Sunday, September 18, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Writing Your Personal Church History

(c) 2011 Gena Philibert-Ortega
Today's Church Record Sunday is more of an idea for genealogists to consider rather than strictly a source. As genealogists we are passionate about the past but we also need to be equally passionate about the present. By writing up the present we leave behind a trail for our own descendants.

The website LDS History Blog is somewhat of an enigma. It doesn't have an About Me page, there's no telling how old the information is, and it's name is too generic. What is purports to do is provide LDS church members a place to upload ward, state, area and stake histories. There are some histories that include sources and the name of the author (I'm assuming that is the website owner as well). So for LDS church members in Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin (these are the states that have histories currently)  you may want to check out the histories posted. But I love the idea behind this website.

I would encourage genealogists who are current church goes, of any religion or denomination, to consider putting together histories of their local congregation. Even somthing simple could benefit generations years from now better understand their past. At least write up something that you can include in a history of your own life. Some ideas to write on include:

  • Background history of the local church
  • How long you've been a member there
  • People you know in the church
  • Leaders of the church
  • Regular activities you participate in
  • What a typical service is like
  • What special sacraments or ordinances have you participated in or that take place there
  • A synopsis of the denomination's beliefs
  • Where the church is located and what's near it in the neighborhood, including photos
Even just on a personal level this information will be interesting to your descendants and give them a little taste of what it was like in the "olden days."


Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

I have been a member of my church since 1975. During the 80s and again in the 90s a church directory was made with everyone's photo. I am SO thrilled to have kept both of those directories along with all the letters from the Pastor's Missionary father and past song books (pamphlets were all we had in the early days and they were replaced weekly). This is a great idea. I have lots and lots of stories and photos taken at various events. My son, when filling out a questionnaire about his membership and how long he'd been there, put "since before I was born". LOL! All the folks loved that answer!

Dawn said...

Good post, good ideas, Gena! One of my most satisfying sources of information on my family is a book on the Sinking Fork Christian Church Disciples of Christ which is a history by the members of the church. The compiler, Betty McCorkle, relentlessly tracked down vital information for over 650 members. It was from this book that I learned that my great-grandmother was a part of the "big baptizing of 1910" when over fifty persons were baptized in a pond on a farm. A great trail of information for a descendant to find indeed!

Gena Philibert Ortega said...

Don't you love people who go to all that work? How wonderful that you were able to find that. I think it's great when we can find those stories today, that's why I want people to think about the paper trail we leave behind today for our descendents.

Thanks so much for sharing this.