Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Turning Our Hearts to the Fathers

As reported in a LDSChurch News article entitled, "Family, a pattern of heaven," Elder Paul E. Koelliker, an emeritus Seventy, addressed the need to further the work of the Lord through family history. He is quoted as saying:
Sharing ideas of his own, he invited listeners to think of family history as a broader idea as they move ahead in a forward direction. He encouraged listeners to increase their temple worship and invited them to find a cousin or other family member they can take to the temple. 
“Be open to new technology and ideas for connecting with others,” he said, adding that many tools are provided to help in family history work. 
It is through that love for and remembering family that individuals develop a desire to be vigilant in establishing and retaining their family line. Through discovering ancestors in the past and creating a record for the future — just as King Benjamin made a record for his people and future generations — individuals are able to develop a strong connection in their family tree. 
“This is a time of change, and we have got to make family history a priority,” he said. “This is the work of all people.”
I certainly agree that motivation to begin our family history work is a vital factor in whether or not the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints become involved in actually doing something to further their responsibility. In addition, as a regular teacher on genealogical subjects, I also recognize the need to learn how to proceed. Elder Koeliker's talk was given in conjunction with the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference held in Provo, Utah on the BYU Campus from July 29th to August 1st, 2014. At the same time, I was attending a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah held by the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies. I have attended the BYU Conference in the past and there is a marked difference between the two conferences, not just due to the cultural and religious background of the two groups.

Both conferences feature presenters who are abundantly qualified in the their particular areas of interest. However, the IAJGS Conference is aimed at people who are intensely interested in the topics presented. They travel great distances and at a great expense to come to the conference. In contrast, not to criticize, the BYU Conference is largely locally attended. The IAJGS Conference in 2015 will be held in Jerusalem, Israel. How many of the attendees at the BYU Conference would travel to Jerusalem to attend a BYU Conference next year instead of again coming to the BYU Campus?

I ask this question, again, not to criticize, but to demonstrate exactly what is needed to "turn your heart to your fathers." It involves a dedication and a measure of sacrifice to achieve the objective of finding your ancestors. It may also include sifting through hundreds or thousands of names where the Temple ordinance work has already been accomplished.

Back to the IAJGS Conference. Again, many of the participants came from Europe and Israel. Would you travel to Israel to attend a conference on genealogy? Would you even drive down the hill and attend the BYU Conference if you lived in Provo? This was part of the contrast I observed between the two conferences.

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