Since 2008, the Church has allowed local leaders to direct the installation of Internet access in local meetinghouses. However, at the end of 2010, only around 50 percent of meetinghouses worldwide had enabled it. The Church is now seeking to make high-speed Internet available in about 85 percent of meetinghouses by the end of 2011.
“Local leaders who have had the Internet in their buildings believe it has been a blessing in the lives of leaders and members,” said Derek Hays, a product manager over Meetinghouse Technology. “The Church wants to make those benefits and blessings available to more members."
Teachers will be able to supplement their lessons with online Church-produced media, job seekers will have easier access to the Church's employment website, and more members will be able to participate in family history work. In addition, local leaders will use Church Internet tools to manage membership and financial records, submit applications for missionary service, and watch leadership training broadcasts.
In some areas where small congregation sizes and high implementation costs limit satellite use, Saints have waited 4–6 weeks to view general conference, when DVD recordings of conference become available. Meetinghouse Internet access in some of these area has allowed members to watch conference live or download and watch a recorded version shortly after the event.
Church websites provide numerous tools and resources to assist members and leaders all over the world, and Church leaders want these resources available inside meetinghouses. Until this year, local Church units paid for Internet service out of their local operating budgets (unless they had a family history center). This presented financial challenges, and many local leaders decided not have Internet installed in their buildings. In an effort to make Internet access standard in meetinghouses, facilities management now pays for Internet costs—just like they do other utilities, such as electricity and water.
In 2012, members and leaders around the world will be able to connect to meetinghouse Internet via their LDS Account, making it much easier for them to gain access to online Church resources in ward and stake buildings. Personalized access through an LDS Account will also help increase individual accountability for how the Internet is used.
The Church has long used technology to broadcast the gospel to the world. From the first Mormon Tabernacle Choir radio broadcasts to satellite communications, Meetinghouse Internet is another step forward in using technology to enrich and bless the lives of members across the globe.
For more information on meetinghouse Internet, visit mhtech.lds.org.