What is the heart of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree program? For all our talk about compiling histories and making memories, the real heart of the Family Tree is the Spirit of Elijah, President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of this back in General Conference in October of 1994, when the idea of a Family Tree program was just a dream. In part, he said as follows:
Elijah and Keys of Priesthood Authority
In 1844, Joseph Smith asked, “What is this office and work of Elijah?” The Prophet promptly answered his own question: “It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. …
“This is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven. … This is the power of Elijah and the keys of the kingdom of Jehovah.”27
Some among us still have neither perceived the Spirit of Elijah nor its power. Yet, we are bound by this warning:
“These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over. … For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation … they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”28
Joseph Smith’s responsibility was to “lay the foundation”29 for this great work. Important details were to be revealed later. At April conference 1894, President Wilford Woodruff announced this revelation: “We want the Latter-day Saints from this time to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers. Have children sealed to their parents, and run this chain through as far as you can get it. … This is the will of the Lord to his people.”30We now have the tools to do exactly what is outlined in President Nelson's inspiring talk. Aren't we now under an even greater obligation to move forward?