A change was announced to the calling of family history consultants within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the RootsTech Leadership session, which was held in the Conference Center Theater on Thursday evening.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced that family history consultants will now be called “temple and family history consultants.”
Elder Cook explained that the name change will help members to remember to “always work with the end in mind.”
In an interview with Deseret News, Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy explained that the goal of this change is to remind members of the important role they can play in helping new members grow in the gospel by gathering their family names to take the temple.
“When the prophet said ‘This is the time for the members and the missionaries to work together,’ we all thought that meant, ‘Well the members need to get the missionaries more people to teach.’ That’s one of the things, but the other thing is the missionaries start this process with the new convert and then passes them over to the temple and family history consultant who helps them make sure this is all filled out and their work is done for them,” Elder Foster said.
During Thursday’s program, Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife, Ruth, illustrated this point with chopsticks. Elder Renlund explained that one chopstick represented the missionaries while the other represented the members. He then asked his wife to try to put candy gumdrops into a jar using only one chopstick. The task proved to be difficult until the two chopsticks were joined together in lifting the gumdrops safely into the jar.
“Two chopsticks working together can simply accomplish what one chopstick cannot,” Elder Renlund said, adding that we must “thrust in our chopsticks with our might.”
In his talk during Thursday’s Leadership session, Elder Foster explained that only 25 percent of LDS Church members can trace their ancestry back four generations while just 2 percent of new converts can.
“When people, new converts, go to the temple shortly after the retention rate is phenomenal,” Elder Foster told Deseret News. “When new converts go to the temple for their own family members, here’s what they begin to think ‘I’m not the only member of this church. I’m helping my family join this church.’”
Elder Cook emphasized the importance that church leaders teach the promised blessings associated with doing family history.
In addition to Elders Foster, Renlund and Cook, attendees also heard from Church Historian Elder Steven E. Snow and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Ballard shared a personal family history account about his ancestor, Henry Ballard, whose daughters were approached by two elderly gentlemen who gave them a newspaper and said, “Take this to your father, give it to no one else. Go quickly with it. Don’t lose it.” When the girls delivered the paper to their father, the gentlemen who had delivered it had disappeared. He looked at the paper, The Newbury Weekly News, which had been printed in England just three days prior.
“By no earthly means could it have reached us,” the journal Elder Ballard read from recorded. “So our curiosity increased as we examined it.”
They discovered that on one page of the paper, a reporter wrote of a recent trip that took him to an old cemetery. The writer filled nearly an entire page of information found on tombstones, many of them Ballard family names, names Henry Ballard had been trying to prepare to take to the newly constructed Logan Temple.
When the matter was presented to the Temple President, Marriner W. Merrill, he said “You are authorized to do the work for those because you received it through messengers of the Lord.” Elder Ballard explained that he was able to visit the editor of the Newbury Weekly News and after sharing the story, he was able to see the May 15, 1884 edition of the paper.
Elder Ballard added his testimony to that of his ancestors, “It is true that those on the other side of the veil are very much interested in what we are doing and can do here as we carry on this glorious and wonderful work.”