In section 47 the Lord called John Whitmer to “write and keep a regular history” (v. 1) and “to keep the church record and history continually … by the Comforter” (vv. 3–4; see also D&C 21:1). President Spencer W. Kimball has given similar counsel to us:
“I urge all of the people of this church to give serious attention to their family histories, to encourage their parents and grandparents to write their journals, and let no family go into eternity without having left their memoirs for their children, their grandchildren, and their posterity. This is a duty and a responsibility” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 4; or Ensign, May 1978, 4).
President Kimball also described some benefits of keeping records:
“Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 117; or Ensign, May 1978, 77).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 102–3.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 47. The Church is commanded to keep its history and is promised the help of the Holy Ghost. We can have that same Spirit as we record our personal histories.
Share with students an inspirational incident from the history of the Church. (See the following examples in Church History in the Fulness of Times: strangers prepare soil, pp. 56–57; Three Witnesses, pp. 59–60; Zion’s Camp at Fishing River, pp. 148–49; Joseph Smith in Richmond Jail, pp. 207–8; miracles at Montrose, pp. 217–19; Hugh B. Brown’s mission to England, pp. 472–73.) Ask:
What impressed you most about this incident?
What value is there in remembering this incident?
What had to happen for us to know about experiences like these?
How would the history of the Church be different if no one kept records?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 47 and look for what John Whitmer was called to do. Ask students why they think it is important for the Church to keep a history and why it is also important that they write their own histories (see the commentaries for D&C 47:1 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325,
Explain that a Church historian cannot observe and record everything happening in the Church, so he collects histories from others. In a general sense, our own experiences are part of the history of the Church and can influence future generations. Invite a few students to share inspiring incidents from their own experience, and encourage them to record them in their journals.