The Sabbath day is a day of reflection, service, renewing of our covenants, and serving God and others. Prophets have always encouraged us to honor the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy and improve our Sabbath day worship. In his April 2015 general conference address President Russell M. Nelson called the Sabbath a “delight.” He invited us to make the Sabbath a delight by spending time doing family history: “Searching for and finding family members who have preceded you on earth—those who did not have an opportunity to accept the gospel while here—can bring immense joy” (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 131).
In the 2017 RootsTech genealogical conference, Elder Ian S. Ardern shared, “We’ve been asked to make the Sabbath a delight. That’s a prophetic call, and surely doing family history is one of the better ways of making the Sabbath a delight—by doing it on the Sabbath.” Elder Eduardo Gavarett added that doing family history and indexing as a family can be a wonderful activity on the Sabbath.
Why is family history such a great activity for the Sabbath? We are opening the doors to our ancestors and turning the keys to allow them access to the greatest gifts, promises, and covenants God has to offer. We are allowing our ancestors the opportunity to choose God and to choose their eternal family. To Moses, God explained that it is “[His] work and [His] glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). President Henry B. Eyring shared that “Our Heavenly Father is anxious to gather and bless all of His family” (“Gathering the Family of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 20–21). By doing our own family history, we help Him gather His family by gathering our own.
Here are a few ideas to make family history a part of your Sabbath day activities:
Share Your Story
- Upload photos from your social media account or family albums to your FamilySearch Memories.
- Add memories or important documents to FamilySearch.
- Transcribe or scan your old journals.
- Create a time capsule with photos, documents, and items that are special to you.
Discover Your Ancestors
- Read or share stories of how your ancestors overcame adversity or how they strengthened their faith.
- Do some research about your ancestors and their homelands.
- Visit the grave of a family member.
- Fill out the My Family Booklet together.
- Find names to take to the temple as a family.
- Make a memory game of your ancestors or their stories.
Connect with Your Family
- Interview your oldest living relative.
- Record family members sharing their testimonies and stories of faith.
- Choose one memory as a family and take turns sharing your memories from the trip or experience.
- Create a family health history.
- Reenact family memories or stories.
- Make or watch family videos.
- Make a family recipe together.
- Index together as a family or as friends.
- Check out #52Stories for more ideas.
Share Your Sabbath Day Discoveries
Many families have shared how making family history a part of their Sabbath strengthened their testimonies and their love for each other:
Phil said, “I tell people to ‘just do one thing’ in Family History each Sunday—whether it’s put a photo or story or a source into FamilySearch, index a batch, or just look around the website. Most people can’t do just one thing because they get in there and find out how much fun it is. One Saturday afternoon with the grandkids we played BYU’s Geneopardy and Wheel of Family Fortune linked to our FamilySearch account. On the way home from church the next day, they asked if they could do family history that afternoon.”
Romulo said, “We were blessed with happiness on Sabbath days. My wife and I always have a great time reviewing the ordinance cards and our family history accounts. There we look for more temple opportunities. Sunday nights are always spent by reading our family history files, updating our FamilySearch account, and looking at old pictures. We became closer than before.”
Cecily said, “I love doing family history and the special spirit that I feel when I involve myself in this work. I also especially love doing family history with my children because I want my children to love it also. . . . On the Sabbath, I like to let my kids choose an ancestor to learn about, and I’ll tell them a story about that ancestor. If I don’t know the individual chosen, we’ll look into that individual together and see if we can find any stories about him or her. My kids love the stories. That is what they remember. Beckett, who is now 8, felt the Holy Ghost for the first time when we were doing family history together. He was 4, and we were reading an obituary together. After we finished reading the obituary, he told me he felt something special inside and I told him that was the Holy Ghost. What a special teaching moment that was for both of us. To feel a connection to those who came before us, at such a young age, was so precious. To feel the Holy Ghost and to be able to hold on to that memory until he received the gift of the Holy Ghost was something I couldn’t have planned. I’m grateful for family history and the many blessings I receive from doing that work.”
Lizz said, “In my singles ward my sophomore year of college, I was called to be an indexing co-chair. I’d had personal experiences with indexing that had given me a real feeling for the reality of the work we do through indexing and the true excitement of our family and friends on the other side of the veil, and their anxiousness to be found and have their work completed. When I was called as indexing co-chair, my fellow co-chair and I organized a Sunday afternoon indexing get-together each week. Each week we’d pack about 10 people into our living room, provide ice cream, and index together. Sometimes we’d pop in a movie as background noise to our excited gasps, our anguished lamenting of particularly poor handwriting, and our murmurings of counsel as we put our heads together over an especially indecipherable name. The afternoons together strengthened our friendships and brought the Spirit.”
How has family history helped make your Sundays a delight? Share your story with us. What activities have been most meaningful for you and your family? If you haven’t yet found a way to make family history part of your weekly Sunday activities, try reading through the ideas above, and pick something that fits your schedule and family situation. You can take small steps to follow the counsel of Church leaders and bring the Spirit and blessings of family history into your home each week.