Why One Church Works Entirely by Phone
LDS members in rural Alaska prefer to call
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2015 3:40 PM CST

(Newser) – Rural Alaskans who'd like to attend church without navigating miles of frozen road have found a workaround: the telephone. An Alaskan branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is devoted entirely to members who call in, the Alaska Dispatch News reports. "It's what you make of it," says Chip Sharpe, a lifelong member in the town of Mountain Village, population 1,250. "My wife and I dress up in our Sunday clothes and we have a picture of Christ in the room we call from. We try to make it more than just our house. ... We sing songs and hymns." One time, he says, a fellow member called in from as far as 1,100 miles away. So who are they calling? The Alaska Bush Branch, which has about 36 families and 200 members, is located in a room at the Anchorage LDS church.

"Typically we interact with President Andersen, his wife, and a missionary couple and anyone who is visiting through," says member Katrina Campbell. On Sundays, the church offers callers an all-male priesthood class, an open service, and two Sunday Schools, one for women only. "My favorite part of church is roll-call," says Campbell, because members announce where they're calling from. "When I answer roll-call, I say, 'One in Manokotak!'" But the Bush Branch isn't alone: The Third Church of Christ Scientist in New York City invites call-ins via Skype, Google, "or any other SIP" on a computer device. Callers can even give testimonies on Wednesdays by pressing 5* and 1; then "the moderator will re-mute your line," according to the church website.