Recently, Steve Rockwood, Director of World Wide Support, discussed with Steve Anderson what the Family History Department will be doing throughout 2013 to serve the needs of the international members of the Church. Following are answers to some questions that were fielded to Steve Rockwood.
I understand that the needs of the international members will be a big focus of the department in 2013. What are some of your plans?
We plan on focusing on 3 key experiences. They include the following:
- What can we do to support local priesthood leaders and what will that experience look like?
- What can we do to make the patron experience a good experience?
- What can we do to create a positive work force experience? The work force consists of department employees who work in the field, family history missionaries, volunteers and members who have family history callings.
What are your plans for helping local priesthood leaders?
We want to help local priesthood with their divinely appointed responsibility to foster true conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of that comes through the use of family history. We want to serve as a resource to leaders of the international church as they help their members understand the truly spiritual nature of this work. Family history is all about the heart not about the chart.
What do you plan to do with the patron experience?
Our aim is simple, it is to help international members with their divinely appointed responsibility to find their ancestors and assure temple ordinances are performed on their behalf. We want to provide resources and tools in their languages simultaneously, not in English first with language versions following months or even years later.
We also want to address the issue of technology vs. paper products and living memory vs. technical research skills. These are very complex issues considering the wide degree of variability in the challenges our international saints have to deal with.
How about the work force experience? What do you want our volunteers and staff to do?
Everyone in the department needs to think international in everything they do. They also need to do things with the young, new international member in mind. Simplicity. Simplicity, Simplicity. I cannot say that enough. We all need to have a relentless pursuit of simple. The message, the tools, the programs; they must all be simple and easy to use, for our staff, our volunteers and especially for the members they help.
These are all exciting goals. It’s encouraging to see this kind of effort being made to enable the members worldwide. Any last comments?
I want to emphasize again the need to first focus on a making this work of redeeming the dead a spiritual experience for our members. Family history can be a powerful tools in the hands of our priesthood leaders to help them establish real growth within the membership of their wards and stakes. That real growth comes when the members are truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Family history has the potential of helping real growth take place within the hearts and minds of the members. So, we have to be a resource to those good priesthood leaders.
From there, it’s a matter of providing simplified services and tools in their specific languages. This must be done in a timely way and keeping things simple. If we do that, I think we will see some remarkable things happening with our international members of the Church. Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of this great effort!