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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Key to Advancing Family History Participation in the Wards and Stakes

Involvement in family history is highly personal. The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128:17-18 says:
17 And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says,last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 
18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. (emphasis added)
However, support for the individual's search for his or her kindred dead is supported by the huge and ever expanding resources of the greater genealogical community. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through its wholly owned subsidiary, FamilySearch, International, provides access to over 4,600 Family History Centers worldwide. In addition, the Church has provided an ever increasing number of online resources through FamilySearch and its partner programs, that make finding your kindred dead more possible than it has ever been.

Despite these fabulous resources, the level of individual family history activity in the Church remains vanishingly low. Why is that? Of course, those of us who are more completely involved in family history on a daily basis have our opinions. But the real reason is that the support program, as outlined in detail in The Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work: To Turn the Hearts, is not even partially implemented in many Stakes and Wards around the Church.

Great steps have been taken recently to implement the outlined organization but I still see Wards and Stakes who have made no significant effort to even call High Councilors to supervise the work or provide training to High Priests Group Leaders. There are notable exceptions and in every case where the organization and principles outlined in the Guide are followed, participation in family history activities increases. So, the answer or key to participation is rather simple: follow the Guidebook.

Even if the average member of the Church was motivated to "do their family history," how would they begin without support on the local level from trained and capable Ward Family History Consultants and actively involved High Priests Group Leaders? Too many times, these local individuals are called without being trained. I constantly hear of Ward Family History Consultants who are called only to be ignored by Ward leaders or even in some cases, actively opposed. If we are to turn our hearts to our fathers, we need to begin by following the Guidebook.

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