In a day of explosive access to information by means of the Internet, the Church History Department has seized this technological opportunity to provide the website history.lds.org as a means to tell the world about the rise and progress of the church.
Created a year ago, the website has recently been fortified with new content that will be continually augmented as time goes by.
"In the age of the Internet, church history information is accessible in a way that it never has been before from a variety of sources, some of which are very trustworthy and some of which are not," observed Matthew McBride, web content manager with the Church History Department. "We'd like to be very proactive about being a consistent, faithful voice in the conversation about church history on the web."
Described on the church's general website as being the "landing page" for everything pertaining to church history, history.lds.org is a portal to a variety of resources in the Church History Department such as the Church History Library, the Church History Museum, and the Overland Trails database, each of which has its own set of web pages.
The "Revelations in Context" website, described in a Church News article earlier this year, was an early offering on history.lds.org. It gives historical context behind the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants being studied in Sunday School classes this year.
In addition, the new website includes the following newly added sections:
"Treasures of the Collection" highlights items in the Church History Library, some of which have been or will be displayed in live exhibits at the library under the same name.
One example of the content in this section is a series called "Lost Sermons," Brother McBride said. It highlights hundreds of sermons given by early church leaders, the contents of which have been inaccessible for some 150 years because until now, they have not been transcribed from the shorthand in which they were recorded.
Examples include a sermon by President Brigham Young at the funeral of Mary Fielding Smith; apostle Parley P. Pratt's report of his mission to Chile, the first mission to South America; and a lengthy, detailed sermon by President Lorenzo Snow on man's potential to be like God.
Also among them are the remarks and prayer of President Brigham Young at the dedication of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, where he pointed out the yet unfinished organ pipes, veiled on that occasion "to cover their nakedness."
"Pioneers in Every Land" features stories about Latter-day Saints who have pioneered the church in every part of the world, including Europe, Africa, the Pacific, South America and Asia. It focuses mainly on 20th-century history.
"That's a section that will be growing and will be an ongoing effort over the foreseeable future," McBride said.
The histories in this section will be presented as video vignettes as well as short articles.
An example of content in this section is a postWorld War II saga about Latter-day Saints in Denmark and Holland sending their harvested potatoes to feed the hungry among their fellow church members in Germany, which had so shortly before been an enemy nation.
"There's also a story about a German prisoner of war, a Latter-day Saint, who was captured in Belgium and ended up in Leeds, England, in a POW camp," McBride said. "While there, he started meeting with other Christians in the camp and ended up baptizing two other Germans who were there."
Ultimately, as restrictions were relaxed, the man came to a meeting of the branch of the church in Leeds. "We have accounts both of this German going to a British branch for the first time and accounts of the British Church members having a German soldier come to their meeting and what their feelings were."
"Presidents of the Church" will soon include some 160 short videos, 10 about the life and ministry of each president of the church.
One video, for example, dramatizes an incident in the life of President John Taylor in which he preached a sermon to a congregation that included mobbers intent on tarring and feathering him. A Briton by birth, he spoke of the American Founding Fathers who gave their lives for the establishment of the freedom of religious worship among other liberties. The mobbers evidently were shamed into not carrying out their nefarious plan.
The new website is also a portal to video recordings of some of the various monthly lectures that have been delivered in the Men and Women of Faith lecture series sponsored by the Church History Library.
Kevin Nielson, web product manager, noted that the entire website is designed to be used on any computer device throughout the world including smart phones. He also pointed out that the content is digitally searchable.