Reunion in the works for Joseph Smith Jr. descendants

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    By Lane Stilson

    Descendents of Joseph Smith Jr. will be reuniting for a massive family reunion, which will take place in the 200th year since the Mormon prophet”s birth.

    Committee members of the Joseph Smith Jr. Family Organization will be sending invitations on Dec. 23, the prophet”s birthday, to the nearly 300 known descendants of the Joseph Smith Jr. line.

    “We have so many of the family who feel like they don”t have any connection [to their heritage],” said Darcy Kennedy, organization committee member. “We want to have the family come together and get to know each other.”

    Darcy Kennedy”s husband, Mike Kennedy, is chairman of the Smith family organization and a great-great-great grandson of Joseph Smith through his son Alexander Hale Smith. Mike Kennedy said the committee will also include with the invitation a copy of the newly released book, “Joseph Smith: the Man, the Mission, the Message.” Matthew Brown, author of the book and BYU alumnus, said the book deals with Smith”s personality, trials and life.

    “It”s written as a broad-based biography so that people can get an idea about who Joseph Smith is as a man,” Brown said. “It”s not a religious work.”

    Brown said much of his intention was to clarify misconceptions about the prophet. He said most people who come to know Smith seem to like him; however, he said many people have heard untrue stories and automatically dislike him.

    “It [the book] is about his personality,” Brown said. “Once you get to know him, he”s such a different guy. You just get a different perspective from the book.”

    Brown, a full-time writer since graduating from BYU in 1998, took two years to research and write the book, which contains only verifiable facts, not mythology or fiction.

    During a presentation about the book, Brown gave examples of falsehoods about Smith that are circulated as fact.

    For example, several different accounts of the prophet”s martyrdom describe the episode at Carthage Jail. In Brown”s book, only eyewitnesses” reports of the events are used. Even second-hand and third-hand accounts of Smith”s death contain false information, Brown said.

    Darcy Kennedy said she hopes the book, which has sold 7,400 copies since its release a month ago, will generate excitement about the upcoming reunion in August.

    “We”ve been emailing and talking to the descendents, and they are so excited,” Kennedy said. “It”s like the Spirit”s moving among them.”

    The event will last several days and will be in Provo and in Salt Lake City. Kennedy said many descendents from Hyrum and Samuel Smith”s lines have volunteered to house the relatives, help them get around and just show them love during their stay in Utah.

    Though Darcy Kennedy and her husband are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said the event is not only for LDS descendents of the prophet.

    “We don”t want the Joseph Smith Jr. family to think it is a church thing,” She said. “It is not. It”s just for people who loved the prophet.”

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