Terry Jones is a family history enthusiast, but not a member of the Church. He has discovered through his family-history research that he had ancestors who converted to the Church and emigrated to America in the mid-nineteenth century.
Furthermore, he has always been interested in history, and this led to a growing knowledge and expertise on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his hometown of Merthyr Tydfil. He regularly conducts historic tours of the town and surrounding area.
One of his most recent projects involved collaborating with Church members in Utah, who have been sending him information on Welsh Latter-day Saints who are buried in early Utah cemeteries. This information was on display as part of the Church’s stand at the annual Glamorgan Family History Society fair in October last year; it attracted a lot of interest.
Terry’s enthusiasm and energy seem boundless—it’s hard to keep up with him, despite being in his eighties; he feels a real urgency in the work. This may all sound very familiar to Church members—even if we’re not family history fanatics ourselves, every ward has at least one individual who seems to live and breathe family history.
So why does Terry, who is not a member of the Church, do it? What drives him to spend so much of his time and energy gathering and sharing information in this way?
A key reason is his concern about the destruction of old records; he wants to help preserve documents and knowledge which would otherwise be lost. He is also a great sharer of information—he wants knowledge and information to be much more readily and widely available.
He is currently working with Church history specialists in the Merthyr Tydfil Stake to track down and photograph sites of historic interest to the Church—former meeting places, sites where baptisms took place or where missionaries preached—and he’s sharing that information and the photographs he takes with as many people as are interested.
Terry is willing to admit that he could believe that deceased individuals are anxiously waiting for their baptism. His wife, with the maiden name of Benbow, was a member of the Church in Wales, and came from the border area between England and Wales; she passed away about eight years ago. Terry does not attend any church. He says he has a great respect for God, “but there’s so much to do, I wish He’d given me an extra pair of hands!”
Certainly, Terry is a great ‘extra pair of hands’ in helping to move forward the Lord’s work of family and Church history in south Wales.