How research and real-life events support President Nelson’s recent promise to youth and young adults

President Nelson said attending seminary and institute will increase youth and young adults’ sense of belonging — and research agrees

President Russell M. Nelson recently promised youth and young adults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a number of blessings for attending seminary and institute classes.

Among those promised blessings are increased faith, direction from the Holy Ghost and answers to questions.

He also promised youth and young adults that seminary and institute classes will increase their sense of belonging.

Decades worth of research backs the importance of friendships for teenagers and young adults. A 1998 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that reliance on friends to satisfy social needs is greatest while someone is single; while a 2007 study published in the Journal of College Development found that between fall and winter semesters for first-year university students, increased friend support — but not increased family support — predicted improved adjustment to college life.

More recently, an August 2023 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships explored how specific verbal cues between young adult friends impact how supported a young adult feels, while a 2021 study published in the Journal of Community & Applied Psychology found that distractions — such as being with friends — were the most common coping mechanisms for young adults dealing with loneliness.

TJ Bernard, a young single adult in Washington, D.C., said it’s “life changing” seeing how other young single adults live the gospel while juggling careers, social lives and more.

Bernard helped plan the 2023 Weekend in Washington event, a young single adult conference held Oct. 13-15 in Washington, D.C.

Some 800 people attended the conference, which included speakers, a gala and time for exploring the city.

Bernard said the conference helped local young single adults feel connected to each other through their shared beliefs.

“I like to see people that are in the same life situation as me, to see how they live the gospel and how they learn and how they grow,” he said.

Kaitlyn Clifford, another young single adult living in Washington, D.C. who helped plan the conference, said the event was especially beneficial for people who came from areas without robust young single adult communities.

Watching people experience what it’s like to worship among those who share their beliefs “was definitely the most rewarding [part],” she said.

Young single adults also felt the importance of connecting with each other while attending the 2023 Utah Area Young Single Adult Conference, held throughout the month of August.

Jessica Ulrich, a young single adult from Sandy, Utah, said she felt power in the connection present among conference participants.

“I love that you can grab a whole bunch of people that are all in the same age group, all with the same experience with the gospel, with our beliefs, and that we get to have this fun experience together,” she said during the conference’s dance event. “It’s such a powerful experience, and you can feel that power while you’re here.”

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