Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Birth of One Child - Religious Affiliations

How is it possible that the birth of one child has so profoundly impacted our world for over 2,000 years? Were it not part of recorded history by humble disciples years later, the spirit of Christmas would be unknown today. Earlier this year I developed a lecture on power point entitled, Religious Affiliations and Their Records. For genealogists the use of religious records in our research is profoundly important no matter where we are researching in the world. According to wikipedia there are 2.2 billion Christians within the world population of 7 billion. On this Sunday before Christmas 2012 I thought I would share some thoughts about this part of my family history.

My mother's family was Catholic and my mother carried this into our family. I was baptized in the Catholic Church and we attended a local parish until I was six years old. At that time my mother joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When I was eight years old I was baptized in this church and today remain an active member. We have raised our six children in the church and our grandchildren also are being raised in the church. My father never joined the church, but was baptized in the Methodist Church in his youth. He did attend church with us and was active in the scouting program.

In my youth I attended many churches with friends and relatives. I can appreciate the passion people have for their personal beliefs. The churches I remember the most are: Catholic, Episcopalian, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, and Salvation Army.

Serving a church mission in Guatemala in my early twenties was a life altering experience. The major religion in that country is Catholic, while there are religions of all types. The private homes we lived in were diligent in creating a Christmas spirit in their homes. They would put up small trees and have a special meal of foods they seldom would eat otherwise. In their homes they would dedicate one room or closet to the nativity display. They would lite candles every night, say prayers and sing songs. We even attended Mass with them on special occasions.

Today was the Christmas program at our church. There was an opening talk by one of the young men. Then the narrator would read sections, followed by the choir or congregation singing a song. I love music in general, but the Christmas music soothes my soul. We celebrate the birth of one child, who grew to be a man, lived only thirty-three years, and left our world with a profound message. Many of us await his return and when loved ones die we picture them being welcomed home by him.
The songs included:
Joy to the World
Jesus Once of Humble Birth
Angels We Have Heard on High
Away in a Manger
Jesus Lord at Thy Birth
Far, Far Away on Judea's Plain
Peace, Peace, Peace
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
O Holy Night (My favorite)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night

My religious heritage is as follows:
Olsen Family - Norwegian Danish Methodist Church, US 1881
Brown Family - Norwegian Danish Methodist Church, US 1862
Straw Family - Lutheran Church, US 1770s
Tidd Family - Methodist Church, Congregational Church, US 1630s
Cole Family - Christian, US early
Rounds Family - Christian, US early
Anderson Family - Lutheran, US 1871
Neppl Family - Catholic, US 1875

My research in religious records is just beginning. You will need to determine the church your ancestors were affiliated with to begin your search. Become aware of the churches located in the communities that they lived in. Note the cemeteries that they are buried in. Marriage records usually record the religious affiliation if performed by a church clergy. Family baptismal records, confirmations and burials may provide clues. Once a denomination is determined then the fun begins. A thorough study of the records for that type of church and where they may be located is important. Finding these records can be very rewarding.

New baby Jesus with old one back right.

As a personal ending I would like to share the nativities displayed in our home. Hannah our granddaughter has been rearranging them over time, so I will share three pictures. Previously I shared on Facebook how I had a Precious Moments Nativity for many years, but the baby Jesus was missing. This past year while shopping at a garage sale I came across the baby Jesus of this set for $.25. Not knowing for sure if it was the perfect match I left it on the table in the living room until we put out the sets. It is a perfect match, but Hannah prefers the little paper stock manger with the plastic baby one of my children received years ago at church. It is certainly fun to observe a child sharing their personal impression of the birth of this one Child.

Notice the little Norwegian boy and girl from my trip to Norway and change of baby Jesus.

Wishing a Merry Christmas to you and your family, and may you have a very Happy New Year discovering genealogy serendipity moments.

Our first Nativity set from 1978. Mr. and Mrs. Santa we made on our first Christmas, 1977, together before marriage. My mother painted the angel and choirboy. The red block with the words –
Some of my greatest blessings call me Grandma.

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