When you think of volunteer work in the Church, images of members feeding the homeless, cleaning up yards, sewing quilts or serving at a Church welfare facility come to mind. In contrast, the image of volunteer sitting in the comfort of their own homes or offices working on service projects might seem foreign, but it is the vineyard of the present and future.
Building the kingdom of God on earth is more than putting together brick and mortar. With advancements in technology, volunteers from around the world can work together on projects that further the goals of the Church. Bringing together volunteers and Church technology employees is not an easy task, but the Church has created a number of innovative ways to coordinate the work. For example, on March 29 and 30 the Church held its third annual LDS Tech conference in Riverton, Utah, to bring together Church technology specialists and volunteers.
Hundreds of people from around the world spent their own money and sacrificed their own time to attend the conference in order to serve. Blaine R. Maxfield, chief information officer for the Church said, "The volunteers and employees who are here this week bring with them a variety of skills and backgrounds, and this conference is a unique opportunity for [Information and Communications System] employees and community volunteers to work together."
Seth Ogoe Ayim is a member of the McCarthy Hill Ghana Stake in Africa. He is an IT manager by profession and also serves as an LDS Tech Chapter President. He came to the conference to gain more skills, network with other IT professionals and feel the spirit of the volunteer work. Brother Ogoe Ayim said, "I am trying to help people in my home country and around the world who want to read the scriptures but do not have a smart phone. The scriptures and the gospel should not be limited to those that have the latest technology. I am working on a project that will get the scriptures into the hands of more people."
William and Lana Proctor are retirees from a small town in Southern Alberta Canada. They served a two-year mission in Palmyra, N.Y., just four years after they were baptized. They often receive emails from the LDS Tech website and decided to drive all the way to Utah to attend the conference. Sister Proctor said, "My husband and I don't have a lot of technical skills, but we have a desire to serve. We've learned a lot by attending."
The LDS Tech conference runs two days and kicks off each morning with a keynote speaker who highlights completed and ongoing projects and inspires volunteers in their work. Each hour thereafter break-out classes are led by project leaders seeking volunteers to assist them on individual projects. Church projects include a number of opportunities ranging from writing software applications for mobile phones to designing a website for the Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Temple.
Andre Sanchez, a technology specialist from Kearns, Utah, summed up the conference best. He said, "Something I've realized while I've been attending the conference here for the first time is the Spirit of Christ that is present. This is not my work. I am helping my Heavenly Father do His work."