News Release

RootsTech 2018 Attracts Thousands to Salt Lake City

President Oaks and his wife share family stories with global audience

Thousands of people gathered at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City for the world’s largest family history conference. RootsTech 2018 was hosted by FamilySearch International February 28 through March 3.


Downloadable video: B-roll

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Kristen, were keynote speakers during Saturday’s popular Family Discovery Day.

"We are all part of one great family under God, our Heavenly Father,” said President Oaks. "We invite all to FamilySearch, the largest living family gathering in all the world."

"FamilySearch can be like a sacred portal connected to heaven,” added Sister Oaks. "Our family histories, combined with true doctrine, create a powerful combination that naturally leads to the temple."

The annual event attracted beginners and expert genealogists from the United States and dozens of other countries. This year’s theme was “Connect, Belong.”

Thom Reed, global outreach manager for FamilySearch International, said attendees had an opportunity to connect with their cousins through FamilySearch’s Family Tree app.

“We want people to walk away with a sense of, as they engage with family history, as they get to know others, they truly connect with people,” said Reed.

Keynote speakers included Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International; Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University; and Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist, who shared portions of his multilayered life story from center stage.

Hamilton said, “The core of my message today is family is not just bloodline. Family is whoever is in your life, looking after you right now, you know, whoever steps in when a parent steps out. Whoever is there to meet your needs and look after you every single day. That's family.”

Family history enthusiasts attended more than 200 breakout sessions throughout the four-day conference. Other RootsTech activities included Wednesday’s Innovation Showcase and more than 200 displays in the expansive exhibition hall.

The conference closed Saturday evening with a musical production, “My Family, Mi Herencia.” The performance, featuring “Luz de Las Naciones” (Light of the Nations), was held in the Conference Center on Temple Square. A cast of more than 1,000 people celebrated the cultures of Latin America, Africa and Europe.

The audience was also treated to contemporary musical performances from recording artists like Alejandro Melecio. “One of the songs is called ‘Remember Me,’ so the theme of this event being focused on heritage, and connecting with who we are and where we come from. I think the message every time, at least for me, is just convey unity, to convey that we're all one big family regardless of where we come from, and there is a place for all of us here, regardless of where we come.”

Dulce Benjamin wears many hats helping to put “My Family, Mi Herencia” on stage. As a coordinator, choreographer and dancer in the program, she sees the performance through many lenses.

“It's more appealing to people to see the culture, when you see it, you know, through dancing and through looking at beautiful costumes and different ages,” explained Benjamin, who said the program features different generations. “You will see children; you will see grandparents dancing together as family. And I think this is what the program is all about, putting together families and understanding families now and understanding families in the past.”

Wardrobe specialist Denisse Garcia has worked on “Luz de Las Naciones” for many years. And though the performance is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Garcia likes to remind everyone to get involved in programs like this, whatever their walk of life. “That's what we strive to show the community, … that you don't have to be a member of the Church in order to be a part of the show. You just have to have that desire to share your talents with everyone else.”

Watch the performance at in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Videos of the general sessions and other highlights can be found on the RootsTech website.

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