The Devotional talk at Education Week 2014, by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, will be remembered as an important moment in the use of social media by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (You can watch the entire talk at this link.)
Elder Bednar said that his topic was a continuation of his 2009 BYU-Idaho fireside about the role of technology and cyberspace in the lives of members, which was entitled “Things as They Really Are.” In that talk he discussed the spiritual pitfalls of modern technology and some tools in our world today. This continuation is about what those technologies and tools can do for good.
With almost 40 percent of the missionaries using social media and technology now, Elder Bednar said “An important aspect of the fullness that is available to us in this special season is a miraculous progression of innovations and inventions that have enabled and accelerated the work of salvation: from trains to telegraphs to radios to automobiles to airplanes to telephones to transistors to televisions to computers to satellite transmissions to the Internet — and to an almost endless list of technologies and tools that bless our lives,” he explained. “All of these advancements are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days.”
Speaking of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — and other such channels of the social media, which are used by millions of people — Elder Bednar said it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fullness of times.
Quoting past Presidents of the Church he illustrated how these prophets knew something was coming. President David O McKay spoke about the innovations which were coming, and President Spencer W. Kimball and President Gordon B. Hinckley said something great was on the horizon which the mind of man could hardly conceive of at that time, but the Lord knew about it.
‘literally to sweep the earth as with a flood’
Elder Bednar urged members of the Church to use social media to flood the earth with gospel messages. “What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation, communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning, but only a small trickle,” said Elder Bednar. “I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth — messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy — and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.”
Elder Bednar gave four guidelines for member-generated content which illustrate how Latter-day Saints might use social media to convey gospel messages:
1. Be authentic and consistent. “A person or product that is not authentic is false, fake and fraudulent. Our messages should be truthful, honest and accurate.”
2. Edify and Uplift. “We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than argue, debate, condemn, or belittle.”
3. Respect Intellectual Property. “We and our messages should respect the property of other people and organizations.”
4. Be Wise and Vigilant. “We should remember that the Internet never forgets. Anything you communicate through a social media channel indeed will live forever.”
He also said, “Try to imagine the impact we can have as hundreds of thousands and millions of members of the Lord’s restored church contribute in seemingly small ways to the rising the floodwaters. May our many small, individual efforts produce a steady rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells a multitude of streams and rivers —and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth.”
‘Hang onto your hats. Things are changing.’
While part of the flood has already begun, Elder Bednar shared several examples of how gospel messages and images created by the LDS Church and its members already have been communicated to the world through social media. These include the church’s Easter message “Because of Him;” the Church-sponsored social media effort “Did You Think To Pray;” the Instagram effort “Book of Mormon 365,” and General Authority social media accounts. In addition, he stated, many church leaders now have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages on which they communicate important gospel messages.
Elder Bednar also related an two examples of gospel content that can be shared through social media channels — the Church’s upcoming film entitled “Meet the Mormons” will be released to theaters and visitor centers later this year, after October General Conference, and the Church’s Media Library is now available for Church members to use with their social media efforts (https://www.lds.org/media-library). “To assist you in creating uplifting gospel messages, we are pleased to announce that the content in the Media Library on LDS.org, unless otherwise indicated, has been cleared for use by members without seeking permission from the Church,” he said.
This is a miraculous time to be a member of the Church. As the Provo Daily Herald put it in writing about the speech in the Wednesday, August 20 edition’s front page article’s lead sentence (by Barbara Christiansen), “Hang onto your hats. Things are changing.”
FamilySearchDevCon (Developer Conference) 2014 will be held September 25-26 at BYU Conference Center in Provo, Utah. The 2-Day price is $95.00, for keynotes, sessions, discussions, demos, food, information, networking opportunities, and prizes.
FamilySearch is leading the family history arena in collaborative development of projects. This Developers Conference is an invaluable opportunity for programmers, developers, and software companies to meet, learn from, and share technical information with industry peers.
Hear what experts have to say about the industry landscape, research, user needs and trends
Gain valuable experience with platforms, frameworks, SDKs, libraries, languages and tools
Make useful connections that will take you places through workshops, panels and collaborative coding.
This year’s conference will again be held at the University of Utah’s LDS Institute of Religion Building, on the University of Utah campus (1780 East South Campus Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112).
The conference will be held all day Thursday and Friday, October 16 and 17, 2014. Attendance is free of cost, and a light breakfast (if you get there by 8 a.m.) and lunch are provided each day. To learn more about what to bring and how to prepare, visit theLDSTech Conference wiki page. Updates will be provided as training, project,and other sessions are finalized and announced.
Special rates have been set up for LDSTech Conference attendees at the following hotels:
Hampton Inn & Suites Salt Lake City Foothill (1345 S Foothill Dr.; Salt Lake City, UT 84108 (hilton.com)
Salt Lake City Marriott University Park, within walking distance of the University of Utah Institute of Religion [Marriott’s location is 480 Wakara Way; Salt Lake City, UT 84108 (www.marriott.com/slcup)
IMPORTANT NOTE: On the Marriott website, insert the code LDS into Corporate Group to get a $129 a night rate (based on standard room, length of stay, and day of week). If you arrive Wednesday or Thursday (October 13 or 14) and stay until Saturday (October 17) you’ll get the $129 for each night, but if you only stay Friday night it will be slightly more money with the same discount percentage off since weekend rates are higher.
Make your lodging reservations early as a limited number of rooms at the contracted rate are available.
Gospel Game & App Contest
This year, if you haven't heard, a new fun feature will be the Gospel Games and Apps Contest. Games and apps will be developed and judged for Apple, Android, Windows, or online platforms in the following categories: Primary, Youth, and Family. Winners will be recognized and announced at the LDSTech Conference, so “Create Something Worthy” and submit it by October 10, 2014 to be eligible. See the wiki page http://tech.lds.org/wiki/Contest2014 for all the rules, ideas, categories, and details — we already have 140+ applicants so join in and get working!
More about the LDSTech Conference
Other features of the LDSTech Conference include idea sharing presentations (a real hit last year), networking, learning about Church technology and solutions, and “birds of a feather” sessions where you gather with like-minded techies to talk about projects, innovations, and new ways to accomplish things.
Register now for many exciting opportunities to meet with your teams and others at the conference as LDSTech hosts work on projects, forums to share your own ideas and developments, and presentations to learn more about mobile applications, LDS.org tools, meetinghouse technology.
The Joseph Smith Papers Project is a fascinating trip into the early history of the Church. The project, led by the Church Historian’s Office, gathers documents that pertain to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The project’s purpose is to provide a record of the life and history of the Joseph Smith, Jr. so scholars and students can easily access the foundational documents of the Church.
The Joseph Smith Papers Project not only gathers the documents but publishes complete and accurate transcripts of them, both in print and electronically. Large portions of the collection will be published in many print volumes. In addition, transcripts of all known and available Joseph Smith documents are being published on the Joseph Smith Papers website (see http://josephsmithpapers.org/), along with the annotations from the printed volumes and images of almost all of the documents. The digital site has been up since 2008.
The purpose of this project was primarily academic, according to Ben Godfrey, the senior product manager of The Joseph Smith Papers Project. “Producing a definitive, scholarly edition of Joseph Smith’s papers will allow increased and better scholarship on Joseph Smith. The web and print publications of The Joseph Smith Papers are designed for historians, other scholars, and serious students of Joseph Smith and the early church. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have an interest in the church’s history can also make use of The Joseph Smith Papers.” he explained.
As a result of a year’s worth of cooperation and negotiations with these new partner organizations, it was announced that members of the Church with an LDS.org account will receive access to these family history websites at no cost by the end of 2014.
Emails were sent in May, and will continue to be sent for the rest of 2014 to members with family history callings, including family history consultants, family history center directors, stake indexing directors, and high priests group leaders, inviting them to create accounts on these three websites.
An article (by Thom Reed, on FamilySearch.org blog) states: “The rollout to those without family history callings will be done by individual email invitation, and the rollout will last for approximately three months. After the initial three months and by the end of 2014, access will be given in stages to all members in specific areas.”
“We are excited by the progress in making these resources available to all members free of charge and encourage you use these sites to help you find your ancestors and submit their names for temple ordinances this year,” the blog article further states.
The article then quotes the words of Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in a recent general conference, “We finally have the doctrine, the temples, and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation.”
This new venture has already had an impact on FamilySearch Libraries and family history researchers. Directors of the RivertonFamilySearch Library, Elder Brad Jensen and Sister Pat Jensen said they are already in focused training classes on the MyHeritage site, with training for Ancestry.com and classes for findmypath planned for later in the summer.
“Things are really hopping here at the RivertonFamilySearch Library, with the partnership of Ancestry, Find My Path, and My Heritage with FamilySearch. The increased activity is not necessarily because our missionaries now have their own free access from home, as will all Church members by the end of the year,” the Jensens said. “We are working intensely because we have to respond quickly now and add training courses, ‘how to get started’ handouts, and all other related support material for these great new additions to the FamilySearch ‘family.’ We have started the processwith the focused training of our staff.”
Further details will be available in up-coming Family History Consultant newsletters, from FamilySearch.org. For additional information concerning these partner websites, access for members, or answers to questions, please contact FamilySearch Support at
Registration for October LDSTech Conference is Now Open!
By GC Duerden
The LDSTech Conference registration site is now open for the conference this October 16-17. If you will be joining us in person, you are invited to sign up at tech.lds.org/conf. If you are unable to attend, you can watch streaming videos of many sessions online after the event.
Note: You can change your personal profile or unregister at any time after you register.
You will receive a confirmation email to the address associated with your LDS Account. The Schedule view of the conference page will automatically open on your screen.
The conference will host many exciting opportunities. One new addition to the 2014 conference is a Gospel Game App Contest, with winners of Primary, Youth, and Adult categories being announced at the LDSTech Conference in October. Learn more about how to Create Something Worthy by going to the 2014 Gospel Game & App Contest page. There are already more than 120 people signed up for the contest, but more are needed and encouraged to sign up. There are also several information on pages for this contest, such as:
Several BYU Information Technology students, under the direction of Associate Professor Derek Hansen, recently wrote test scripts for software used for mission finances and administration.
“They roll out a new version of the software regularly,” Hansen explained. “Each new version needs to be checked for code-breaks. Students helped by writing test scripts to simulate using the software to make sure everything works properly.”
Four students worked for almost two years writing scripts which run as part of the automated testing process. The problems, if they show up, can then be debugged. Several such problems were identified by the students.
“It was a great experience for the students, who were able to develop new skills and interact with professionals in a real world work experience. It was like a short internship, but with an important emphasis on service,” Hansen said.
This IMOS software is integrated with many of the systems mission presidents use to manage their responsibilities. The test scripts the BYU students wrote act like a virtual user of IMOS and test the new builds against potential problems.
BYU has other possibilities for collaboration with LDSTech, according to Hansen. “BYU students from across campus are excellent at prototyping novel technological solutions, conducting user experience design research, and performing web and social media analytics” he said. For example, BYU students have been working to help design the onboarding experience for new users of the web-based indexing tool that will be rolled out this year.
“Successful collaborations with LDSTech and BYU share a few characteristics. They are projects that can be conducted relatively independent of the day-to-day operations of LDSTech employees, they can be scoped to fit into the academic schedule, they provide students with opportunities to develop new skills, and they leverage students’ existing skills and interests. The partnership with IMOS has been an excellent example. We also look forward to promoting the LDSTech Conference Gospel Game Apps Contest this Fall”(for details go to http://tech.lds.org/wiki/Contest2014), “as it is an ideal example of where we can leverage the creativity and talent of BYU students.” says Hansen.
For more information on volunteering for LDSTech projects, or to find out about the 2014 LDSTech Conference (Oct. 16 & 17 at the UofU Institute of Religion Building in Salt Lake City, Utah) go to our website: tech.LDS.org /conference for more details.
An article in the Mormon Newsroom recently noted changes in missionary work as digital media becomes more common throughout the world.
After going through a pilot program of 30 missions and 6500 missionaries – primarily in the US and Japan – the mobile device program will be expanded to 162 missions (and 35,000 missionaries by the end of 2015) all using iPad minis, cell phones, and online chat in their work.
The article highlights a video by Elder David F. Evans and an announcement about missionary technology from the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
Many members dream of someday serving a full-time mission after they retire. Many members don't know, however, that there is a new opportunity to serve as full-time technology missionaries. We currently have these opportunities for Spanish-speakers.
Area technology specialists (ATS) are needed in various locations around the world, but especially in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. These Spanish-speaking ATS missionaries will be providing training and technical support to stake technology specialists (STS) in the areas. Applicants need to be fluent in both Spanish and English.
Husbands and wives can serve together as area technology specialists, or one spouse can serve as an ATS and the other can have another assignment based in the same location and/or area office.
ATS assignments may include supporting area leadership, facilities management groups, or missions with help for their technology needs. ATSs serve under the direction of the Area ICS (Information and Communication Services) Manager.
Required experience is not excessively technical but does include "skills with computers, printers, copiers, scanners, wired and wireless networks, the Internet, and audiovisual equipment" as the stated on the opportunities website (http://tech.lds.org/mission).
If you or someone you know has interest in this missionary service, please contact our ATS coordinators, Elder Gary and Sister Marilyn Peterson at
, or at (801) 240-6226. For more information about open positions, go to http://tech.lds.org/mission.