Priesthood leaders here have taken an innovative approach to providing easy access to information about the Church and its programs.
Anyone looking for a Church telephone number, whether in the white or yellow pages, now can find a "General Information" number they can call for anything - from doctrinal questions to information about ward meetings."With 10 stakes and 75 wards in the immediate area, we found that nobody knew who to contact to find out about the Church," said Morris Bastian, president of the Boise Idaho East Stake.
"In order to make the Church more accessible and responsive to both members and non-members, we contacted a professional answering service which could respond to calls 24 hours a day.
"Last month the service responded to more than 200 calls."
Frequent questions handled by the answering service come from LDS travelers and short-term residents (such as members of the State Legislature that meets in Boise). In many cases, potential investigators have not known how to contact missionaries. Out-of-town hospital patients with no local Church leaders have not known who to contact for a blessing when desired. Less-active members have sometimes not known what ward they lived in or who their bishop was when they needed to make contact.
"In the six months since we began the program, three families have joined the Church as a result of the advertisement in the yellow pages," said Pres. Bastian.
A family's recent dilemma illustrates how the number works. An extended family had come to Boise for a wedding reception. Traveling in three vans, and having several cousins traveling first in one van and then the other, the parents of an 8-year-old boy unknowingly left him at the motel. The boy opened the telephone directory, called the Church's number and explained his plight.
The answering service contacted Pres. Bastian and within 30 minutes a local member came to stay with the boy at the motel. The family was overjoyed at finding him safe and cared for back at the motel.