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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 29, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 26Sep00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Business Confronts Misinformation in Putting LDS Stakes on Web

DAVIDSON, NORTH CAROLINA -- Two LDS entrepreneurs are trying to overcome misinformation and put LDS stakes on the Internet. Kari Thurber and John Lewis' site offers a place for LDS stakes to make their information available to stake members and visitors. But first, Thurber and Lewis must overcome rumors that the LDS Church discourages such sites and suspicion that they are using the Church's directory info against Church policy.

Many LDS Church members on the Internet have heard that the Church discourages stakes and local congregations from establishing their own web sites. But Randy Ripplinger of the Church's public affairs department says the Church doesn't have a policy on the issue. "The Church neither endorses nor prohibits private websites. At the present time, the Church has no official plans to launch Church unit websites."

Actually, according to Thurber, she and Lewis have been told that the Church is looking at the issue, developing guidelines for stakes and wards as well as producing graphics and watermarks that the stake can use. Thurber says they will cooperate with whatever comes out, "If and when they do [produce guidelines], we plan to adhere to whatever guidelines they set. started when Thurber and Lewis put together a site for their own stake. During discussions about the proposed stake site, they realized that other stakes might need the same thing, "we realized that many other Stakes would also benefit from a website with their calendar, directory and announcements." Part of the idea is to make it easy for stakes to participate. " offers Church units a very low cost website without the hassle of having a Stake webmaster (a competent person who has time to maintain the website.)"

Thurber and Lewis charge $10 a month to run the websites, and so far they say 60 stakes have signed up. The websites include a stake calendar, announcements, maps to meetinghouse locations and a password-protected location for the stake directory. Protecting the directory is a concern for many stakes. "The only concern that has been expressed from Stake leadership is posting people's personal information on the Internet where it can be accessed by anyone. To alleviate this concern, we are offering password protection for pages with personal information."

But marketing the service also led to difficulties for the webmasters. The LDS Church's own "Directory of General Authorities and Officers" lists all the LDS stakes, missions, districts and congregations in the world, but the Church requires that its information not be used for commercial purposes. This meant a list of stakes with addresses wasn't available to Thurber and Lewis. They have tried to turn this into an advantage. "We then noticed . . . that this data is not readily available . . . A list of all Stakes with contact information is a great service for members and non-members who need information about a Stake other than their own." Thurber and Lewis say they compiled their list of stakes from researching public records.

In spite of their efforts, overcoming the concerns of a conservative LDS Church hierarchy is a challenge. Many stakes may believe that they can't start a website, in spite of the Church's statements that they have no policy. One stake clerk told Mormon News that the Area presidency had discouraged a proposed stake website, leading the stake to drop the idea. Thurber and Lewis have heard that before too. "Some Area Presidencies have proposed their own opinions for their jurisdictions. We have contacted appropriate parties at Church headquarters and have not been given any negative counsel," says Thurber.


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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information