“Light Keepers”: Social Media Missionaries Take New Approach to Family History and Temple Work
Contributed By Aubrey Eyre, Church News staff writer
- Taking advantage of technology to do family history work brings blessings.
- Women and children will be blessed as they prioritize family history.
“We’ve heard from our leaders and they’ve told us the wonderful blessings that will come as we participate in family history, and I’m just so thrilled to see that [the women of the Church are] recognizing that. … I hope everyone goes and spreads [that message] far and wide and that it can be shared all around because it is so important.” —Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President
While serving as her ward Primary chorister last year, Sister Kirsten Wright felt that something was missing. She wished there was a song that would help connect the children to their ancestors and draw them into the “gathering of Israel” through family history and temple work.
“Music has always taken me back to my roots,” said Sister Wright, one of four women called as a global social media missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sister Wright, along with the other global social media missionaries, presented at the Light Keepers workshop at RootsTech on March 1.
Hoping to fill this gap, Sister Wright felt prompted to begin composing a song. After a bit of personal revelation and help from fellow members and musicians, she produced the song “All Because of Love.” She premiered the video during the Light Keepers event.
At first, she had been hesitant to take on such a task. But at every step of the process, she felt guided by the Spirit and, eventually, everything fell into place.
While producing the video, Sister Wright said the thing that meant the most to her was seeing the children involved become excited about their family history.
“These kids were excited to teach each other about who their ancestors were, and I could tell that they felt the purpose of their ancestors,” Sister Wright said.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, who also attended and spoke at the Light Keepers event, shared in affirming the power of music.
“Everywhere I go, at least one person, usually more, will come and tell me, ‘Sister Jones, it’s a Primary song that kept me active in the Church,’” Sister Jones said. “The doctrine that is taught in this music, … it will bless our children, it will bless us, and it will bless all the new members who are coming into the Church who haven’t had the opportunity to learn the simple doctrine of the gospel.”
During the Light Keepers workshop, the four global social media missionaries shared the ways they have seen family history and temple work strengthen them and their families.
Sister Rhonna Farrer, one of the first women to be called as a global social media missionary, works closely with FamilySearch to develop new and engaging tools to help involve women and families in their family history and temple work. She explained that family history and temple work are perhaps the greatest ways members of the Church can be involved in moving the work of the Lord forward today.
Quoting President Russell M. Nelson, Sister Farrer said, “This gathering is the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, the greatest work on the earth today.” And it is one that all have been asked to participate in, Sister Farrer said.
It can be difficult for individuals, especially busy mothers, to find ways to engage in family history and temple work and to bring that work to their families, Sister Farrer said. But that is their purpose as global social media missionaries: to help women from everywhere to engage in the gathering of Israel with all the tools available to them.
Explaining how the call of global social media missionaries and the Light Keepers workshop developed, Sister Farrer said that several years ago, she recognized a gap in family history work.
“We saw a need,” she said. “There was a certain demographic that wasn’t really doing family history, and part of that was the women on social media.”
Using her background in social media and apps, Sister Farrer, along with a few friends, wanted to get the message out that family history work doesn’t have to be boring—it can be done right on a phone, just like social media.
“Once people learn they can do it on their phone through apps and different things, it becomes more exciting and more accessible,” Sister Farrer said. “And all the blessings and promises of the Lord can be realized.”
Rhonna Farrer, a social media missionary for the Church, speaks during the Light Keepers session at the RootsTech conference. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.
After launching their personal social media campaign to get mothers and women involved in family history work, Sister Farrer and three other women were called as official missionaries for the Church. Their role as Church-service missionaries is to work closely with FamilySearch and online through social media to share the message of the gospel and family history work.
“The Lord started teaching us about what we needed to be sharing, and it’s really about keeping the light of your family,” Sister Farrer said. “We’re all light keepers, … and our living histories become our family history.” But each person has to discern what that means for them individually, she explained.
Sister Wright added, “We are just expanding the view of what family history is. Because we’re younger and we’re moms, we have the knack to use the technology and our hearts are turning to the more seasoned people who may not have the know-how to do research.”
Moms are busy, Sister Wright admitted, but participating in this work is essential in helping build a nest of love and protection for children and families in the world today.
Power and protection in the work
“When I think of the power and protection that comes from this great work, I know that Heavenly Father is aware of our children, of our youth,” Sister Jones said. And the women of the Church have an essential role in helping move this work forward and bringing the children into it.
Speaking of the concerns that the Primary presidency often has for children around the world and in the Church, Sister Jones said, “All of the things we talk about and the concerns we have for children, these wonderful young mothers are addressing them. They understand and the Spirit is guiding them to understand what a blessing this work can be in protecting our families.”
Of the new FamilySearch apps and the new activities available in them, which the social media missionaries helped to develop, Sister Jones said they offer exactly what families need to help get their children involved in the work.
“I don’t think many of us realize the access we have to marvelous tools that make this work so much easier,” Sister Jones said. “But as that word begins to spread, it will draw more people in and interest them in participating in the work.”
Sister Jones meets with attendees following the Light Keepers workshop at RootsTech on Friday, March 1, 2019. Photo by Aubrey Eyre.
Since the beginning of the year, when the age-group changes for 11-year-old youth went into place allowing them to begin attending the temple earlier, Sister Jones said that the baptistries at temples all around have been filled with youth bringing their own family names to the temple. They are eager to be a part of this work, she said, noting that prophecies are being fulfilled through all those participating in the gathering of Israel.
“We’ve heard from our leaders and they’ve told us the wonderful blessings that will come as we participate in family history, and I’m just so thrilled to see that [the women of the Church are] recognizing that,” Sister Jones said. “I hope everyone goes and spreads [that message] far and wide and that it can be shared all around because it is so important.”
Julie Ilene Koch and her daughters, Mckinsey Koch, left, and Rebecca Koch, right, listen to a speaker during the Light Keepers session at the RootsTech conference on Friday, March 1, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.