News Release

The early morning habits of young people in Oldham

If you ask any teenager about their morning routine, invariably most will begin with getting up at the last possible moment for school or work. Not so, for ten young people from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Oldham. Their mornings begin for nine months of the year before 6am. At 6:10am you will find them in an early morning seminary class. Seminary is a class that is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has a history in the UK spanning more than fifty years. As part of the class 14-18 year olds will study one book of scripture per year (Latter-day Saints believe in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants as their scripture). Over the past year in Oldham seminary students around the world have been studying the Old Testament.

Three of the group recently “graduated” from seminary, having completed four years of seminary study. This study prepares them to understand more about God, their relationship to him, and help them prepare for their lives, whatever the future might hold. Those graduating this year were Rachel Teal, Nathan Mayall and Olivia Wolstencroft. Each of these young people have similar stories; Rachel for example completed seminary alongside her GCSEs and role as Head Girl at Saddleworth High School, and for the last two years as she has completed her A levels at Oldham Sixth Form College. These students and their parents feel that seminary helped prepare them for the day, and actually allowed them to be alert and more responsive during the school studies.

Their teacher for the past year has been John Teal, 44 who owns his own home maintenance company. On being asked to become the teacher John admits to being overwhelmed, not least because as he says: “Oldham has a strong tradition of Seminary reaching back many years, with a record of good teachers I had a lot to live up to!” John felt the need to combine his role as teacher with his pasttime of blogging. As he prepared for the year he felt a need to try and involve the students, parents and other members of the Church. Bringing Seminary into the 21st Century one of the students was able to join the class by Skype and John set up a Seminary blog “to share some of the fun around.”

Exploring this blog helps any interested party to capture a little bit of the flavour of what goes on. John explained various aspects of what can be found: “Each evening as an aid to preparing the next day’s lesson I write out key points which are quickly formed into a blog post for the following day. After each lesson the blog is updated.”

The blog also helps students, parents and others become familiar with each other. John has included "Interview with" sessions which include being able to meet  the students themselves, and local church leaders. The seminary class have had good feedback from their efforts, John says: “It has been good to be approached by members of the church, from the local area and around the world who normally have no contact with seminary (or even with Oldham), and be told they are following along.”

John concludes: “With so many negative opinions about the youth of today it is nice to work with young people who are bucking the trend, both in their early morning habits, and in their positive use of the internet.”

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