By Kent Larsen
75th Anniversary of LDS Institute Program
MOSCOW, IDAHO -- The first LDS Institute of Religion was established 75
years ago at the University of Idaho, in response to the complaints of LDS
Church Member William Geddes, whose daughter was studying there, about the
LDS meeting facilities in the town. Since then the program has grown to
include 316,000 students in 2,000 programs located in 129 countries.
Officials in Moscow expected 10,000 people to arrive this past weekend to
help celebrate the anniversary.
Norma Geddes Green was studying at the University of Idaho in 1925 and
attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints along with a
handful of other students and about 20 local residents in "a dirty old lodge
hall" that reeked of tobacco and whiskey because of the lodge's activites.
When her father, William C. Geddes, learned of the conditions he urged LDS
Church officials in Salt Lake City to take action. He met with President
Charles W. Nibley of the First Presidency and convinced him "that the
University of Idaho could never hope to attract LDS students from south
Idaho unless their parents knew that their sons and daughters would be
provided a better spiritual environment," said Sister Green, who is now 93.
In March 1926, the Church approved the program and funding for a director,
as well as funding for a building. Institute Director J. Wyley Sessions
arrived in 1926 and enrolled 25 students, and by September 1928 the first
Institute building had been constructed.
Like many Institute facilities today, the building served multiple uses. In
addition to housing classes and church meetings, the building also housed a
dormitory for Mormon men, who lived on the second floor, "I remember how
proud I was of that building," Greene said while looking at a picture of the
original building. "This was like a little cathedral on Sixth and Deakin."
While the building was torn down in 1968 and replaced by a newer building,
current Institute director Kip Jenkins says the current facility holds the
same place in the hearts of students, "This really becomes a home away from
home," says Jenkins.
Moscow's LDS Institute of Religion celebrates 75 years
Boise ID Statesman (AP) 6May01 D1