Teen Discovers Talent for Family History Research
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Even as young people throughout the Church are preparing to serve full-time missions, many are developing testimonies of the importance of family history research. Latter-day Saint teens such as Coy Gardner have discovered that preparing names for temple work isn’t the sole claim of older members. Performing essential work on behalf of the dead can bring joy at any age.
Coy is a 14-year-old teacher in the Katy Mills Ward, Katy Texas Stake. Besides performing his priesthood quorum duties and serving as a home teacher, this 9th grader has become one of the ward’s “go-to-guys” in matters of genealogy research. Last year in a general conference talk, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve encouraged bishops and branch presidents to call youth to serve as family history consultants. Coy soon received such a call.
“Coy took to it very quickly,” wrote Jonathan Miller, the ward’s Young Men president. “He has a real tenacity for completing things he sets his mind to.”
After being trained on the basics of family history researching and indexing, Coy gained a testimony of genealogical research—and soon discovered a keen talent for finding names. Because of his calling and enthusiasm for family history work, he has made himself available to anyone in need of help. He has learned that even members who feel they have completed their own family history work can likely find another name or two that can be prepared for temple work.
Over the past year, Coy has prepared about 1,000 names for temple work. “I like family history because I can help other people,” he said.
Brother Miller counts himself among the many who have benefited from young Coy’s expertise.
“We had heard a guarantee that Coy made to others that he could help anyone find at least one name in their family history that needed an ordinance regardless of how much family history has been done on the family lines.”
Brother Miller was anxious for his own Mutual-age daughter, Maya, to learn about family history research. Maya, 12, was also preparing for her first youth temple trip to the Houston Texas Temple. The bishop had encouraged her to prepare a few family names for the trip. Brother Miller said he had been frustrated with some of his own attempts with family history research. Coy was happy to help.
The young man sat down with Brother Miller and Maya and taught them the basics of family history research. Then they worked together and, utilizing the Church family history online resource, began following a few Miller family lines. They discovered one ancestor—a woman named Thornton who was born in 1792—that needed to have baptismal work done.
“I was amazed at the Lord’s hand in my life and was thankful for the power of Aaronic Priesthood holders who honor their priesthood and do their best to fulfill their duties as home teachers,” he wrote.
Thanks to the skills Coy had taught them, Brother Miller and Maya were able to find three more names of ancestors in need of temple work. “We each had two family members to be baptized for at the Houston Temple. I was able to baptize Maya for her ancestors and confirm her for them.”