Technology Specialist Training Program

Last Updated: 25 July 2019 at 15:52

Your service to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is greatly appreciated. Stake and assistant technology specialists are invaluable in helping leaders and members better use Church technology. You work under the direction of the stake president, who oversees technology in your stake.

This training program will help you understand the resources available to you, what is or could be expected of you, and how you can expand the effectiveness and significance of technology within the Church.

Key Calling Definitions

A stake technology specialist is a stake assistant clerk called by the stake presidency to support effective use of technology within the stake. A stake technology specialist must be a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder.

Assistant technology specialists are called by the stake presidency. They report to the stake technology specialist or to the stake clerk when a specialist is not called. They may be assigned to support a ward, building, or auxiliary or to manage a specific technology. Brothers or sisters ages 12 or older may be called to serve as assistant technology specialists. See Assistant Technology Specialist FAQs.

Study Tips

  • Read through this entire document for an overview of the responsibilities of a technology specialist.
  • Return to study each section in depth, following the links to additional resources on mhtech.lds.org.
  • Use the action items listed within each topic area to help you reinforce and apply the topic material.

We hope this training program will help you serve in your current calling and in future endeavors. Thank you for your service.

Please provide feedback on this course, and please also let us know when you have completed it by emailing us at mht@ldschurch.org. Please include your name and stake in your communications.

Table of Contents

(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)

SECTION 1 RESOURCES

SECTION 2 RESPONSIBILITIES

2.9 Rich Media and Display Devices

1.1 Getting Started

2.1 Audio

2.10 Provide Other Training

1.2 Stake Resources

2.2 Church Broadcasts

2.11 Protect Church Resources

1.3 mhtech.lds.org

2.3 Satellite Systems

2.12 Meetinghouse Technology Awareness

1.4 Policies

2.4 Webcasts

2.13 Church Technology Awareness

1.5 Prior Technology Specialists

2.5 Personal Video Conferencing

SECTION 3 REPORTING

1.6 Stake Technology Documentation

2.6 Internet Access

3.1 Relationships

1.7 Other Church Resources

2.7 Computers

3.2 Stake Technology Plan

1.8 Support Process

2.8 Printers and Copiers

3.3 Periodic Reporting

Section 1: Resources

As a technology specialist, you may encounter many requests and needs; knowing where to find guidance, resources, and answers will keep your calling manageable and rewarding.

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1.1      Getting Started

Action: Begin with these introductory videos.

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1.2      Stake Resources

As discussed further in section 3, your stake leaders are your first source of direction for your calling. Other stake members may also be resources to you, particularly the following individuals:

  • The stake president—he oversees technology in your stake and is the ultimate decision maker on technology directions for the stake.
  • The stake physical facilities representative (PFR)—he is a member of the high council and serves as a liaison with the regional facilities management (FM) group in coordinating and communicating facility technology needs.
  • The stake Sunday School presidency and building and ward librarians—they have responsibility for training teachers in the use of technology and should work closely with you.

Action: Become acquainted with these leaders and members. Start a conversation about how you can assist each other with technology needs.

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1.3      mhtech.lds.org

Your most significant resource location is the Meetinghouse Technology page on the Help Center at LDS.org. It can be accessed at mhtech.lds.org. This site provides training, technical resources, policies, and support information. It is also a good location to learn about Church technology resources and options that your stake might not have implemented yet. Some examples of content on this site include the following:

Action: Visit mhtech.lds.org and spend a few minutes reviewing the resources found there and the various types of technologies being implemented throughout the Church.

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1.4      Policies

Specific Church policies are found in several documents accessible through mhtech.lds.org:

Action: Take a few minutes to review the material accessible through each of these links.

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1.5      Prior Technology Specialists

A prior or existing technology specialist can be a wealth of knowledge to assist you in getting started, particularly on the following topics:

  • Training for using specific stake systems
  • Best practices, experiences, and suggestions
  • Location and contents of any existing documentation relevant to the technology specialist calling as well as location of hardware, software, and so forth
  • Helpful contacts and resources
  • Documentation on systems, policies, and procedures
  • The current stake technology plan, if one has been developed
  • Perceived technology needs of leaders and members

Action: If possible, arrange to meet with the previous or existing stake technology specialist. Ask him questions about the topics listed above and document his answers. If no specialist is available, the stake clerk may also be a helpful resource.

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1.6      Stake Technology Documentation

A single location for collecting relevant documentation, whether paper or electronic, can be particularly useful for current and future technology specialists. Consider keeping a paper folder in a conspicuous place (for example, near the stake satellite box) or providing the stake clerk and others with access to an electronic storage location. Learn more about documenting meetinghouse technology.

Action: Find, review, and update your stake technology documentation; if no documentation is available, start building a file.

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1.7      Other Church Resources

Several other Church resources may provide useful information about your calling:

  • tm.lds.org. Technology Manager is a tool for managing meetinghouse firewalls and internet connectivity. This tool allows you to view meetinghouse internet usage statistics, including bandwidth and IP address consumption.
  • tech.lds.org. This tech blog features information about community involvement in LDS technology, including the following:
  • cdol.lds.org. The Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders (CDOL) can be used to look up the contact information of other technology specialists in your area. Note that assistant technology specialists do not have access to this tool. 
  • Global Service Center (GSC). The GSC can help with many technical issues. When urgent support is needed, we recommend calling the GSC. Consider posting their contact information near key technology locations in your meetinghouses. Contact information for the GSC is found under Support and Help on mhtech.lds.org. 

Please note that communications specific to your calling are sent through the Church’s Church Account email subscription. You can manage your subscription preferences here.

Action: Visit each of the websites above and review what is available from these resources. Verify that your contact information is up-to-date and that your calling is properly entered in LCR and CDOL

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1.8      Support Process

The technology support system is largely a self-help model and can be illustrated as follows:

  1. Start with mhtech.lds.org to find answers to your questions. 
  2. If needed, continue on to peer-based resources, such as talking to previous stake technology specialists, visiting LDSTech Forums, and communicating with other technology specialists.
  3. Seek assistance from your FM group and from product vendors when you have questions they may be able to answer.
  4. Finally, request help from the GSC.

Action: Review the order of issue resolution.

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Section 2: Responsibilities

Building on the foundation laid in section 1 (which discusses resources and where to find help), section 2 details the specific responsibilities of the stake and assistant technology specialists.

Your basic, overall responsibility is identified in the Meetinghouse Technology Roles and Responsibilities document, section 4:

“[The stake technology specialist] provides technology support for meetinghouse products, services, and policies to priesthood leaders, teachers, family history centers, and mission offices” (section 4.2).

By this definition, the expanse of the calling is broad and will continue to grow as the Church accelerates the use of technology to hasten the work of salvation. Notably, this calling includes the responsibilities of understanding Church technologies as they develop and counseling with stake leaders regarding the use of new or existing technologies within the stake.

The specific responsibilities of assistant technology specialists are determined by the stake technology specialist or the stake clerk under the direction of the stake presidency. 

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2.1      Audio 

Note: The sound systems described in this section may not apply to all areas outside the U.S. and Canada.

Whether listening to a speaker in sacrament meeting, hearing the choir sing in a broadcast, or viewing and listening to media in a lesson, good audio is key to having a positive experience. The “Audio and Video Distribution” section at mhtech.lds.org has articles about the following:

Action: Test out each sound system in your stake center (in the chapel, cultural hall, Relief Society room, Primary room) and determine how they interact. Locate the building’s crab box and connect several different devices to a room’s sound system through that box, such as VCRs, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Locate and test the assisted listening devices and make leaders aware of their availability and how to use them.  

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2.2      Church Broadcasts

Many Church events are made available live or through rebroadcast via satellite, through local and internet television, through ChurchofJesusChrist.org, and through the Mormon Channel (website, mobile apps, and set-top media players). They are also archived through the Gospel Library app. Archived broadcasts may be streamed or downloaded for later viewing. In the Broadcasts section at mhtech.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, you will find the following:

  • The Church Broadcast Checklist, which is useful for determining how to prepare for a Church broadcast.
  • Schedules for upcoming broadcasts. Your stake presidency will also receive periodic notice of upcoming broadcasts. These notices include information about live and rebroadcast times, broadcast methods, available languages, closed-captioning, recording restrictions, and so forth. 
  • Other useful information, such as accessibility information (ASL, CC) and device-specific instructions. 

    Note: For viewing archived broadcasts, it is best to download the archived version rather than to stream directly from the internet.

Action: Download an archived broadcast, such as a specific general conference talk. Set up and present the download in a stake center meeting room using a TV or a projector and the room’s sound system. 

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2.3      Satellite System

A satellite system is a simple way to receive Church broadcasts. While the stake technology specialist is responsible for setting up broadcasts, the care and maintenance of satellite and video systems belongs to the FM group. Assistant technology specialists may be asked to help with broadcast events. A variety of reference documents and training videos are found on the “Satellite” section of mhtech.ChurchofJesusChrist.org:

  • Review the Satellite Overview for basic information on preparing, testing, and troubleshooting.
  • Consult the Broadcasts Schedule (see the bullet point about schedules in section 2.2 above) and stake leadership to determine which satellite broadcasts you will need to set up. With the help of stake leadership, identify any additional languages and accessibility considerations that you will need to support. 
  • Set up and test your system at least two weeks in advance of a scheduled satellite broadcast to allow time for troubleshooting and repairs. Set up equipment several hours before the actual broadcast begins.
  • Be prepared with an audio backup solution

Action: Determine and calendar the satellite broadcasts for which you are responsible for the next six months. Conduct a practice setup for a satellite broadcast, including preparing TVs or projection devices, overflow rooms, and audio system tie-in.

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2.4      Webcasts

Webcasts are internet-based broadcasts from one location (usually a stake center) to one or more additional locations (usually other meetinghouses in the same stake). These webcasts can help reduce travel time and costs, address space limitations, and increase participation in important stake meetings.

Learn more about webcasting and get ready to hold a webcast by visiting the following sites.

Action: If your stake uses or would like to use webcasting, perform a full webcast test.

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2.5      Personal Video Conferencing (PVC)

PVC provides two-way audio and video communications and content sharing between participants using a personal computer or mobile device, regardless of location. It offers face-to-face interaction for Church purposes for one-on-one and group meetings, which eases travel costs and time issues.

Learn more about PVC and how to hold one by visiting the following sites.

Action: Discuss with stake leaders and determine if there is need or interest for PVC within your stake if PVC is not already in use. Based on what you discover, help two or more leaders begin using PVC on their computers or mobile devices.

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2.6      Internet access

Internet access has become an important component of meetinghouse technology. When set up correctly, it can provide safer, filtered access for leaders and members and limit exposure to internet attacks and inappropriate content.

  • Overview provides a basic introduction.
  • Meetinghouse Firewall Overview describes the meetinghouse firewall, which is a hardware component that blocks unauthorized outside access to meetinghouse computers and prevents users from accessing inappropriate sites on the internet. It is the only device that should be connected to the internet service provider’s modem, and it provides wireless access for users.
    • The firewall is installed by the FM group. However, the stake technology specialist is responsible for making sure it remains in place, is properly configured, and does not get bypassed. It should be checked at least quarterly.
  • Technology Manager Overview describes the Technology Manager tool, a web-based tool that allows stake technology specialists, stake leaders, and support personnel to view and manage a unit’s installed network and firewalls. Information such as model numbers, IP addresses, and DHCP addressing is provided. To access, visit tm.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
  • Internet Filtering Overview describes the internet filter, a software service on the meetinghouse firewall which controls site access and blocks incoming attacks. Its operation should be verified periodically by going to filter.ChurchofJesusChrist.org (a “filtered content page” or large checkmark indicates it is working correctly).
  • Networking Overview describes how networking within a building may include a variety of devices and cabling to provide appropriate access based on current needs.
    • Wired connections are appropriate for permanently connected devices (such as clerk and family history center computers), as well as for places running high-bandwidth real-time applications (such as webcasting or personal video conferencing).
    • Wireless coverage will vary from building to building.
    • Additional wired connections or expanded wireless coverage can be requested through the FM group.
  • Troubleshooting Meetinghouse Internet Connections describes troubleshooting guidance.

Action: Check the status of the stake center’s meetinghouse firewall through the Technology Manager. Also verify that the meetinghouse firewall is filtering properly.

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2.7      Computers

Clerk computers are purchased by the FM group with FM group funds. The stake technology specialist is responsible for setting up the computer and its software. The stake technology specialist can also provide computer training and support for leaders and members but is not responsible for the operational training of certain Church software like MLS and LCR.

Note the following about computers and software:

  • Except in the case of hardware failures, computers are generally replaced on a five-year cycle (see Computer Replacement Cycle). By keeping an inventory of equipment, the stake technology specialist can remind the _____ (PFR) during the fourth year of a machine’s life to work with the FM group to budget funds for the fifth year replacement. Monitors and printers may be replaced as needed by working through the PFR and FM group. Old computers are disposed of by the FM group after the stake technology specialist has erased the hard drive.
  • New computers are set up according to a delineated, specific process to ensure correct access, authorized software and protection, data transfer, and access by Church headquarters. MLS software and data are installed as part of this process.
  • Third-party software (see Other Software and Tools) is allowed to be installed on Church computers. Note that purchased or donated software is allowed as long as the unit adheres to licensing agreements and meets other requirements, but free software applications are generally recommended for Church needs. The installed operating system on meetinghouse computers should not be upgraded without specific Church direction to do so.

Action: Review the computer inventory to determine if there are any machines that need to be brought to the attention of the PFR. Audit several computers to verify that only applications that are free, Church-issued, or appropriately licensed are installed.

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2.8      Printers and Copiers

As with most electronics, printers and copiers are becoming more capable and less expensive with each replacement cycle. They should, however, continue to be used until they demonstrate that they need to be replaced. The following are practices for how to maintain printers and copiers.

  • Operating supplies, such as paper, toner, and other consumables, are purchased with local unit budgets. A stake technology specialist is not involved in this process.
  • The stake technology specialist should understand the function and operation of these machines. He may need to provide instruction to users or help troubleshoot problems.
  • The FM group is responsible to purchase equipment and hire third-party maintenance contractors. The stake technology specialist coordinates equipment requests and replacements with the FM group (through the physical facilities representative) and may need to be involved in contacting a maintenance provider.
  • Network connectivity may be available on some copiers and printers. If approved by stake leadership, these machines may be connected to the meetinghouse network. Note that sensitive documents, including anything from MLS, should not be stored on printers or copiers and should only be printed on a clerk’s printer.
  • Printers may need to be installed by the STS. Verify that current printer drivers are installed and that print quality is adequate. For example, verify that grey highlights in MLS printouts appear properly.
  • Copiers often have advanced capabilities. Note the support forums on LDSTech, which can be of assistance with specific issues.

Action: Become familiar with the advanced functions and with the replacement of consumables for each copier within your stake.

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2.9      Rich Media and Display Devices  

The Church has produced and continues to produce wonderful videos and other media, providing powerful resources for hastening the work and strengthening testimonies. Technology specialists can play a key role in helping leaders, teachers, and members use these resources. The following are resources that technology specialists should become familiar with.

  • Media Library. Almost all Church media (films, videos, Mormon Messages, general conference and other broadcasts, and so forth) is now available online.
  • Media Playback Overview. To be effectively used in a lesson or presentation, media should be downloaded to a local device in advance. Meetinghouse internet should not be relied on for streaming media. 
  • Media playback devices (onto which media can be downloaded from the internet and then played back), display devices, and audio devices are three major components required for presenting media.
    • Members planning to use Church display devices must understand what inputs and outputs are available from their media playback device, and they must have appropriate connecting cables. This should all be determined and tested well in advance of the presentation. Technology specialists should be able to help with this process upon request. Specialists should offer training in conjunction with the stake Sunday School presidency. A detailed connectivity discussion is available at “Connecting Mobile Devices to Displays.”
    • Audio and display devices to be used are determined by the size of the class and classroom. A tablet or laptop can work well for a small class and fills all three device roles (recording and playback, display, and audio). The chapel may need a projector and a connection (crab box) to the chapel sound system in addition to a recording and playback device. Average-sized classes might use a building TV with the TV’s sound or connection to the room’s sound system and a media playback device.

Note: The connection capabilities of the display devices available in Church buildings can vary greatly. Older devices with several remaining scheduled years of service may work well as a TV and a basic display device yet provide limited analog signal inputs (such as composite). Newer devices might have a greater range of inputs such as VGA, HDMI, and USB video playback.

Action: Determine the connection capabilities of the display devices in your stake and what cabling connections members will need in order to use the display devices from common playback devices. Download and set up media presentations using (if available) a tablet and a laptop, a building TV, a stake projector, and a room sound system. Discuss with the stake Sunday School presidency if they or other teachers may need training on media presentation.

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2.10      Provide Other Training

Section 4.9 of Meetinghouse Technology Roles and Responsibilities states that the stake technology specialist “trains clerks, priesthood leaders, teachers, and others (as directed) on meetinghouse technology.” The section provides several possible training topics.

Action: Discuss, develop, and approve with stake leadership (ideally as part of the “Stake Technology Plan” process discussed below) a plan for addressing the meetinghouse technology training needs of the stake.

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2.11      Protect Church Resources

Worldwide, the Church invests significant amounts of sacred tithing funds into technology to help further the Lord’s work. Technology specialists have an important role and stewardship in protecting those investments, maximizing their value, and making wise spending decisions. Here are some specific responsibilities you need to consider:

  • Safeguard assets. Stake and assistant technology specialists make sure that local technology assets are being used appropriately and kept in good repair. Mobile assets should have a monitored checkout process and should not be allowed to leave the building. Encourage members to treat technology with care and respect.
  • Counsel with wisdom. Technology should fill important, practical purposes and be well used in hastening the work. As you counsel with stake leaders, discuss the “return on investment” of proposed actions: What will this cost? How long will it last? What are the ongoing costs? What are the benefits? How will this help members progress?
  • Reduce leaders’ and members’ costs and time commitments by using technology. Consider the use of Webcasting and Personal Video Conferencing.
  • Monitor telecom spending. With the rapid change in telecommunication costs and functionality, existing contracts and services within a unit may not be keeping pace. Consider performing a telecom audit (see Help with Phone Service) to see if recommendations should be made. Are there too many phone lines? Too few? Are internet service provider costs reasonable? Should data services be upgraded (often at lower cost)?
  • Care for printers and copiers. Technology has great promise to save costs, but leaders and members are often overly comfortable in established or habitual ways of doing things. For example:
    • Help encourage digital formats rather than paper. For example, newsletters, bulletins, and other communications can be distributed through ChurchofJesusChrist.org and via email.
    • Encourage double-sided printing and copying.
    • Set energy-saving modes on printers and copiers as well as on computers and monitors.

Actions: Review and adjust the energy-saving settings on building machines. Instruct and encourage librarians and clerks on double-sided printing. Perform a telecom audit to review services and costs. Discuss using personal video conferencing or webcasting with your leaders.

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2.12      Meetinghouse Technology Awareness

Through your understanding of equipment and your interactions with clerks, librarians, leaders, teachers, and members, you are uniquely positioned to understand the technology needs, issues, successes, and frustrations of your stake.

Actions: Discuss with your stake clerk, PFR, and Sunday School presidency (and possibly with the prior stake technology specialist) their perceptions of technology needs within the stake. On an ongoing basis, be familiar with those needs so that you can counsel effectively with stake leadership.

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2.13      Church Technology Awareness

Through Church communications and your interaction with mhtech.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, ldstech.lds.org, and other Church resources, you are uniquely positioned to understand the directions and capabilities of Church technology, particularly the technology that is not currently being used within your stake.

Action: Know how the Church is using technology so that you can counsel effectively with stake leadership.

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Section 3: Reporting

With knowledge and understanding of the resources available to you and the areas for which you are responsible, you are now positioned to be a valuable adviser to stake leaders and members in using technology to accelerate God’s work on earth.

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3.1      Relationships 

As you have likely discovered, a stake technology specialist has several reporting and communications channel relationships. See section 4 of Meetinghouse Technology Roles and Responsibilities on mhtech.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

In summary, the stake technology specialist is an assistant stake clerk who reports to the stake clerk (who in turn reports to the stake presidency). The stake presidency is responsible for technology decisions, directions, and implementation within the stake.

Under the direction of the stake presidency, the stake technology specialist will work with the PFR regarding facilities issues and may also counsel directly with the unit’s FM group representative. Given their roles in teacher training and support and in technology usage, the stake Sunday School presidency will likely be working with the stake technology specialist. Other stake leaders and members may also come into the picture.

Assistant technology specialists report to the stake technology specialist or to a stake clerk when no specialist is called. If properly entered into the system (see Adding Technology Specialist Callings in LCR), assistant technology specialists have access to many of the same systems and tools as the stake technology specialist. 

Action: Review the Meetinghouse Technology Roles and Responsibilities.

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3.2      Stake Technology Plan

Awareness of currently available meetinghouse and Church technology will help you be prepared to make or contribute to a Stake Technology Plan draft. This document should identify the technologies being used within the stake, the technology needs of leaders and members, the additional resources available from the Church, and your recommendations about what the stake could do with or for technology over the next one to three years. This becomes the basis for a discussion with your stake presidency in which you will finalize a plan of action. The stake presidency’s conclusions and directions should be documented in the final Stake Technology Plan, which will then be approved by the stake president. This becomes your working guideline.

See a Stake Technology Plan template.

Note: Where assistant technology specialists exist but where there is no stake technology specialist, the assistants should work under the direction of stake clerk to draft this plan. 

Action: Prepare a Stake Technology Plan discussion draft. Arrange to meet with the stake president and if possible the PFR and the stake clerk to discuss technology plans and directions for the stake, using the draft as a working document. Based on the meeting, create a final plan and obtain the stake president’s signature. Arrange to meet, review, and update the plan at least annually. Also review this plan with any assistant technology specialists.

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3.3      Periodic Reporting

In addition to having a formal meeting at least annually with the stake president as part of the Stake Technology Plan process, you should frequently and informally keep stake leaders updated on needs, concerns, issues, and successes.

Action: Provide an email or other informal update to the stake clerk and PFR at least quarterly. Depending on the stake president’s level of interest and involvement, you could consider a sending a quarterly or semiannual informal update to him as well.

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Congratulations! You have reached the end of the training.

If you have any feedback on how we can improve this training program, please email us at mht@ldschurch.org.

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