New Lehi FamilySearch Center Also Hosts Employee Office Space

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 24 January 2018

The new FamilySearch building in Lehi, Utah, is a complex that includes a FamilySearch Center for the public and office space for employees, primarily software engineers for FamilySearch.  Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Article Highlights

  • The FamilySearch Center in Lehi serves 28 local stakes.
  • The building houses FamilySearch and Family History Department employee offices.

“This building, with all of the many functions, the relationships that each of you will have here, the revelation we will receive inside this building, will guide us as we build Heavenly Father’s family tree after the manner which He has shown us and will continue to show us.” —Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy

LEHI, UTAH

The newest family history facility in the Church might be regarded as a combination FamilySearch Center and a haven of technical talent for the Family History Department.

The FamilySearch Building in Lehi, a four-story complex at Thanksgiving Point, was dedicated January 18 by Elder Bradley D. Foster, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Family History Department.

The “public face” of the building is the 8,000-square-foot Lehi FamilySearch Center, serving 28 local stakes of the Church, said Stephen T. Rockwood, president and CEO of the Church’s FamilySearch International. But it also includes office space for employees of FamilySearch and the Family History Department.

The technological base for FamilySearch

“This is primarily the technical talent of FamilySearch,” Brother Rockwood explained in an interview following the dedication.

“We brought all of our software engineers under one roof to be able to work and collaborate more closely together,” he said. “Other nontechnical, people are here as well. But this now puts most of our workforce in three main areas: here in Lehi for the technical side, Salt Lake City for the genealogy side, and our offices around the world to serve local areas.”

Spiritual blessings of family history

Prior to giving the dedicatory prayer, Elder Foster offered brief remarks to the assembled guests, primarily leaders of the 28 stakes who will be served by the new FamilySearch Center.

“Family history has the power to bless those beyond the veil; it also has the power to bless the living,” he remarked. “I pray that your families, the members of your wards and your stakes, will have that opportunity in this building.”

Drawing from 1 Nephi 17, the account of Lehi’s family in the wilderness coming to the land they called Bountiful and then building a ship to cross to the promised land, Elder Foster applied the words “[God] doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them” (verse 3) to the new building and its purpose.

“Much like Nephi and his ship, I’m not sure any of us can imagine what gathering over a hundred billion people into families will be like,” Elder Foster said. “We are counting on the help of the Lord as we try to accomplish this work. This building, with all of the many functions, the relationships that each of you will have here, the revelation we will receive inside this building, will guide us as we build Heavenly Father’s family tree after the manner which He has shown us and will continue to show us.”

“Discovery” experience

The FamilySearch Center portion of the building includes the “Discovery” experience that has been introduced in similar facilities in Layton and St. George, Utah, and at two facilities in downtown Salt Lake City: the Family History Library and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Designed to appeal to visitors of all ages and skill levels, it draws on information in the FamilySearch database to let them find out more about themselves and their ancestors. Family members can interview parents and grandparents for recording in high definition video in the studios.

Features of the Lehi FamilySearch Center

Casual seating and collaboration areas invite people to work together to discover facts about their families.

More than 100 computers and special equipment enable guests to transfer family memories from old tapes to DVD and to preserve printed family photos and scrapbooks to USB drives or to upload them directly to their FamilySearch.org accounts.

The new building is located in an idyllic setting at Thanksgiving Point, a 55-acre garden, farm, museum, and golf course complex founded in 1995 by Church members Alan and Karen Ashton.

In an information video at the start of the dedication service, Brother Rockwood said the building was strategically located midway between Salt Lake City and Provo to draw from the rich pool of nearby technical talent.

Amenities for employees include a café and wellness center.

“It helps us to attract and retain top employees,” he said. They’re in an environment that allows them to be creative and to be able to use the gifts and talents they’ve been given to further the work of the Lord.”

The FamilySearch Center, which will be the family history facility for the 28-stake area, is an advantage for the workplace because it allows the engineers to write their software and immediately try it out in the center and then receive feedback in real time, Rockwood said.

The new center will bless families worldwide

Speakers at the devotional service included Elder James R. Rasband, Area Seventy, who chairs the local 36-stake coordinating council.

Referring to the visit of the Old Testament prophet Elijah to Joseph Smith to restore the sealing powers, Elder Rasband said, “What is remarkable to me about this building is that it will help fulfill this promise of Elijah on a global scale, on a local scale, and on an individual scale.”

He added, “It’s exciting to think of all the FamilySearch’s software engineers and other FamilySearch employees coming together in this one building. Those of you who have used FamilySearch to explore your family tree, prepare a family name, or to post memories and photos of your ancestors know what a remarkable tool it is.”

Already, FamilySearch adds more than a million records a day and preserves more than 400 million historic records each year in its database, Elder Rasband said. “This new facility will only accelerate that work and bless members of the Church throughout the world and persons not of our faith throughout the world.”

Family fun and temple work

Kory A. Boyd, president of the Lehi Utah Stake, said tens of thousands will likely visit the center and discover “fun facts” about their own family heritage. But some, he said, will have the experience of finding names of ancestors at the center who need temple ordinance work and take those individuals to the temple. “They will feel a stirring in their heart that is indescribable,” he said.

Jill Hunt, who with her husband, Craig, is an inaugural director of the Lehi FamilySearch Center, also spoke. She said the center was opened for two hours the previous week as a “sneak preview” for neighbors at Thanksgiving Village. Some 200 people came for a tour.

“We heard a variety of comments that night,” she said. “Some were, ‘This is fun, much better than I thought it would be.’ ‘I need to add some stories.’ ‘I’m bringing a whole box of pictures to scan.’ ‘I want to bring my grandmother here to video-record her history.’ ‘I have a lot of work to do!’”

“The Lehi FamilySearch Center will be a place where guests of all ages and all levels of expertise in family history will be welcome,” she said. “It will be a place of peace, of help, of bonding with family and ancestors. … It will be a place of learning and growing, where faith and testimony will increase. Those who come will gain strength in resisting temptation, a greater understanding of the plan of salvation, and a greater love for our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.”

A public open house of the new FamilySearch Center was held  January 18, 19, and 20. The center is located at 3201 Garden Drive in Lehi, Utah.

Elder James Rasband, Area Seventy, addresses the congregation at the dedicatory service for the new FamilySearch building in Lehi, Utah, on January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

The congregation sings a hymn at the dedicatory service for the new FamilySearch building in Lehi, Utah, on January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Sister Jill Hunt, who with her husband, Craig, is an inaugural director of the Lehi FamilySearch Center, speaks to the congregation at the dedicatory service January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

President Kory A. Boyd of the Lehi Utah Stake addresses the congregation at the dedicatory service for the new FamilySearch building in Lehi, Utah, on January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Elder Bradley D. Foster, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Family History Department, addresses the congregation at the dedicatory service for the new FamilySearch building in Lehi, Utah, on January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Sister Sandra Graham, left, Church-service missionary at the new Lehi FamilySearch Center, shows one of the features to Randall Johnson, technology worker at the new building, and his wife, Rebecca, a temple and family history consultant. The feature allows visitors to have their photos superimposed in front of a location of family heritage such as England. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Elder McKay Hendricks, a missionary at the Lehi FamilySearch Center, shows the “All about Me” feature to President Lon Sorensen of the Lehi Utah Jordan River Stake on January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Sister Teri Hendrix shows the facility at the Lehi FamilySearch Center to Presidnet Ryan Ireland of the Eagle Mountain Utah West Stake following the dedication of the facility January 18, 2018. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.