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International newspapers address Facebook, Mormon missionary work

Published: Friday, July 6 2012 11:37 a.m. MDT

UK newspaper the Times recently quoted Elder Erich Kopischke, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in an article about missionary work, which was republished by The Australian.

Mormon missionaries are famous for going door to door, inviting those who answer to hear their message.

"Elder Erich Kopischke, head of the Church's European operation who is in London to mark the 175th anniversary of American missionaries setting sail for Liverpool on July 1, 1837, told The Times that one post on Facebook could reach 900,000 people in an instant," the article reads. "It would take many months, if not years, to knock on that many doors."

The article is somewhat speculative about the future of missionary work. Curiously, The Australian uses a photo from the Book of Mormon musical to illustrate its story.

The Telegraph quickly picked up the story.

In 2010, Deseret News writer Scott Taylor reported on a test program in Rochester, N.Y., where missionaries were allowed to use online media "if they don't have any effort more productive, such as teaching, following up on previous contacts, checking out referrals or meeting or working with members."

A few months ago, LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter told the Deseret News' Joseph Walker the church has no official policy for missionary blogs, which are generally kept up by family members who post periodic mission updates for friends and other family members to see. The missionary guideline followed is taken from church's General Handbook of Instructions: "Members are encouraged to be examples of their faith at all times and in all places, including on the Internet. If they use blogs, social networks and other Internet technologies, they are encouraged to strengthen others and help them become aware of that which is useful, good and praiseworthy."

Rules for missionaries doing the blogging themselves vary from mission to mission, the article states.

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