The Instagram Book of Mormon account @bofm365 is coming to an end after a year of inspiring more than 55,000 followers to read and discuss the scriptures daily.
“Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this reading challenge,” posted account creators Ben and Chelsea Prince on Monday. “It has blessed our lives in many ways. We’ve made the really hard decision that we will not be continuing the BofM365 challenge for 2015.”
Ben Prince said the joy this project has brought his family is “hard to walk away from.” Although they will stop posting at the year’s end, he and his wife plan to create a book that will include the reading assignments, questions and discussions from 2014. They hope this will continue to enhance scripture study for members.
The challenge itself began as a simple idea to make gospel study more meaningful last year. The Princes wanted to prioritize the scriptures in the midst of medical school and raising a daughter, so they created the Instagram account to help friends and family stay on track while reading the Book of Mormon.
The Princes decided to post a set of scripture verses on Instagram and Facebook with a question or a prompt for readers to ponder and discuss with other followers every day in 2014.
“The more we talked about it, the more excited we got,” Ben Prince said. “We imagined that it would be awesome if maybe 100 people would follow and read together.”
The young couple in Arizona never expected the account to grow into something so much more. They had 100 followers within two hours of their first post on Dec. 22, 2013. By the beginning of January, that number reached 30,000.
“We couldn’t believe how fast it went viral,” Prince said. “We just watched our followers climb every second. So many people were really excited to read the Book of Mormon together.”
The Instagram account currently has more than 55,000 followers, while more than 5,000 people have liked the Facebook page. The Princes have readers in each of the 50 states and in more than 40 other countries.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt the power of the worldwide Church as much as this,” said Katie McOmber, who has followed @bofm365 since the beginning of the year. “It’s remarkable to know there are good people all over the world, doing their best and tending the vineyard in their own little piece of the garden.”
Church leaders encourage members to utilize technology to share the gospel. Elder David A. Bednar commended the Princes for their “simple idea that has allowed members to foster spiritual growth through social media” at BYU’s Campus Education Week this year.
“I think that many students and members hardly realize the potential that exists for good to be done through media,” said BYU religion professor John Livingstone. “We’re just starting to see the power of new tools and the ability for very ordinary Latter-day Saints to have an impact around the world.”