The First Presidency, the top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a letter on March 22, 2019, explaining that the course of study at the Church’s seminary programs will shift to follow the Come, Follow Me manuals already in use for home and Sunday school study.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
Beginning in 2020, the course of study for seminary will shift to an annual calendar and classes will study the same book of scripture used for the Come, Follow Me curriculum each year. Students will continue to attend seminary according to the academic calendar for the school system they attend. To assist in the transition, seminary classes will adjust their curriculum schedule to teach the first half of the New Testament, beginning June 2019 through the remainder of the calendar year.
Making this change will enhance the home-centered, Church-supported approach to gospel study through a unified study at home, Sunday School, and seminary. We encourage all youth to fully participate in seminary as they seek to increase their love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and deepen their conversion to the restored gospel.
The church simultaneously published a new webpage to address some of the questions for this change. Yes, the book of study in a given seminary year will wholly depend on the calendar year instead of the academic one, so for American high school students, one could start one’s junior year reading the New Testament, then switch to the Book of Mormon for the rest of the academic year, then continue with the Book of Mormon for the first part of a senior year, then switch to the Old Testament for the remaining months before graduation.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who chairs the Church’s education committee, also released a video:
What makes zero sense at this juncture is the switch this year—in June, no less—to the New Testament. Why is that weird? Because seminary doesn’t happen in the summertime. Kids attend—and according to the announcement, will still attend—seminary following their accession in to secondary or high school, and regardless of what is studied, when it is studied will still follow their local school schedule. So kids are switching to the New Testament for, what, two weeks in most cases? Some parts of the United States are already out of school by June. Sure, there are kids (probably punk water polo players) doing some summer make up, but, again, there’s no seminary in the summer. So even when things get rolling next year with the Book of Mormon, will there just be a 2½-month gap in study, with the hope the kids follow along with church and home? This isn’t explained at all, and the strange June switch makes even less sense.
The closest we get to an explanation is in one of the paragraphs on the website:
Seminary students will study the same book of scripture used for the Come Follow Me curriculum each year. However, seminary and family weekly study guides will not perfectly align each week due to school calendars. Reading the text for the course will continue to be an expectation for students in Seminary.
Perhaps the “expectation” is that students will simply follow along in the material over the summer even if class is not in session. Or perhaps this is for teachers to get prepped for the coming year. If that’s the case, the June drop could be worded differently. Some students start school as early as the beginning of August, so why not just say the switch should happen ON PIONEER DAY. It’s so obvious! #synergy
Come, Follow Me is great, but for many, it’s also Correlation 2.0 – the Church engaging in a strong top-down effort to control and outline all of the learning and messaging, down to the week. For some, that’s fine. For others, it can seem regressive.
There are other rumors circulating about seminary as well as mutual, but rumors are rumors, so we’ll leave them in the realm of the unknown.