Barbara Morgan, Garry Moore, LaNell Moore, "Seminaries and Institutes of Religion," Religious Educator 11, no. 3 (2010): 181–213.
Barbara Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org) was an institute teacher at the Taylorsville Institute and a part-time instructor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University when this was written.
Garry Moore and LaNell Moore (email@example.com) were president and matron of the Madrid Spain Temple when this was written.
Garry and LaNell Moore enjoyed more than forty years of association with Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. Richard B. Crookston.
Barbara Morgan: How did you get started in Seminaries and Institutes (S&I)?
Garry Moore: It was the result of a series of unusual events. During my last three years as an undergraduate student at BYU, I worked at the LTM (Language Training Mission, precursor to the MTC). I started as a teacher and was then called as a counselor to Ernest Wilkins, the first LTM president. Being a counselor was an unusual assignment in that it was both a job and a calling: a job because I was a paid employee who was responsible to hire and train teachers, and a calling because I was the ecclesiastical leader for the missionaries (there were no branch presidents at that time).
One day another counselor and I took a missionary with serious emotional problems to Salt Lake City to meet with D. Arthur Haycock to decide whether the missionary should continue his mission or receive professional help. On the return trip, the other counselor and I were having one of those “what are you going to do when you grow up?” talks. At one point he asked me, “Have you ever thought of teaching seminary as a career?” I said, “I don’t know what that is.” My exposure to S&I at that point was almost nonexistent. I had no idea what released-time seminary was, and I surely did not know you could have a career teaching seminary.
I think this other counselor must have talked to Marshall Burton, who was in charge of hiring for S&I at the time, because a couple of weeks later I got a call from Brother Burton saying, “I would like to talk to you.” I met with Marshall, and shortly thereafter he offered me a job.
That left me perplexed. I really liked what I was doing at the LTM, and I was also ready to start a master’s degree in public administration. After careful consideration, LaNell and I decided to decline the S&I offer but told Marshall we would reconsider S&I at a future time. Around Thanksgiving that year, Brother Burton contacted me again and told me that one of their teachers had been drafted into the military and again offered me a job. At that time I was spending about sixty hours a week at the LTM, carrying a full class load in my master’s program, and LaNell was expecting our second child in a couple of weeks. After giving it prayerful consideration and finding out it was possible to switch my master’s degree classes to night classes, we felt we should give S&I a try.
My first assignment was teaching seminary at Bonneville High Seminary in Ogden, replacing Roger Fluhman (Brother Fluhman is currently the secretary to President Boyd K. Packer and the Twelve), who had been drafted into the military. To my knowledge the first time I ever set foot in a seminary or institute building was when I walked in to the Bonneville Seminary that day as a new teacher. I did not have the benefit of any preservice training only my experience as a missionary and as a teacher at the LTM. I taught at Bonneville Seminary for the rest of that school year and drove to Provo for my night classes. We went back to Provo for summer school. I taught the next year at Bonneville and again returned to Provo for summer school.
A note of possible interest: the S&I administrator was at that time known as “president,” and all of the administrative offices were located on BYU campus. Shortly after we arrived on campus the summer of 1968, under the direction of William E. Berrett, president of S&I, I and three or four other teachers were asked to go to various parts of the United States to implement a new home-study seminary program. The home-study program had been piloted in the Midwest by Don Bond during the previous school year and it had been decided to expand to other parts of the U.S. My assignment was to establish home-study seminary in the eastern part of the U.S. It was suggested that we might want to live somewhere near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The home-study seminary was completely unknown to members and priesthood leaders in the area; therefore it would be necessary for us to move to the East quickly and spend most of the summer contacting and training priesthood leaders and parents so the program could be ready to start in the fall.
I accepted the assignment but now had a challenge. I was right in the middle of my master’s program, and it became apparent that I would need to drop all of my summer classes and probably discontinue my master’s degree program at BYU, since finishing the degree from back East did not seem like a realistic possibility. On the other hand, if I continued my classes that summer, I would need only one more summer to finish the degree, and coming to Provo from the East for one summer seemed viable. I discussed my dilemma with the administrators. They wanted me to finish the degree, so they suggested that we use a person back East to help me contact parents and priesthood leaders and that I fly back and forth a few times during the summer to make sure things were organized and ready to go in the fall. It sounded like a viable solution. Unfortunately we were never able to locate the person who was to help me back East.
As time passed it became increasingly difficult to know what to do. We again consulted with President Berrett and the S&I administrators. We all finally agreed that it did not appear things would work out for the program or for us, so it was decided someone else would be asked to fill the assignment and we would stay in Ogden. It was a hard decision because LaNell and I were excited about being a part of this new program. In fact, LaNell was in Ogden packing our few possessions in preparation for our move when I called and told her it had been decided we were not going east and to start unpacking. Before she could finish unpacking, I was asked to take an assignment in the institute program located adjacent to the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. I called LaNell and said, “Honey, you may not want to unpack since we’ve been asked to go to Canada instead.”
We accepted the assignment, and after summer school classes were completed, we and our two little boys headed for Calgary pulling a U-Haul trailer behind our old car. When we got to the Canadian border, we spent many hours trying to get into Canada. Nobody had told us that we needed a visa to take up residence there.
We loved Calgary. We had lots of great students and a brand new building, and I was called as the elders quorum president of one of the student wards. I loved teaching the institute students, but it was an interesting experience because many of them were older than I was.
The next summer we headed back to BYU so I could finish my master’s degree. Partway through the summer we felt a strong impression that there was something else we needed to be doing in the fall. That created a very difficult situation because we had really enjoyed our year of institute in Calgary. We were in no way unhappy with S&I, but we felt we needed to accept a job offer in business that took us to Los Angeles and meant leaving S&I. We had no interest in trying to raise our little boys in Los Angeles, but that is what we felt we needed to do.
LaNell Moore: Garry’s patriarchal blessing says that he would administer over many people. We assumed that would have to be in business. He had finished his master’s degree that summer. S&I had been a great experience and we had thoroughly enjoyed it, but in our minds at that point S&I had not been a permanent career choice.
Garry Moore: It was very difficult to do, but I resigned from S&I, and we moved to Los Angeles, where I began work in the corporate offices of my new employer, located in the tallest building in downtown LA. Shortly after arriving I was called into the bishopric of our ward in Covina. As a bishopric we could not find a teacher for our early-morning seminary class, so I volunteered to do that as well. I had a large class, about thirty-five as I recall, and I loved it. Phil Harris, who was my S&I coordinator, and Frank Hirschi, the area director, kept talking to me about coming back into S&I. I kept telling them that I loved S&I but that we were doing what we felt we were supposed to be doing and that life was good.
LaNell Moore: Garry was being advanced at work, and we just assumed that is what we would do for the rest of our lives.
Garry Moore: At one point, however, after Frank or Phil had talked to me again, I thought, “You know, I probably should give more prayerful consideration to this situation.” Therefore, one night after bishopric meeting I asked the bishop if I could talk to him. I explained to him that I had just been promoted at work and that my superiors wanted me to make an important career decision regarding my role in the organization. I also explained that S&I had again offered me a job. After explaining my dilemma, I asked the bishop if he would give me a blessing since my stepfather was not a member. In the blessing the bishop in essence said, “You should resign and go teach institute.” And I thought, “Wow, really?”
After retiring, Garry and LaNell Moore began service as temple president and matron of the Madrid Spain Temple. Courtesy of Gary and LaNell Moore.
LaNell Moore: When Garry came home, I asked, “So what did the bishop say in the blessing? He replied, “We are supposed to resign and go teach.” I said that was fine, but I knew it might cause some disturbances.
Garry Moore: The General Authority who interviewed me for reentry into S&I told me that my stake president was upset because he felt that the bishop had overstepped his bounds and had no right to tell me what I should do in the blessing. The stake president had never said anything to me about the blessing but had apparently talked to the General Authority before he interviewed me. The stake president was probably right about the principle. Nevertheless, I knew what I had felt when the bishop said I should go teach. A desire for clear direction was why I had asked the bishop to give me the blessing in the first place, and I had received it. It did not make the decision easy, but I recognized it was what I needed to do. In the interview I asked the General Authority how he felt I should handle things. In essence, he said, “Well, I cannot tell you what to do, but we would sure be happy to have you back.”
Having received the desired guidance, I resigned my position at work. The executive vice president over my part of the organization called me in and said, “OK, how much are they offering you?” When I told him (it was about half of what I was currently making), he said something like, “Are you that unhappy here?” I said, “I am not unhappy at all. I really like it here.” He said something like, “Will you please help me understand what you are talking about?” He spent a long time with me trying to understand why I would walk away from something that was paying me a lot more money than I would get from S&I and that had the potential to pay me much more throughout my career. Although it did not make financial sense to the executive vice president (or to my parents or to us, for that matter!), when I left his office he commented that he did not understand why I was leaving, but assured me it was nice to see someone doing what he felt was right rather than doing something just because it paid more money. He also assured me that if I ever wanted to come back, he would help find a position for me. We have never looked back and have been blessed in every way, beyond our ability to express, including financially!
I must say, however, that those two years working in business in LA have proven extremely helpful to me. The experience of working in the head office of a large corporation helped me begin to learn how to see things from a broad perspective, how to analyze and do things on a large scale, and many other things which were very significant preparations for me personally and much-appreciated experience for the over thirty years of administrative assignments I was asked to fill in S&I. It is just amazing to me how the Lord does things with our lives if we listen and trust him.
I am obviously not a very good example of a typical S&I employee, but that is how I got started and ended up making S&I a career—through both the back and the side doors. I really did not have any idea what S&I was when I started, but what a marvelous forty-plus-year experience it has been, one I would not trade for any amount of fame or money. We are so grateful for the guidance we received early in our life that allowed us to have this incredible experience.
LaNell Moore: At age fourteen or fifteen, Garry announced to his mom that he was going to quit the Church because the Sunday School superintendent had asked him to give a two-and-a-half-minute talk. He was much too shy and lacking in confidence to stand in front of a group to talk. Miraculously, he gave that talk, and through the Lord’s tender guidance and rich experiences, such as a full-time mission, he ended up spending his life teaching and giving talks.
Garry Moore: If there was any sacrifice, it has certainly brought forth the blessings of heaven. You hear people talk about the financial sacrifice required to work in S&I, but I do not think it has been much of a sacrifice for us. Undoubtedly, we would have had a much higher salary and earned a lot more money over our career had we stayed in the business world. Nevertheless, I ask myself, how much has it been worth to me and my family to be able to work in the wonderful atmosphere and with the kind of people and students we have worked with in S&I? How much has it been worth to have the Spirit be a daily requirement for my work and to be able to study and teach the scriptures? If there has been any financial sacrifice—and again I emphasize I do not feel there really has been—it has certainly been worth it!
When we started in S&I, I think our first year’s salary was a little over five thousand dollars. That obviously was not a lot of money, but we have always had sufficient for our family. At certain periods there was none to spare, but there was sufficient. On the salary we received we were able to raise nine children, and LaNell has never worked outside the home. In the beginning years, our salary was based on the nine months of teaching during the school year, but we were allowed to have it paid over twelve months. That way we got a check every month, but by spreading nine months of pay over twelve months it made for a smaller monthly income. During those first years I never had a part-time job during the school year, but I did find summer work to help supplement our income. During those summers I worked in oil fields, did roofing in Arizona, delivered mail parcels, and so forth. As S&I expanded across the world, assignments began to require a twelve-month rather than a nine-month work year. For example, the S&I coordinator position, such as I was offered back East, requires significant summer work or there is no program in the fall. The year-round requirements of many S&I positions along with other factors eventually led to a proposal to the Board of Education for an eight-week summer employment option. This option was approved and allowed us to devote our year-round efforts to enrolling students, preparing lessons, and so forth. This greatly blessed the work, and it was also a great financial blessing from the Brethren to us. The extra eight weeks of pay made it so that I no longer sought temporary summer jobs.
My S&I assignments were never an eight-hour-a-day, forty-hour-a-week job. There were many years of teaching night classes, early-morning seminary supervision, weekend and night institute activities, student recruitment, and so on. During the last twenty-four years in the central office, my assignments required me to travel, often for weeks at a time, normally working fourteen- to eighteen-hour days and often seven days a week. I never thought of my assignments as a forty-hour week but rather whatever time it took to get the job done. Trying to do my best in my S&I assignments, fulfill demanding Church callings, and raise a large family left no time nor desire to have a second job. Frankly, I worry about those who try to be successful in their S&I assignment and have another job on the side. I also worry about the increasing number of S&I wives with children still at home who are working outside the home. I fear both take a toll on them, their families, and their S&I assignment.
Being able to do S&I work during the summers and be compensated for it has, in my observation, blessed our students, our programs, and our S&I personnel immensely. After a few years we proposed to the Board that the summer option be replaced with regular twelve-month compensation. This was approved. The change has allowed teachers to receive the same amount of pay each month, making it easier for them to qualify for home loans, better meet monthly obligations, and have paid annual leave. There were some who misunderstood the change to a twelve-month commitment and thought that their vacation time had been taken away. The reality was that the supposed summer vacation time was free time, but it was really leave without pay. I hope S&I teachers today appreciate how generous the Brethren have been to us and will devote their year-round efforts to such important tasks as contacting and enrolling more students, improving teaching, having programs better prepared, and so forth. I hope all realize what a blessing it is not to have to seek summer jobs or have a second job, and what a blessing the extra weeks of pay are to our families!
Going through the retirement process in preparation for our temple assignment, I have more fully realized how wonderful the benefits provided to us really are. We have much better benefits and retirement programs than most people in the United States and certainly the world. As I said at the beginning, if there has been any element of sacrifice on our part, the blessings and the benefits we have received over our career in S&I far, far exceed any sacrifice.
LaNell Moore: We and our children have also learned a great deal by not having too much money. Necessity is the mother of invention. For us, real income was multiplied as capacities and talents were developed. In the process of trying to improve our situation, the Lord improved us.
Garry Moore: And I believe the Lord has always provided us with more than sufficient for our needs, and we have been able to live well. Eight of our nine children have served missions (our youngest daughter graduated from college at age twenty and married before she was old enough to serve). We never paid for our children’s tuition or living expenses. That was not a decision caused by a lack of money. We believed the children would get a great practical education and would be blessed by learning to do it on their own. The basic principles of the welfare program—work, self-reliance, and staying out of debt—are important for our children to learn early in their lives. We tried to teach our children to save money for their missions, and the seven boys, through early-morning paper routes (which sometimes just about wore me out) and summer work, had all or most of the money saved to do so. Then without them knowing we were doing it, we paid for their missions. When they returned home we were able to say to them, “Here is the money you saved for your mission; now get your college education.” Our kids did pay (through scholarships, savings, and part-time work) for their own education, and eight of the nine (our oldest daughter married before finishing her degree and helped put her husband through law school and start a family) have graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree, and several have master’s and doctorates. Almost all of them graduated with no school loans to repay. Financially, I do not think we or they have suffered or really sacrificed. I don’t share any of this to brag or to sound like we had all of the answers. Every family has challenges, and we certainly had ours. However, the work environment, wonderful associations with colleagues and students, and even our finances have protected, enriched, and blessed our lives in ways that all the money in the world could not buy.
One thing that some might view as a sacrifice is that most of the S&I assignments we were asked to take necessitated a move. We lived a year and a half in Ogden, followed by a year in Canada. When we came back into S&I, we moved and spent four years in Santa Maria, California, where I started a full-time institute program. Santa Maria was a wonderful place to raise a family. When we were asked to move back to LA to be the institute director at Long Beach City Institute and then the director at the Cal State Long Beach institute, it caused us some soul-searching. We went from a very nice home in Santa Maria to a very small home—about 1,200 square feet and no basement, with one bathroom for us and our seven kids. We had to be creative, so we cut an opening in the ceiling in one room and put in a pull-down staircase, put plywood over the rafters in the attic for flooring, and created a bedroom where the two oldest boys slept. The attic was not tall enough for an adult to stand up or to put in a real room with walls, but the boys loved it. They were having a Tom Sawyer experience.
During that time I was called as bishop and also started my doctorate in higher education at the University of Southern California (USC). We loved our time in LA and in California. At the time we thought we were sacrificing to leave Santa Maria and move to Long Beach. In retrospect, our four years in Long Beach were a great blessing to us and our children. The Lord knew what he was doing even when we were a bit doubtful.
Our next move was from Long Beach to Washington DC. I was assigned to be the area director for the eastern half of the United States and the eastern half of Canada. This meant literally moving from coast to coast. We lived in Virginia for five years and absolutely loved it. We would have stayed there forever if we had not been asked to move to the central office in 1984. I guess I should just say that we loved each place we served and cried when we had to leave. I think it is very safe to say that we probably never would have ventured out nor made these moves on our own. The Lord was so good to us and our family. Each new assignment and location brought wonderful new friends and experiences. In California I had served in a bishopric, on two high councils, and as a bishop. While living in DC, I served in another bishopric, as bishop of two different wards, and in the stake presidency. I traveled all over the eastern U.S. and eastern Canada working with more than forty coordinators and institute directors. We also added child number eight. The Lord was so kind to provide wonderful growing experiences for us.
While in Virginia I was able to finish my doctorate, which was an absolute miracle! I had taken all my coursework at USC while working full-time and serving as a bishop, but I had not taken my oral and written exams nor written my dissertation before we moved east. I had no idea how I was going to pass my written and oral exams on courses that I had taken so long ago, or how I was going to be able to be on campus at USC, or write my dissertation, with us living in Virginia. I had pretty well concluded that I was going to end up as another ABD (all but dissertation).
Again the way was provided. As area director I had to fly to Salt Lake City twice a year, once for a budget review and once for the area directors’ convention. I “accidentally” found airline flights that allowed me to fly to SLC via LA for only ten to fifteen dollars more than a direct flight to Salt Lake City. With the permission of the central office I flew to LA, worked with my chairman and committee for two or three days at a time, then flew to my meetings in Salt Lake. I still have a hard time believing I was able to pass my exams and get my dissertation finished without slighting my other responsibilities. I am very aware that it would have been impossible without the love and support of LaNell and the Lord’s help. There is also no question but that the Lord helped me and us in more ways than we understand even today. One obvious example of his help—tuition at USC was extremely high, and in those days S&I did not provide the tuition assistance they offer today. When I tried to pay my final tuition bill at USC, which was a large amount, the bursar’s office informed me, “You have already paid it, probably with your credit card.” I insisted that I had not paid it. I checked with the credit card company, and there was no tuition charge. I again told USC that I had not written a check and that the credit card company had verified that I did not pay the tuition with a credit card, to which they said, “Our records show that you did pay the tuition, and as far as we are concerned the matter is settled.” I told them where I could be reached when they realized their mistake and that I would pay what I owed them. I never again heard from USC, other than the alumni association inviting me to annually contribute to the alumni fund, which I have done for many years.
LaNell Moore: By the time he got his doctorate, we had eight children. These were not sacrifices; they were improvements.
Garry Moore: Each time we moved, we and our children had to leave our home, our callings, and dear friends behind. This was always hard, but each time we soon realized that the move also brought great blessings. We retained our old friends and made new ones. We received new callings, and our new home was often better than the previous one. Even more important, each move gave us a chance to cut off all our outside influences and regroup as a family. In the process of the move, our family unity and interdependence was strengthened. Even though there were challenges, I really do not believe our moves were sacrifices; rather they proved to have a positive impact on the family. When we moved from Virginia, our oldest son left on a mission about ten days after we arrived in Utah. Our second son was entering his senior year, our third son was beginning high school, and our fourth son was in his last year of junior high. The move could have been traumatic for them. Though not easy at first, it all worked out very well. We have been more blessed than anyone deserves to be blessed by every aspect of our career in S&I.
LaNell Moore: These moves shaped our family tremendously. With each move we learned to grow where you are planted and with each move we grew closer together! Our move to Spain was our twenty-first.
Garry Moore: The Lord was very kind to us. As we moved from place to place a way was provided (not without some stretching, belt tightening, and leaps of faith) to afford housing in our new location. The timing of the moves was not always what our wisdom would have said was ideal, but it all worked out. For example, in 1984 we had sacrificed and bought new carpet for our home in Virginia which was in our garage ready to lay when Stan Peterson called and asked me to be a zone administrator and move to Salt Lake City. The new carpet undoubtedly helped us sell our home more quickly and at a better price, even though we never got to enjoy it! Neither LaNell nor I are from Utah, and we had no extended family in Utah, so moving to Utah was not on our wish list of places to live. In fact we had decided the DC area, even though it was completely across the country from our parents, would be our home indefinitely. When we moved to Utah, the only house we could feel good about had only one of the three things we really wanted. Nevertheless, it has been a wonderful home and location for our family for the past twenty-five years. Not too many years after moving into our Utah home, through making some extra monthly equity payments, we were able to pay off the remainder of our home loan. Not having a monthly house payment for several years helped us with missions and more.
Our moves also provided opportunities for Church callings that we may not have experienced had we stayed in one spot. Every experience and location provided a foundation for the next set of challenges and blessings. These were not sacrifices. I have been overwhelmed with the blessings of the Lord in these callings and assignments. I spent almost thirty of my forty S&I years as a Central Office administrator or area director. I enjoyed these assignments, but I also loved teaching and the day-to-day interaction with the students.
Garry Moore: When Bruce Lake was called as a mission president, I was asked to replace him as a zone administrator in the early spring of 1984. I spent the next few months before our move to Utah as the area director in the East and commuting to the Church Office Building for a couple of weeks at a time in my new zone administrator assignment. In those days each of the five zone administrators had responsibility for some domestic released-time areas, some domestic non-released-time areas and some international areas. My first international assignment as zone administrator was over Asia. I had lived with my parents in Japan for two years when I was young, so going back to Japan as part of my assignment in Asia was exciting. I supervised Asia for four wonderful years. The next few years I was over the Pacific, which included twenty-six (now eighteen) Church schools. This was a whole new experience and one I enjoyed. It was not, however, without lots of new and difficult challenges and extra hours and days of work. I was involved in the closing of our school in Jakarta, Indonesia, and some of the elementary schools in Samoa. Those were very difficult, emotional experiences for all involved. My work with the schools proved to be a very important preparation for what I was later asked to do as an administrator.
The next two and a half years I was blessed to work with South America. It was while I was working with South America that I was called to serve as mission president in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 1994 to 1997. I haven’t really done a careful count, but I think I have been in sixty to seventy countries in my S&I travel. That undoubtedly sounds very exotic, and it was wonderful. Nevertheless the weeks away from family and callings, the jet lag, the fourteen-to-eighteen-hour days for days at a time, and the challenges of a growing international program certainly were not easy. During the ten years from 1984 to 1994, I also enjoyed working with our wonderful colleagues in most of the U.S. and Canada.
Garry Moore: About five months before the end of our three-year mission in Argentina, Stan Peterson called me. I was at the time conducting a mission zone leaders conference, so I did not have much time to talk with him. As I recall Stan said something like, “I have really given prayerful consideration to the assignment I want you to take when you come back.” Obviously lots of wild scenarios suddenly raced through my mind. Stan then invited me to come into the Central Office not as a field zone administrator but as a zone administrator to manage the Central Office departments. This is the assignment I had until I became the associate administrator in 2001 and later the administrator.
One of the biggest responsibilities I had in those assignments was to work closely with other Church departments in developing what has become known as shared services. Around the time we returned from Argentina, President Henry B. Eyring challenged S&I to find ways to have other Church departments provide services for us rather than doing everything ourselves, as we had been doing for years. I feel he wanted us to be able to focus more of our time and effort on our core objective. Trying to make that happen became one of my major responsibilities over the next ten or eleven years. Frankly, it is one of the things that I feel most satisfied with. I think that the future, the growth and the changes that lie ahead for S&I, would have been much more cumbersome and difficult without the shared services transitions that have been put in place over the past few years.
For many years S&I was often jokingly referred to by other Church personnel and departments as “the other church.” This was in part because we were doing all our own physical facilities, HR, audiovisual work, computer programming, and so forth, and had few cooperative efforts or relationships with other Church entities and personnel. When S&I was a small western United States program, doing everything ourselves was acceptable and probably even necessary. However, as S&I enrollments, personnel, and programs expanded and scattered all over the world, it became increasingly obvious that changes needed to be made. For us to continue to try to adequately and economically meet the needs of our multinational faculty, our 700,000-plus students, and our 40,000-plus volunteer teachers, and to provide buildings, curricular materials, and compensation and benefits programs for faculty in more than 140 countries from one central location was no longer practical nor economical. I believe President Eyring, having been both the commissioner and a member of the Presiding Bishopric, was uniquely qualified to see the need for a change and thus his challenge to us. It has been an interesting and exciting challenge to establish shared services with other Church departments and also to not have them see us as “the other Church.”
Let me illustrate why this new shared services way of operating became critical. If we had a computer problem at one of our schools in Tonga, we sent S&I people from Salt Lake or from Australia or New Zealand to work on it. The Church also had a temple, Presiding Bishopric offices, and ecclesiastical offices in Tonga. When one of these entities had a computer problem, employees from one of those departments were sent to fix it. So there were two or more people from S&I and personnel from other Church departments on the same island sent from various parts of the world, working on similar kinds of problems often almost in the same room. That obviously is neither efficient nor cost effective. Having the Church department responsible for computers handle our needs (shared services) helped everyone.
We made similar changes in how we handle S&I facilities. Throughout the world our S&I facilities, including our elementary and secondary schools, are now being built, cleaned, and maintained by Church Physical Facilities Management groups. Under President Hinckley’s direction, shared services was expanded to include shared use. We were asked to find ways to share buildings as well as services. I remember going on a trip and visiting three or four released-time seminary buildings. At each I asked, “How far away is the closest chapel to this facility?” The farthest chapel from any of them was two blocks from the seminary building. I realized the Church had to buy two pieces of property and build and maintain two buildings, one of which would be full during the day, vacant at night and on the weekends, and the other full on the weekends, but vacant during weekdays. During Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas week, S&I teachers often want to have a devotional, assembly, or activity that requires a larger room. Most seminary buildings do not provide this type of space, and it is very costly to provide it for a very few times a year it is needed. However, when a new meetinghouse is being built, if it is located by the school and a separate seminary facility is incorporated into the floor plan, the chapel and the cultural hall are readily available to us for these special times. Also, by having the seminary or the institute space as a separate but internal part of the building, our wonderful classrooms can be made available to the wards on Sunday or at night when they most need them for classes, choir practice, and so forth. The shared use concept has reduced facility funding and increased correlation and cooperation between S&I and the ecclesiastical units immensely. Through this approach all Church programs and members are better and more economically served.
Several years ago we helped create a Churchwide contract for the purchase of computers. The increased purchasing power allowed us and other Church departments to get better equipment at a much better price than when we were all buying on our own.
We have, over the last ten years, transferred close to four hundred full-time equivalent employees to other Church departments, and through the efficiencies of shared services returned probably 130 or 140 more to the Church. Besides saving money and increasing efficiency for the Church, it has helped us eliminate or at least significantly diminish the idea that S&I is the “other church.” It has given me a new understanding of the principle “if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). Shared services has helped us better concentrate our time, resources and efforts in getting more students enrolled, increasing the quality and effectiveness of our teaching, and developing better priesthood relationships. I believe this is in part what President Eyring envisioned when he gave us the challenge. Certainly we have not finished the effort, but significant progress has been made.
Shared services has helped tie S&I more closely to the priesthood and to other Church programs. Even though we work with the same young people as the Young Women, the Young Men, the Sunday School, the YSA leaders, and so on, there has often been a lack of awareness of what each organization was doing and emphasizing. Not only is this not efficient, but it is not helpful to the young people or to the families we are all trying to serve. As part of this shared cooperation, we started doing such simple things as inviting the general presidencies of the auxiliaries to our broadcasts and having periodic meetings with them. Young people and families have been and will be increasingly blessed by this type of correlated effort.
We are seeing and will continue to see the General Authorities and local leaders given increased authority for all Church departments and programs, including S&I. As the Church grows, it is impossible to administer everything from Salt Lake the way it used to be. Decentralization of Church departments and programs with increased involvement and oversight by local priesthood leaders, including area presidencies in international areas, is occurring and must occur.
Changes in our curriculum and media are another example of shared services. For years we kept our media and curricular materials as exclusive use items, or in other words we asked that they not be used for anything other than for S&I purposes. I am reminded of something else President Eyring taught me. He said we must understand and remember that our job is not to build a kingdom, it is to build the kingdom. When we had exclusive use of our wonderful materials, we were in some ways building a kingdom. The new Old Testament DVD is a good illustration of how things are changing. This Old Testament DVD was a joint project by S&I and other Church departments and was designed for use in S&I, the family, the auxiliaries, or any other Church departments or meetings. It will help build “the kingdom.”
Significant changes have occurred with our curriculum as well. Several years ago the Brethren instructed all Church departments to find ways to reduce and simplify the quantity of printed material each produced. Seeking inspiration as to how to reduce and simplify S&I curricular materials led to very significant changes, such as using the scriptures, instead of manuals that talk about the scriptures, as our curriculum. With that decision readily and happily approved by the Brethren, our manuals were reduced and simplified, resulting in a dramatic reduction in our page count for materials produced. Rather than printing stories of others’ experiences to help teachers illustrate gospel principles, we began inviting teachers and students to share and testify of their own experiences. This not only reduced the size and cost of curriculum, but it strengthened teachers and students.
We subsequently went from teaching topically to teaching the scriptures sequentially and then to focusing more on principles and doctrines and how to help students know how to read, identify, and apply the principles and doctrines found therein. Unfortunately some of our older materials still in use do not reflect all of these changes. We hope to get approval to update these materials in an electronic format so they can be more easily and less expensively updated in the future. Concerning curricular materials, in my opinion, less has been better than more in many unexpected but very significant ways.
Garry Moore: One afternoon, two members of the Twelve, both of whom were serving on the Board of Education and on the Executive Committee of the Board, came to our offices and asked to meet with us. As I recall, the focus of their visit was to share a critical concern. They expressed a great need to get gospel doctrine and gospel principles more firmly planted in the mind and heart of students so they would remain faithful and be better prepared for missions and for service in the Church. They asked what we could do to help make that happen. Incidentally, when a member of the Twelve comes to meet with you after you know they have just finished a meeting with the Twelve and the First Presidency, it is critically important to listen and to be ready to go to work. When two come together, it gives even more emphasis.
These two Brethren explained that the Church needs young people, including missionaries, who know how to live and teach by the Spirit, who understand, believe, and can explain gospel principles and doctrines in their own words, and can testify of their truthfulness from their own personal experiences. They were asking us, in essence, “How are you going to help us prepare that kind of young person, that kind of missionary, that kind of future leader?” For the next period of time, we worked very carefully under their inspired direction. They were at the same time overseeing the development of Preach My Gospel. As a result of much prayerful effort by many people, a list of basic principles of teaching (which became known as the Teaching Emphasis) was developed. The Teaching Emphasis principles were presented to the Twelve and to the Board of Education for their input and approval before being introduced to S&I.
The Teaching Emphasis should not be viewed as a program or a teaching gimmick. It is, in my opinion, a list of principles of effective gospel teaching and learning. It is well understood that students learn better through participation rather than listening to lectures or presentations and that when you teach someone a truth and testify of its truthfulness, you understand and believe it even more firmly yourself. The emphasis really modifies the role of both the teacher and the student in the learning process.
After implementing the Teaching Emphasis, we invited the Church Research Information Division to do an independent evaluation to determine if it was having any measurable impact on student learning and attitude. The findings surprised even the researchers. They found that when the principles of the emphasis were correctly applied, the results were extremely positive. The data also showed that the positive results were not dependent on whether the teacher was old or young, male or female, professional or volunteer. The positive results were simply dependent on properly applying the principles of the Teaching Emphasis, or in other words, when correct principles are applied, you get positive results regardless of who applies them. A short time after the Emphasis was implemented, Elder Richard G. Scott, in his Evening with a General Authority talk, in one of the most challenging teaching settings—a worldwide multilanguage video broadcast—used a student in an unrehearsed setting to demonstrate some of the key principles of the emphasis. In my opinion, it was his way of showing how strongly he felt about these principles. We know that the stand-and-deliver model of teaching is pervasive in public education across the world. In fact, in some countries, student participation is not only not encouraged it is considered inappropriate. I believe Elder Scott was trying to model how to use these principles regardless of the prevailing educational approaches throughout the world or how we individually may have been teaching for years.
As a mission president, I saw the missionary that got off the plane and the changed missionary that got back on the plane a year and a half or two years later. I have often asked myself what causes the significant change that occurs during the mission experience. Is it just the mantle? Is it just the fact they wear a missionary badge? I think it is much more than either of these. Missionaries study the gospel on their own and with another person every day. They share what they learn with their companion, teach others, answer questions, and testify of the truthfulness of what they teach. They do all this under the influence of the Spirit. These things, in my opinion, are the essence of what causes the change in a missionary and also what happens to students when the principles of the Teaching Emphasis are properly used in a classroom setting.
Garry Moore: Absolutely! I feel strongly that applying these principles with returned missionaries keeps them growing as they were doing during their mission. When a pre- or post-mission student explains something or shares an experience or testimony regarding a gospel doctrine or principle, there is a deepening of understanding and testimony. All students, including returned missionaries, need these types of experiences. I think we would all agree that the teacher generally learns more than the student. If you can have the student become part of the teaching process, then students are learning more than if they passively sit and listen. A teacher who has done years and years of research can give students valuable information and insights. Giving information and getting the gospel and the principles of the gospel into the mind and heart of the person, however, can be two different things. They do not have to be mutually exclusive, but they can be if we are not careful. A student can be strengthened by hearing someone else’s testimony, but having a chance to share an experience or bear a testimony with another student, regardless of whether or not they are a returned missionary, strengthens their own testimony in the process. President Packer has said, “A testimony is found in the bearing of it” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, January 1983, 54). I believe that giving students the opportunity to share their feelings and experiences in a classroom setting can have a very positive impact on their testimony.
The last year and a half before our call to Spain, LaNell and I were called by our stake president to team teach a night institute class. A significant percent of our students were returned missionaries. In our opinion, the Teaching Emphasis principles worked well with all of the students in the class. Instead of telling my missionary experiences, I often said to RMs, “Elder (or Sister), you have been on a mission. Tell us about your experience with this principle or scripture.” There was a different spirit and electricity in the room when they spoke instead of us. They shared some powerful experiences. Not only was it good for the class, but it allowed some of the returned missionaries, who had not been sharing their testimony very often since returning home, to get back to testifying by the Spirit. Their experiences and our observation as to how the principles of the teaching emphasis were working in the classroom often brought tears to our eyes. I personally believe that the correct principles of the emphasis even apply to teaching us old high priests!
Garry Moore: It has been fascinating to look back and see how the Lord has provided callings and assignments that exposed me to many great leaders. It has been humbling and extremely valuable to work closely with and learn from the Brethren. It has been absolutely phenomenal to watch them in action. I feel very strongly that if we in S&I will keep our eye on what the Brethren are doing, how they are doing it, and what they are trying to have happen, we will be far more successful as a system and as individuals. It has been a phenomenal experience to be called over by members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the Presiding Bishopric, or the Seventy and to see how they lead and what they do. Such training has been life changing for me.
There are many key leadership principles I have learned over my career. First, I believe what the Savior said about his work being to bring about the eternal life of each of us (see Moses 1:39). In my opinion, the purpose of leadership is not just about organizations, programs, or buildings. None of these things are going to be exalted and are therefore only a means to an end. Individuals and families and their progress toward exaltation are the essence of leadership in the Church. If an organization runs smoothly, but the individuals that should be served by that organization are not being blessed the way they should be, then the organization is not fulfilling its purpose even though the budgets are all in place, and the buildings and programs are great. On the other hand, poor administration diminishes the ability and the effectiveness of the leaders and the organization to serve the individual and the family. I am saddened by the attitude reflected when I hear S&I personnel refer to administrative responsibilities as “administrivia.” As I watch the Brethren, they focus on the individual and the perfecting of the Saints but are also very careful and exacting with their administrative duties. I guarantee you an administrator does not want to go to the Board of Education meeting without making sure all of the t’s have been properly crossed. When I would review reports sent to the Central Office that were incomplete and inaccurate, but which had been signed by one or more S&I administrators, it was obvious that the report was viewed as administrivia rather than as a meaningful administrative tool. I had a very embarrassing experience when I was reviewing an area S&I enrollment report (which I had not been able to review beforehand because I was substituting for another administrator) with a member of an Area Presidency. He was a very experienced business executive who, after looking briefly at the numbers in the report, asked me a simple question: “How do you get more people enrolled than you have potential as shown in this report?” I am sure his confidence in any information given to him by us in the future was low and probably should have been.
Order, thoughtful analysis, and long-range planning will help us be more successful in our core purpose of getting students into class and positively impacting their lives. I believe the Lord’s instruction to “organize yourselves” and “prepare every needful thing” (D7C 88:119) is a key principle of administration and should be reflected in every aspect of how we lead and teach.
It is important to remember that this Church is and must be priesthood directed. If we try to operate on our own and do not involve or listen to the priesthood, general or local, we will be like the children of Israel and wander around in the wilderness for a long time. If the children of Israel had been willing to really listen to Moses, they would have gotten to the promised land much faster than they did. We in S&I are to be a resource to the priesthood. We need to know what they want us to do, and they need to be aware of and approve how we propose to accomplish it. No two priesthood leaders are alike; therefore, we need to find out how best to assist each one and not try to make them adjust to our style and wants. We need to make sure they are aware of and have approved what we are doing, and we need to do it as well as we possibly can. We need to be responsive to the Board of Education and to the Brethren, and we also need to work under the direction of our local priesthood leaders. They hold the keys and have the ultimate responsibility for our students.
Communication is critical in leadership. I have heard one of the Brethren say more than once, “Councils are not as understood as they should be. Councils can help provide the means for revelation.” In our leadership meetings with the assistant administrators, we tried to follow the principle taught by the Brethren and the scriptures regarding counseling together. It is fascinating to observe what happens when people with different backgrounds and experiences share their feelings and insights on a particular issue. In the process of listening to the counsel and perspective of others our own thinking becomes more clear and concise, and sometimes a totally new idea or solution emerges. At the very least, the best decision becomes clearer. We should continually counsel with our colleagues and with the priesthood leaders under whose direction we work.
Listening to the insights and recommendations of individual teachers in the field is an important part of communication and leadership. Some of the great programs of the Church, such as the welfare program, came from individuals and local leaders trying to help meet a need. One of the things I wish I had done better and which I hope can be improved in the future is to have better communication between the Central Office administration and the field. I tried such things as podcasts, hoping to be able to communicate with those in the field. It was an attempt to say, “I cannot sit down with all of you, so let’s just sit down technologically and share some things.” I realize that getting input from a worldwide organization is not as easy as doing a podcast. Communicating with and listening to people are, in my view, key elements of successful leadership.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership” (“How to Be a Teacher When Your Role as a Leader Requires You to Teach,” General Authority Priesthood Board meeting, February 5, 1969). If a person stops teaching when they are doing administrative tasks, then they are really not leading. A leader or administrator just has a different set of students and often must teach in a nontraditional setting.
In my opinion, Exodus 18 contains some great principles of leadership. In this chapter, Jethro observes that Moses is meeting with the people all day trying to solve their problems. Seeing this, Jethro asks Moses, “What is this thing that thou doest to the people?” (v. 14; emphasis added). I might have said “for the people,” but Jethro says “to the people.” It appears that Moses was trying to do everything himself and not involve other people in the leadership process. He was not only being overwhelmed himself, but what he was doing to the people was not good.
Jethro then teaches Moses three things he should do as a leader. First, “be thou for the people to God-ward” (v. 19). In other words, you have got to know what it is God wants to have happen. You have got to have the vision. Where there is no vision on the part of the leader, the people perish. Vision can come to a leader from the Lord, from his prophets, from his direct leaders (S&I and priesthood), from his colleagues, and from those over whom he presides. Second, Moses was told he was to teach ordinances and laws and then show the way wherein his people must walk and the work they must do. Again, we see the importance of the leader teaching and showing by precept and example what must be done and how it should be done. Third, the leader has to put personnel and organizations in place. Select and train people and then let them do their job, just as Doctrine and Covenants 107:99 instructs.
I believe these are some aspects of the leadership style of the Savior—ones we need to emulate in our individual life and in our S&I assignments.
Garry Moore: President Thomas S. Monson talked about change in the October 2008 general conference. As the Church grows and as conditions change the Church changes policies and procedures, and so must S&I. Let me use some history to illustrate. When I first started in S&I, it was basically a western U.S. released-time seminary program with a few large western U.S. institute programs.
S&I programs follow the school calendar of the local area, and when I started, everything started in September and ended in June. All our curriculum, in-service training, and budgets followed that schedule. Now we have over 700,000 S&I students in more than 140 countries. S&I programs now start somewhere in the world every month except November and sometimes December. That means it now takes an eighteen-month cycle from the time a new seminary course of study is started somewhere to when it finishes in the last area across the world. There are countries which, generally due to climatic differences, have two different school calendars, and therefore the S&I coordinator has to adapt his schedule, in-service plans, and so forth to two different school years simultaneously.
All curriculum and supplemental materials now have to be translated into a multitude of different languages and be ready to start with the various school calendars. The content of the curriculum also has to fit different cultures and languages. For example, students and teachers in many countries may not understand a drive-in restaurant or relate to stories about baseball. To meet the needs of an international church, curriculum, media, reports, and in-service materials had to change.
Domestically, we are seeing lots of changes in education. A few months ago, at their request, I made a thirty-minute presentation to the Twelve in their weekly quorum meeting. They wanted an update on released-time seminary. In the presentation, I focused on how changes in education, such as increased graduation requirements, A-B and trimester schedules, charter schools, and so forth have impacted traditional daily released-time seminary. Obviously, when schools change to an A-B or trimester schedule, a daily released-time seminary class for each student is no longer possible. I pointed out that the number of minutes a student is in seminary during a year in an A-B or trimester schedule may remain basically the same, but students in these programs are no longer in a traditional fifty-minute seminary class on a daily basis. Instead they have a seventy- to ninety-minute class two to three times per week. So far the increased graduation requirements have not affected released-time seminary enrollment very much, but they have increased the number of students needing or desiring to attend “zero hour” or after-school seminary classes. During the presentation, one of the Twelve asked me, “What do you do for a student who feels they are unable to attend seminary during the regular school schedule?” My response was that our desire is to meet student needs, not maintain programs or seminary schedules, and we therefore offer seminary classes before and after school as needed. It was obvious to me that they were very desirous that we be willing to adjust and meet student needs. Some of our S&I personnel have been somewhat resistant to zero hour classes, apparently feeling that if zero hour classes have to exist, they should only be for those with credit problems and where possible should be taught by a volunteer teacher. I wish those who feel that way could have been with me as I stood in front of the quorum that morning and watched the facial reaction when I said we will provide the classes that meet student needs and give them the best experience possible. I think any doubt about zero hour classes and who should teach them would be erased.
The growth of charter schools in released-time areas is impacting released-time seminary. In the state of Utah alone, some 40,000 students are now enrolled in charter schools. Charter schools bring a whole new set of challenges for released-time seminary. Charter schools, unlike private schools, are publicly funded, and therefore no seminary classes may be held in school facilities. Students in charter schools come from scattered wards and stakes, and therefore determining the potential number of students from year to year is challenging. We typically receive priesthood direction for each released-time program through a local board of education composed of stake presidency representatives from the stakes whose students attend that school and seminary. With charter schools, the composition and leadership of the local board is often difficult to determine since students come from so many different wards and stakes. Another challenge is that charter schools may or may not end up being permanent and are often established in nontraditional buildings and locations such as industrial parks, old bowling alleys, and other isolated areas. This makes it difficult for us to provide facilities to hold released-time seminary. As a result, far too many students at charter schools do not currently have easy access to released-time seminary. I noted that we were taking steps to address these challenges so the students at charter schools will have better access to released-time seminary, but the related issues are not easily solved.
Another significant challenge facing released-time seminary, which I highlighted in the presentation to the Twelve, was the declining potential of LDS students of seminary age. Our released-time enrollments over the past few years have been on a steady decline. However, our percent of potential enrolled has remained basically constant. The declining number of potential students creates serious problems and difficult decisions regarding personnel and facilities. A good example would be the impact of declining potential in small, isolated, rural towns, of which there are many in Utah, Idaho, and, to some extent, Arizona. At what point do you pull out the full-time teacher and replace him or her with a part-time local teacher? What do you do with a facility that once housed a vibrant released-time program but now only has ten or fifteen students?
My message to the Brethren was that released-time seminary is alive and well, but we have had to adapt and will need to continue to adapt in the future as public education programs and schedules change. It was a very positive experience to be with these inspired Brethren. They are very appreciative of what has been and is being done to help each individual student, regardless of where they live or what type of educational program they are attending.
The nature of our traditional institute programs is also changing. Even at our large institutes along the Wasatch Front, our daytime student enrollments are declining, and our evening class enrollments are increasing. More and more of the students need evening institute classes due to their school and work schedules. That makes it necessary for our institutes to offer more and more evening classes. Some full-time faculty have been reluctant to teach early-morning or evening classes and have relied on volunteer teachers to cover these nontraditional classes. We must be prepared to teach classes at times that meet student needs. I am very aware that these types of classes are not as convenient and complicate family life and callings nevertheless that is our job. During my years teaching institute, I taught lots of early-morning and evening classes.
Another significant change is that the number of students enrolled in institute in other countries now exceeds that of the U.S. and their enrollments are growing faster. In many parts of the world, daytime institute classes are often impossible to hold due to school schedules, the geographic dispersion of students in a large city, and so forth. This affects where institute facilities are located and the work schedule of our full-time teachers. For example, a full-time S&I employee in Brazil would probably visit and supervise early-morning and perhaps afternoon or evening seminary classes, train volunteer teachers in the evening or on Saturday, teach institute classes a couple of nights a week, and teach institute classes most of the day on Saturday. That is certainly not a traditional work schedule. We want our colleagues to have time for their family and Church callings, yet this varied schedule is increasingly becoming the nature of our student programs in many areas of the world. The institute building in this type of area might also best be located closer to where students live rather than close to the university, which is a change from our traditional approach.
There are some significant differences between our job descriptions and responsibilities and those of the public school teacher or the university professor. One of the most significant is that we cannot stay in our buildings researching and preparing and wait for students to come to be taught, as public or university teachers can. We must, under priesthood direction, be out contacting and enrolling individual students. This is not an optional activity. It is a vital part of what we are expected to do. It is not a new requirement, and will, in my opinion, continue to be an increasingly important requirement for S&I personnel everywhere.
Garry Moore: One of the most interesting challenges has been learning how to effectively provide S&I programs and personnel for the growing worldwide Church. The New Testament teaches, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens” (Ephesians 2:19). As the Church has become a global organization, we have had to shift our thinking. What we are used to doing along the Wasatch Front or in the United States has been great, but we have had to learn to ask ourselves, how will that proposal effect students and families in the more than 140 countries in which S&I currently has programs and personnel? We know God is concerned with all his children, regardless of their culture, language, or circumstances, but learning to make administrative decisions with that in mind was not something we were used to doing. When President Eyring was the commissioner, I heard him say many times, “I cannot tell you how often President Hinckley has put his finger into my chest and said, ‘What are you doing for the have-nots?’” In other words, what are you doing for those students scattered across the world who do not have all the fancy equipment, programs, and buildings we have here?
Our charge from the Brethren is to help students everywhere and do so at a time and location that best meets their needs. It is fascinating to meet with teachers and students whose meetinghouse or classroom is a tin roof with four wooden posts and no walls, a kitchen table, or a garage. Their faith and desire to learn and feel Heavenly Father’s love for them are strong. They do not complain that they do not have a plasma screen for watching a video, that their sound system does not have the latest audio technology, or that the light switches are not where they would like them. Why? Because they do not have most or any of these things. I have learned that S&I must evaluate proposed changes in technology, curriculum, audiovisual materials, etc. with a global perspective. We also need to be very careful not to succumb to the temptation to do as the people referenced in 3 Nephi 6:12, wherein “people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches [or opportunities] for learning.”
We very much want to take advantage of the latest technologies but we must also remember our responsibility to assist those who currently have limited access to all these wonderful inventions. It is generally much easier to keep adding to the haves because meeting the needs of the have-nots is so much more challenging. Teaching correct doctrine and principles using the scriptures as our curriculum is still what we must not compromise anywhere.
What we have traditionally called early-morning seminary is another example worth noting. It is now being called daily seminary. Why? Because depending on local circumstances, a daily seminary class may be held at 5:00 a.m., noon, 4:00 p.m., or 8:30 at night. I have attended wonderfully successful seminary classes at 8:30 on a Friday night. That would not work along the Wasatch Front, but it does in that country and culture.
I have observed over the years how the Brethren so very carefully evaluate the potential impact of a change on individual members scattered across the globe. I have observed the Brethren contemplating the future and asking questions like, “How will we administer the Church when there are fifty or a hundred million members?” “How do we keep the doctrine and ordinances pure in the diversity of cultures and languages, and with increasingly large numbers of converts, especially in areas of the world where leadership is so new?” Those same types of questions must be very carefully studied by S&I. We must stay close to and follow the Brethren, who are indeed watchmen on the tower. The Lord will point the way through them and our local leaders, and the kingdom will continue to roll forth throughout the world.
President Packer teaches that principles are eternal and do not change, but programs, policies, and procedures do and must change. I think that is a very important concept for us individually and collectively to learn and to remember. When the Church changed the Sunday meeting schedule to a three-hour block, they did not change the principle of getting together oft to remember and to strengthen members; they only changed the program or procedure. I think sometimes we can get too locked into traditional policies, programs, and procedures. Change will and must continue to occur in S&I processes and procedures as the Church continues to grow and as world conditions change. Some changes, such as the name change from CES (Church Education System) to S&I, do not impact day-to-day operations but serve other important purposes that may not be clear to a given individual in the field. Other changes like sequential scripture teaching or Teaching Emphasis have a much greater impact on our personnel and programs. I do not think the purposes and the principles of S&I have really changed, but policies and procedures have been and will continually need to be modified.
Satan’s tactics and tools are constantly changing. His influence and power to destroy our teachers and students continue to increase. His intent is not any different, but he continually uses new and more powerful tools to accomplish his evil designs. Satan can now bypass all of the traditional security systems that we have relied on to protect us and our families with the flick of a button, a DVD, or a computer. He can thus infiltrate and destroy much faster. We absolutely must continue to improve our individual and collective teaching and administrative abilities, get more students into class, teach them with increased power and effectiveness, and evaluate and modify our programs and policies as needed. Satan is not going to keep the status quo, and we must not either! Satan is constantly looking for new and more effective ways, and so must we.
Garry Moore: You may be sorry you asked me that question, because I do have some things I would like to share with the colleagues I love so much.
I would first say that the nature of our type of teaching requires the constant assistance of the Holy Ghost. Therefore we cannot be any better as teachers than we are as people. Our work is not just to impart information. It requires us to create a learning atmosphere where the Holy Ghost can teach and testify. If we are not worthy to have the Spirit with us, then we will be neither happy nor successful. We must avoid involvement in anything (such as movies, music, dress, language, Internet, video games, anger, speculation, debt, etc.) that will reduce our ability to have the constant companionship of the Spirit. When Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 says, “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach,” it is not just a wise saying; it is a literal, daily reality for our work.
Next I would say, constantly look for and help the one. Salvation is achieved person-by-person and one-by-one. I believe there are many like Alma the Younger who are in our classrooms but are not participating or are doing all they can to destroy the class. There is also the shy student who sits in the back of the room and never says anything, but who, in his or her anonymity and silence, cries out for help. Someday each of them can be a missionary, a parent, or a teacher of one of our grandchildren. Heavenly Father loves each of them as much as he does me and my family. We need to make sure that we do not get so focused on teaching lessons or even focusing on the easy-to-teach students or in using the latest and greatest technology that we overlook the needs of any student in our classes or any who could and should be there.
Third, I would say enjoy every single day. Your career will pass more quickly than you realize, and all too soon the chance to be with the students and to have the wonderful association of S&I colleagues will be gone.
Fourth, remember teaching is a profession where you usually do not see immediate results. If you are in business, you can easily know how many cars you sold or what your profit was. But in teaching, the impact of a principle taught, a testimony shared, a kindness shown, or an expression of love may not be known for a long time, if at all in this life. The father of Enos probably wondered if his teaching had any impact on his son. Nevertheless, at a critical time Enos did remember the teachings of his father. Even though I was not a classroom teacher for the last many years of my career, I continue to run into former students who tell me about the impact of things I do not even remember saying to them. Your love and the spirit of what you teach students will bear fruit long after you are gone. Please keep giving your very best effort to each lesson, each student, and each opportunity to testify of true principles.
Be appreciative each day for the work environment and the benefits provided to us. Can you think of a career with a better work environment than we enjoy? I have sometimes heard complaints about our benefits programs. As I have seen high-level studies comparing our benefits to others, even the blue-chip corporations, I am almost embarrassed at all the Brethren provide for us. S&I and the Church have worked very hard and continue to do so to provide the very best benefits possible. Unfortunately, local benefit practices make it difficult for all of our colleagues throughout the world to receive all of the same benefits. Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a Zion society now so that all differences could be eliminated completely?
Please trust the S&I leaders. In my almost thirty years in S&I leadership, I have observed firsthand the love, dedication, and desires of these wonderful leaders. The senior administrators work under the direction of the Brethren and try to follow their leadership and guidance. It is not always possible to explain or in some cases even know all the whys of decisions. Sometimes we just have to trust. Anyone who has been a bishop, stake president, etc. knows what it is like to be criticized for decisions that you know are right but which you cannot explain in enough detail to satisfy everyone. As an administrator I have tried to be as open as possible and to share as much as possible so that those affected by the decisions felt trusted by their leaders. I know I didn’t succeed, but I tried. One of the deadliest things that can happen within any organization is a lack of unity and mutual trust. We cannot let that happen in S&I. This work is much too important, and what Satan cannot do through other temptations and means, he can do through internal criticism, distrust, and disunity. As 4 Nephi teaches, we must not have any -ites in S&I. We must not let the them-versus-us mentality infiltrate in any way. We cannot permit differences between teachers and administrators, seminary versus institute, domestic versus international, to divide us. “If ye are not one ye are not mine” is a true principle that applies to each of us.
Trust and follow local priesthood leaders. The Brethren are giving more responsibility to Area Presidencies and to local leaders. This has to happen. First, this is a priesthood-directed Church and, second, as the Church continues to grow, fewer of the day-to-day details can be directed from Salt Lake City. Maintaining sufficient uniformity throughout the worldwide Church while allowing more and more local application of correct principles will be an effort that will require everyone’s best effort and support.
Be willing to change personally and organizationally. It has been an unbelievable experience to be a part of the tremendous changes that have occurred in the Church and in S&I during my career. To see a relatively small western U.S. program become a 700,000-plus program in over 140 countries is to me a modern-day miracle. What will the next forty years bring? What will you see during your career? I do not know the details of the future, but I am sure you will see much change and growth. There will in the future continue to be what Elder Neal A. Maxwell used to call “high adventure.” Instead of resisting the changes that must be made, help make them happen. The Lord is in control and will direct his leaders and his work. The Old and New Testaments serve as great reminders of how difficult it is to get people to change. Be one who helps accelerate growth and change and never an anchor that has to be dragged along by the organization or the leaders.
LaNell and I firmly believe in the Lord’s promise in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. We have seen it fulfilled over and over in all aspects of our lives. We have come to realize that the counsel of the prophets to live within our means and to stay out of debt is a must, not a suggestion. It is our personal experience and witness that if we faithfully pay our tithes and give generous offerings, the Lord will do his part. It has been so for us. It is not always easy, but it does always work. LaNell has been very resourceful and has done so much to make things work. One small example of a multitude of things she has done will illustrate—LaNell has always cut my hair and that of our nine children. It seems like a small thing, but we once tried to calculate what that one small thing saved our family finances over the years. It was an amazing figure.
When we returned from presiding over the mission, we had little savings left (you do not save when you have no income and only a modest living allowance for three years), but again the loaves and the fishes being multiplied took place. It was not as instantaneous or dramatic as it must have been that day in Palestine, but the end result was that we had sufficient to meet our needs.
Garry Moore: Yes. I was thinking yesterday, “What if I had not made the decision to go on a mission or if I had not married LaNell, or if we had decided to only have two children? What would our life be like if the other seven children had gone to another family or if we had not returned to S&I?” We have to trust that the Lord will help us make more of our life than we ever could alone. We must be responsive to the Lord when He calls, and we must be willing to change and to continue to learn.
I had one of the Brethren teach me an interesting lesson. He said, “The Brethren are sometimes reluctant to have to say no to you when you ask for approval for something that you obviously really want to do. However, if you ask them, ‘What would you like done?’ their reply may be quite different than yes. I think Heavenly Father is probably much the same.
I am still learning to be able to try and say, “What wouldst thou like me to do? What do I need to do next?” rather than, “Please approve what I want to do.”
I have a very firm witness that this Church is led by revelation and that the leaders of this Church at every level receive inspiration and guidance. I believe the same is true of S&I leaders. I also have a strong witness of the importance of family and of my responsibility as a husband, father, and grandfather. All the other positions and responsibilities, including Church callings like temple president, come and go but families can be eternal.
I am learning that the Lord has given the scriptures to provide guidance for us. I once had one of the Brethren say to me, “When you get a new calling, you might consider getting a new set of scriptures and then reading them from the perspective of your new calling.” Though I have not been very consistent at buying new scriptures, I have tried to read my scriptures from the perspective of my current responsibilities, and I have received some very interesting and valuable insights. I will just share an example from when I was serving as a mission president. One day I was reading through the first part of Nephi about the different approaches Lehi’s sons who were sent back to Jerusalem used to try to get the plates from Laban. All of a sudden, I thought, “Wait a minute. That is how some of our missionaries operate.” Some missionaries knock on a door and say, “Here I am. When do you want to get baptized?” Then they are surprised when they get thrown off the front step. Other missionaries have goodies in their pocket or play soccer or whatever else to try to buy their way into getting what they are after. Then, finally, there is the missionary who is “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [they] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). I had never thought of those verses having application to missionary work. The scriptures are so amazing!
The Lord has taught me important principles through the callings or the experiences I have received in life. I have a firm testimony that the Lord knows each of us individually and has marvelous ways of teaching each of us. The challenge is to be teachable. It is such a wonderful thing to be a part of the Church and S&I. I also have an ever-increasing testimony of the importance of marriage. I could never have experienced what I have experienced or done what I have been privileged to participate in without my wonderful sweetheart, LaNell, who has never complained and has always supported. She was willing to be led by the Spirit and has been very patient with me and with the many years of shouldering the major burden of the family due to my schedule, travel, and callings. Lastly, we want to express our deep love and appreciation to you our beloved colleagues, your spouses and families, and the amazing students throughout the world. The experiences and love we have shared together have created memories that we will relive and cherish in the years and eternities to come. The Savior and the Atonement are at the center of all that is good in our lives, and, oh, what great blessings we enjoy! Thanks to him and to each of you.