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Mormon church seeking help in 'the Vineyard'

Published: Wednesday, April 6 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

RIVERTON, Utah – The Lord’s vineyard has expanded to include the Internet.

With a membership of 14 million and growing, the LDS Church has created a new website called “Helping in the Vineyard,” where members and friends of the faith can go online and assist in a variety of volunteer projects to help the overall work of the church.

“To date, indexing has been the first major crowdsourcing effort at the church,” said Jayson Seegmiller, a program manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The Vineyard will provide additional opportunities for members all across the world.”

The website was featured at the LDS Tech Conference last week at the church’s Riverton office.

The purpose of “Helping in the Vineyard” is to offer members and others — potentially thousands at a time — the chance to use their time and talents to help the church complete large amounts of work online in a short period of time.

The name “Helping in the Vineyard” stems from the analogy of the Lord’s kingdom used frequently in the scriptures.

The site is growing at a fast rate. “Vineyard” launched Jan. 28 with more than 2,000 volunteers and as of March 31, had surpassed 9,200 registered users. More than 3,200 helped complete 8,000 tasks during the site’s beta period from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7.

Although targeted to a younger generation, some of the best contributors thus far are in the 60-70 age range, said Tyler Cooper, a solution manager for the church. “We have some individuals in there who are just rock stars for us who are contributing in a meaningful way, and in a large scale, that is exciting for us to see,” he said.

“The goal is 10,000 for the year,” Seegmiller said. “Once we have 10,000, we could really start testing everything and figuring out how to tighten it up.”

Current projects on the website include translation, FamilySearch, indexing, photography, tagging videos and images, as well as editorial work.

For example, someone with foreign language skills might help translate a document for seminary and institute. When approved, the document would be released to seminaries and institutes in the second language.

As the church continues to grow, church departments will increasingly rely on the volunteer work of service missionaries and members. Projects are designed so volunteers can spend as much or as little time as possible.

“One of the fun challenges we have faced is how do we cut up that elephant into bite-size pieces and get it out,” Cooper said. “It takes a significant amount of work to break those projects down and then assemble those pieces back together again.”

Members can sign up to participate at vineyard.lds.org.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com

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