This is very good, very big news.
Even though the fight for freedom in education is fought by freedom-loving people of many different religions, I share this great news, which comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hoping it will inspire other people and other churches as it has inspired me.
In February 2016, in an all-employee meeting at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus, the Commissioner of Education of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Kim B. Clark, gave an address, “CES: The Lord’s Educational System for His Church”.
The 54-minute talk can be viewed here.
Elder Clark announced that the church is launching a new initiative in fall 2016 that will eventually offer secular and religious education courses, from Master’s degrees down to high school, to people wherever the church is organized.
Elder Clark began by saying, “Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives, whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ we have, whatever strength of commitment or consecration we have, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours, whatever level of professional skill or ability we may have obtained, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now, in every aspect of our lives. The scriptures teach us that the world is now, and will be, in commotion and we can see it all around us. Wickedness and darkness will increase. It seems hard to imagine, but it will. Yet in that darkening world, there’ll be increased light, divine light. The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation. It’s a greater work than we’ve ever done before… The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in his true and living church. He’s hastening his work.” (minute 2-3)
He said that last October, the presidents of the Church’s universities counseled together and then proposed a new initiative that was soon approved by the church leaders. (minute 13-14)
It is this: “The Church Educational System (CES) will seek to provide opportunities for education to the members of the church wherever the church is organized.”
The church has long operated universities, seminaries, institutes, education weeks, high school classes through its universities and through its churches. But now, the Church will be rolling out a new program that will use all its resources to increasingly provide both secular and religious education to all its members, wherever the church exists. Elder Clark speaks of Master’s degrees down through high school classes being offered, both online and inside church buildings; I hope, and guess, that in the future, junior high and elementary classes will also be offered.
At minute 16:37, we learn that the first principle for the church’s new initiative is:
“Education is a spiritual experience”. It explains, “Education– the struggle for perfection– is a spiritual experience and is essential for building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion. Religious instruction, gathering experiences and a spiritual focus to online learning will be essential.”
The second principle is: “The initiative will be a collaborative, system-wide effort involving all CES institutions. We will also partner with Self Reliance Services (SRS) and other Church departments as appropriate and will build as much as possible on resources, courses and programs that already exist”.
The third principle is: “Instruction will be delivered online and in local gathering activities at Institutes and chapels. Study at local schools, combined with religious education at an Institute, is an important part of this initiative.”
The fourth principle is: “Students will access programs through their local Church units, guided by priesthood leaders, supported by CES and Self Reliance Services.” Elder Clark emphasized the fact that these classes are to be held under the direction of local priesthood leaders; he added: “We felt really strongly about this.”
Even though Elder Clark said, “We’re talking about a global audience that numbers in the hundreds of thousands,” (minute 44) he felt it was important to make this educational program locally driven by local leaders.
In closing, Elder Clark reminded us that Ephesians 6:12 states: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” He asked those in attendance to rise to the challenge, to repent daily, and to meet the great opportunities and responsibilities before us by receiving greater spiritual power from Christ.
He said, “The rising generation in this marvelous worldwide church needs education, including the plain and simple truths of the gospel…. the rising generation will learn deeply and they will rise up. We know this will happen.”
What a great message. What great news.
Elder Kim B. Clark