the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints – Stay N Alive

Sample Proposals for RootsTech Presentations – Which Would You Choose?

I’m putting together a proposal for a presentation or two at RootsTech, a conference put on by around family history technologies. The focus will be on Social Media. I have a few ideas – what else do you think would be interesting in terms of interesting uses of social media for family history?

Opening the Web for Humanity (This would actually make a great Keynote if they’re interested) – This would cover ways to make our human data more open, more searchable, and easier to find. I would talk about ways to help Google recognize individual ancestor records better, and ways to help Google and other search engines traverse the social connections available for each family history record on the internet.

Facebook – It’s Not Just for the Living – In this presentation I’ll show how to use Facebook as a way to not only connect living individuals to each other, but ways people can use Facebook Pages, Events, and Groups to connect people around historical records. I’ll also show ways people can turn their own individual records on their own websites into Facebook Pages and store timelines of information about each individual in history.

Facebook for the Living – I’ll show unique ways people can use Facebook Timeline and Groups for storing records about living individuals. I’ll share experiences I’ve had with storing my own personal history on Facebook, tagging old friends, uploading old photos, and getting back in touch with my past as a result.

Connecting the Living to the Dead Through Social Media – This will be a much broader presentation on all the different means of using social media for identifying living connections to identify dead connections. I’ll show examples of ways companies have identified the dead through the social graph of living connections we have. I’ll show other companies and products that are using social media in unique ways to collaborate and identify dead ancestors through social media.

What do you think? Any other presentations you’d like to see? I will likely only pick one, but I’m going to submit a few to see which they prefer.

"Relative Finder", Using, Shows the Future of Social Genealogy

Family History, or Genealogy as it is also known, is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. There’s something fascinating about learning whom your ancestors are and where you come from. In a way, we all want to figure out how we’re linked together as a world. Imagine if you could index the entire, living, human family tree. If a new app on Facebook gets its way, you may just see this some time in the near future. The Facebook App, “Relative Finder”, seeks to do just that by searching family tree data provided by a new beta of (owned by my employer), and find out which of your Facebook friends are related to you based on the family trees of those individuals.

The new beta is currently limited to congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some select test audiences, but allows for individuals to type in simple information of their immediate relatives, and if a tree exists for those individuals it automatically links your existing family tree with that of other people in the database. So in essence, much of the family history research for many of your friends, and yourself, is already done, and will be available to everyone on the site to use in due time, according to the what FamilySearch says on their site.

Relative Finder, written by a group of BYU Computer Science students working on a class project, takes advantage of this data, and uses your social graph on Facebook to scan your friend list and go into the family trees of each on, identifying the relatives found in the FamilySearch database. It then gives you a list of your friends that are related to you, and tells you how far you are related. For me, most of my friends were between 7th and 10th cousins, but I found out very quickly a couple of my Facebook friends that were actually 3rd and 4th cousins. The great thing is, unlike apps like Geni or FamilyLink or others that rely that you manually upload your data to match living relatives, all of this happens automatically because of the data provided by FamilySearch!

Right now Relative Finder requires each of your friends on Facebook to authorize Relative Finder through Facebook before it identifies them as relatives (as far as I can tell). I’m unsure though why they require this (maybe for load balancing purposes?). If they wanted, with Facebook API they could retrieve the same data about your friends by just authorizing you, and not requiring your friends to authorize. If they did it that way, then I could find out how many of all of my friends I am related to, instead of just those that authorize the app and have a beta account. Regardless, this is truly revolutionary, and shows the tremendous potential for indexing the entire family tree of every living individual on this earth. Can you imagine the world-changing potential to find out how we are all related?

At the moment only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the most part, will be able to use this app due to the limitations of the new FamilySearch. However, as soon as the new beta opens up to the public (it says “look for a future announcement” on the website), everyone should be able to use this feature. Once we do, can you imagine how fast an app like this will grow?

To me, the future of Genealogy is social. In many ways, the future of Social is genealogy. In the end this is all about finding out how we’re all related, what our common connections are, and how we can work together better as a society based on those common connections. My hope is that other sites, like Facebook and Google+ also realize this connection, and can find ways to integrate technologies like this into their own platforms so we can all learn more about each other, and share through common connections (I’m happy to make introductions if anyone at either company is interested).

Relative Finder has really exposed the tip of the iceberg in what social genealogy could look like. I really love this app, and can’t wait for everyone in the world to be able to start using it. I’ll include some screen shots below.

Disclosure: is owned by my employer, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While I don’t work directly with them I do occasionally talk to them. I have not talked to them or consulted with them specifically about this though, nor have I had any participation with Relative Finder, produced by a group of BYU students (BYU also owned by the Church). This is just really cool technology that, no matter where it came from, I thought needed to be shared!

Families Can Be Together Forever

I hope you’ll forgive this diversion from tech so I could share something that touched me.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (my employer, and Faith) just released this video and I just had to share it.  It’s based on a song I’ve sung since a kid.  In my faith this carries a particularly powerful message.  It’s called, “Families can be Together Forever”.  Here are the words:

I have a family here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Families can be together forever,
through Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family
and the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.

Be sure to watch the video below:

You can learn more about what Mormons believe about family on

Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s "Hallelujah Chorus"

This video, featuring Handel’s Messiah by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was put together in partnership with BYU TV just for Youtube.  I think it’s a beautiful piece.  Many people, Christian and not, can’t imagine the holidays without this amazing Choir.  I think back to “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas” (with Jimmy Stewart), something close to my family, which my Grandfather (and namesake) produced – perhaps one of the most famous cameos by the Choir.  Their weekly broadcast, “Music and the Spoken Word”, recently won a Radio Hall of Fame entry for being the longest running Radio Show in America.  You’ve seen them singing around the world, in front of the Whitehouse, at the Olympics, and even comforting America after 9/11.  Ronald Reagan called them, “America’s Choir.”

It’s been an honor working with them recently, although I admit, working with them has been not anywhere near as effective as just letting their talent and beautiful voices speak for themselves.  Please enjoy this video and, if you like it, share it with someone else you think it might touch:

Kids and Christmas

We recently produced this at the Church (I am in charge of Social Media Strategy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  It’s a culmination of an amazing team that I think did a great job on this.  This is one of the cuter videos I think we’ve produced, and it has a great message.  Enjoy, and please share!:

"Be a Mormon!" – Making Things Go Viral

I’m sharing this partly because I’m excited Mormons were mentioned (I am in charge of much of the social technology integration and strategy for the LDS Church as one of the many things I do), but also because there’s some truth to it.  As Mormons, we get Marketing and Social Media, but I argue it’s not because of process – it’s natural.  That’s why it was exciting, but no surprise to see Jonah Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed and co-founder of Huffington Post, talk with Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch, sharing his “Five Rules for How to Make Things Go Viral“, listing the fifth as “Be a Mormon, Not a Jew”.  Of course, as he said, his statement was a little tongue-in-cheek, and as any good Mormon will tell you they admire and respect the Jewish people and faith (and perhaps more than many Christian religions, we take the Old Testament almost as seriously as any Jew – we love and respect their law, as it sets much of the foundations for what we as Mormons believe). Peretti’s statement was that “Mormons are better at evangelism”.  Mormons are, quite simply, whether better or not I’m not here to debate, but they’re naturally great marketers and it shows by the exponential growth shown since the 50s in the graph Peretti shared.

As a Mormon, I served a mission in Thailand when I was 19 (yes, I speak, read, and write fluent Thai, which I was taught in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah for 2 months before I left to Thailand).  When I was a missionary I was taught to teach a message, follow up on that message, and “build relationships of trust”.  As members of the Church we follow Jesus Christ’s direction to “come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-18 in the New Testament).  We love the message we’ve learned, and we feel compelled to share that message.  Building relationships is also something we love doing, again, not out of process, but because relationships, to us, are a core of what we believe in.  We are taught about the origins of God’s family before this earth, and we believe we are all literal brothers and sisters in God’s plan for us.  We enjoy the relationships we have with those around us, and more importantly, we believe most strongly in building a true relationship with God.  It is these “relationships” that, in my opinion, make Social Media, and modern-day marketing a natural fit for every Mormon, whether they realize they are doing it or not.

It’s because of this that the Church tries to enable members to share this message in ways they are capable of doing.  Just to feature some of the highlights of what the Mormon Church does, from my perspective:

  • Mormons send over 50,000 missionaries worldwide to help evangelize the Gospel.  Most of these are under the age of 25.  And when you think, “oh, these are those white-shirted young men (featured in the picture in Piretti’s presentation) going from door-to-door”, we’re not quite even that any more.  While we still have many going door-to-door, you’ll see missionaries sitting in call-centers, answering questions and chatting with you on  You’ll see missionaries volunteering on service missions, helping out the poor and needy in places like Haiti (which efforts you can donate to over there on the right).  We’re even taking some more modern approaches like in New York, where Missionaries are even using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people.  Imagine the potential of those 50,000 people, rather than going door-to-door, using technology instead to share the Gospel in a more modern, less-intrusive, more targeted fashion and reaching those that are truly interested in the message.
  • The Church just launched a brand new, featuring members as the main focus.  The Church wants its members to speak for themselves.  In Social Media this is crucial and necessary for the focus to be on the individual and not the organization.  Now, you can go to, find people of similar race, gender, ethnicity, or even locale and learn what they believe.  You can even follow them on Twitter or Facebook or read their blog.  We’re allowing you to see what a real Mormon is, and not just from a big organization standpoint.  You can peruse articles and share them on Facebook and Twitter via like and share buttons.
  • The Church has Youtube Channels, the most popular being “MormonMessages“, which, no matter what your faith, you can get some pretty inspirational messages encouraging you to do better and grow.  Each of those is embeddable on blogs and shareable on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere.  Mormons are encouraged by leaders to share what they believe, and are provided with the tools to do it.
  • The Church has mobile apps where you can read the Old and New Testaments, as well as The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price (3 books that Mormons believe are also Testaments of Jesus Christ and are provided through modern, prophetic, revelation).
  • The Church has Facebook Pages and Twitter Accounts that members, as well as non-members can subscribe and learn more about the Mormon Church, gain inspiration, and discuss that content with other members and non-members.  I love reading the comments of these Pages because you hear such great messages of peoples’ lives being changed from this message and the best part is these stories are just coming from every day members (and non-members)!  They are unedited, spoken from the heart and the soul.  That’s what Social Media is about and the core of who we are.  It’s all about technology that allows us as humans to bare our souls.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Technology has enabled Mormons to take the “marketing” Peretti mentions to an even greater level.  I think we’re pretty good people.  We’re genuine.  Social Media and modern marketing have enabled Mormons to share who they are to the world, and they’ll continue to do so.

Mormons are considered a peculiar people.  Maybe it’s because of our history of polygamy (discontinued way back in the 1800s).  Maybe it’s TV shows like Big Love that give that perception.  Maybe it’s the fact we don’t drink Coffee or Tea or Alcohol, or that we don’t smoke and live a generally pretty healthy life.  Maybe it’s because we’re taught not to have sex before marriage, and, at least for active Mormons, we have long and fruitful marriages and we love having children.  I don’t think that’s much different than any other good religion out there.  I’m totally excited and stoked that technology is enabling us, as Mormons, to finally share with the world who we are, on a global and massive scale and we can finally be completely transparent about who we are.

What I do know is that Peretti’s statement is true, but it’s not at all because we teach “marketing” by process – it’s because as Mormons we’ve got a great message to share.  We’re great people to be around, and we’ve got nothing to hide.  I’m stoked that technology is enabling us to show that to the world.

See Peretti’s great video below.  Also be sure to check out his presentation:

Be sure to read more about this on and AllThingsD.

Disclosure: In my day job, I am currently working as the Social Media Architect for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While they are currently my employer, this article by no means represents any official announcement, declaration, proclamation, or doctrine on behalf of the Church.  All claims or topics written are solely my own opinion and not the opinions or official word of the LDS Church.  To be clear, regardless of my day job, I am still a member of the Church and I still believe its teachings and will always have beliefs to share surrounding the Church and its teachings.  What I write here should be considered as such.

To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required

Just the other day a kind Single mother was nice enough to share a story with me about how, as a newly Single mother, one of my books had helped her get off the ground and start her own business.  It’s something I never thought of before, and I admit, I was very touched (and still am).  I think some times we don’t think about the potential of what it is we share and do with our talents and knowledge.

I just found this video about a High School girl with Muscular Dystrophy whose fellow Cheerleaders thought of what being a Cheerleader would mean to someone who would otherwise never have the chance.  It made me think about how important it is for us to be thinking about those around us.  When we are given talents and strengths, are we using those strengths to also strengthen those around us?  Here’s her story:

Yes, I cried too.

LDS Church Launches New, "Social" for Learning About Mormons

mormon.orgJust last night, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched a newly redesigned to help those that are not members of the LDS Faith to know who their Mormon neighbors are.  The site, which takes a more “Social” approach to learn about the Faith, attempts to show you who your Mormon friends are, by letting them tell you about the Church.  The effort is perhaps one of the most social efforts from a technology standpoint in Church history.

Browsing the site, visitors can immediately search for people with like interests, locations, and ethnicities, showing that no matter where you are or what type of life you live, there is probably a Mormon who has been in, or is currently in similar circumstances.  In addition to being able to search around you, prominent Mormons are also featured, and you can learn about such influential Mormons such as Jane Clayson (Johnson), former morning show anchor and Journalist, or Chris Carlson, Creative Director at the Library of Congress.

The site features testimonies of members, answers to questions, videos, and information all about the Church, mostly by members of the Church themselves.  It includes very interesting and entertaining videos about featured members, which are scattered throughout the site and you can embed on your own website or blog.  The profiles are all written 100% by members, and include links to Twitter, Facebook, and even blogs that the members may write.  For each article about the Church (such as this one on Jesus Christ, or this one on The Book of Mormon), visitors can share and like the articles on Facebook and Twitter or e-mail.

So if you get a chance, head on over and check out the site – look for people like yourself.  Look for people that live around you.  There’s a good chance one of them is a Mormon.

You can read my profile here:

My name is Jesse Stay and yes, I’m a Mormon. 🙂

Disclosure: In my day job, I am currently working as the Social Media Architect for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While they are currently my employer, this article by no means represents any official announcement, declaration, proclamation, or doctrine on behalf of the Church.  All claims or topics written are solely my own opinion and not the opinions or official word of the LDS Church.  To be clear, regardless of my day job, I am still a member of the Church and I still believe its teachings and will always have beliefs to share surrounding the Church and its teachings.  What I write here should be considered as such.

LDS (Mormon) Church Facebook Page Surpasses 300,000 Likes on Facebook

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no stranger to technology.  With several of the web’s most traffic’d websites, a very popular Youtube Channel (MormonMessages), one of the top Facebook Pages, and a great host of mobile applications enabling members to read scriptures and listen to talks from leaders wherever they are, there’s no doubt the Church knows what it’s doing.  One of the big efforts the Church has built is its Facebook presence on its official Pages.   Today, the Church’s official Page surpassed 300,000 likes and growing on Facebook.

Currently the Church has Pages for its Mormon Messages (53,000 likes), the Church’s Family History Library (3,300 likes),  and even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (46,000 likes).  The Church’s main, official account,, serves to be an outlet for the highlights of each of the Pages and other announcements for the Church to its members.  The Church keeps its Page regularly updated with interesting items for its members.

The LDS Church has a worldwide membership of over 13 million members.  Those members speak over 90 languages, and the Church broadcasts its message out to each of those twice a year in its Semi-annual General Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah every year.  With such a broad audience, it’s important for the Church to have an outlet to enable members to access that content, and find useful messages they can then bring back to their local areas and congregations.  In addition, Facebook enables a great way for members to share information and inspiring messages from the Church with their friends.

It’s rare you see much word on the use of Facebook in a religious setting, but it makes complete sense in regards to virally spreading a message around the world.  I’m very excited to see these messages spread, and if anything, this can be an interesting thing to watch if you’re a faith-based organization looking to get word out to your members in creative ways.

Mormon or not, if you want a refresher to your day and enjoy inspiring messages to lift up your day, be sure to like the page at (oh, and don’t forget to click “like” on this article)

Disclosure: In my day job, I am currently working as the Social Media Architect for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While they are currently my employer, this article by no means represents any official announcement, declaration, proclamation, or doctrine on behalf of the Church.  All claims or topics written are solely my own opinion and not the opinions or official word of the LDS Church.  To be clear, regardless of my day job, I am still a member of the Church and I still believe its teachings and will always have beliefs to share surrounding the Church and its teachings.  What I write here should be considered as such.

Who are the Mormons?

MormonFor those of you unaware, I am Mormon.  I try not to preach the religion topic too much on this site unless it has to do with Technology, but I did realize there wasn’t much on this blog talking about who I am and what I believe in.  I’m hoping to correct that and while I certainly don’t want to impose, I want you to be able to find out about it if you choose to learn.  For that reason, I’ve created a dedicated Page on this blog to this topic, and I hope you don’t hesitate to ask questions.

I may also at some point share my personal thoughts about the subject – it is a very personal topic that I think is worth sharing at some point.  My faith expands to my very root and core, and goes way beyond my belief (which I feel strongly about). It is something I was born into.  It is something my Ancestors practiced as they were persecuted for their beliefs in the early days of US History.  It is something I have challenged and tried and gained my own testimony of as I have grown up and learned of my own freedoms and choices.  It is something that “just makes sense” to me, and having travelled the world I have yet to find anything (while there are many good things out there) that matches what we believe.  This is something that is very much a part of me, just as much as my passion for technology and new media.

I hope you spend some time checking out the section I added on the right, “Learn About the Mormon Church“.  In addition, be sure to check out the official Mormon topic Page on that was just released, talking about who a Mormon is, what the term means, and why we are who we are.  This is something very important to me, and while I respect we all have varying opinions and beliefs, I hope you can at least learn something from it.

Here are some useful links:

What Mormons Believe

Learn About the Mormons

What is “A Mormon”?

Read the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price Online

Read the Gospel Library on your Mobile Phone

Please, if this inspires you or you feel inclined, don’t hesitate to click “like” above or share it with your friends! (Retweet, post on Facebook, etc.)