The experiences of the past few years in the seminaries and institutes in Indiana have proven that Church involvement increases when meaningful, quality activities are provided.
"Activity is really growing," said Gary L. Allen, who serves as coordinator for the Church Educational System in southern Indiana.Brother Allen noted how five years ago about 23 people would typically attend institute-sponsored dances. But at a multi-stake LDSSA dance held in Bloomington two months ago, nearly 200 attended.
What makes this dance particularly noteworthy, explained Brother Allen, was that so many attended on a cold and rainy night. Organizers figured no more than 50 would attend on such a night and considered canceling the dance.
Despite the inclement weather, however, the dance was held. On that night, two students from different stakes and colleges met and began their courtship. They are now engaged and plan a June temple wedding.
The increase in Church activity is the result of an effort by the seminaries and institutes, and by branches of young single adults and young married couples to reach out to others. Their efforts are part of a program called "The Rescue."
The emphasis of the program is spiritual, and the idea is taken from Brigham Young who called for volunteers to rescue the pioneers who were stranded on the Wyoming highlands.
In Indiana, those who may feel disaffected from the Church are being contacted one-by-one through personal visits, E-mail, telephone calls or family home evenings.
This participation in social activities has led many into greater spiritual activity, Brother Allen explained.
He noted how two seminary students accepted the encouragement from teachers and CES coordinators to reach out to others and decided to introduce a non-member friend to early-morning seminary.
Their invitation was not readily accepted, but the friends persisted. Eventually, she attended some seminary activities and Church meetings. The friends walked with her to seminary and included her in their car pool on cold mornings. Because of their devotion, this young lady was baptized.
The presidency of the Bloomington 3rd Branch urged members to attend the temple regularly. Enthusiasm for the temple began to grow. Now, every weekend, carloads of institute participants and young single adults attend the St. Louis Temple. The joy of attending the temple prompted one student, who had been less active in the Church only several years ago, to observe, "I do not feel fulfilled unless I go at least twice a month."
"Lives have been changed as a result of this activity," Brother Allen said. "Missionary work, ordinations, temple covenants are bringing blessings into the lives of our Heavenly Father's children."
"My whole life, I never really understood the true meaning of Christmas," said one student. "But since joining the Church a few months ago, this has been the first Christmas where I fully understood the birth, life and resurrection of the Savior."