Relative Finder Makes Family Connections

Last week, I wrote about the App Gallery by FamilySearch to help you find websites and products to help you find your ancestors.

relative-finderOne of the products in the App Gallery is the Relative Finder at

This website developed by the BYU Family History Technology Lab can show how you are related to historical figures. It uses computer algorithms combined with data from to determine how closely you are related to past and present Church leaders, royalty and national leaders, or other groups of individuals including custom groups.

Follow these quick steps to check out the site:

  1. Go to
  2. Sign in with your LDS Account to link Relative Finder to your information in
  3. Click “Download my Tree” and wait for the site to evaluate your family history.
  4. When the prompt appears saying it is done, click OK.
  5. Click Relatives on the title bar.
  6. Select the group(s) for which you want to check out relationships, such as Book of Mormon Witnesses, US Presidents, or Famous Americans.
  7. Click the Show Relatives button.
  8. You will see a list of matches, showing the relative’s name, the relationship, and a link to a chart that shows the common ancestor and all the links between.
  9. You may download a PDF or print the chart.

I learned that President Gordon B. Hinckley is my 3rd cousin twice removed. Below is the chart the system provided me:


The site uses data, so you might run into some glitches because of data errors or missing connections, but it is a fun way to look at family history. You might be surprised to find family connections to prominent people that you didn’t know about.

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Church History Online Exhibit: Life of Christ

life-christ-exhibitThe Church History website ( has online art exhibits about the life of Christ:



2015 Primary Theme Builds Children’s Testimony of Christ

i-know-my-savior-lives_1The theme of the 2015 Outline for Sharing Time in Primary is “I Know My Savior Lives.” It is based on the scripture “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

The sharing time outline is written to teach children about our Savior Jesus Christ and help them participate in learning activities. The desire is to help children feel close to the Savior and to feel His love.

Leaders, teachers, and parents should focus on two questions as they prepare to teach children:

  • What will the children do to learn?
  • How can I help them feel the Spirit?

i-know-my-savior-lives_2There are a variety of teaching tips and suggestions throughout the outline to help children learn. Monthly themes teach children 
to believe in God and Jesus Christ and that the 
Savior is their Redeemer. Every monthly theme is connected to Jesus Christ.

Because adults and children age eight and older are studying the New Testament in Sunday School, the Primary theme will help facilitate family discussion.

Read comments about this year’s theme from the Primary general presidency in the article “Leaders Say Primary Theme Builds Children’s Testimony of Christ.”


Upgrades to the Mormon Channel


The Mormon Channel ( provides resources for families, messages of inspiration and hope, and uplifting content in real time through many different channels and on many different platforms.

In December 2014, 27.5 million people tuned in to the Mormon Channel and its links.

The website and mobile channels have recently been redesigned to provide a better mobile experience. In case you have not tuned in recently, here are some of the things you’ll find on the Mormon Channel:

  • 4 live radio streams (music, talk, Spanish, and Mormon Tabernacle Choir).
  • A searchable archive of video and audio content.
  • Greater presence in social media where you can give feedback, suggestions, and share.
  • Daily publishing and live streaming on-the-go wherever you are.
  • New video series “His Grace” and “Give Back.”
  • New audio series “Here to Help.”
  • Special outlets for children and youth.

Here’s how to get the Mormon Channel:

The Mormon Channel brings the best of the best directly to you wherever you are. All you need to do is tune in, engage, and share.

Below are introductory videos to the new series “His Grace” and “Give Back.”

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6 Tools to Make You a Stellar Online Missionary has just published a list of “6 Tools to Make You a Stellar Online Missionary.”

These are 6 great ideas on how you can encourage others to act on Elder Bednar’s challenge to flood the earth with the message of the gospel.

Read the article “6 Tools to Make You a Stellar Online Missionary.”


religious-freedomThis morning, the Church held a news conference and called for a balance of religious freedom and LGBT rights. They emphasized the importance of nondiscrimination, but also the need for individuals and churches to exercise their beliefs.

Sister Neill F. Marriott spoke how to affirm rights for some without taking away from the rights of others. She also spoke about the Church’s support for laws that protect the LGBT community from discrimination.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks talked about recent encroachments to the guarantees of religious freedom in the U.S. Constitution. A society is only really free when it guarantees the rights of people to believe as they wish, even if these beliefs are unpopular. The Church asserts the following principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and on fairness for all, including people of faith:

  • We claim for everyone the God-given and Constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.
  • We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.
  • We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values.
  • We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that churches must be free to believe, preach, and conduct their business in accordance with their beliefs. Likewise, people should be free to believe and practice their beliefs without discrimination or retaliation.

For more information:

If you post about this topic on social media, please use the #Fairness4All hashtag.



FamilySearch Launches New App Gallery has launched an App Gallery at to help you find the websites and products you need to find your ancestors.

Many companies and organizations have partnered with FamilySearch over the years to create applications and services that can help in your family history efforts. Now you can find them in this App Gallery. You can filter and search to find the apps that meet your specific needs, platform, operating system, and price. For example, if you are looking for a highly-rated app that will help you analyze the data in your family tree, the app gallery lets you filter and find several relevant partner apps to choose from.

If you find an app that fits your unique needs, please consider rating it and writing a review to help others. (Ratings should become available on the site soon.)

“FamilySearch is a great resource, yet FamilySearch alone can’t do everything. That’s why we work with partners to provide complementary tools and resources, and why the FamilySearch App Gallery is so important,” said Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO. “In addition to partners that are a great resource for historical records, we’ve had partners for many years that offer a variety of different experiences such as sharing with family, and looking at data in different, insightful ways, and now we want to make it easier for our patrons to know about them and to help them find the apps they need.”

Check out the App Gallery at

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Discover the Book of Mormon Event

discover-the-bookJanessa Hutchins and LDS missionaries Emily Blotter and Jaime Kloepfer have created a Facebook event “Discover the Book” to invite Latter-day Saints to share their love for the Book of Mormon with their friends on social media.

  • On Friday, January 30th, post a selfie with the Book of Mormon on your favorite social media platform.
  • Include the hashtag #DiscoverTheBook with a simple explanation of how you discovered the Book of Mormon. (You could also use the hashtags #ShareGoodness and #BookofMormon.)
  • Include a link to this video that explains what the Book of Mormon is:

Below is the video “What is the Book of Mormon?

Learn more about the background of creating the video “What is the Book of Mormon?

Here is a list of other member-created videos I have shared on If you find other videos you think I should share, please post a comment below.

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2015 Visiting Teaching to Center on Christ’s Attributes

Savior-jesus-christThe following was written by Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president:

Each new year is an opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. During 2014, Relief Society visiting teachers have shared messages of the divine mission of Jesus Christ as our Exemplar, Good Shepherd, Light of the World, Savior and Redeemer, Minister, and Advocate.

We feel confident that the most important messages were received as sisters tried to teach as He taught, minister as He ministered, and love as He loved.

In 2015, visiting teaching messages will continue to center on the Savior, focusing this year on some of His divine attributes that helped Him fulfill His mission here in mortality. As visiting teachers seek to acquire Christlike attributes in their own lives, we know they will be able to watch over, care for, and minister to their sisters as the Savior would if He were here.

Read the rest of Sister Burton’s message at “2015 Visiting Teaching to Center on Christ’s Attributes.”

Also see the online art exhibits about the life of Christ: His birth, life, parables, miracles.


RootsTech 2015

rootstech-ldsRootstech 2015 (February 12–14, 2015) is shaping up to be one of the most exciting events of the year. As the largest family history event in the world, it is the perfect place to be inspired to discover and share your family stories and connections—past, present, and future. Whether you’re an avid genealogist or you are just getting started, RootsTech has something for everyone.

Adding to the excitement of this year’s conference, RootsTech welcomes former first lady Laura Bush and daughter Jenna Bush Hager. The former first lady will talk about life in the White House and the importance of family during those eight years, as well as reflect on the difficult days following September 11. Jenna Bush Hager, an NBC The Today Show special correspondent, will join her mother onstage for a fireside chat where they will share family stories as a new mother and grandmother.

Rootstech includes:

  • Inspiring keynotes sessions with entertainer Donny Osmond, New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs, innovator and technologist Tan Le, and of course the Bushes.
  • Over 200 Classes for all experience levels, including such topics as using social media for family history and preserving and sharing your family photos. A “Getting Started” track is offered for beginners.
  • Entertaining events with special guest performers, including American Idol finalist David Archuleta, musician and YouTube sensation Alex Boyé, the award-winning One Voice Children’s Choir, and the cast of Studio C from BYUtv.
  • An expo hall of hundreds of family history and technology exhibitors available to help you with things such as scanning photos, recording stores, and building a family tree.

Admission to RootsTech 2015 starts at $19 for a one-day pass and $39 for a three-day pass. Visit for more information and to register.

Free Family Discovery Day

The Family Discovery Day is the free event on Saturday to help families discover, share, and connect their ancestor relationships. Speakers and guests at this event include Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, the cast of BYUtv’s Studio C, Olympian Noelle Pikus Pace, blogger Al Fox Carraway, and David Archuleta.

Due to overwhelming interest, tickets to attend the Family Discovery Day portion of the RootsTech conference are no longer available. But you can still participate by watching the live stream on the home page of from 1:00 to 5:30pm Mountain Time on Saturday (in 10 languages). See the schedule for the Family Discovery Day.




Encouraging Others to Act on Elder Bednar’s Challenge

Bednar-sweep-floodWondering how to teach and encourage others to take Elder Bednar’s charge to flood the earth with the message of the gospel?

Several people have asked me if I have any presentations or helps they could use in Sunday meetings or firesides. Here are some good resources:

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Ward and Stake Annual Histories

Annual-HistoriesAs a new year begins, wards and branches should be preparing their annual histories and submitting them to the stake, district, or mission.

This article provides some background and ideas on preparing this important record of the sacred work of the Church. It can also help us as members reflect on our individual efforts to be a record-keeping person and find ways to improve our efforts to keep records of ourselves, our families, and even our wards.

What is an annual history?

Each year, every ward, branch, stake, mission, and district in the world is to prepare and submit a written history to fulfill the Lord’s mandate to “continue in writing and making a history of all the important things…concerning my church,” (D&C 69:3).

An annual history is a summary of the events and work of the unit during the year. It includes sustainings, releasings, baby blessings, ward socials, and other events.  It may also include copies of sacrament meeting programs. The typical history is text, but some wards get very creative with pictures, videos, or even narrated PowerPoint presentations.

Why keep histories of Church units?

Annual histories have 3 purposes:

  1. Bring members closer to Christ by helping them remember what God has done for His children and that He always fulfills His promises.
  2. Continually document the contemporary history of the Church.
  3. Present leaders with an opportunity to reflect on their efforts to help individuals and families qualify for exaltation.

How does the process work?

Wards and branches submit an annual history to the stake. These are then used in preparing the stake, mission, or district annual history, which is submitted to the Church History Department.

To help clerks and church history specialists prepare a meaningful annual history, the Church provides the booklet Church History Guides: Stake, District, and Mission Annual Histories and an annual history folder. The booklet is available in 15 languages and the folder with simplified instructions is in 40 languages. These items can be ordered by leaders at or downloaded at The website includes additional training that may be helpful to those preparing the annual history.

The Church History Department catalogs and archives the histories. They are kept restricted for 10 years, after which they can be requested and read by anyone doing research. If the histories contain sacred, private, or confidential material, they are restricted for 30 years and then re-evaluated.

How are the histories used?

The ward and stake histories are a great resource for anyone who wants to write a history about the progress of the Church in a country or wants to see how major events effected individual units and people.  These histories can provide a consistent global perspective of how the gospel is lived.

Annual histories are also great for family history research, since a lot of people don’t keep personal records. When researching an ancestor, you could review the annual histories of the wards your ancestor attended throughout his or her life in order to write a personal history. You may be able to find when the individual spoke in sacrament meeting, gave a prayer, had a farewell, or blessed a baby. It is a detailed history made possible only through the annual histories that were kept. The oldest ward history that we know of is from the Salt Lake Stake beginning in 1847.

Africa Primary-Pretoria Stake-South Africa

This picture is of Primary children in the Pretoria Stake in South Africa in 2014. Picture courtesy of Mormon Newsroom

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

The Lord cares about every single one of His children. For some of them, annual histories may be the only record that exists of their lives.

Source of information for this article: Megan Michaels, Marketing & Communications Assistant at the Church History Library.


Bible Videos DVD Special Price Extended

In December, tbible-videos-dvdhe Church released a DVD of 50 videos about the Savior’s life, titled The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos: The Gospels on DVD, with a special price of only $5 until the end of the year.

Because of overwhelming demand, the DVD was out of stock most of the month of December. But it is back in stock now, and the introductory price of $5 has been extended until the end of January, after which the price will go up to $10.

If you didn’t have the chance to buy the DVDs for Christmas gifts, consider gifting them to your friends at Easter.

About the DVD

The DVD is beautifully bound in imitation leather similar to a set of scriptures. It is a resource for family home evenings, for family and individual study, and for use in Sunday School Gospel Doctrine study of the New Testament during 2015.

Order it online at or get it from your favorite LDS bookstore.

Mormons believe in Jesus Christ. The Church has undertaken the enormous effort to create The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos series and give it to the world. The videos are free. The app is free. Only the physical DVD is sold, and at a value price of $5.00.

You can also watch all 90 videos at, in the Bible Videos mobile app, and in the Gospel Library mobile app.

Learn more about The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos series.

Watch an introductory video below.

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Missionary Mailbag is a system that lets you save, share, and cherish your mission experiences in an easy, automated way.

All you do is sign up for the service and the system does the following:

  • Shares your emails with people in your circle. Whenever you send an email from your missionary account, it lets your friends and family follow your mission. (You set the permissions to identify who sees what.)
  • Saves all of your emails in a conversation-like format. This lets you later search, tag, filter, and sort your emails (and any pictures or videos you attach) in a personal way in one place.

It’s a great time saver for both missionaries and their parents!

Watch these videos introducing Missionary Mailbag:


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Video “My Mission: Hermana Clark”

kallie-clarkKallie Clark found a creative way to explain to people why she is serving an LDS mission.

Watch the video “My Mission: Hermana Clark.”

Here is a list of other member-created videos I have shared on If you find other videos you think I should share, please post a comment below.

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