What an exciting time for Family History, it makes me want to shout ‘hurrah for Israel!’ Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Merrill White and one of my responsibilities is family history centers. I have been with FamilySearch for 13 years and I have never been more excited about what opportunities are right before us.
You may be asking yourselves what happened to Ryan Koelliker? Ryan is doing well and has been given another key assignment in the Family History Department. So, I will now be writing the monthly family history center director message.
The story is told of President Boyd K. Packer—after traveling all over the world and seeing many exotic places, he was asked that if he could go anywhere in the world he wanted, where would he go. He replied, “I would go home.”
I feel that same way, nothing compares to the feeling of a home where there is familial love and where the spirit can dwell. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Seventy shared, “There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home. Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple.”
And all of us have heard the prophet counsel from President Harold B. Lee’s that “the most important…work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.” There is a divine connection between the work we do in the home and the temple. I believe we can also have a connection between the family history center and the home.
Think a moment about your center. Is it cluttered or clean and tidy? Is it welcoming to families? Is it a place the youth will want to visit? Is it a place where hearts can be turned to their fathers? Recently Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy said “the family history centers of the future will be the home.”
It is no secret that we are trying to make accessible to all the members of our faith the records and the resources to fulfill their divinely appointed responsibilities to search out their families. I am excited that now much of this can be done in the home, but there is still a vital need for centers and the valuable services you offer.
Centers can be a place of discovery that families visit to preserve and share pictures and stories; a place that that we teach people and not just lessons; a place where families and individuals can progress and act in faith; a place where hearts are turning to their fathers. Elder Foster further commented, “Genealogy changes our charts; family history changes our hearts.”
I invite you to think about your centers and how they can be an extension of the home for all those that visit.
I thank you so much for your testimonies,and consecrated efforts to help this wonderful divine work progress. Your callings and the centers are an important piece as we help members fulfill this divinely appointed responsibility. I look forward to your suggestions as to how centers can be an extension of the home and how we can invite families to our centers.