“Taping of Histories Brings Blessings,” Ensign, Aug. 1979, 70
“We renew our appeal for the keeping of individual journals and records and compiling family histories,” President Spencer W. Kimball has said. “Any Latter-day Saint family that has searched genealogical and historical records has fervently wished their ancestors had kept better and more complete records. On the other hand, some families possess some spiritual treasures because ancestors have recorded the events surrounding their conversion to the gospel and other happenings of interest, including many miraculous blessings and spiritual experiences. People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations.” (Ensign, Nov. 1975, p. 4.)
The high priests in the Ogden Utah Thirty-fifth Ward, Ogden Utah East Stake, believed what President Kimball said. But, like many, they were having difficulty getting going. How do you get started on a project as big as writing your life story?
Happily, the group leader, Arthur H. Dale, and the group instructor, T. Taylor Cannon, recognized that many of the group members needed a little help getting started on their histories. So, with inspiration they devised a plan. The Melchizedek Priesthood curriculum allows some room for flexibility; in fact, quorum and group leaders are encouraged to come up with several lessons a year that are specially created to fill local needs. Brother Dale decided that it would be helpful if some of the group’s lesson time were devoted to the life story of each member.
He and his assistants began by scheduling time in several group meetings for each member of the group to verbally share part of his story. Prior to each meeting, the members who were to speak that week were given an outline of what they might include in their oral histories. Included in the outline were such categories as genealogy, schooling, faith-promoting experiences, marriage and family memories, jobs, and church activity. Each brother was also encouraged to include his testimony.
Each high priest was given ten minutes in the group meeting to present the thoughts he’d prepared. His short talk was recorded on a sixty-minute cassette tape. After the meeting he was visited in his home, presented with the tape, and challenged to fill in the remaining fifty minutes.
Brother Dale explains their success: “The experience has been most inspirational. Our members have drawn closer to one another, common interests have surfaced, and a warm feeling for each other has prevailed. Attendance has increased. We’ve had fifty-two out of fifty-eight respond, and we hope to hear from the other six soon.”
There are more tangible benefits as well. Says Brother Dale: “Fifty-two personal visits have been made to members of the group to deliver the tapes to them and to challenge each man to complete the tape. Fifty-two testimonies have been borne in group meeting. Fifty-two personal histories have been begun. Fifty-two live voices have been recorded for posterity.”