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LDS Church News

Family History Missions 101

By Jace Whatcott

LDS Church News

Published: Saturday, July 19 2014 11:05 a.m. MDT

Elder David Slagowski and Sister Barbara Slagowski serve as assistants to the manager of the Record Operations Centers in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.

Jace Whatcott

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By Jace Whatcott Church News staff writer The use of the phrase “hastening the work” is quite common in the Church. Proselyting missionaries help in hastening the work, as reflected in the fact that new missions have been or will yet be created, and young people are encouraged to be worthy and may serve missions at younger ages than was originally anticipated. But in addition to missionary work and ordinance work for the living on a worldwide scale and at a quickened pace, President Thomas S. Monson has taught that “hastening the work” includes doing the work for those who have passed beyond the veil and yearn for entrance into the fold (Ensign Magazine June 2014). For this, the Church calls and sets apart missionaries who work specifically with family history. With an increased emphasis on temple and family history initiatives, the Family History Department is looking to add more missionaries either as couples or singles. There are three different types of family history missionary experiences to help accommodate a variety of life circumstances. Members can serve a family history mission away from home, close to home or directly from home. “If a missionary wants to serve a full-time mission away from home... for 18 to 24 months, we offer that experience,” said Art Johnson, Recruiting & Workforce Development Manager with the Family History Department. “If they want to serve locally in their community, we have those service experiences available. If they want to serve from home, we offer that, as well.”

Serve away from home One opportunity is found serving in Salt Lake City in the largest mission in the church, the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Missionaries in Salt Lake City analyze genealogical records, assist patrons with their research, do photo duplication or work with FamilySearch products and services. Any needed training is provided. With so much work and with so many missionaries, there is plenty of room for creating relationships with those who serve nearby. In sharing in the love of Family History work and service, missionaries are able to make lasting friendships. Other opportunities to serve away from home include the preservation of historical records in archives around the world by capturing digital images of historic records with digital camera equipment provided by FamilySearch. These digital images are then processed for indexing and made available to the public on FamilySearch.org. “Every year, genealogical content is destroyed — census records are burned, courthouses flood,” said Brother Johnson. “We feel that there is a race against time to preserve this content before the next disaster happens.” Missionaries that preserve these records perform a vital service allowing these records to be able to be kept and preserved for all time. Full-time couples may also be assigned to serve in area offices helping to promote family history efforts around the world.