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LDS Church Formally Launches Worldwide Online College Program

Pictured from left to right are Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency; Clark Gilbert, current president of BYU–Idaho, will oversee this new organization. ";

The Mormon church is giving a name and appointing a leader for a worldwide online college education program that has expanded to nearly 50 countries since it started several years ago at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

High-ranking church leader Dieter Uchtdorf announced the formal launch of the program Monday at a news conference in Salt Lake City. He says Clark Gilbert will oversee a program called BYU-Pathway Worldwide. Gilbert is currently the president at BYU-Idaho.

The courses combine academic and religious education, designed to give members low-cost and non-traditional opportunities to earn higher education degrees. All courses are in English.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says about 57,000 students have participated since 2009.

More than half of the religion's 15.6 million members live in countries outside the United States.