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LDS Tech: Finding blessings through service in the 'Vineyard'

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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RIVERTON — For those looking to use their time and talents to serve in the LDS Church, there continues to be an abundance of opportunities in the "Vineyard."

The Vineyard is a website operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that offers online service activities that can be completed by volunteers in minutes. As a result, important work is completed, volunteers receive blessings and the church saves money.

In 2011, thousands of volunteers completed more than 100,000 tasks, saving the LDS Church hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Russ Hannig, global program manager for the LDS Church. Currently there are more than 27,000 volunteers in 50 countries helping with everything from translating church documents and materials to uploading and sharing photos. The Vineyard was one of several projects discussed and worked on by technology specialists and volunteers during last week’s third annual LDS Tech Conference.

In addition to translating materials and sharing photos, perform FamilySearch indexing, donate to church causes, as well as participate in other gospel-sharing activities.

“More than that (saving the church money), service in the Vineyard has blessed people’s lives. It’s a wonderful experience because people like moms who have five minutes to do something, or somebody who has 10 minutes in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, can take a few minutes to do some simple things to help in building the kingdom,” Hannig said. “It’s fantastic.”

Teaching members how to share the gospel online and “be part of the conversation” is one activity that will be coming online soon. By blogging and other activities, members of the church can have a unified voice in sharing their testimony, Hannig said.

“A lot of people wonder how they can be part of that conversation,” he said. “That is what we are testing here (at LDS Tech).”

Hannig referenced a talk given by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve at BYU-Hawaii graduation in December 2007

In his remarks, Elder Ballard encouraged graduates to share their beliefs with the world via the Internet.

"May I ask that you join the (world-wide) conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple, clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from church and other appropriate sites, including Newsroom at LDS.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the church, and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you, all members of the church, understand the basic, fundamental principles of the gospel,” Elder Ballard said.

“We are living in a world saturated with all kinds of voices. Perhaps now, more than ever, we have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves, instead of letting others define us," he continued.

Translation is one activity where there are many opportunities, Hannig said. There are always more documents and materials that need to be translated into foreign languages. With more translators, the Vineyard volunteers can help LDS.org translate articles into Spanish, Portuguese and other languages.

“Sometimes they (members) don’t think they are adequate for translating from English to other languages, but that isn’t the case. It’s a process and there will always be a professional translator that will review it all,” he said. “Last year alone, 500 pages were translated.”

Chris Padilla, a church product manager, said there is no shortage of good Vineyard service ideas as long as the volunteers want to participate, but didn’t elaborate on all the church’s ideas.

“There are tons of activities if things continue to go well,” Padilla said.

The more members post comments, blog and tweet, the greater the visibility will be for the church, Padilla added.

“With all the chapels, temples and historic landmarks, we have more locations than McDonalds,” Padilla said. “Sharing the gospel online could be as simple as filling out your profile on Mormon.org.”

For more information on how to engage in church service activities, go to Vineyard.lds.org.

“If you want to serve, there are many opportunities, and there are blessings associated with that service,” Hannig said.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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