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The eternal mission of the Church with regard to family history is clearly communicated through recently acquired art in the Church Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The most prominent piece is a large mural recently installed in the foyer on the main floor of the library.The 7- by 23-foot painting immediately commands the attention of visitors as they enter the library, and its detail has prompted many people to stand and study its length, library workers said.

It portrays Jesus Christ extending His gospel of salvation to all humanity - past, present and future.

Displayed on the left are individuals in pre-earth life anticipating the experiences of mortality, and deceased ancestors in Old-World dress.

Also on the left, the prophet Elijah, holding keys symbolic of priesthood keys, extends his hand to confer power on the Prophet Joseph Smith. Books near the Prophet Joseph, written in various languages, symbolize worldwide interest in family history resulting from Elijah's visit in 1836. The Prophet Joseph is shown handing a book to a member of a family near the center of the mural, symbolizing him sharing his vision of humanity with mankind.

At center, Christ is depicted with nail prints in His hands and feet. He is shown with the Salt Lake Temple behind Him, standing in the intersection of two circles that symbolize the mortal world joining with the heavenly world. On the right, followers of Christ continue to progress in knowledge, experience, truth and happiness in the hereafter.

Salt Lake City artist Judith Mehr was commissioned by the Family History Department to produce the painting, titled "The Eternal Family Through Christ," for the library. She was chosen from several artists who submitted proposals.

The artist took about 2 1/2 years to complete the painting, done in oil and gold leaf on linen, but the overall project, including proposal and preliminary sketches, extended over four years.

"I've tried to illustrate that Christ is the key for families to be together forever," said Sister Mehr, a member of the Millcreek 5th Ward, Salt Lake Millcreek Stake.

Also new to the library is a print of a painting by jdel Parson, "An Eternal Family." It was hung May 23 on the second floor. The painting shows three generations of a family, dressed in white.

'The two new paintings are in addition to one already in the library, located in the stairwell off the main foyer, titled "Geneology." Painted by Theodore Gorka in 1982, it depicts the bond that sacred family records can create between past and present generations.