This document introduces new regional community leaders to their role in the organization.
Thank you for volunteering to lead a Mormon Stories Community of Support. We are grateful to the dedicated volunteers who lead more than 50 Mormon Stories communities around the world. Mormon Stories community members report that they enjoy getting out from behind their computers and developing real-world relationships with other members of the Mormon Stories community. Thanks for all you do to make this happen.
What is the purpose of Mormon Stories Regional Support Communities?
- Mormon Stories regional communities provide opportunities for Mormon Stories community members to develop supportive face-to-face relationships. They allow members to post local announcements and organize in-person meet-ups such as dinner groups, discussion groups, service projects and children’s playgroups.
- Mormon Stories regional communities provide a place where members can tell their personal stories about their experiences as Mormons in a welcoming and nonjudgmental space. Telling our stories is the heart of our community.
- Mormon Stories regional communities are for everyone regardless of their level of belief in or affiliation with the Church. All viewpoints are to be treated with equal respect. Our hope is that it is possible for all to treat one another with love, acceptance and respect and to experience a sense of belonging.
- Some of the larger regions use their Facebook groups to have discussions. If your region doesn’t seem to be inclined to have long Facebook conversations, consider it normal. The general Mormon Stories Facebook group and other discussion forums and blogs often host more active online discussions.
What can I expect from Mormon Stories / the Open Stories Foundation?
- We can help develop resources that meet the needs of your community members. We hope that our podcasts can be a resource for your community discussions (online and in real-life). If members of your community identify a common need or an issue of interest that we haven’t yet addressed, please let us know and we will work to develop podcasts, online and printed materials, and/or online support communities to address the need.
- We can help you build community by referring new members. Many people join the Mormon Stories community when they discover our podcasts. We have linked your regional facebook group to the Mormon Stories website so that new listeners can find you.
- We can help facilitate special projects and events your community wants to develop. As your community grows, you may want to develop conferences, bring in speakers, or undertake other special projects. We offer a worldwide network of resources and support to help you. (For more information on conferences, please see our “Conference Planning Guide.”)
- We can develop podcasts that showcase the work of individual regions. If you feel that one of your regional activities might be of interest to the entire Mormon Stories community, please let us know.
- We can help you lead your community by connecting you with a worldwide network of Mormon Stories members sharing their insights and experiences leading and building communities of Mormons like you. Mormon Stories general and regional administrators support one another as we build the infrastructure it takes to sustain this global community.
How did the groups get started?
The regional support communities were started the day after the first Mormon Stories regional conference in New York City in March of 2011. John Dehlin had planned the entire event himself while somehow keeping up with family and work responsibilities. Sadly, it was clear that the strain had taken a personal toll on John and that future Mormon Stories conferences couldn’t happen if John had to organize them alone. On the final day of the conference, Anne Peffer sat with John at Planet Hollywood in Times Square and together the two brainstormed a solution: using Facebook to connect Mormon Stories community members with others in their geographic areas so that all would be able to share in the planning of regional events. The next morning Anne sat at her home computer and clicked the Mormon Stories regional Facebook groups into existence. The community’s response was instant and overwhelming. It was immediately clear that the Facebook groups could help community members feel less isolated and turn online relationships into real-world friendships through meet-ups, playgroups, and book clubs.
What are my responsibilities as a regional admin?
- Welcome new members and make sure they understand the purpose of the community. Learn their stories and get to know their needs.
- Contribute to your regional facebook group; help maintain a respectful, constructive tone.
- Work with your region to develop activities that meet your community’s needs.
- Support others in your region who want to take leadership roles and organize meet-ups.
- Connect members with Mormon Stories resources such as podcasts and conferences.
- Connect members to relevant Mormon Stories affinity groups (young adults, LGBTQ)
- Participate in the regional admin Facebook group and keep your community informed.
- When appropriate, encourage community members to share their stories and be prepared to share your own personal story as well.
What is the purpose of the regional admin Facebook group?
- The regional admin group is a space where regional leaders can share ideas, receive support and get answers to questions. All regional admins are free to post in the regional admin group at any time. Some admins have used it to share pictures and stories of their regional meet-ups. If you have a question and would prefer not to post it in the regional admin group, you can contact Anne Peffer via private message at anytime.
- The regional admin group also serves as a channel of communication in the event that Mormon Stories leaders have information they would like to be distributed to the regions. Facebook will only allow Anne and John a limited number of posts in regional support communities before it threatens to shut down their Facebook accounts. Please take the time to post Mormon Stories announcements and documents to your region.
How will new members find and join my Facebook group?
- New members can find your group by following a link from the ‘Support Communities’ tab at MormonStories.org or through referral by a friend.
- When someone new requests to join your region, you will see his or her name and profile pic next to a blue ‘add’ button in the top, right-hand corner. Administrators from Mormon Stories (John Dehin and Anne Peffer) will not press the ‘add’ button unless they know the person and are confident that he or she will fit well in the community. As a local admin, you are free to use your own judgement in regards to whether or not to accept new member requests.
- Current group members can add friends by clicking the ‘Add Friend to Group’ link on the right-hand side of the screen. If you would prefer to have more control over who members of your region invite, you can set the group settings to require that an admin approve any new member additions made by current members. To do so, click the ‘Edit Group’ link on the right-hand side of the screen. Then, make sure the ‘Membership Approval’ box next to ‘only admins can approve requests to join’ is checked.
- If you would like to invite a friend but feel unsure as to whether or not he or she may want to join, you can copy and paste the group url into a private message. This way your friend will have the opportunity to request membership if interested. Be aware that each time a new member is added, facebook will create a feed that is public to his or her friends and family.
- We encourage you to grow your community. It is a good idea to make sure new members understand the nature and purpose of the group before admitting them. You may want to message them to introduce yourself and ask them questions about themselves.