Church Educational System

Church Educational System
Type Elementary, Secondary, and Higher Education
Established 1877
Commissioner Kim B. Clark[1]
Academic staff
ca. 50,000
Students ca. 700,000
Location Worldwide
Campus 3 universities;
1 college;
1 all online certificate and degree programs;
15 elementary and secondary schools;
8,039 seminary and institute programs
Headquarters Salt Lake City, Utah
Affiliations The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church Educational System (CES) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) consists of several institutions that provide religious and secular education for both Latter-day Saint and non–Latter-day Saint elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students and adult learners. Approximately 700,000 individuals were enrolled in CES programs in 143 countries in 2011.[2] CES courses of study are separate and distinct from religious instruction provided through wards (local congregations). Kim B. Clark, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, has been the CES Commissioner since August 1, 2015.[1]

Seminaries and Institutes of Religion


Religious education programs designed for secondary students are called seminaries. These are programs of religious education for youth aged 14–18 that accompany the students' secular education. In areas with large concentrations of Latter-day Saints, such as in and around the Mormon Corridor in the United States, and some places in Alberta, Canada, instruction is offered on a released time basis during the normal school day in meetinghouses, or facilities built specifically for seminary programs, adjacent to public schools. Released-time seminary classes are generally taught by full-time employees. In areas with smaller LDS populations early-morning or home-study seminary programs are offered. Early-morning seminary classes are held daily before the normal school day in private homes or in meetinghouses and are taught by volunteer teachers. Home-study seminary classes are offered where geographic dispersion of students is so great that it is not feasible to meet on a daily basis. Home-study seminary students study daily, but meet only once a week as a class. Home-study classes are usually held in connection with weekly youth fellowship activities on a weekday evening.

The seminary program provides extensive study of theology, using as texts the church's "standard works" (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants) throughout the school week, in addition to normal Sunday classes. The four courses are taught, one per year, on a rotating basis (the 2016–17 curriculum follows the New Testament). Seminary students are encouraged to study each scriptural text on their own time and to memorize a total of 100 scriptural passages or "scripture mastery" verses during their participation in the four-year program.

Unlike use in other religious contexts, the word seminary, in an LDS Church context, does not refer to a higher education program designed to train students that they may obtain a church-based career.[3] LDS seminary students do not get high school credit for their seminary studies.

Recently the LDS Church has piloted an online seminary program to supplement or supplant the home-study program. This online pilot program has seen success in helping meet the needs of home-study students separated by distances that make meeting daily impractical. Through the church’s online learning system, seminary teachers are able to incorporate student participation that includes sharing their own thoughts and ideas, as well as feelings and experiences they have had with the church. This helps provide a greater sense of community and connection as well as a chance to learn the gospel in a similar way that students do in areas with a larger concentrations of LDS youth.

Institutes of Religion

Religious education is also provided for students who enroll in post-secondary education, or those of student age (generally ages 18–30), through institutes of religion. CES Institutes serve more than 350,000 students in more than 2700 locations worldwide.[4] Many colleges throughout the United States either have institute buildings or active programs near their campuses. Institute classes are offered in leased or owned facilities adjacent to institutions of higher education. Many LDS meetinghouses also lend their facilities for institute classes. Institute buildings are designed to provide a place for institute students to increase faith and understanding, learn church doctrines and life skills, carry out service projects, congregate, and socialize. The first Institute of Religion was established in northern Idaho at Moscow, adjacent to the University of Idaho. Currently the largest enrollment is at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. The largest enrollment outside the state of Utah is at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.

Elementary, secondary, and higher education

CES institutions that provide secular education, in addition to religious education, include elementary and secondary schools in Mexico and in the Pacific Islands, Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University–Idaho, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, BYU–Pathway Worldwide, and LDS Business College.

Elementary and secondary schools


Pacific Islands

Higher education

History of academies

After the emigration to and settlement of the mountain west areas of the United States, the LDS Church set up a number of "academies." These religious secondary schools were called for by church president Wilford Woodruff following a federal takeover of Utah Territorial public schools. Nearly all stakes founded academies during 1888–91, with dozens of secondary schools created. Most, however, closed within the decade due to the depressions of 1893 and 1896. Some of the stronger academies persisted before being dissolved during church education cutbacks in the 1920s.[7] These included academies from cities in Utah (Beaver, Millard, Coalville, Vernal, and Castle Dale); Idaho (Paris, Preston, and Oakley); Arizona (Snowflake and St. Johns); Colorado (Sanford); Wyoming (Cowley); and Alberta (Raymond).[8][9] Some of these remain historical landmarks, such as the Oneida Stake Academy and the Big Horn Academy. The Juarez Academy in Colonia Juarez, Mexico, is still operated as a secondary school by the LDS Church today.

A few church academies eventually evolved into colleges or universities. These include:

The LDS Church also established formal colleges and universities:

In the mid-20th century, the church established secondary schools outside of the United States to provide education where it was not fully available. These include:

General administration

Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees

Boards of Trustees/Education[20] Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring
Jeffrey R. Holland*
David A. Bednar*
Quentin L. Cook
Dale G. Renlund
Robert C. Gay*
Donald L. Hallstrom
Gérald Caussé
Jean B. Bingham*
Bonnie H. Cordon
Stephen W. Owen
Mark B. Woodruff, Secretary

NOTE: Individuals with an asterisk (*) by their names serve as members of the Executive Committee of the Board. The senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve, currently Holland, serves as the committee's chairman.

Office of the Commissioner of Church Education

Commissioner, Church Educational System Kim B. Clark[1]
Assistant to the Commissioner and Secretary to the Boards Mark B. Woodruff

Presidents / Administrator of individual CES units

President / Administrator CES Unit Location
Kevin J Worthen Brigham Young University Provo, Utah
John S. Tanner Brigham Young University–Hawaii Laie, Hawaii
Henry J. Eyring Brigham Young University–Idaho Rexburg, Idaho
Clark Gilbert BYU–Pathway Worldwide Salt Lake City, Utah
Bruce C. Kusch LDS Business College Salt Lake City, Utah
Chad H Webb Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Salt Lake City, Utah

Chronology of the Commissioner of Church Education

No. Dates Individual Title
1 1888–1901 Karl G. Maeser Superintendent of Church Schools
2 1901–05 Joseph M. Tanner Superintendent of Church Schools
3 1905–20 Horace H. Cummings Commissioner of Church Schools
4 1920–21 David O. McKay Commissioner of Church Education
5 1921–24 John A. Widtsoe Commissioner of Church Education
6 1928–33 Joseph F. Merrill Commissioner of Church Education
7 1934–36 John A. Widtsoe Commissioner of Church Education
8 1936–53 Franklin L. West Commissioner of Church Education
9 1953–70 Ernest L. Wilkinson Administrator–Chancellor of the Unified Church School System
10 1970–76 Neal A. Maxwell Commissioner of Church Education
11 1976–80 Jeffrey R. Holland Commissioner of Church Education
12 1980–86 Henry B. Eyring Commissioner of Church Education
13 1986–89 J. Elliot Cameron Commissioner of Church Education
14 1992–2004 Henry B. Eyring Commissioner of Church Education
15 2005–08 W. Rolfe Kerr Commissioner of Church Education
16 2008–15 Paul V. Johnson Commissioner of Church Education
17 2015– Kim B. Clark Commissioner of Church Education[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Prescott, Marianne Holman (August 5, 2015). "Seminary and Institute histories to be released". Church News. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  2. "History of Seminary". LDS Church. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  3. Mauss, Armand L. (2003). All Abraham's Children. University of Illinois Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-252-02803-8. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  4. "Frequently Asked Questions - LDS Institute". LDS Church. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  5. Walker, Joseph (January 30, 2013), "Missionary surge prompts LDS Church to open new MTC in Mexico", Deseret News
  7. Scott C. Esplin (2010). "Wilford Woodruff: A Founding Father of the Mormon Academies". Banner of the Gospel: Wilford Woodruff. Religious Studies Center. Retrieved 2015-03-24.
  8. Scott C. Esplin (April 2006), Education in Transition: Church and State Relationships in Utah Education, 1888-1933, Ph.D. thesis, Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations, Brigham Young University, p. 262
  9. Kevin Stoker (May 28, 1988). "Academy era short-lived, but impact long lasting". Church News. Retrieved 2015-03-24.
  10. BYA became BYU in 1903.
  11. Salt Lake Academy would become LDS College (1889), LDS University (1901), LDS College (1927), and LDS Business College (1931).
  12. 1 2 D. Michael Quinn (Winter 1973). "The Brief Career of Young University at Salt Lake City". Utah Historical Quarterly. 41 (1): 70, 76, 78, 82, 86–87. Retrieved 2015-03-24.
  13. Bannock Stake Academy would become Fremont Stake Academy (1898), Ricks Academy (1903), Ricks Normal College (1918), Ricks College (1923), and Brigham Young University–Idaho (2001).
  14. Sanpete Stake Academy became Snow Academy (1900), Snow Normal College (1917), Snow Junior College (1922), and Snow College (1923). The state of Utah took ownership of the school in 1931.
  15. Weber Stake Academy became Weber Academy (1902), Weber Normal College (1918), Weber College (1922), Weber State College (1962), and Weber State University (1991). The state of Utah took ownership of the school in 1933.
  16. St. Joseph Academy would become LDS Academy (1898), Gila Academy (1911), Gila Normal College (1920), Gila Junior College (1923), Gila Junior College of Graham County (1933), Eastern Arizona Junior College (1950), Eastern Arizona College (1966). The state of Arizona took ownership of the school in 1933. See:
  17. St. George Stake Academy became Dixie Normal College (1916), Dixie Junior College (1923), Dixie College (1970), Dixie State College of Utah (2000), and Dixie State University (2013). The state of Utah took ownership of the school in 1935.
  18. The University of Utah was founded as a state (or territorial) school, but this was directed and performed by church leaders under the auspices of the State of Deseret, months before Utah Territory had been created. The LDS Church also gave substantial support to save the school during the late 1800s. See Quinn 1973.
  19. The Church College of New Zealand was a secondary school: in New Zealand and throughout Oceania, "colleges" are secondary schools.
  20. This link verifies the current board membership.


Further reading


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