As Church members pass your center’s open door, is their curiosity stirred by what they see on your walls? Do your walls inspire visitors to think about their own ancestors?
Many family history center directors are responding to the challenge to inspire visitors by decorating their center walls with inviting photo displays that celebrate families across generations. Often these wall displays are organized around some kind of tree figure. In Peru, a simple large tree was cut out of paper. Paper picture frames were attached to the branches. Members were invited to fill the frames with family photos. The young women in the local ward helped the director to create the paper tree.
Some directors found large vinyl trees to purchase online. (See the panoramic photo below as an example of one type of tree available from commercial companies online.) Vinyl typically does not damage building walls, but it is durable and nice looking. If you choose this option, be sure to discuss it with your facilities manager. Pictures can be collected from those who visit your center. One director invites a family who is new to the center to spotlight their own family photos on the tree. The family is invited to come together into the center, where they learn about FamilySearch.org and Family Tree. The family is introduced to the booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together. As photos are added to the booklet, they are enlarged and added to the tree. A month or so later, a different family is invited to spotlight their ancestors. Inspiring stories are shared, and the names of ancestors needing temple ordinances are submitted for temple work. Participating families are very positive about the experience and willingly teach others about their experience.
In Texas and North Carolina, in the United States, family history center directors put large world maps on the wall. In Texas, the display says, “The story of our lives before we were born.” Photos of important family events are hung on the wall. Lines of string connect photos to the place in the world where the event occurred. In North Carolina, the photos are of ancestors, and the strings connect the photos to the countries where the ancestor was born. As families work on completing their booklets, they add the photos online to Family Tree and to the family history center wall display.
Each time families work online in Family Tree, they can be encouraged to find additional ancestors who are in need of temple ordinances. Stories and photos help them to know and love their ancestors. Taking the names of ancestors to the temple binds the hearts of family members, and it binds families together forever. As these members teach others about their engaging and sacred experiences, more hearts are turned and the amazing process begins once again—find, take, teach.
Something as simple as a paper tree can invite interest and stir curiosity in those who pass your family history center door. Let your local members and other visitors tell their family stories with photo displays in your family history center. These displays create a wonderful invitation to share their own photos and stories of beloved ancestors. Every picture tells a story. Discover the stories in your tree.