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Mormon missionaries turn to tech

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon missionaries will soon spend less time knocking on doors and more time chatting online with potential converts.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the strategy shift Sunday night in Provo, Utah, during a two-hour presentation to mission presidents.

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Church apostles said the change reflects the growing importance of social media and people’s preference to connect over sites such as Facebook rather than opening their homes to strangers.

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said missionaries will be using social media, blogs, e-mail, text messages, and the church’s website in their ministry. It will start in a limited number of locations this year and should be in place worldwide next year, leaders said.

‘‘The church must adapt to a changing world,’’ Perry said.

The move is the latest step in the loosening of traditionally strict rules for missionaries expected to devote all their time and attention to ‘‘serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs.’’

The new embrace of technology comes as the church sends more proselyting missionaries around the globe than at any time in history.

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