One Example Mormon.org Profile
The LDS (or Mormon) church and its nearly 14 million members worldwide, including myself and my family, has been among the most active and forward-thinking religions in terms of utilizing technology and the World Wide Web to share information about their beliefs, materials and news. The church's twice-annual worldwide meetings are streamed live on the Web and played on a dedicated cable channel, and church materials, including scriptures and religious magazines, are indexed and searchable - and its dedication to genealogy and family history is legendary. Now, the church is taking an even greater step into social networking, by opening up its Mormon.org Web property for church members to post their own user profiles, including links to personal social sites, including Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
The church's growth now extends to members in approximately 176 countries worldwide, and the majority of "Mormons" are now outside of the United States. This has no doubt been a contributing element to the church's planned relaunch of Mormon.org and the inclusion of member profiles, that should highlight members "diverse backgrounds and experiences", as the site says in a quick description, which says the new features will launch this summer in English, with other languages following soon after.
My In-Progress Mormon.org Profile
The new profiles, which can be created today by registered LDS members, highlight personal backgrounds and encourage users to share their religious foundation - including answering frequently asked questions about the often mis-understood religion and the option to share personal stories about why they are members of the church. And once posted, the profiles look to link to other similar members, and can be searchable by a number of criteria, including gender, age and location.
Some of the Frequently Asked Questions About the Church
While the profiles themselves look much like Facebook and other social networks, and contain links to third party social sites, including Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs, the new Mormon.org doesn't look like a new social network. It doesn't appear to have a race for friend connections, or a public wall for status updates - but it does present a new platform for personal stories and testimonies.
The site's introduction says they have a goal for 1,000 Mormon profiles by the end of May, 2010. It's a very interesting move for a church that has relied so much on its members to help spread the word and help to evangelize its message, and taps into people's willingness to increasingly share their lives online.