News Story

Personal, Family and Church Histories Benefit New Zealanders

Looking back with love and gratitude, looking forward with faith and courage

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints place great emphasis on recording, preserving, and sharing personal, family and church histories, according to New Zealand church history specialists, Tony and Shelley Vos.

“Latter-day Saints value recording and sharing first person accounts,” Mr Vos says.

Shelley and Tony Vos.
Shelley and Tony Vos.
Shelley and Tony Vos.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“We likewise value and love the scriptures which are a historical compilation of first person accounts of individuals who experienced the hand of God in their lives and were willing to record and share those precious moments. It was someone’s job to preserve those records – and how grateful we are that they did. If they had not recorded all those wonderful details they would have blurred with age and eventually been lost.”

Mrs Vos says that “our personal histories that we record in journals, letters, blogs and in other ways, can provide us with specific guidance and inspiration which can be looked back on for our benefit and, in some cases, shared with others for their benefit.”

She continued: “During the last 18 months, everyone has faced challenges brought upon them and their families as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the majority of us have never experienced a pandemic before, it’s no wonder it has brought challenges. Hopefully through the challenges we have been able to each grow and learn. It would be a pity to have gone through the Covid-19 experience without recording what it was like, how we responded to the difficulties it caused, and what we did through this time. Covid-19 is just one of the myriad of big and small life events that occur to each of us that we can record and share.”

“Church, family, and personal histories record the journey of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here in New Zealand,” Mr Vos said. “The Church itself is made up of individual members and it is their experiences and the recording of spiritual experiences which creates church history. The history of the Church is an interwoven tapestry of individual members lives and their experiences.”

“Capturing the spiritual experiences and memories of our older generation, before they pass, brings with it a surge of love and respect for their individual earthly travails, and builds bonds with generations yet to be born.”

The couple say that their lay service opportunity to be national church history specialists has given them an opportunity to review stake and mission annual histories.

A stake is a Latter-day Saint term for a group of congregations in a geographical area. A mission is normally larger than a stake and can include several stakes and districts, with many congregations.

“These histories have touched our hearts,” Mrs Vos says, “as we read of the love that leaders have for the individuals they are serving. They also share sincere reflections on successful outcomes from service given and activities held.”

“Miracles, both small and large are recounted in annual histories,” Mr Vos adds. “We found ourselves moved to tears when reading those accounts. The inclusion of uplifting testimonies from youth and young adults were a highlight. It was wonderful to see photos of service activities and to read about on-line youth and young adult conferences, and of the life-changing experiences that occurred.

Histories are prepared by stakes and missions of the Church throughout the world on an annual basis and submitted at the end of the first quarter for the prior year. Stakes and missions are encouraged to print a hard copy of their annual history and to have the history on display for Church members and visitors to read, if they choose.

Mrs Vos says that a comprehensive annual history written by a stake is one where photos will have been taken to record events. “The photos will be accompanied by names of individuals who participated. For each notable event a leader will have written about what occurred at the event and most importantly what was learnt and experienced by individuals. That is what will make a great annual history, that is valuable to record and read.”

Learn more about the Church History efforts and resources of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.