From 1879 to 1896, the Church ran a monthly periodical publication, called The Contributor, that aimed to help the youth programs in the Church. Now in 2013, The Contributor is coming back but with a different approach and a new name: The Mormon Contributor.
The Mormon Contributor is becoming a popular public blog for both members and non-members to post writings, thoughts and spiritual insights with the community of readers. According to the blog, The Mormon Contributor will eventually follow the model pioneered by the Bleacher Report. The Bleacher Report is a digital sports media network that publishes about 1,000 original articles daily. The Mormon Contributor hopes to reach that level of sophistication in site functionality and welcomes any readers who would like to volunteer to help to do so.
While The Contributor was catered for the youth of the Church and was eventually replaced by the New Era, The Mormon Contributor has a different purpose. It is a place for anyone and everyone to comment and share their thoughts and beliefs on issues concerning faith, the Church and religion. The editorial board of the site wants it to be a community for building faith in Christ and exploring doctrine.
Jordan Christensen, a member of the editorial board and graduate of BYU, notes they are still in the very initial stages of the site, but he encourages all to participate.
“I think part of the appeal of writing is the opportunity to share your insights and essays with a large audience. Often we learn things that we want to share but are not sure where to do it,” Christensen said.
Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, a contributor to the online blog, saw a tweet and decided to contribute after she read the site’s first post.
“We Mormons often have a lot to say, and sometimes what we have to say really doesn’t fit the Church publications,” she said. “Mormon Contributor seems to be a good venue for sharing some of the uplifting, while not entirely conventional, ideas and insights we have into aspects of the gospel.”
The blog launched on Sunday, Feb. 17, and has already seen great success. As of Wednesday, Feb. 20, the site had over 900 visitors and over 2,300 page views from 34 states and 14 countries, according to Christensen.
As the site develops, contributors and readers will be able to create accounts to post blogs, rank stories and authors, build followers and become reputable writers and contributors. The main goal of the blog is to help readers and contributors build faith in Christ and in his Church, according to the site.
“We hope that the content provided by contributors is of interest to all faiths and that some content provided is geared toward those who know little or nothing about our faith, and it develops into a rich user-generated resource of faith-promoting content for members and non-members alike,” said Christensen. “This will allow them to share their thoughts, beliefs, insights, etc., with a much larger audience than what they could reach on their own blog. We encourage everyone to contribute as an author, reader, commenter and sharer.”
“Blogs like Mormon Contributor, because it isn’t the work of just one blogger, can be a place for less than “academic” Mormons to express their ideas and insights about the gospel, and it is to be hoped that other such multi-blogger venues can become available,” Dalton-Woodbury said.
The editorial team of the site currently consists of four members and is seeking a few other targeted people to join the editorial board. The purpose of the board is to monitor content and make decisions as to the direction and developments of The Mormon Contributor.
To advertise the site and get the name out to the targeted audience, The Mormon Contributor personnel is relying heavily on Twitter. Christensen started the Twitter account @LDSquotable in 2011, which has about 13,000 followers. The Mormon Contributor has a handle as @MormContributor and is in conjunction with @LDSquotable.
“We are excited to see the future growth of the site and hope it helps members of the Church spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and promote faith in Him and His gospel,” Christensen said.