By Kent Larsen
LDS.org Adds Meetinghouse Locator
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- With no fanfare and using information from readily
available internal databases, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints added a meetinghouse locator function to its lds.org website. The
addition fills a 'holy grail' for Mormons on the Internet, a place for
traveling members and interested neighbors to get an address, meeting times
and location of the closest LDS chapel. Those members that have used the
function found it nearly, but not quite, perfect.
The 'Meetinghouse Locator' function is hidden in the website's
'Other Resources' section, and can be reached at
There users can search for meetinghouse information for the United States
and Canada, and supports searching both by town and state or province and by
postal or zip code. While the main page doesn't indicate it, the zip code
search does support partial zip codes.
In response to the search query, the site provides the address of the
meetinghouses in that town or postal code, the name of the congregation or
congregations that meet there and the time of Sacrament Meeting and the
first Church meeting for each congregation. The results also provide links
to a map showing the building's location and to directions to the building,
courtesy of the mapquest Internet service.
The results provide users finally with a feature that others have tried to
provide. Many of the local unit websites that the LDS Church prohibited
earlier this year were set up to provide this information for their
congregation or stake, as well as additional information. Others have tried
to provide similar information using online directories like mapquest,
realwhitepages.com and GTE's superpages. Deseret Book still offers its own
"LDS Meeting House Locator" as part of its website, based for the US sites
on the GTE directory. But Deseret Book features a prominent disclaimer on
its locator page indicating that the information is often not accurate and
directing visitors to contact Church headquarters for more accurate
information. Deseret Book's site also has information on meeting house
locations elsewhere in the world.
Other websites have tried to compile their own directories of LDS
meetinghouses by searching multiple directories, the web, and other sources.
StakeInfo.com, for example, claimed to have a directory of sorts on its
website, simply through its listing of LDS Stakes. But for many of those
stakes the website didn't have an address. Only the now-discontinued local
unit websites had meeting times, and even those were sometimes wrong because
they weren't updated.
The new Meetinghouse Locator information should be as correct as the LDS
Church's hierarchy can get. The address information for the meetinghouses
comes from the Church's Facilities Management Department, which maintains a
database of all properties owned by the Church. That department periodically
queries each stake to verify and update the information in its database.
The meeting times are based on a new feature of the Church's distributed
'Member Information System,' the software used by each ward or branch to
keep track of which members are their responsibility. A recent update to the
MIS system requested that local members enter and keep updated the meeting
times for their unit, and that information is passed on to Church
headquarters along with the regular transfer of information to Church
headquarters by modem.
The Church recognizes on the new Meetinghouse Locator web page that these
results may not be completely accurate. It gives a way for 'feedback' to be
sent to the Facilities Management department as well as instructions for the
clerks of local wards and branches to update the meeting time information.
Initial reports from users of the service indicate that the information is
mostly correct. One user on the LDS Webmasters email list reported that the
site missed a meeting house in his area, and others reported that meeting
times were wrong. A review of the results for the borough of Manhattan in
New York City shows that one meetinghouse is missing (because the unit that
meets there, a fledgling Chinese group, isn't yet a branch and doesn't have
the MIS system), and the meeting times for three of the other 10 wards or
branches are wrong.
But these problems are likely to be corrected over time, as the service
becomes more popular and as local clerks check to make sure their
information is showing up correctly.
Deseret Book's LDS Meeting House Locator