What are BMC's roots and accomplishments?
Systematic Book of Mormon studies began when Hugh W. Nibley (1910 – 2005) and M. Wells Jakeman (1910 – 1998) joined Sydney B. Sperry (1895 – 1977) on the BYU faculty in the 1940’s. The University Archaeological Society (UAS) which became the Society for Early Historic Archaeology (SEHA) provided conference and publication venues. John L. Sorenson in the 1950’s became a leading New World scholar interpreting the work of Gareth W. Lowe (1922 – 2004) who directed the BYU New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF). In the 1960’s Robert K. Thomas (1918 – 1998) and Truman G. Madsen (1926 – 2009) analyzed the Book of Mormon as sacred literature. BYU Studies became an important journal beginning in 1959; it was in this journal that John W. (Jack) Welch published his blockbuster “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon” in 1969.
The BYU Religion Department created the Religious Studies Center (RSC) in the 1970s. Modern Book of Mormon studies took shape when John L. Sorenson, Kirk Magleby, and John W. Welch began working together at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) in 1980. The decades of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s saw a fluorescence of quality Book of Mormon scholarship that began tapering off when FARMS merged into BYU in 2002. FARMS became the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (MI). Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR Mormon) and Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) began holding annual conferences in 1997 and 2004, and Interpreter commenced publishing in 2012.
Meanwhile, the world changed. Information, much of it unreliable and faith-destroying, became instantly available over the internet. Social media became a powerful force, especially among the rising generation. Books began yielding to web surfing, PowerPoint presentations, and YouTube videos.
An instructor at the Stanford Latter-day Saint Institute of Religion, Lynne H. Wilson, noticed a disturbing trend. Some of the best and brightest Latter-day Saint youth were entering Stanford as believing freshmen and then leaving the Church without ever seriously engaging the Book of Mormon. Part of the problem was they did not know where to go for reliable Book of Mormon material. Another part of the problem was they expected information to be presented in a modern social media-savvy way. At an academic conference in November, 2014, Lynne and Jack Welch spoke about the idea of creating an organization able to communicate the awe of the Nephite text to a wide audience. In April, 2015, generous donors came forward and Book of Mormon Central (BMC) was born under the direction of John W. Welch and Kirk Magleby. The first employees were hired in August, 2015 and KnoWhy publication began on January 1, 2016.
BMC Chairman, Jack Welch, founded FARMS in 1979 and led BYU Studies from 1991 - 2018. BMC is allied with BYU Studies, BYU RSC, Interpreter Foundation, FAIR Mormon, LDS Perspectives Podcast, John A. Widtsoe Foundation, and others. In April, 2016, BMAF merged into BMC. Book of Mormon Central has in its genetic makeup much of the significant Book of Mormon scholarship that has been done since the 1940’s. On the other hand, it is as modern as Twitter and Instagram. Some milestone accomplishments:
- 2016 BMC’s KnoWhy mobile app debuted at BYU Education Week.
- 2016 annual user interactions (reads, views, listens, shares, likes) surpassed 5 million.
- 2016 BMC received the first license from the Church to re-publish the LDS scriptures.
- 2017 BMC began publishing content in Spanish.
- 2017 A single piece of content (3D Jerusalem) drew more than 560,000 views.
- 2017 Followers on Facebook surpassed 50,000 in English and 60,000 in Spanish.
- 2017 Lds.org linked to bookofmormoncentral.org
- 2017 BMC co-produced a “Chiasmus Jubilee” celebration that drew 1,400 attendees.
- 2017 BMC’s first book was published by Covenant, a division of Deseret Book.
- 2017 BMC produced the first-ever Spanish Book of Mormon Conference in Mexico City.
- 2017 A BMC delegation was hosted by Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.
- 2017 annual user interactions (reads, views, listens, shares, likes) surpassed 15 million.
- 2018 A BMC delegation was hosted by a Google executive at Google headquarters.
- 2018 Feedspot.com ranked Book of Mormon Central #6 in its Mormon blog category.
- 2018 The total number of BMC Youtube video views surpassed 2 million.
- 2018 BMC produced an “Experience the Book of Mormon” Conference that drew 570 attendees.
- 2018 BMC began publishing on the WhatsApp social media network favored in Latin America.
- 2018 BMC co-sponsored the first Book of Mormon pageant put on by refugees.
- 2018 The most popular individual BMC YouTube videos surpassed 100,000 views.
- 2018 BMC sponsored the first Face to Face Lamanita with over 300 participants from 13 countries.
- 2018 The BMC Archive grew to more than 5,000 items.
- 2018 The third annual BMC art contest attracted 73 submissions.
- 2018 The more than 490 KnoWhys became world’s largest publication on the Book of Mormon.
- 2018 Unique site visitors to our websites surpassed 1 million.
BMC is unprecedented. It is a one-stop open source for faithful, reliable material about the Book of Mormon published frequently in attractively packaged and well-illustrated essays, posts, videos, podcasts, and memes across a dozen social media channels. A ground-breaking scripture study app is under development. We invite you to become part of its rich history and promising future.
Who is BMC Co-Founder Jack Welch?
|1967||Discovered chiasmus in the Book of Mormon while on his mission in Regensburg, Germany.|
|1969||Published the blockbuster “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon” in BYU Studies.|
|1970||BYU BA, MA History, Mathematics, Classical Languages, Valedictorian.|
|1970||Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to study at Oxford.|
|1972||Oxford MA Greek Philosophy.|
|1975||Duke JD, edited the Duke Law Journal. Studied with James Charlesworth.|
|1975—1980||Practiced Non-Profit & Tax Law with O’Melveny & Myers, Los Angeles.|
|1981||Editor, Chiasmus in Antiquity.|
|1980—present||BYU Law School faculty.|
|1986—2010||Editor, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, 19 volumes, FARMS & Deseret Book.|
|1988—1992||Editor, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 volumes, MacMillan.|
|1991—2018||Editor-in-Chief, BYU Studies.|
|1999—2004||Director of Publications, Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History.|
|2005||Co-Director, Joseph Smith Bicentennial Conference, Library of Congress.|
|2005—present||Chair, Latter-day Saints and the Bible Section, Society for Biblical Literature|
|2007—present||Consulting Editor, Joseph Smith Papers Project|
|2015||Co-Founded Book of Mormon Central.|
Authored or edited over 200 scholarly publications, including over 100 books. Jack was the featured speaker at Hugh Nibley’s funeral. He is generally considered the leading Book of Mormon scholar alive today.
Who is BMC Co-Founder Lynne Wilson?
Dr. Lynne Hilton Wilson earned her Ph.D. in Theology and American Religious History from Marquette University. She specializes in the study of the Holy Spirit or Pneumatology. Her dissertation compared Joseph Smith’s understanding of the Spirit with his contemporaries. Her master’s degree focused on New Testament studies and undergraduate on Nursing. An accomplished cellist, Lynne played with the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra. She returned to BYU and taught religion as an adjunct professor. Dr. Wilson has also served in the Church Educational System for the past thirty years in France, Belgium, Wisconsin, and, most recently, California.
Dr. Wilson is a popular presenter at BYU Education Week, the Society of Biblical Literature, Mormon History Association, F.A.I.R, Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, BYU Sperry Symposium, Silicon Valley Educational Conference, and Stanford Friday Forums.
Dr. Wilson and her husband, Dow R. Wilson, live in Palo Alto, California. They have seven children, all with red hair, and three grandchildren, with blond, ginger and brown
Some of her publications include
Lynne Hilton Wilson, Learning the Language of the Lord : A User's Guide to Personal Revelation. Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2018.
Lynne Hilton Wilson, "Unveiling Women’s Veils of Authority," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 28 (2018): 133–154.
Lyne HIlton Wilson, Christ's Emancipation of Women in the New Testament. Palo Alto, CA:Good Sound Publishing, 2015.
Lynne Hilton Wilson, "The Confusing Case of Zacharias," Religious Educator 14, no. 2 (2013) 107–123.
Lynne Hilton Wilson, "A New Pneumatology: Comparing Joseph Smith's Doctrine of the Spirit with His Contemporaries and the Bible," BYU Studies Quarterly 51, no. 1 (2012): 119–152.
Lynne Hilton Wilson, "Joseph Smith's Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Contrasted with Cartwright, Campbell, Hodge, and Finney" (2010). Marquette University Dissertations (2009 -). Paper 28.
Lynne Hilton Wilson, “The Holy Spirit: Creating, Anointing, and Empowering throughout the Old Testament,” in The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, The 38th Annual BYU Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009).
Lynne Hilton Wilson, “Jesus’ Atonement Foretold through His Birth,” in To Save the Lost, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 103–26.
What is the relationship between BMC and BYU? BMC and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Relationship of Book of Mormon Central to BYU
Book of Mormon Central (BMC) in an independent non-profit organization with an office in Springville, Utah. Some of its executives are on the BYU faculty, and BMC occasionally makes use of BYU infrastructure. For example, BMC sometimes holds meetings and events on campus. An introduction to BMC was a popular class at 2016 BYU Education Week. BYU faculty members sometimes consult on BMC projects. BMC has an arms-length affiliate relationship with two BYU entities:
- BYU Studies. Jack Welch chairs BMC. He was editor-in-chief of BYU Studies for 27 years.
- Religious Studies Center (RSC).
Other affiliated organizations also have BYU connections, including:
- Book of Mormon Onomasticon, on the Harold B. Lee Library web site.
- Chiasmus Archive, housed in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections.
- Scripture Citation Index, created by BYU faculty Stephen Liddle and Richard Galbraith.
Affiliation means there is some project coordination to avoid duplication of effort and leverage resources. For example, RSC sponsors a student research paper contest each year, and BMC awards a modest cash prize to the student who authored the best Book of Mormon paper.
BMC benefits from a certain proximity to BYU, but the university does not limit or control BMC in any way. Nor does BMC limit or control BYU in any way, as each are free to vigorously pursue their missions.
Relationship of Book of Mormon Central to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
All BMC executives, board members, and employees are active, faithful, believing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of our volunteers are members of Community of Christ or Restoration Branch congregations. BMC receives no funds directly from the Church, only via the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, and is not controlled in any way by the Church. The semi-official Church News ran an article about BMC in January, 2016. Most of our readership are Latter-day Saints. Church departments have met with us to understand precisely what we are doing. Lds.org links to bookofmormoncentral.org and we anticipate more links in the future. Some full-time CES employees volunteer with us. The Church has begun licensing the LDS scriptures to outside entities, and BMC received the first such license so that we can re-publish these sacred texts with engaging enrichment material such as art, music, explanatory notes, etc. We held our 2016 Moroni Day celebration in the Joseph Smith Building on Temple Square. The Church has sent some of their experts to consult with us and help us improve certain technical skills.
BMC is not officially endorsed by the Church, although we are a trusted independent organization. Members of the Twelve and the Seventy have keynoted BMC events. Church leaders and employees work with us both as private individuals and occasionally in official capacities. We hope our efforts help all of the religious organizations within the Restoration Movement who cherish the Book of Mormon. We hope our materials prove useful to missionaries working with investigators. We hope our approach helps many people stay in the boat as Elder Ballard taught in his October, 2014 & October, 2016 General Conference addresses. Our publications ultimately depend on research. Research is inherently exploratory and uncertain. Being completely independent empowers BMC to take calculated risks which the official Church would not be comfortable undertaking. If we are successful, the Church benefits. If we are not successful, the Church is not embarrassed. We support the Church’s mission to help more of God’s children feast upon the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon.
Have the Brethren or the media mentioned BMC?
|December 31, 2015||The Deseret News published an article describing Book of Mormon Central’s launch the following day.|
|August 23, 2016||The Book of Mormon Central KnoWhy App debuted to a large crowd at BYU Education Week.|
|December 22, 2016||The Deseret News Mormon Times lead article chronicled Book of Mormon Central’s many accomplishments during 2016.|
|July 25, 2017||lds.org published a link to bookofmormoncentral.org, directing web traffic to our independent external site. Lds.org also posted a video of Chad Webb, Administrator of Seminaries and Institutes, recommending that Seminary and Institute teachers use Book of Mormon Central materials.|
|August 16, 2017||Elder Jeffrey R. Holland praised Book of Mormon Central in his keynote speech at the Chiasmus Jubilee celebration in the Joseph Smith Building on BYU campus.|
|August 17, 2017||Coverage of the Chiasmus Jubilee appeared on the LDS Mormon Newsroom and in the Deseret News Mormon Times.|
|August 27, 2017||The LDS Church News ran a full-page article about Elder Holland, the Chiasmus Jubilee, and Book of Mormon Central|
|October, 2017||The LDS New Era magazine advised young people with questions about the Book of Mormon to consult Book of Mormon Central.|
|March 14, 2018||Elder Jeffrey R. Holland praised Book of Mormon Central, FAIRMormon, and Interpreter Foundation in his keynote address at a donor appreciation event held at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in downtown Salt Lake City.|
|March 31, 2018||Feedspot.com ranked Book of Mormon Central the #6 most influential blog & website in the Latter-day Saint community, just behind the Tabernacle Choir and just ahead of FAIR Mormon.|
|April 9, 2018||The Deseret News ran an article with many photos of the BMC 2018 Book of Mormon Conference held on April 7, 2018 in the Utah Valley Convention Center.|
|May 17, 2018||The Deseret News mentioned sponsor BMC in an article about the “Mormon Speaks” stage pageant performed by Burmese refugees at Murray High School June 7 – 9, 2018.|
|August 3, 2018||Elder Kevin W. Pearson, General Authority Seventy, speaking at the FAIRMormon 2018 Conference, singled out Book of Mormon Central as one of the most important independent organizations helping the Church accomplish its mission and asked members to support it.|
|August 23, 2018||The church’s official website, lds.org, began linking not only to Book of Mormon Central in general, but to individual KnoWhy articles within Book of Mormon Central that address Specific questions Church members encounter.|
|October 1, 2018||Rick Turley, Director of the Church Public Affairs Department, and Elder Kevin W. Pearson, General Authority Seventy, speaking at a Book of Mormon Central event in Salt Lake City, said Book of Mormon Central does many things the Church cannot do, is viewed very favorably by Church leadership, is necessary and critical, and deserves support.|
Is BMC a legitimate non-profit?
Yes. Book of Mormon Central (BMC) is a dba of Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc., a Utah non-profit corporation organized in 2004. Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc. (BMAF) is a 501 (c) 3 public charity whose final determination letter from the IRS was received in 2007. Copy available upon request. BMAF files an annual Form 990 with the IRS. Both BMAF and BMC maintain current registrations with the Utah Division of Corporations. BMAF also has a current charitable solicitations permit issued by the Utah Department of Commerce. Copy available upon request.
Who manages BMC?
Book of Mormon Central (BMC), as of October 18, 2018, has 17 full-time employees, 14 part-time employees, 8 part-time freelancers, and dozens of part-time volunteers working in various aspects of its operations. It maintains an office in Springville, Utah. The organization is managed by four volunteer executives:
- Jack Welch, BYU Law faculty.
- Kirk Magleby, owner of the technology company Nuvek, LLC.
- Taylor Halverson, BYU teaching & learning consultant.
- Ruth Schmidt, retired attorney.
None of these individuals receives any compensation for their work with BMC.
The executives are advised by volunteer board members:
- Scott Petersen, Director, BYU Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship.
- Bob Babcock, practicing attorney with Babcock Scott & Babcock.
- Tyler Perry, executive with Perry Homes & Perry Commercial.
None of these individuals receives any compensation for their work with BMC.
To streamline operations and reduce overhead, BMC outsources financial services such as payroll and accounts payable to Nuvek, LLC.
This low-overhead, lean management style means BMC donor dollars fund Book of Mormon project deliverables rather than management salaries. It is only possible because the executives and board members have an extraordinary level of commitment to BMC’s mission.
How does BMC measure success?
We track user interactions. We publish in a dozen social media channels and measure reads, views, listens, opens, downloads, comments, likes, shares, visits, pins, posts, tweets, etc. Affiliates such as Meridian Magazine, LDS Living, Másfe, etc. share our content and we count those co-published user interactions as well. In 2016 we had just over 5 million user interactions. In 2017 that number rose to 15 million. In 2018 we reached 25 million. As we achieve our "Flood the Earth with the Book of Mormon" campaign goal, user interactions will increase to 50, 100 and 200 million per year.
We measure unique visitors to our websites and translate that number into a market penetration rate among Latter-day Saints. Currently we have over 1 million unique visitors which equates to about 6% of Church members. As we reach our campaign goal, that market penetration rate will increase to 50%.
We gather anecdotal evidence of impact via user feedback. The first reports have begun to trickle in of new converts joining the Church and lapsed members become more active after engaging our material. We expect many more.
How much does BMC currently spend and how is the money used?
BMC's current monthly expenditure averages $120,000 per month. No executive salaries or fundraising expenses are included in that amount. All BMC executives (Jack Welch, Kirk Magleby, Taylor Halverson, Ruth Schmidt, Bob Babcock, Scott Petersen, Tyler Perry) serve as volunteers. BMC's Director of Development, Nathan Bryant, has his salary and expenses completely paid as an in-kind private donation by Kirk Magleby's company, Nuvek, LLC. BMC occupies 4 suites in the office building at 330 East 400 South in Springville, Utah, but only pays rent on 2 of those suites. The other two are in-kind private donations from the owners. Much of BMC's furniture and fixtures come from second hand sources such as the monthly BYU surplus sale. We take full advantage of non-profit discounts offered by technology suppliers such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Salesforce. These strategies keep BMC's overhead remarkably low. Nearly 90% of our budget goes to pay 17 full-time employees, 14 part-time employees, and 8 part-time freelancers whose work is leveraged by dozens of dedicated volunteers.
How much money has BMC raised?
$4 million since May, 2015.
How much money does BMC need to raise?
Our current "Flood the Earth with the Book of Mormon" campaign seeks $8.9 million to allow us to plan our activities in the next three years through 2021. Through December, 2018 we have raised $1.5 million toward this goal.
Who are BMC's donors?
Major donors ($10,000 or more) to Book of Mormon Central include:
- Ashton Family Foundation, Lindon, UT
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, Salt Lake City, UT
- Bryson & Jan Garbett, Salt Lake City, UT
- David & Lynette Jenkins, Logan, UT
- Johnny Johnson, Lewisville, TX
- KSM Family LLC, American Fork, UT
- Kirk & Shannon Magleby, American Fork, UT
- Gail Miller & Kim Wilson, Salt Lake City, UT
- Alan C. Miner, Springville, UT
- More Good Foundation, Orem, UT
- Bill & Linda Perry, Sandy, UT
- Howard & Marianne Reichman, Provo, UT
- Tom Sederberg, Provo, UT
- Duane & Marci Shaw Foundation, Draper, UT
- Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Midvale, UT
- Welch Family Trust, Salt Lake City, UT
- John S. & Unita Welch, Salt Lake City, UT
- John W. & Jeannie Welch, Provo, UT
- John A. Widtsoe Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
- Dow & Lynne Wilson, Palo Alto, CA
- Workboots Foundation, Phoenix, AZ
What will BMC do with my donation?
When we reach our “Flood the Earth with the Book of Mormon” campaign funding goal of $8.9 million, we will have an additional $90k per month for operations. This will allow us to add 3 full-time employees: a scriptwriter, a search engine optimization (SEO) auditor/manager, and a digital marketer. We will also add about 15 college-age interns working in several aspects of our organization. With this targeted manpower and a healthy budget for marketing, we will dramatically grow our user engagements (reads, views, listens, likes, shares, etc.) from the current 25 million per year to 50, 100, and then 200 million per year. When we reach 200 million user engagements per year, we will have a 50% market penetration rate among Latter-day Saints and many not of our faith will engage our content before they choose to meet with the missionaries.
Deliverables with increased manpower:
End of 2018
This is the Book of Mormon text in a modern website supporting multiple editions and formats as well as links to many kinds of enrichment material. This will become a digital laboratory where we can quickly add and test new functions and features. The best tools from bookofmormon.online will make it into our Keystone scriptures app.
Keystone scriptures app
Beginning of 2019
The standard works on your mobile device enriched with formatting, red lettering, quotations, author/speaker identification, questions & answers, images, videos, etc. This app is the future of Latter-day Saint scripture study.
Third quarter 2019
Hundreds of Book of Mormon evidences organized in a logical taxonomy with inflection points plotted chronologically showing when and how each evidence became externally attested.
2 per week ongoing
These well-researched, edited, illustrated essays published as web pages, podcasts, videos and memes across a dozen social media channels and a web app in two languages are BMC’s signature product and will continue for years to come.
30 new items per week ongoing
This digital repository of textual, audio, visual, graphical, and video content on the Book of Mormon is the reason we are called Book of Mormon Central. The archive brings reliable material into a single searchable database and makes it freely available to users worldwide.
1 per month ongoing
These made-for-YouTube videos average 6 minutes in length. With high production values, they give the faithful challenging, attractive content to share.
1 per year ongoing
Our 570 attendees in 2018 loved their experience. We anticipate bigger and better events in the future as we grow.
2 per month on average, ongoing
These are firesides, youth conferences, etc.
2 per month ongoing
1 per week ongoing
Publication in Portuguese and French
As funding materializes
Portuguese because it is the 3rd largest language in the Church. French because West Africa is the fastest growing area in the Church.
Does BMC have audited financials?
No. We have not yet gone to the expense of an actual audit. We have grown large enough to warrant one and sophisticated donors like to see them, so we will engage an audit firm and publish audited financials beginning with the 2018 fiscal year ending on December 31. BMC does, though, have a number of internal controls in place that inspire donor confidence.
BMC outsources its payroll, payables, receivables, cash receipts, fixed assets management, and general ledger reporting to a larger private firm, Nuvek, LLC, that has been well-managed since its founding in 2002. This gives BMC employees access to good health insurance, a company matched 401k plan, and other appreciated benefits. BMC financials are reviewed quarterly and annually by the CPA firm Larry Cox and Associates of Lehi, Utah. BMC maintains its own donor records in Salesforce that are reconciled monthly with the bank statement and Nuvek’s accounting records. Nuvek is paymaster for BMC who makes a single payment each month to Nuvek. The detailed invoice behind that payment itemizes every expenditure with generally accepted levels of documentation (vendor invoices, receipts, contracts, etc.). No BMC employees have company credit cards. They expend personal funds per company policy and submit for reimbursement. Each reimbursement request is reviewed by BMC management for accuracy, adequate documentation, and compliance with budgetary limits. The BMC budget is approved annually by the Board of Directors. BMC financials tie out monthly to the bank statement, investment brokerage account statement, fixed asset depreciation register, accounts payable register, and accounts receivable register. BMC management looks over the monthly invoice from Nuvek and approves it for payment. If there were ever anything untoward, it would not get reimbursed. Nuvek then circulates BMC financial statements to the BMC board of directors on a need to know basis. Larry Cox and Associates files an annual Form 990 with the IRS with numbers that tie out to BMC financials. The BMC 990 becomes a matter of public record. Copies are available upon request.
For any other question, you are welcome to contact: