The Pursuit of Excellence Celestial University 2

I am sending you what I typed up: a modified "University"  I have not put some of it in my own words so the part that is a greeting I "stole" from what was on your website.  I love the idea of a "University."  Everything on the word document (as far as the challenges and ideas)  is copied directly from the booklet.  Hope this helps! ~Anna Orland CA Ward (thanks so much for sharing Anna)



Pursuit of Excellence

Celestial University

Dear Sisters:

I am excited to introduce the Pursuit of Excellence Program.  This is not a new program, it was originally introduced to Priesthood and Relief Society auxiliaries in 1978; it is not well-known.  Similar to the Young Women's Personal Progress Program, it is designed to help church members to gain and strengthen a personal conviction of the reality of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; to live with compassion and integrity with our minds; to read inspired words of men touched with the spirit of God; to search for good and uplifting thoughts and deeds of mankind; and to realize the importance of a physical body and the necessity of giving it proper care.  I invite and encourage you to take the Pursuit of Excellence challenge.  To the person who becomes absorbed in achieving eternal goals, life becomes more abundant.  This is an exciting opportunity to find the power and strength of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

'The Lord and His Church have always encouraged education to increase our ability to serve Him and our Heavenly Father's children. For each of us, whatever our talents, He has service for us to give. And to do it well always involves learning, not once or for a limited time, but continually.'

Henry B. Eyring, Ensign Oct., 2002

The Celestial University's is modeled and adapted from the Pursuit of Excellence Program started in 1978.  Its purpose is to offer each sister motivation, opportunity and direction to aid her in reaching her divine potential and destiny as a Daughter of God. If we sisters were to attend college courses offering exactly what is available to us from one another at Relief Society, it would cost us several thousand dollars a year. We are offering a degree which, upon its completion, will have helped to develop a well-rounded individual. Through a raised self-esteem and a sure knowledge that she can improve her life and the lives of those around her, each sister will become an active force in promoting the Kingdom of God on earth.

How the Program works:

There are four types of degrees offered: Associates, Bachelor, Master's, and Doctorate. This is a program in which the purpose is to improve the knowledge and spiritual lives of the sisters who choose to participate in it, this is an 'honor' system.  It is the individual sister's responsibility to monitor and judge whether or not they have completed a goal.  However, you are encouraged to discuss your growth with those around you.  'We pay our debt of gratitude by living in such a way as to bring credit to our parents and the name we bear, by doing good to others, by being of service, by being willing to share the light and knowledge we have received so that others will also have joy and happiness'' (Howard W. Hunter).  Diplomas will be awarded during various Relief Society Activities in 2007.


Degrees Offered


Associates Degree

'  Complete required goals* from one of the following Challenges: Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Service

'  Complete three other goals from the same Challenge

'  Complete one goal from the Character Challenge


Bachelor Degree

'  Complete required goals from two of the following Challenges: Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Service

'  Complete three additional goals from the each of the categories chosen above

'  Complete two goals from the Character Challenge

Master's Degree

'  Complete required goals from three of the following Challenges: Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Service

'     Complete three additional goals from the each of the categories chosen above

'     Complete three goals from the Character Challenge

Doctorate of Celestial Studies

'  Complete required goals from of the following Challenges: Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Service

'  Complete three additional goals from the each of the categories chosen above

'  Complete 4 goals from the Character Challenge


 *Required goals are in a bold font and are the first two or three goals listed under each challenge.

'Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual' (D&C 29:34).


1.       Strengthen your testimony of the gospel through fasting, prayer, and study.

2.       Undertake a consistent program of scripture study.

3.       Read Enos 1-5. Following the example of Enos, increase the power of prayer in your life.  Seek to draw nearer to your Heavenly Father through sincere daily prayer.

4.       Design and undertake a one-year program of extensive Church reading.  (Books by Presidents of the Church and other General Authorities or similar major gospel studies may be considered.)

5.       Develop a personal file of teaching and speaking enrichment ideas, including quotations, thoughts, anecdotes, scriptures, and inspirational experiences.  Accept every opportunity to use these materials in speaking or teaching.

6.       Keep a personal journal.  Record memorable spiritual experiences or events, goals for the future, areas for personal improvement, and personal thoughts and feelings.

7.       Complete the Teacher Development Basic Course, followed by an active teaching assignment.

8.       Graduate from an institute of religion, complete at least 24 quarter hours or eighteen semester hours of Church religious training, or complete the equivalent hours of a Church Educational System individual study program.

9.       Fill an honorable full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

10.  Fill an honorable stake mission.

11.  Attend the temple at least once each month.

12.  Participate in bringing a new member into the Church or in reactivating a member.

13.  Enroll in a Church-approved genealogy class.  Complete at least four generations on a pedigree chart for your own family.  Write a family history relating incidents, backgrounds, and inspirational experiences based on research and interviews.

14.  Prayerfully consider an individualized goal.  Discuss with Relief Society leader or Presidency member before submitting.



'Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek  ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith' (D&C 88:118)


1.       Plan and undertake a reading program of uplifting, outstanding literature.  The selection of books may reflect a variety of interests or may emphasize one particular theme.

2.       Develop a new interest in any creative field (such as poetry, fiction, music composition, art dance, crafts, photography, drama) or in a hobby (such as coin, nature, or stamp collections; woodwork; astronomy).  Emphasize involvement and participation in a n area that is new to you.

3.       Enlarge a talent you have already developed, such as music, painting, writing, and dance.  Pursue excellence to the point of performing, exhibiting or publishing your talent for others.  (Avenue for creativity include regional or stake contests, exhibits, programs and publications.)

4.       Expand your cultural appreciation by completing a one-year study program of an art form available in your area, such as opera, symphony concerts, theater, museums, ballets and folk dancing.

5.       Enlarge your cultural appreciation by regularly attending cultural events available in your area.

6.       Participate in a book-review group on a regular basis.  Selections may come from any literary category, including biography, drama, fiction and poetry.

7.       Within your own family or another group, participate in a structured study of other countries.  Prepare and present material about different countries and cultures.

8.       Improve your knowledge in a specific academic field, such as history, science, literature, political science or philosophy.  Where possible, attend classes or lecture series in the field you have chosen.  (This challenge is suggested for those not attending college.)

9.       Develop fundamental speaking and writing skills in another language.

10.  Under the direction of the priesthood, assemble, write and publish (if possible) a history of a ward or stake, including both text and pictures.

11.  Graduate from an accredited post-high-school program.

12.  Prayerfully consider an individualized goal.  Discuss with Relief Society leader or Presidency member before submitting.





'Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean'cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated: (D&C 88:124).


1.       Establish a physical fitness program, tailored to you needs, to help you reach a higher level of health.  Complete physical fitness activities regularly.

2.       Evaluate your adherence to the total spirit of the Word of Wisdom.  Establish a goal improvement, particularly in terms of eating and sleeping habits.

3.       Bring your weight to an appropriate level.

4.       Acquire greater proficiency in a specific athletic or recreational skill, such as swimming, diving, golf, tennis, basketball, bowling, skiing, skating, cricket, football, or other activities of your culture.

5.       Acquire greater proficiency in an occupational or homemaking skill, such as carpentry, antiquing, knitting or quilting.

6.       Significantly improve your personal attractiveness through bodily health and vigor, and optimistic attitude, personal charm and friendliness, good grooming, and modesty of dress.  (Consider posture, voice, and disposition.)

7.       Participate in an organized ward or stake athletic recreational sports activity.

8.       Participate in an individual or a group activity that is new to you, such as cycling, back-packing, camping, hiking, sculling, or some other physical activity appropriate in you culture.

9.       Participate in groups organized for recreational activities. Emphasize improvement of physical proficiency through group interest and effort.

10.  Prayerfully consider an individualized goal.  Discuss with Relief Society leader or Presidency member before submitting.

Note:  1. Medical consultation is recommended when a significant change in physical exertion is contemplated.

          2. Disabled persons may participate by selecting other goals within their physical capacity.




'When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God' (Mosiah 2:17).


1.       Give special service to your own family.  If you are not living at home, this service may involve roommates or members of a home evening group.

2.       Give consistent service to the Church in addition to your church calling(s).

3.       Give significant service to individuals or groups outside your immediate family.

4.       Teach an art or skill to someone who cannot afford to pay for such training or who probably would not cultivate it without your help.

5.       Be a special friend to one or more fatherless or motherless children and take them to worthwhile programs or activities, such as cultural or sports events, camping trips, or outings.

6.       Assist the elderly, divorcees, those living alone, or others who may need help with household chores, lawn cutting, snow-shoveling, repair jobs, or yard work.

7.       Fellowship new members of the Church or new ward members.  Help orient them to the Latter-day Saint way of life, or assist them in making the transition into the ward family.

8.       Write uplifting and encouraging letters regularly to a missionary, a serviceman, a friend or an absent member of your ward other that oe of your immediate family.  Continue writing even if the recipient's schedule does not permit an answer.

9.       Assist people whose activities are restricted, such as those in nursing homes and hospitals or those who have some mental or physical handicap.  Under priesthood direction, perhaps through the Relief Society, visit them, read to them, or otherwise assist in any appropriate manner.

10.  Check with appropriate leaders and parents and assist a child needing help with homework, physical activity, or cultural enrichment.

11.  Give your time and physical talent to a meaningful project, serving in such positions as coach in an athletic program, youth camp program director, director of a neighborhood sports clinic, den mother, or volunteer teacher's aide.

12.  Under priesthood direction, visit orison inmates.  Ring them hope and encouragement through participation in uplifting projects and activities.

13.  Participate in a group effort to provide books and recent publications for prisons, hospitals, convalescent homes, and libraries.

14.  Through the bishop or branch president, contribute toward the financial support of a full-time missionary.

15.  Go beyond what is specifically requested and serve the bishop or ward organizations in the preparation, decoration, or clean-up of an activity.

16.  Many other service activities may be selected.  Use your imagination and prayerfully consider which service activity would be most beneficial to those in need.



'We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul ' We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.  If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report pr praiseworthy, we seek after these things' (Articles of Faith 1:13)


1.       Read Matthew 5:38-42.  Strive to apply the principle of the 'second mile' in all your dealings with your fellowmen by doing more than is expected of you.

2.       Practice doing unto others that which you would have them do to you, in the true spirit of the Master's Golden Rule.

3.       Make promises and commitments carefully.  When you make a righteous promise or commitment, count it as your sacred word of honor, and act accordingly.

4.       Read Proverbs 16:18-22.  Seek to eliminate false pride from your character. Avoid doing or saying anything that would cause another to feel that you were haughty or disdainful.

5.       Seek to be truthful in all you say.  Avoid gossip and untruthfulness, no matter how small.  Carefully consider your words to avoid hurting or offending others.

6.       Willingly accept assignments and complete them to the best of your ability.

7.       Make and honor a resolution to lead a morally clean life.

8.       Give proper credit for the work of others in talks, conversation, or composition.

9.       Make and honor a resolution that you will not cheat in any way.

10.  Set your goal to take nothing that belongs to any other person, company, or organization, no matter how small, without permission of the owner.

11.  Do not envy others or seek by improper means to acquire that which belongs to another.

12.  Cultivate friends and companions who are earnestly seeking to maintain high ideals.

13.  Develop a love for and dedication to honorable, hard work.

14.  Be honest in all your dealings and relationships, whether in business, Church, or at home.

15.  Cultivate patience, tolerance, and love for family members, roommates, and other associates.

16.  Keep sacred any confidences entrusted to you.

17.  Be courageous enough to acknowledge mistakes, to apologize when appropriate, to make things right if you have given offense.

18.  Prayerfully consider any other area, in which you feel you need growth, set a goal, perform it for a period of time and incorporate this into your character for your lifetime.




Don't plunge into goal-setting without discovering what you're getting into. Do your homework for the best chance at success. Consider the following when choosing your goals:


1.     Obtain a journal!

2.     Choose problems to work on that will make a difference in the quality of your life.

3.     Your choice of goals should be a matter of prayer.

4.     Consider your values, preferences, and resources, then decide how best to reach your goals.

5.     Commit yourself to start and finish each step.

6.     Ask your Father in Heaven to help you obtain you goals.

7.     Review the effectiveness of each step and make changes where needed; some goals may need some changes to make them work better.

8.     Ask your loved ones, friends, and Visiting Teachers to help monitor and support your progress.

9.     Each morning ask Heavenly Father for His help throughout the day; evaluate your progress with Him nightly.


Below is an example of a simple approach to recording a goal and a plan to achieve it.  Writing the goal and the plan is an important element of success.



What to Do

Read the Book of Mormon by __________(enter date), marking and recording passages of special meaning to me.


How to Do It

1.      Obtain an inexpensive copy of the Book of Mormon, colored pencils, and a notebook by __________(date).

2.      Develop a system of marking and recording key passages.

3.      Read and mark the Book of Mormon from ______(enter 30 minute block of time), Monday through Saturday, beginning _________(date).

4.      Review the passages marked and record ideas and impressions each Sunday, __________(enter 2 hour block of time).

5.      Evaluate progress towards completion of goal on the first Sunday each month.

6.      Record goal, progress, and completion in personal journal.