missionary service in the Philippines Manila Mission from 1992 to 1994.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Arleen Nava, from the Bacolod South Philippines Stake (diocese), began attending seminary right after she was baptized in 1987. Because of the truths she had learned during her seminary years, she became prepared to serve a faithful mission in the Philippines Manila Mission from 1992 to 1994. Of her experience, she said: 

In my seminary classes, I learned that my Savior lives and that we have a loving Father in Heaven. ... I also learned that families can be forever in God’s plan of happiness. These truths helped me prepare myself to serve a mission.

For John Paul Bundac, the friendships he made during his seminary years helped him stay active in the Church. He explained, "I was 14 years when I enrolled in seminary. Back then, I had a lot of insecurities and low self-esteem especially since I was a new member of the Church. But I made friends, and my seminary classmates helped me during my adjustment period. I know that the lessons I have learned in my seminary class will help me as I prepare to serve in the Philippines Butuan Mission in January 2022."

Marlon Orlanda and his missionary companion in the Philippines San Pablo Mission.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

For Marlon Orlanda from Bambang District (a small congregation), attending seminary back in 1985 gave him the strength he needed to fulfill his full-time missionary service in the Philippines San Pablo Mission. He shared, "Learning about our individual worth in the eyes of God during seminary made me understand the importance of serving God as a missionary. I was always so motivated to invite everyone to learn more about God during the mission."

Sister Rivera, who is currently serving as a full-time missionary in the Philippines Iloilo Mission, shared how the doctrines and the principles she had learned during seminary helped her stay motivated in the mission. She said:

Seminary gave me the spiritual nourishment I needed. It was during that time that I began to feel the joys of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I gained an increased understanding of His gospel and because of that, I want to share all that I know with everyone I meet on the mission field!

Sister Rivera, who is currently serving in the Philippines Iloilo Mission, shares how the doctrines and principles she learned during her seminary years have helped her in her missionary service.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Of this program, President Gordon B. Hinckley testified, "[Seminary] provides wonderful opportunities to learn the doctrines that will make you happy. Your knowledge of the gospel will be increased. Your faith will be strengthened. You will develop wonderful associations and friendships."

To learn more about how to enroll in the seminary program, contact your local Seminaries and Institutes of Religion coordinators.

History of the Seminary Program

Over 100 years ago, the first released-time seminary program was launched at Granite High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. The program has since grown into a worldwide system of religious education, bringing gospel instruction to young members of the Church throughout the world. From small beginnings, the seminary program and its collegiate counterpart —institutes of religion — grew to become the primary educational entities in the Church, with a larger enrollment than any other LDS educational venture and a wider reach than almost any educational organization worldwide. Today the seminary and institute programs teach over 700,000 students in over 150 different countries.

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