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Posted 09 Apr 2001   For week ended April 06, 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Apr01

By Vickie Speek

Institute Program Supports LDS College Students Worldwide

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- While much of the media focus on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the past 10 years has been on missionaries, temple-building, and other physical symbols of its worldwide growth, the church itself has been busy creating spiritual "homes away from home" for members who are college age.

By focusing on constructing LDS Institute buildings adjacent to college campuses, the church has provided facilities for regular spiritual study in addition to providing places for shared experience and friendship. The youth-centered gathering places are growing so fast that administrators are struggling to build facilities fast enough to keep pace.

In Utah alone, student enrollment in LDS Institute classes now surpasses 60,000 - more than double the enrollment from just ten years ago. Across the United States and internationally, growth has been even more dramatic.

According to Bryan Weston, executive assistant to the administrator for the LDS Church Education System, the impetus for the growth came in 1993, when then-church President Ezra Taft Benson encouraged local church leaders to invite all young single adults to attend Institute. Prior to that, the focus was mainly on college age students.

Church leaders realize the perpetuation of their faith rests in the hands of their young members, some of whom traditionally drift away from structured religious activity once they leave home to attend secular colleges and universities. But, with more than 11 million members worldwide, authorities have acknowledged they could never build enough schools to keep up with the exploding demand for admission. The focus was shifted instead toward providing expanded Institute programs.

Weston said the Institute program now reaches about 20 percent of the church's young adults in most areas, and predicts the demand will increase as its facilities and programs garner a reputation.


Institute a home away from home
Deseret News 31Mar01 D1
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor
LDS youths gather in growing numbers for strength and friendship


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