Local Unit Website
This information is for the classic Local Unit Websites, also known as the Stake and Ward Websites, which are being replaced by new Local Unit Tools (currently the new Directory and Calendar). The classic Local Unit Websites will remain available to Church units in the United States, Canada, and selected other countries through 2011 and can be found at www.lds.org/units. No other websites are authorized for Church units.
The sites are organized by stake. The stake has a home page which has links to each of the ward home pages. All these home pages are visible to anyone over the Internet, but only registered users can see any pages beyond the home page. Registered users can see information for all units in the stake.
The sites allow access to the following information:
- News and Information
- Lesson Schedules
- Stake/Ward Calendar
- Membership Directory
- Leadership Directory
Stake and ward Web sites now use LDS Account for sign in. LDS Account allows you to have a single user name and password to access Church sites. When registering for an LDS Account, members of the LDS Church are asked to provide their MRN (membership record number) and their birth date. Members can obtain thier MRN by asking their ward clerk for their Individual Ordinance Summary. A member’s MRN can also be found on the back of the temple recommend. Entering characters from an image is also required which is very common now when registering on many web sites.
As they login to the Local Unit Web Site (LUWS) for the first time, members are required to agree to the following:
- I will use the information on this Web site only for Church use.
- I will not use the information on this Web site for political, business, or commercial purposes.
- I understand that participation in the membership directory portion of this Web site is purely voluntary. If I do not want personal directory information about my family or me to appear on the Web site, I will contact my bishop or branch president or clerk.
- I will not post any information or images from this Web site onto any other Web site.
- I will not share my user name and password with anyone.
Because the stake and ward home pages are visible to anyone on the Internet, administrators should be careful about what information appears on the home page. This includes not only the image and message that are explicitly on the home page, but also News and Information items and calendar events, whose titles may appear on the home page.
The LUWS administration Help page says: "All Internet users will be able to visit your stake or ward home page. You can help prevent inappropriate use of the Web site by making sure detailed information about youth activities do not appear on the home page. Do not include meeting times and locations in the title field of submitted events."
Connection with MLS
Some information on the website is automatically synchronized from MLS, but much data which seems to overlap with data in MLS has to be entered manually.
- Automatically synchronized:
- Ward meeting times
- Membership Records (but not preferred names or e-mail addresses)
- E-mail addresses are part of the user profile and can only be changed by the user
- Calendar items and News and Information items can be submitted by members and approved by an administrator
- All other information must be entered manually by an administrator (callings are not synchronized)
Priesthood and Relief Society lesson schedules are administered by the stake under the direction of the stake president. Once those schedules have been entered by the stake web site administrator, they are visible on the ward web sites. Gospel Doctrine lesson schedules are administered by individual wards.
Administrators can select specific lessons for each week from the respective lesson manuals. As users browse the lesson schedule, they can link to the actual content of the lesson on lds.org.
Schedules should follow the guidelines given in the Information for Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders on Curriculum, as amended by the new instructions for Teachings for Our Time.
This automatically includes membership information for everybody in a stake and is the easiest way to distribute member contact information. All members of each ward are automatically visible in the membership directory.
NOTE: Administrators must take care to hide the information for members who do not want their names or phone numbers listed on the site.
There is a greasemonkey script (a script that modifies a webpage as it loads on your computer) that will add google/yahoo map to the membership directory. See SpicyWardWeb.
The stake oversees and administers access to all the unit websites; the stake clerk should have an administrative login and know who the other administrators are. If there's not a designated stake website administrator, it would fall on one of the clerks. There should be at least two people at any given time with administrative access. It's extremely useful to keep the stake calendar up to date on the web and wards should be encouraged to use theirs as well, if they're not already doing it. If you can get a good fraction of stake members signed up with LUWS, it's also a useful way to send out broadcast messages of upcoming events.
Encouraging and assisting registration
Members can benefit from the resources on the unit websites only if they register to use the site. Various wards have used a variety of techniques to encourage members to sign up and to make this process as easy as possible.
- Use a fifth-Sunday lesson in a combined Priesthood and Relief Society meeting to show the benefits of the unit website.
- Distribute Individual Ordinance Summaries (IOS) to each member along with a brief document (such as this example) describing the registration process.
- At Tithing Settlement set up a laptop where a clerk will help members register on the spot.
Members may request that their phone number, address or other information not be shown on LUWS. Only the website administrator can make this change, which is done on a household basis. The administrator help page says that such requests should generally be fulfilled within 24 hours.
On the website administration page, the administrator would go to Membership Directory and then select the Change button next to the household name. Next, select those items the member does not want shown. Selecting the first option hides all information.
- Do not show anything about this Family on the Web site
- Do not show home address
- Do not show telephone number
- Do not show spouse's name
- Do not show children's names
Change a user name
The user name for the local unit Web site is set using LDS Account. Any user can change it by logging in to LDS Account and then editing the Profile Information.
An administrator cannot change user names; it must be done by the individual user.
Uses for news and information
Warning: If any photos or attachments are copyrighted and you do not have rights, then do not put items on your web page.
Reminder to update e-mail address
In an effort to have obsolete e-mail addresses updated, a stake administrator can insert a message under News and Information on the home page of all units: for example, "Is Your E-mail Address Current?". Then if someone logs in and clicks on that line, a pop-up box contains instructions how to update their e-mail address in their profile page, such as: "Please click on 'Update Profile' in the upper right corner. If your e-mail address is not correct, please change it and then click 'Submit' button on the bottom left center of the window."
News and Information items may have attachments; in many cases, the main purpose of such an item is to make the attached file available to members.
Attachment files can be no larger than 1 MB, and can be in any of the following formats: .doc, .pdf, or .xls. As you add the attachment, make sure the Title, Removal Date, and Information fields have been completed.
One useful attachment would be a Budget Reimbursement Request Form: A ward or stake administrator can place a PDF file of the Reimbursement Request form in News and Information for the convenience of auxiliary leaders and other members who need to submit a reimbursement request.
Updating unit information
The responsibility for updating the information on the home page for the unit is shared between the administrators, clerks and the FM group.
Updating unit meetinghouse address
The website meetinghouse address does not come from MLS; rather it comes from the FM Group but sometimes they need to be reminded to make a correction and submit it. If the correction is not made after reminders and a reasonable time, then a feedback request from a stake administrator may be required.
Updating unit phone number
This can/should be updated by the local website administrator in the Maintain Home Page link under Administrator Options.
Updating the unit name
The unit name is updated by the Directory group in the administration office (Church headquarters for the U.S. and Canada). Once the name has been updated in Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders (CDOL), it will populate the website within 14 days.
Setting meeting times
- Further information: System Options (MLS)#Edit meeting times
The unit's meeting time in LUWS is set through MLS, using the Unit page of System options. Associated with the meeting time is a reminder date. Once the reminder date has occurred, MLS will generate an Urgent Task called "Block schedule times need to be set"; you may also click the urgent task link to set the meeting times. When you set the new meeting times, you must also set a new reminder date sometime in the future, probably for the middle of December. Since this new date is in the future, the urgent task will be cleared. If the new date is not in the future, the change will not be transmitted (and you will continue to have an urgent task).
It can take a week or two for the updated time to show up on LUWS, so do not wait until the first of the new year to set the meeting times. Some people have mistakenly believed that MLS is asking for an effective date (this is easy to do, since MLS labels the reminder date "Date When Time Changes" on the Unit page of System Options, and the MLS help file seems to confirm this misinterpretation of the date) and so they enter January 1. But if you wait until January 1 to make the change in MLS, the change will most likely not be reflected on LUWS until the second or third week of January, which is later than is desirable.
Also, when you change the time, take care to change the am/pm box when you update the time if your block time has changed from morning to afternoon or vice versa.
Adding administrators for new wards or branches
Sometimes when a new unit is created and their new web site appears, there are no administrators assigned, so it appears that no administrators can be assigned to that web site.
Here is a way to fix the problem:
- First, there needs to be at least two stake administrators.
- From the stake web site, have one of the stake administrators delete other stake administrators who will need access to the new site.
- Then add them in again as stake administrators. This will reconnect them to each unit in that stake, including the new unit's site.
- Then one of those re-authorized stake administrators can log into the new site and add one or more ward or branch administrators as needed.
Note: This technique also works if a unit administrator has removed a stake administrator from their site. Following this process will cause the stake administrator to be an administrator for all units in the stake again.
Adding nonresident members to the Web site
Sometimes members who are not actually in the ward or stake have leadership positions, such as the bishop of a student ward. In the case of the student ward, the bishop can be entered in their records as an out-of-unit member so that his name is on reports and lists. This, however, does not give the out-of-unit member access to the ward or stake Web site, nor does it list him on the site. To give the out-of-unit member access to the Web site, he must also be listed as a nonresident member on the Web site. When a nonresident member record is created, this gives the member access to the ward and stake Web sites. The member also retains access rights to his home ward's Web site. To add a nonresident member, do the following:
- Obtain permission from the stake president.
- Go to the stake Web site and click Administrator Options.
- Click Nonresident Members.
- Enter the member's record number and confirmation date. Click Find.
- Follow instructions on the screen.
Website administrators may add a photo of a family or of a missionary who is currently serving from the ward. Photos may also be added to News and Information items.
Photos need to meet the following criteria:
- Photos must be in .jpg or .gif format
- The photo may not be larger than 30 KB in size (100 KB for News & Information)
- The dimension, in pixels, may not exceed 180x135 or 135x180 (400x400 for News & Information)
- There may not be more than one period (.) in the name of the photo.
Limitation on photo visibility for news and information items
Note that there is an odd quirk on the display of News and Information items that contain photos. Clicking on a news and information item that shows up on the right navigation bar will pop up that item. But photos do not display in such a popup -- there is absolutely no indication that the item has any photos. By contrast, if an item contains an attachment, a link to the attachment will be shown in the popup.
If the user displays the entire News and Information list (which appears by clicking the News and Information link on the left navigation bar, or by clicking More at the bottom of the News and Information section of the right navigation bar), then the item with the photo will appear with a camera icon. Accessing the particular item will display the full item with thumbnail images for any attached photos, which then link to the full photos.
- Main article: HTML in LUWS
In some places in LUWS you can use certain HTML tags to format your text. There are many limitations and restrictions on the use of HTML, but it can help produce nicer looking content in some cases.
Concerning user input while developing the new LUWS, see LUWS: Feedback and Suggestions.