New CES change

June 24, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 9:40 am   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

I received the following in my e-mail today, and as I am aware that many of our friends at FPR and JI take an interest in the goings on of CES, I thought I’d put it out for public consumption.

First Presidency Letter

Personally, I am glad to see local CES falling under the authority of the local Stake Presidency.

First, this enables areas where there is a stake, but no CES influence the ability to run a seminary program according to their local needs. Second, this allows the Stake more control and responsibility in the selection of CES teachers. Third, this decentralizes CES control. Fourth, I think people are much more likely to reect appointments than callings and this is in part a reaction to many people quitting seminary teaching assignments. Finally, it used to be that a channel into CES emplyment was to volunteer, and if you performed well, you could get a paid opportunity. It seems that this somewhat backward window into CES is closing.

I do have some worries though. My primary worry is that requiring all CES teachers to be called and set apart may terminate most if not all of the interesting CES courses, like Julie Smith teaching an entire semester on half of Genesis, or Kevin Barney teaching a class in Hebrew or Greek for institute in Chicago. It doesn’t affect me directly, as none of these things are offered in San Antonio, but I still like the idea that courses are being offered. I guess time will tell.

It will be interesting to see what if any this policy change will have. In any case, I am grateful for church administration, and their inspired efforts to improve the church. Now I just need to keep praying for help with this “early morning” bit of it…


  1. This is very interesting! Thanks for putting it up. While I think that your first point is valid, and your fourth point is debatable about its desirability, I am mostly interested in your second and third points about whether or not it is better for the Stake rather than CES to be in control of teachers (and curriculum?). I think that this comes down to whether one trusts a particular stake president more than a particular CES director to say whether or not this is good (or vice versa).

    The question that I have is why CES has lost this privilege to appoint its own personnel. Is it to shut down some the “liberal” CES programs around the country by putting it under ecclesiastical control? Or, is it to liberalize them because of CES control over the ideological purity of many of its teachers?

    Comment by TT — June 24, 2008 @ 10:02 am

  2. Indeed, thanks for the post!

    “it used to be that a channel into CES emplyment was to volunteer, and if you performed well, you could get a paid opportunity. ”

    I’ve enquired about this. If it was the case, it has not been so for at least 5 years.

    TT raises some good questions. I’m guessing that SP’s are generally more “liberal” than professional CES, but only because professional CES tend to be so far to the right (in terms of the neo-traditional literalist strain embodied by Elder McConkie and JFS.)

    Comment by Nitsav — June 24, 2008 @ 10:15 am

  3. As a volunteer Institute teacher, I guess this will involve me. One benefit would be that fact that I have two callings (a monthly stake meeting and a sunday only)already, and my institute assigniment is seen as volunteer work, not an actual calling – so my bishop sees me as less busy than I am and feels that I can give up my volunteer assignment if needed. Making it a calling puts it on par with my other church service.

    When I took the assignement, our CES guy called the Stake President for his approval of my teaching. My assumption is that local CES leaders will be utilized, if they are available, to suggest potential candidates for the calling.

    Also, coming from a liberal LDS area to a more conservative one – Stakes can call individuals that beeter meet their population, even if they do not agree with the local CES director – that is a plus.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 24, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  4. Well, I don’t know about all the implications, but I sure do like the fact that teachers are being called and set apart. I was an early-morning seminary teacher for 2 1/2 years and I would have felt better being set apart to do it, instead of just being asked to fill a volunteer position. I feel like I had a greater chance to impact the youth in our area while I taught seminary than with any other calling I’ve had, and yet I wasn’t called. I wasn’t set apart. Instead, I just asked the counselor in the bishopric who had talked to me about volunteering to give me a “generic” blessing before I began teaching, and the other years I had my husband give me a blessing.

    I believe that I was guided as I taught and interacted with the youth in our ward, but if we believe that being set apart means the establishment of a unique stewardship over a given area (and I personally do) it should be helpful to have that in teaching seminary. I hope other part-time seminary teachers feel uplifted by being specifically set apart for this job as a calling in the church. (Plus, it may help certain leaders to remember not to call part-time seminary teachers to additional callings.)

    Comment by Heather — June 24, 2008 @ 11:24 am

  5. A fellow San Antonio blogger–I wonder if we’ve met without even knowing it? Makes me curious what stake you’re in. This is very interesting to me as well, being that I recently finished teaching seminary for my ward. I’ll be busy with graduate school in addition to full time work this fall, so I won’t be teaching it this upcoming year. But that’s still very interesting.

    Comment by Clean Cut — June 24, 2008 @ 1:34 pm

  6. I’m with CES in California and for most of us out here this isn’t a huge change. We have worked closely with the priesthood for years in choosing teachers – really deferring to their wishes – we do more supporting and training. We are very pleased that these faithful teachers will now have callings and be set apart.

    Comment by Hal — June 24, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

  7. Thanks for the input all.

    CC, I just got moved into East Stake from North Stake. Nice Blog, by the way.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 24, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  8. We too are in the East Stake. Thanks for the compliment…

    Comment by Clean Cut — June 24, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

  9. As a new,only 2 years under my belt,’Senior’ Seminary Teacher, I need all the help I can get, especially from the Lord. Being a convert of 50 years and still learning, I am glad that I wil be called and set apart for next years ‘New Testament’ course. The material will be the same, the kids will be the same, the doctrines will be the same, so let us all press on in the work of the Lord.
    Somewhere in the british Isles.

    Comment by Isobel Green — June 27, 2008 @ 4:24 pm