Saints in Dominican Republic Hold First Church-Sponsored Family Conference
By Lok Yi Chan, Church News and Events, with Oscar Galvan, San Gerónimo Dominican Republic stake public affairs
They say that family history is catching. If the increase of family history-related events around the globe is any indication, this is one bug that is spreading far and wide.
For instance, on October 29, 2011, the San Gerónimo stake of the Dominican Republic held the first Church-sponsored family history conference in the country at a local meetinghouse. Both Latter-day Saints and community members were invited to the event to learn about the importance of family history and genealogy.
Three speakers were featured. Genealogist Jan Marcel Piña Croes talked about the roots and frequency of the surname Piña, a common one in the country. Leonardo Díaz Jáquez, president of the Dominican Institute of Genealogy, spoke about research procedures and methodologies. He encouraged attendees to work on family history and recognized the efforts of the Church in the movement’s development. And Dr. Gisselle A. Vásquez Mora, a professor of physiological science at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, concluded the event with a lecture titled “Genealogy and Health,” in which she talked about the importance of investigating medical histories within families.
Some 400 people attended the conference, and many of them expressed the importance of initiatives like these to meet and learn about family history, according to Oscar Galvan, who serves in public affairs in the San Gerónimo Stake.
Stakes throughout the world are sponsoring family history conferences and similar events.
In Brazil, the Campo Grande Monte Líbano stake held a FamilySearch Indexing party, where Church members made historical documents searchable online. The event was held on dia dos mortos, or “day of the dead,” November 2.
Church members went to a local meetinghouse and gathered around several tables where Internet-connected computers were set up for indexing. For several participants this was a first-time experience.
Márcio Patelli, director of public affairs for the stake, said all the participants were filled with the Spirit and willing to work.
SBT, a Brazilian television network, covered the event, and in its report invited more people to volunteer in the work of indexing.
In Switzerland, the Geneva stake held its second annual family history conference just before the end of 2011. Their goal was to introduce and raise awareness among Church members that FamilySearch.org is not only an online instrument but also a powerful missionary tool.
The stake also organized an indexing workshop in which participants registered for FamilySearch Indexing and learned how to participate in the effort of indexing.
More than 150 people participated in the conference; one-third of them were not members of the Church.
The United States
The Charleston South Carolina Stake held its 14th annual Family History Center Workshop on October 22, 2011. The workshop provided 23 classes to about 190 people. About three-fourths of the participants came from the community.
And community members weren’t just attending—they were also teaching. In fact, several of the presenters not only volunteered at the workshop but regularly volunteer at the center throughout the year. Presenters included Anderson Langdale, one of the United States’ leading experts on the Confederacy and Civil War history; members of the Charleston chapter of the Genealogical Society; Wevonndea Minis, a local newspaper columnist who taught in previous workshops and frequently publishes the center’s monthly classes and annual workshop information, and many others.