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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how creative, on-short-notice solutions to the pandemic executed by staffers at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led to a record-setting global audience for general conference.

It’s happening again with another conference sponsored by the church in downtown Salt Lake City.

First, it’s important to note the excitement generated annually by RootsTech Connect. It isn’t just for genealogy geeks. Every year, the headlining speakers seem to make bigger headlines. And the audience swells.


  • For the first RootsTech in 2011, there were 3,000 attendees.
  • Last year, at the end of its first decade, the conference drew 30,000 people to the Salt Palace. Another 100,000 paid to watch online.

It’s redundant to note that the pandemic precludes in-person participation next week. Instead of dampening enthusiasm, the audience may triple in size.

RootsTech Connect organizers threw open the virtual doors for an online-only conference this year. They’ve gone truly global. As my colleague Trent Toone shows in his new story, the conference is free and the speakers are truly international.

More than 315,000 people have signed up already, and that number will continue to expand until RootsTech begins on Feb. 25.

The engagement is so massive that even before this year’s conference begins, organizers say it has changed RootsTech forever.

“The virtual event will never go away,” said Jen Allen, a director of events at FamilySearch, “Now the question is, do we do something in person on top of it? What do we do next year or even years later, whether it’s in Salt Lake or London? Maybe we look at other locations? ... There is no way we can take this away from the world now that we’ve learned all that we need to learn. And we’ll be able to do it so much better next year, knowing what we’ve learned. Definitely, the global approach of it will never go away.”

Read Trent Toone’s story to get the full story on this year’s conference, the unique way content will be archived and available and how you can sign up if you’d like.

My recent stories

Church releases first image of planned Syracuse Utah Temple (Feb. 16, 2021)

What the author of a book on Mark Hofmann had to say about ‘Murder Among the Mormons’ (Feb. 11, 2021)

What I’m reading ...

A recent BYU-Idaho graduate has gone missing in Hollywood, Florida. Noemi Bolivar, 21, went for a walk in a nature park on Thursday and hasn’t been seen since. Let’s all pray for her and her family.

You know I love a good whodunit. Here’s one about the Patriots fan who stole the Giants’ Super Bowl championship rings.

You could help solve a history mystery. An enterprising archivist at the Church History Library is seeking help identifying women in photographs held by the library dating to the 1800s and early 1900s. She first posted 15 photos. She posted again to say that the initial batch had yielded some great leads the library is chasing and to post a second batch of 15 photos.

Valentine’s Day yielded a cute love story that begins with a bishop discovering a woman’s fiancé was not who he said he was.

LDS Living has published a free, daily study guide to help people follow President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation to study covenant Israel in the scriptures to prepare for the church’s April general conference. The six-week “Countdown to Conference” focuses a week at a time on the following topics: Immanuel, saved, rewarded, atoned, eternal, loved.

I hardly use stamps anymore, but I like to use fun ones when I do. This is a great story about how Yogi Berra will be on a U.S. stamp later this year. That piece inspired me to see what the U.S. Postal Service had available these days, and I just got a new sheet of Bugs Bunny stamps in the mail. The USPS didn’t fail me: One of the stamps is from the short film, “Baseball Bugs,” in which the wise-cracking rabbit plays all nine positions at once in a baseball game.

One of my favorite cartoons of all time. Full of great lines of nonsense like, “Ehh, watch me paste this pathetic palooka with a powerful, paralyzing, perfect, pachydermous, percussion pitch” and “Where do you get that malarkey? I’m safe.” That last one of course leads to the argument with the umpire where Bugs switches sides from “safe” to “out.” The umpire unwittingly follows suit and suddenly calls Bugs safe. All of our children have been subject to me pulling that trick on them in the middle of arguments. Sometimes it takes them a minute to realize I’ve switched to their side, but eventually they catch on and play along, taking over my side. We always end up laughing.

That’s all folks!