June 28 was one of the busiest days in the history of the Boston Massachusetts Temple. The record-setting number of temple attendees was a direct result of a local stake’s endeavor to honor the pioneers’ trek across the United States.
“We filled the parking lot by 10 a.m.,” said Boston Massachusetts Temple President Kent Bowen. “I wish I had an aerial shot of the temple site, with so many members young and old. It was a spectacular day at the temple.”
Most of those members were from the Hingham Massachusetts Stake, participating in their stake’s “Trek to the Temple” activity. The Hingham stake is located south of Boston and encompasses all of southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the islands off the state’s coast.
The idea for “Trek to the Temple” began in early 2014 during a stake council presentation from stake youth leaders regarding their plans for a youth conference that would involve a pioneer-style trek. During the presentation, Hingham’s stake president, Bryan Ward, had the inspiration to include more than just the youth in the activity. “Why don’t we invite the entire stake?” said President Ward. “They can make their trek a trek to the temple.”
Members were challenged to prepare a family name to take to the temple for when the stake gathered together in a culminating “Trek to the Temple” activity. They were given 90 days to complete the goal. Family history consultants in each ward and branch were given large buttons to wear every Sunday so members could easily identify them and ask for help getting family names ready. Their stake conference featured talks about genealogy. Young men and young women were called and trained in each unit as family history consultants so they could help other youth prepare names for the temple.
“I’ll admit I was pretty nervous when I was called as a family history consultant,” said Mary Lambert, 16, of the Hingham Ward. “I felt lost when it came to FamilySearch, but I soon discovered that it is super easy. My Young Women president introduced me to ancestry.com, and I found an ancestor, Ann Briton, who was missing from FamilySearch. I filled in a few more missing people and brought Ann’s name to the temple. While I was there, I felt very honored to be doing such great work for her, and I feel a more personal connection to her since I sought her out and made such a great effort on her behalf. I’m grateful for the ‘Trek to the Temple’ experience, and I’m glad it jump-started my family history calling.”
“The pioneers’ trek and their harrowing experiences were unbelievably difficult,” said Rick Doane, director of public affairs for the Hingham Massachusetts Stake. “But it united them and made them stronger, thus uniting and strengthening the Church. Sometimes, as members, we can view family history as a daunting undertaking. Our stake’s ‘Trek to the Temple’ activity brought together all of the members in our stake, on both sides of the veil, as we worked together toward a common goal.”
The 90-day “Trek to the Temple” culminated in a half-day event at the Boston Massachusetts Temple and adjacent Belmont Ward meetinghouse. On Saturday, June 28, members of the stake attended the temple together to perform ordinances for the family names that they had prepared.
To make sure that everyone in their stake could participate in the trek, including children, youth and investigators, the Hingham stake organized a number of additional activities at the temple’s adjacent meetinghouse where they showed various Church films, members set up family history displays in the hallways and missionaries organized a mobile Church visitors’ center.
As adults and youth performed ordinances in the temple, Primary children participated in fun family history-related activities and toured the temple grounds. Nursery rooms were also made available for parents to use when tending small children. At noon, all members assembled for a luncheon that featured a variety of cuisines prepared by members from the stake’s Portuguese-speaking branch.
“Our stake covers a large geographic area,” said Brother Doane. “Some members in our stake have to take a ferry to the mainland and then drive for two hours just to reach the temple. We rarely get a chance to fellowship with each other, let alone attend the temple together. The opportunity to socialize with each other was one of the things that made this activity so special.”
As members of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake concluded their “Trek to the Temple” activity, some began their long drives home, but the stake’s youth were just beginning a different kind of trek. Dressed in pioneer period clothing, they all left the temple together to begin their annual youth conference, which featured a three-day pioneer experience. The youth would finish their trek spiritually stronger and more united, just like all of the members of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake.
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