For the past several years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been laboring to improve the way members communicate through the Internet.
Church websites, gospel literature, church magazines, family home evening helps, music, callings, seminary and institute, and church history are all resources that have been developed on LDS.org.
Stake and ward resources have also been a focus.
With an ID, password and click of the mouse, members can access ward and stake calendars, phone directories, lesson schedules and meeting times. There are also links to official church websites, employment services and meeting house locators.
Derek Jensen, who teaches 11-year-olds in Primary in the Denver area, travels frequently with work and finds the meetinghouse locator to be quite effective.
"It's a great tool and a huge benefit. It's very user-friendly and makes finding a church easy. It's a lot better than scanning through the old phone book," Jensen said.
Jensen admits he doesn't use the ward or stake website very often, and information tends to become outdated, but he does use LDS.org to access lesson manuals in preparation for his weekly lessons.
"I don't have to take the manual on the road to prepare," he said. "And the scripture references are hyperlinked, which is much faster than thumbing through the scriptures. I can prepare my lessons more quickly."
Ken Oxborrow, a member of the Garland 5th Ward bishopric in northern Utah, went to the ward website one time just to see what it was like, but admits it isn't used very often for ward business.
"It looks like a great resource — we just haven't utilized it yet," Oxborrow said.
Kevin Bake, the Young Men president in his Idaho Falls ward, said his ward is preparing for a youth pioneer trek and all the permission slips, packing lists and other important information are posted on the ward website. This has made life easier, he said. The 32-year-old also primarily communicates with his young men via text message "because they don't take phone calls."
"I have had to get all the young men logged in," Bake said. "Just the fact that you can go there and get phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other information all in one spot is great. I don't think our ward website gets used often enough," Bake said.
Has the increased use of technology and the Internet been difficult for older ward members? Oxborrow doesn't think so.
"At least in our ward, the younger generation has been good at including the older generation. Our older members are very open minded and many are family history specialists. They can handle the technology. They are savvy and excited to keep up on what is going on," Oxborrow said.
"I think of my father who is 60, and he is as good with computers as I am," he said. "Those 70 or above may have trouble."
Did you know? — Many Boy Scouts now own a cell phone or have access to one. Only a decade ago, Scouts were encouraged to carry $2 in quarters in the event an emergency call was required.
Did you know? — The earliest form of caller ID may have been personalized pioneer lanterns. Stories are told of the early Latter-day Saints identifying one another via the unique designs on their lanterns. For example, on the night Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were beaten, tarred and feathered, some members of the mob were identified by their lanterns.
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