J. Wyley Sessions

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James Wylie Sessions (11 December, 1885 – 21 April 1977) was the first Institute of Religion director in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was sent in 1926 by church president Heber J. Grant to head the Institute of Religion in Moscow, Idaho. Sessions later served as the head of the church's mission home in Salt Lake City, Utah for many years.

In 1921, Sessions became the president of the Church's South African Mission, succeeding Nicholas G. Smith.[1] Sessions continued in this position until 1926, when he returned to Utah and almost immediately was sent to direct the institute in Idaho. Over the next decade, Sessions set up Institutes of Religion at several universities in the western United States. He believed that institutes should offer strong academic classes, social interaction, and be housed in permanent and respectable buildings.[2] In 1935, Sessions was serving as the institute director in Pocatello, Idaho.[3]

From 1939 to 1947, Sessions was the head of the Division of Religion at Brigham Young University.


  1. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saints Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 167.
  2. Cowan, Richard O. The Church in the 20th Century (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1985) p. 115.
  3. J. Wylie Sessions, "The Latter-day Saint Institutes", Improvement Era (1935).