In an ongoing effort to make genealogical records available to Church members, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made an agreement with three major partners — Ancestry.com, MyHeritage and findmypast — to provide premium subscriptions free of charge to all Church members.
A limited number of Church members have already received subscriptions, with a few thousand more gaining access every week. This week, 45,000 members will receive email invitations.
“We’re all about giving access to members of the Church and those not of our faith access to as many records as possible so they can identify their ancestors and preserve their legacy for generations,” said Thom Reed, partner marketing manager at FamilySearch International.
Reed said they’re rolling out access to these subscriptions slowly to ensure there are no unforeseen technical issues as large numbers of Church members create new accounts. Church members worldwide will have premium access to all three partners’ sites within three months, but probably sooner, Reed said.
“The Lord opening up the opportunity for us to work with these commercial family history companies gives us even more technology and even more records, which shortens the time it takes us to find these ancestors and provide saving ordinances for them,” Reed said.
The subscriptions Church members receive aren’t just the basic packages — all three companies (and a fourth coming soon) are providing Church members with the global, premium subscriptions. These subscriptions usually cost anywhere from $120 to $300 per year, per website, and provide access to all available records with few exceptions.
“This will allow more members of the Church to submit their family names for temple work,” Reed said. “The more records we have access to, the more opportunities Church members will have to find their ancestors. The more ancestors we find, the more individuals will be able to receive saving ordinances in the temple. That’s the goal — to get more temple work accomplished.”
Additionally, FamilySearch.org is working to integrate Church members’ subscriptions to these sites with Family Tree. When the technology is fully functional, Church members will be able to access and add to their FamilySearch Family Trees and submit names for temple work from whichever platform they prefer.
“You can choose any of the four to accomplish what you want to do as you find ancestors and take their names to the temple,” Reed said. “If you want to share your Family Tree with others to collaborate on another website, you can. But if you don’t, you can keep that information private.”
Church leadership considered the agreements carefully before finalizing anything.
“These decisions to enter agreements and share information like this has been weighed by the senior councils of the Church,” Reed said. “We have not entered into these lightly. There are great blessings to be had by having access to a greater number of records on these websites to aid Church members in their family history research.”
The Church has recently made strides in hastening of the work of salvation with increased missionary efforts and a large-scale emphasis on all Church members participating in missionary work. Family history and temple work are another important part of the work of salvation, and these changes help that work move forward.
“Brothers and sisters, family history centers are now in our homes,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook in his April 2014 General Conference address “Roots and Branches.” “…We finally have the doctrine, the temples and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation.”