What seminary meant to me

Published: Monday, Jan. 16 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Editor's note: With the upcoming 100-year celebration of the LDS Church's seminary program, Mormon Times is sharing experiences and blessing from those who participated in seminary.

I learned many valuable lessons in seminary, of course, but I think the most important was that the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could actually be fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I had many wonderful Primary and Sunday school teachers growing up, many of whom were very creative.

But my impression of gospel learning up to that point consisted of often tiring three-hour-long block schedules with the occasional treat or fireside here or there, nothing more. I’d been told to study, to feast, but I was 14 years old. I needed to be taught to feast. I needed it to be interesting, alive — fun.

Thanks to a rotating system at my high school, I went through quite a few seminary teachers; I can still name them all. Brother Steele combed his hair to the side and called scripture mastery tests “celebrations” instead of tests. Brother Cox had a tendency to get in giggle fits. Brother Rivera had a nickname for every student. Sister Allen had led an adventure-filled life. Brother Taylor was a king of sarcasm, but managed to bring the spirit daily. Brother Bailey made more sound effects than any toddler I’ve known. Brother Hogan had a million EMT stories.

Different ages, different backgrounds, different families, different teaching styles, but they were each l thoroughly trained and well-studied. They had sayings and songs and catchphrases to help me learn effectively.

In their hands, the gospel came alive to me. Class was “fun” when appropriate, and the environment was more relaxed than wear-your-Sunday-best church was. I was suddenly safe to question, to wonder, to explore and even speculate, to an extent. Brother Taylor gave a lighthearted spin to our judgment in the next life, telling us he liked to imagine we would watch a movie of our lives.

“Pause and say ‘hi’ to yourselves, everyone," he said.

I was blessed to have teachers that were able to balance just enough jokes and gags to keep our teenage attention with a spiritual learning deeper than I had ever experienced before.

Within a year of starting seminary, I found myself buffering Sunday School discussions with, “I learned in seminary…” or, “My seminary teacher taught us…”

My seminary and institute days now behind me, I still do that.

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

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