Church News and Events

Genealogy Changes Charts; Family History Changes Hearts

Contributed By By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 23 March 2013

On March 23, 2013, during his RootsTech 2013 devotional address about the role of the family in family history, Elder Bradley D. Foster predicted that family history centers of the future will be in the home.   Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

The family history centers of the future will be in the home, predicted Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy in an address March 23 in conjunction with the RootsTech 2013 Family History and Technology Conference in Salt Lake City.

Elder Foster, an Assistant Executive Director of the Family History Department, spoke on “the role of the family in family history.” His presentation was part of a specialized track of training sessions at the conference for priesthood leaders and other Church members with family history-related callings.

“Who is this family we all belong to, the great family of Adam?” he asked. “It’s a wonderful family, and it’s a growing family. … It is estimated that by the year 2015, there will be 9 billion people on the earth. It’s hard to conceive of such a number. But I’m telling you the Lord has prepared technology that makes it possible for us to begin to bind and connect all those families together.”

The Lord knows everyone individually, and He knows their families, Elder Foster said. “We were first His family. We are those who are welding together these multi-generational families.”

The gravestones of any cemetery in the world contain a name, birth date, a dash, and then a death date, he said.

“That little dash between the birth and death date seems so small and insignificant, but our whole history lies within it,” Elder Foster remarked. “So while we often focus on discovering those dates, our love of our ancestors—the turning of our hearts to our fathers—comes forth from discovering the dash.”

Speaking of his own ancestors who lived in Germany, and using today’s social media vernacular, Elder Foster asked, “Do you know what I would give for one ‘tweet’ from my great-grandma Sauer, who lived in Germany and who wanted her boys to have a better life, and she put them on a boat with what meager means she had and sent to America, who she would never see again, or they her? I’d like to know about her, just a couple of lines about Grandma Sauer.”

He said that genealogy, understood in the traditional sense, “tends to pull us apart when we withdraw to our own private, personal computers. Family history brings us together, as we share stories and work together.

“Therefore, genealogy changes our charts; family history changes our hearts.”