Elder Kyle S. McKay has begun his service as the 16th church historian and recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, effective Aug. 1.
Elder McKay was introduced Friday as the church’s new historian and recorder via a news release.
“There have been some marvelous things that have happened here. And there are some marvelous things that are going on,” he said in the news release. “I hope to help record and preserve it without getting in the way.”
Elder McKay was sustained as a General Authority Seventy in 2018. The former attorney has been serving as the assistant executive director of the Church History Department for the past three years under the leadership of Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., who will be given emeritus status in the October general conference.
What does the church historian and recorder do?
Elder McKay will oversee the Church History Department, church historical sites, a publications department, the Church History Library and Church History Museum on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
“I’m called the church historian. But, in truth, the real historians are the people I work with. I preside over a department that is full of absolutely brilliant people,” he said.
Finding faith in church history
As he steps into his new assignment, Elder McKay is mindful of those who may be critical of the church and its history.
“Church history, as you may know, has been a (topic) where some people have found things that have caused them to lose or question their faith,” he said. “I believe that church history has the capacity to strengthen faith and it ought to be used for that purpose, and I’m excited to do it.”
Elder McKay believes the best sources for information about the church are found in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon.
“I think it is not just a starting point, but it’s the ending point. That’s what we believe. And then after that, you can … consult our histories (for context and application),” said Elder McKay.
“My invitation is (to) study the truths of God. If you study error, you will come to know only error, and our purpose in or out of the Church ought to be to seek out truth and not just facts, but truth, especially saving truth.”
Elder McKay’s background
For those who recognize the McKay name, Elder McKay’s grandfather is the first cousin to past church President David O. McKay. The new church historian and recorder also worked on the Huntsville family ranch of former church historian and recorder Elder Marlin K. Jensen during most of his youth.
Elder McKay’s family lived in Bountiful during his growing up years, although he spent much of his youth in Huntsville working on the Jensen ranch. Marlin Jensen was also his bishop.
“It’s not like we talked about church history,” Elder McKay said. “We milked cows and hauled hay and fixed fences when I was there as a 14-year-old boy. I turned 15 when I was living in his home.”
Elder McKay kept a journal while working for the Jensens and was greatly influenced by Elder Jensen.
“I grew up under the tutelage of Marlin Jensen. He has been a kind mentor my entire life. I watched him from a distance as he fulfilled this responsibility,” Elder McKay said.
Elder McKay received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Brigham Young University in 1984 and a juris doctor degree from BYU in 1987. He practiced law in Oregon and Utah from 1987 to 2018, according to his church bio.
He served as a full-time missionary in Japan and has served in many church leadership positions. He is married to Jennifer Stone and they are the parents of nine children.