Family history work, aided by technology called 'labor of love'
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Despite a huge task ahead in gathering and cataloging the records of the world's dead, "we're not discouraged by odds," Elder Boyd K. Packer said Feb. 22 as the Church was honored by Eastman Kodak Co.
Representing the Church, Elder Packer of the Council of the Twelve accepted a plaque from Kay R. Whitmore, president of the company, at a ceremony in the Church Office Building. The award recognizes the Church for 50 years of "contributions, achievement and leadership in micrographics."The Church, in 1988, observed the golden anniversary of its microfilming efforts. Kodak, from the beginning in 1938, has been a major supplier of film and equipment to the Church.
Concerning the Church's extensive effort in family history research, Elder Packer said, "It's anchored in our theology."
"In simple terms, it is a testament of our certainty of the resurrection. We have a certain knowledge that this mortal life is an interim experience. The purpose of mortality is outlined in the revelations. In due time all those who have ever lived on this earth will pass through the veil. There is a life beyond the veil."
The obligation to research and provide saving temple ordinances for those who have died is "a labor of love," the apostle added.
He said the Church may not be on the "cutting edge of technology," but it tries to be not far behind it.
He recalled seeing an old picture of Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then of the Council of the Twelve, with a typewriter. The picture was published at the time, he said, to illustrate the Church's technological progress in the acquisition of typewriters.
Elder Packer said the Church is moving to acquire computer capabilities, adding that the Church will use any future technology that is applicable to family history. "If you can do it with glass or lasers or light or whatever, we'll be standing there waiting."
Although the task of researching records of everyone who has ever lived seems overwhelming, "we are not discouraged by odds," Elder Packer said. "Look at what we've done so far."
Elder Packer gave praise to those who work behind the scenes, and said, "Sometimes those who are colorless in the sense of man's measurements do great and monumental things."
In presenting the plaque, Kay R. Whitmore, a former stake president and regional representative in Rochester, N.Y., said his company has been pleased to serve the Church for more than 50 years. He pledged that the company will continue that service through microfilming technology and the development of other techniques such as optical storage technology.
The Kodak president said two things with which he has been most intently involved personally are the Church and his company. In addition to having been a regional representative and stake counselor, he also served as a mission president's counselor for two years in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Other General Authorities attending the ceremony, all members of the Temple and Family History Executive Council, were Elder Richard G. Scott of the Council of the Twelve; Elder J. Richard Clarke of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the Family History Department who conducted the ceremony; and Elders J. Thomas Fyans and Monte J. Brough, both of the First Quorum of the Seventy and assistant executive directors of the Family History Department.
Last November, Anacomp Corp., another film manufacturer, made a similar presentation to the Church, said Church spokesman Don LeFevre.