SALT LAKE CITY — Several notable Mormons were presenters and performers at the final day of the RootsTech Conference Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Entertainer Donny Osmond, Olympic silver medalist Noelle Pikus Pace, "American Idol" finalist David Archuleta and cast members from BYUtv's sketch comedy show "Studio C" joined apostles and other leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the growing annual celebration of family history.
Osmond was one of the final keynote speakers of the RootsTech general sessions, which began Thursday morning. He addressed conference attendees on Saturday morning, along with New York Times best-selling author and journalist A.J. Jacobs.
Osmond, a 50-year veteran of the show business industry since making his TV debut at 5 years old, talked about the importance of documenting family moments and sayings.
“My entire history has been documented and recorded — most of it,” he said. “Here’s the question: Has yours? And if not, why not? Your life and the legacy that you leave behind is every bit as significant as anyone else, including me. Don’t you think that your children and your grandchildren and their children’s children who come into this world deserve to know who you are and what you were like?”
Saturday afternoon marked the opening session of Family Discovery Day, a free event for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Registration for Family Discovery Day filled up well in advance of Saturday's event, which was designed as "a day of inspirational messages, instructional classes, interactive activities and exciting entertainment to help LDS members ... discover and connect with their families across generations," according to RootsTech.org.
Pikus Pace, the Eagle Mountain resident who placed second in the women's skeleton competition at last February's Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and prominent blogger Al Fox Carraway took part in the first general session of Family Discovery Day along with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Carraway, also known as the “Tattooed Mormon,” spoke about her conversion to the church and the trials she faced as a new convert, estranged from friends and family.
“I just wanted people to know that I was trying," she said. "I had a major decision. And that was to choose to get mad, choose to get bothered or offended, or choose to not. ... What it came down to, and what it will come down to every single time, is choose God.”
Pikus Pace, who was surprised on the stage by her husband, Janson, with flowers for Valentine's Day, shared the story of her ancestors who immigrated from Germany to Utah. She focused primarily on the importance of keeping a journal.
“I want to stress the importance of today," Pikus Pace said. "Each of us have stories to tell. We each have stories of laughter and sadness, ups and downs, tragedy and triumph. We have each had experiences, big and small, that have shaped us into who we are today, but if they don’t get written down, who will ever know about them? Who will ever learn and grow from them?”
Instructional sessions followed, featuring Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy; Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president; and Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed the closing general session, followed by a closing event featuring Archuleta and "Studio C" cast members.
Archuleta, the pop singer who found fame during his runner-up appearance on season 7 of "American Idol," returned from his LDS Church mission in Chile last March. The "Studio C" cast completed its fifth season of sketch comedy episodes on BYUtv last year and continued growing its popularity among young Latter-day Saints and on social media.
"Studio C" cast members gave their fans quite the show by premiering a never-before-seen comedy sketch, demonstrating their famous shoulder angel and by having their own lip-sync battle. Archuleta surprised the crowd by joining in the lip-sync battle, much to the delight of thousands of screaming fans.
Archuleta debuted a new song he was asked to write to inspire youths to become more involved with family history — specifically Latino youths. So Archuleta wrote and performed the track in Spanish. Archuleta said he was honored to be a part of the song and not only debuted a music video for the song but also performed the song live.
“This song is about taking us to the past to rediscover ourselves," he said. "I think that’s a big part of what family history is all about.”
As it did last year, FamilySearch plans to make material from Saturday's Family Discovery Day available for stakes around the world to host their own events.
Contributing: Aaron Shill, Madison Swensen, Ginny Romney, Morgan Jones