Many genealogy enthusiasts are aware that the largest genealogy organization in the world--FamilySearch--is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Have you ever wondered why?
I received a notice today about updates to the family history initiative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS]. More direction is being given to the younger generation of missionaries regarding family history and genealogy work. LDS missionaries as young as 19 are sent to locations determined by revelation through church leadership. Generally these young missionaries are known for their proselyting and service to the community. Those leaving on missions will now watch training videos which encourage them to talk about family history with those whom they share the gospel with. From 2005-2007 I served such a mission in Virginia and had the opportunity to participate in a pilot program called "The Gift of Family History." Family history enthusiasts within the LDS Church have long recognized the spiritual connections that family history helps to develop within individuals and families. Many individuals of other faiths likewise recognize a certain spirituality about family history research. Within the LDS Church I personally have learned to see the spirituality of family history from many different directions.
Family history teaches us that we are children of God.
When you start to get involved with family history, and progress backwards through the generations, your view of time changes. You begin to see that the 1800's, 1700's, 1600's... really weren't so many generations ago. You might think about how you know your parents or grandparents. They may have known their grandparents. Already from the memory of living people you may have jumped back into a world which you previously felt only existed in history books. While you are doing the hard work that it so often takes to prove your family line, you begin to feel a connection to your ancestors. When you serve people, you learn to love them. You've spent hours trying to find an ancestor so that they are not forgotten and somehow remembering them makes you feel as though your time on earth is more worthwhile. These feelings are not mistakes, they are not coincidences. God, our Father in Heaven, has set in motion a plan by which all his children can be remembered. In the Bible we read: "And he shall aturn the bheart of the cfathers to the dchildren, and the heart of the echildren to their fathers..." Malachi 4:6. Christianity is about love, Christianity is about service, Christianity is about family, Christianity is about eternity. Those who have gone on before us are just as real as we are.
I know that I have felt the blessings of family history in my life. Heavenly Father wants us to know we are his children and a Christ-centered effort to document our relationships going back to the time of our ancient forebears is all about that. I believe when we get to the other side we will have opportunities to complete our family pedigree charts all the way back to our Father in Heaven, but in the mean time it is the current of spirituality in the work of family history that makes the sometimes difficult work worthwhile.