Yesterday was opening day at the 47th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy with the keynote address given by Elder Gerald N. Lund, an emeritus member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of many fiction and nonfiction books, including two popular series, The Work and the Glory and The Kingdom and the Crown.
Elder Lund and his wife are the parents of 7 children, 29 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. He shared that his wife of 51 years passed away a little over a year ago but outlined four identifying characters she possessed: (1) a love of the Savior, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (2) a fierce love and commitment to her family, (3) a love of music, and (4) a passion for family history, with a love of photography. She took over 200,000 photographs! It was obvious upon hearing this and more that family history has been a part of their lives since the beginning.
He commented that the idea of family history as doctrine was new to him. He had always known that turning “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” was scripture and even that this concept is mentioned in all four books of scripture, but something intrigued him. There is a scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants 98:16 that says, “…seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children.” How could this be if the fathers were dead? His oldest daughter had an experience in the temple that provided an answer; “[t]hey are not dead, only living somewhere else.” He then expounded on the relationship of the living to the dead, the dead to the living, and the living to each other. He also quoted Elder Russell M. Nelson saying, “we come to earth to start our eternal family.” The doctrine is not only about the past and the future, it is about the present and our relationships here. Elder Lund said, “I believe it is about creating eternal families whose hearts are bound together in love and service to one another.” We serve them by remembering them, honoring them, and performing their temple work. Their example can motivate us. He also believes that they serve us from the spirit world.
Although he has always felt guilty about not writing his family history, he realized that most of his historical fiction books have come about because his heart was turned to the fathers, e.g., Fire of the Covenant. Personal histories have shaped the plots of his books, within his novels are the names of some of his children and grandchildren, and he takes his family on research trips. He shared many stories, some humorous and others sacred, which I cannot recount at this time, but concluded with the thought that our ancestors influence us in many ways beyond completing their temple work. Could they not be the angels who speak by the power of the Holy Ghost?
With the keynote address establishing the tone for the conference, individuals could attend up to five more sessions throughout the day. I spoke with many conference participants, some who return each year and others who are attending this conference for the first time. Stories were shared that I hope will be written in journals and recorded for the inspiration of others and for posterity. Some have started their applications to lineage societies, courtesy of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) workshop. DAR will continue to help participants with this process all week in room 2279 CONF. The vendors in the main hall displayed their products and services. The BYU Family History Library had participants take a chance to spin a wheel where they could win a printed fan chart or some candy.
Today Robert Kehrer will be the keynote speaker at 8:30 a.m. He is a senior product manager of search technologies at FamilySearch. His topic will be “FamilySearch: Making Difficult Research Easy and Accurate.” Following his remarks, sessions will be offered on DNA research, finding stories, technology and tools, and preserving family history. Today the United States and Canada research presentations will continue and a track on British Isles research will be offered. ICAPgen will continue its sessions outlining the process of accreditation.
FamilySearch is providing complimentary scanning as well as hosting a computer lab onsite for attendees. Additional vendors will be available in rooms 2260 CONF today and tomorrow. Vendor presentations will be held from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in various rooms throughout the conference center. Although the day can be long, staying for one of these presentations sure beats traffic :) This evening the BYU Family History Library will host an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. I hope to see you there!
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