By EMILY CANNON
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will speak on Friday night at the first family history fireside sponsored by church history and doctrine.
The fireside will be on Friday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Joseph Smith Building auditorium. Anyone interested in family history and temple work is invited to attend, said Raymond Wright, chair of church history and doctrine.
Elder Christofferson also serves as the executive director of the church’s Family History Department and trustee of the Genealogical Society of Utah.
Kip Sperry, an associate professor of church and family history, said the fireside was planned to motivate students to learn more about their ancestors and understand the importance of providing temple ordinances for their ancestors.
Wright said the fireside would be an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in family history work to learn about what the church is doing now and the plans that are being set up for the future.
Wright said Elder Christofferson’s calling made him an appropriate speaker for the inaugural family history fireside.
“This is a unique opportunity to listen to the general authority charged with responsibility for family history in the church,” Wright said.
Elder Christofferson visits campus regularly to learn about the family history activities and is an enthusiastic supporter of the family history classes, Wright said.
“The fireside will provide motivation to all students to become involved in family history and temple work, even if they have only a few minutes a week to devote to it,” Wright said.
Wright said students should take advantage of the family history opportunities in the area.
“During their studies at BYU, students have a once in a lifetime chance to learn about their families using the largest genealogical library in the world — the Family History Library in Salt Lake City,” Wright said.
“They may also take advantage of what is probably the second largest such library — the Utah Valley Regional Family History Center in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU,” Wright said.
In addition to the local resources, students may enroll in family history classes offered by Religious Education.
Each semester about 900 students enroll in Religion 261, Introduction to LDS Family History. Another 100 students take family history classes that focus on research in specific areas, Wright said.
Prior to his current callings, Elder Christofferson served as a president of the Mexico South Area of the church and as a counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency.
Elder Christofferson is a native of Pleasant Grove. He received his bachelor’s degree from BYU and a law degree from Duke University. Elder Christofferson is married to Katherine Jacob Christofferson and they are the parents of five children.
In January, the church announced a new international database with over 6 million names on CD-ROM. The Family Search site, the world’s largest on-line genealogy site, allows users to access more than 640 million entries, according to a news release.
In a news release about upgrades on the church’s on-line genealogy site, Elder Christofferson said plans extend far beyond the Web site.
“Church President Gordon B. Hinckley indicated that the launch of the site in May was just a beginning. With this upgrade we are making good on that promise and have extended the reach of the service to an even larger international audience. It is all part of our gift to the families of the world,” Elder Christofferson said.
Leaders of the church have encouraged family history work during all times.
Howard W. Hunter, 14th president of the church, spoke about the role of technology in doing family history work, in “The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter.”
“The Lord has had a hand in bringing forth technology to accelerate family history work,” Hunter said.
“I feel that our most enthusiastic projections can capture only a tiny glimpse of how these tools can help us and of the eternal consequences of these efforts. However, we only stand on the threshold of what we can do with these tools.”