To a high school student, waking up early every weekday to attend a scripture study class before school might seem crazy, but that is exactly what teenage members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do. Why? Here’s what some local senior seminary students have to say:
Anni- “At first I thought, ‘it’s like another church meeting’, but it’s fun to be here and it’s a good start to your day.”
Zenobia- “A lot of kids worry about friends that they are going to have and seminary is definitely the place where you are going to have friends. These are kids you basically grow up with everyday, see them every morning.”
Hannah- “I think it just helps because we are all here. We can learn and read our scriptures on our own but it’s cool to get different people’s opinions and ideas because everyone sees things from their own life experience.”
Dalia- “You generally don’t think it’s a big deal when you first start out as a freshman. As I’ve gotten older, waking up one hour earlier than everybody else seems like the worst thing in the world. So it’s kind of like a game of what matters more to you.”
Tessa- “I definitely see a difference when I don’t come to seminary”
Most of these seniors have been attending seminary together for the past 4 years, but it doesn’t take long for a group of teenagers who sacrifice sleep for something important to bond with each other. Patricia told me “I started coming to town when I was a junior. Before that, my mom taught seminary at my home and there were only 2 other students. We learned a lot, for sure, but with a bigger group you make more connections with their stories and different things.”
The day I visited, class starts off at 7:10am with a video introduction addressing the question “what happens to us when we die?” (Doctrine & Covenants 138). Students trickled in until the seats were mostly filled. Their teacher, Sister Sandy Willis, reads scriptures and starts discussions with her students, then ends with her testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.
Sister Willis, in her 4th year of teaching, occasionally invites her students to teach lessons. One of the students, Patricia, said “Sometimes we’re going to focus on things that seem important to us and skim over the stuff that doesn’t seem to apply to us.” Sister Willis said, “When they teach, it’s amazing to watch. They bring out the best in each other which helps to invite the Spirit into the classroom. I wish you could hear one of their lessons.” At 8:00am class is over and the students go straight to High School, either Godwin, Freeman, Deep Run, Tucker, Glen Allen or home school.
Speaking about what they’ll miss after graduation, Jacob said “The food, and being all together.” The students receive grades for the scripture class based on attendance, required reading, and test scores. Students who go above and beyond receive a special award at the graduation ceremony on June 9th. But the thing these students are most proud of? Waking up in time to make it there, day after day. At least most of the time, and mostly awake.
To find out more about seminary, visit www.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
“Whether you attend a Church school or not, whether you attend college or not, do not think that you are too busy to study the gospel. Seminary, institute, or religion classes will provide balance to your life.” - Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
-Jen Haines is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and mother of four, one of which started seminary last fall as a freshman in high school.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In the Richmond area there are 29 congregations of Latter-day Saints. We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and spread His light in our community.
This is not an official site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.