POCATELLO — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Pocatello Institute is once again offering its religious courses, and officials say they’ve added a few more options amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
This fall, they have not only in-person classes, but also Zoom and home study options.
Steven Packer, director of the Pocatello Institute, said they want to make sure all young adults can have a spiritual education and they don’t want anyone to be excluded just because they have health challenges or other concerns related to the pandemic that would make it difficult for them to attend in person.
“We’re trying to reach as many (students) as we possibly can,” Packer said.
He estimates about one-third of their courses have online options this fall.
The courses focus on a variety of topics, including Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, The Restored Gospel and World Religions, Foundations of the Restoration, The Eternal Family, Women in the Scriptures, Latter-day Saint History, the New Testament and the Book of Mormon among others.
The Pocatello Institute, which is located adjacent to Idaho State University and closely follows its schedule, is just one of nearly 2,700 institutes of religion that the Church of Jesus Christ has throughout the world, although current operations depend on what’s happening in each area and the restrictions that are in place, according to www.churchofjesuschrist.org.
“Institute provides an opportunity for students to strengthen their commitment to Jesus Christ and conduct a comprehensive study of the scriptures and words of modern-day prophets,” according to the website. “Institute students may find guidance and direction from the Holy Ghost. This guidance can help them make important life decisions as students learn together and strengthen one another.”
The church says more than 350,000 students participate in the program.
Locally, Packer said they typically have between 500 and 600 students register for classes each semester. He anticipates a similar number will register this year.
The free courses are open to young adults between the ages of 18 and 30, and the students don’t have to be members of the church or students at ISU to participate. Packer said they’ve already started the classes this semester, but students can still join in at any time. There is no deadline for registration.
Packer believes it’s important for young adults to have opportunities for a religious education, especially right now.
“They need connections not only to each other and to other people, they need connections to God and spiritual upliftment,” Packer said.
For more information, people can visit myinstitute.churchofjesuschrist.org/pocatello or stop by the Pocatello Institute at 1011 E. Carter St.