For those not of my faith, seminary is a four-year program for high school-aged youth. Every weekday during the school year the youth attend a one-hour class about the scriptures. Every year they rotate the topics. They rotate between Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and covenants. The latter two being volumes that are unique to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In Utah, these classes are electives that can be taken through the school system. Outside of Utah, they are usually given early in the morning. When I was a youth in Wichita, Kansas I went from 6:00 am to 7:00 am.
I was pretty excited my first year. My second year was good as well. In my third year, I struggled. In my ward, I became somewhat blackballed for the perceived problems I brought. I never thought I was a bad person until that ward broke me. I remember one time I got in trouble because I was linking arms with one of the young women, a friend of mine. It was an innocent act but it wasn’t taken that way for whatever reason. The young women’s president got very upset with me and I lost it. I went off on her. One of the young men’s leaders at the time had to intervene. Not that I was going to get violent but I got in a shouting match with her. There were a lot of instances like that.
In my third year, there was an issue where the local school had a “zero hour” which meant that there was an elective class that could be taken an hour before school started. Many people in my ward elected for the classes offered. If the seminary had started on time they would not have been able to attend “zero hour.” To resolve this they decided to segregate the classes by ward and start 15 minutes earlier at 5:45 am. I was stuck with my ward again. In the previous two years I was at least with other people not in my ward.
I was not thrilled about starting at 5:45 am and I was not thrilled about being with people from my ward. I decided instead to attend the class from the other ward. I did this for about two months and was even asked to be the class president. After two months the bishop called me into his office and said that I had to attend my own wards seminary class. Again I was not happy but did it anyway. Things never got better. Partly because of my reaction to their stubbornness and close-minded attitudes. I should have reacted better but I didn’t. It got cold in the mornings in the church so I brought a blanket with me. They didn’t like that and asked me to stop. These little things got me in a lot of trouble with them. It got so bad that they asked my mom to come to seminary to make sure that I behaved. Finally, in the end, it wasn’t worth the trouble or anger I was feeling, and since I couldn’t get away from the situation in seminary by going to another class, I just stopped going.
Seminary just left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve never had a high opinion of it for the most part. When I moved to Guatemala I was asked to teach early morning seminary. I accepted. I was excited to teach things to the youth that I had learned in my studies in Hebrew and ancient scripture. I was shocked to find out that seminary in my town starts at 5:00 am. Just as I expected the student’s minds were not able to handle the early hours and largely they were asleep during my lessons. I also was not allowed to teach things that I had learned and was told on a number of occasions to just teach what was in the manual. I’m not sure why there was a teacher. Why not just give the manual to the youth and they could study in their own time?
I further disliked seminary…until my daughter started attending. They finally realized that early morning was not a good solution and moved it to the evening. This was a godsend as I probably would not have allowed her to go that early. With the pandemic hitting she is largely in self study. She is doing great and enjoying the scriptures. It’s not a chore but a delight for her. I’m proud that she understanding the principles and teachings. This makes me very happy. I was afraid that she would have a similar experience as I did. This has not been the case and I couldn’t be happier. Although my experience was a terrible one I am glad that my daughter is gaining a love for the scriptures through seminary.