Larry Richman and I are good friends. We must be. He keeps sending me personal emails giving me clues into what the web team of the church is doing these days. I think he must have told Joel Dehlin, the CIO of the church about me because he also sends me his emails. They are most informative into understanding how the CIO of a large organization thinks. We go way back – to almost five months ago when I signed up to receive their emails. You can too. Anybody can.
I mean no disrespect. Larry and Joel take their work seriously. I think they have some of the hardest jobs in the church. I am convinced that the Internet outreach of the Church is only going to grow in the years to come. That means that the web team needs to grow. I’m sure you’ve seen their ads on the bulletin board at the church. Larry is so busy he is looking for another manager (posted 28 Feb 08). You can find lots of church tech jobs at tech.lds.org.
I wanted to work for the church once. A long time ago when I still made a living as a programmer, I applied for a programming job at Church headquarters. I was surprised when they called me up and said they would like to interview me. “But I live in California,” I said. I was even more surprised when they sent me a round trip ticket to come up for the interview. I think this was back when the church had some connection to the old Western Airlines.
The interview went well, I thought. We even discussed my first project – writing the interface for the point of sale system for the Mormon Handicraft store that stood across from the Church office building. So I moved my family up to Salt Lake and showed up in the personnel office on a Monday morning. “What are you doing here?” they asked. “I’m here to start work,” I said. “Oh, sorry. We just sent you a letter. We hired someone else who already lives here.”
My mistake. I was young and naive. There was no job offer. I only thought there was. No problem. I went to work for Management Systems Corporation down the street. I knew computers well and sold Apple Computers in their retail store. I was there during the big State street flood during the spring of 1983. Remember the floods? I had a blast in Utah for a year. My son was born there. But times were tough and we soon returned to sunny California.
Now I work for the Church again. No, I’m not an employee of the Corporation of the President. My sister is though. She works for an Apostle. I’m real proud of my big sister. She has done well. I’ve always heard that you can’t make much working for the church. The standard line is that it is a labor of love. I’m told that things have changed in the tech arena. So if you have tech skills, especially in web development, give them a call or send them an email. They’re hiring.
I work for the church in that I take Elder Ballard’s invitation to share the gospel via the Internet very seriously. I strive to write posts that shed a good light on the church. Sometimes I will take a current criticism of the church from the news and write my take of it in such a way that I hope is helpful to someone who is not a member of our church. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good dialog, but I prefer a discussion of doctrine over a haranguing from a Mormon basher.
Larry sent me an email today pointing out an article on BYU Newsnet, “Called to Blog: Fighting for the Church Online.” There is a great quote from Richard Holzapfel, a BYU professor of Church History. Holzapfel said that the way the gospel is being spread has changed. Missionaries used to go to islands by boat. Today, things are completely different. People search for information about the church online. “One of the ways they’re going to come to the gospel is through the Internet.”
The More Good Foundation was founded by Jim Engebretsen, assistant dean of Corporate Relations at the BYU Marriott School. Jim served as a mission president in Oklahoma from 1998 to 2001. Missionaries told him they were being turned down after investigators searched about Mormons on the Internet and found anti-Mormon websites. Engebretsen decided that something needed to be done and started the More Good Foundation in 2005.
If you would like an easy and friendly place to answer Elder Ballard’s invitation to start blogging. check out the More Good Foundation’s lds.net. It is kind of like MySpace for Mormons and already has nine thousand members. This online network combines blogs, chats, forums, photos, and videos. People don’t go to their neighbors like they used to. Instead, people Google things. The Internet is where many people will go to find answers to religious questions as well.
I have found that to be true. I get so many hits from Google. I can see that people are looking for information about the subjects I have previously written about. You can watch the hits come in on my little sidebar widget. I just wish more people would leave comments, especially honest seekers after the truth. So far, most of the comments are from good faithful members or, on occasion, from a professional Mormon basher. What kind of reader are you? Leave a comment.