The broad purpose of the Church History Department is to “collect, preserve, and share” the history of the Church. They do this by supporting priesthood leaders of stakes, missions and districts to submit annual histories of their respective units. They conduct oral histories consisting of recorded interviews. In addition, they gather historical records like journals, memoirs, books, and artefacts. They also document historic sites, and share historical information by making it available to the public.
Leon’s sister was the first in his family to join the LDS Church. She married a returned missionary from California who had taught and baptised her. Leon was doing his military service in the army at the time. His sister left for the USA with her husband after their marriage, but returned after she received her patriarchal blessing, in which she was told that she would be instrumental in bringing her family into the Church. They then began the long process of sharing the gospel with them. It took four years for them to accept the gospel and be baptised in 1979. Leon's parents and the rest of the family joined the Church a year before Leon did. A pivotal moment in his conversion came when his brother-in-law shared the plan of salvation with him in graphic form. At the time Leon was married with two children.
Just before the Johannesburg temple was dedicated, Leon was transferred to Johannesburg from Cape Town where he had been living, so he was able to attend the dedication. Three days after the dedication he and his wife were sealed in the temple, then their five children were sealed to them. Leon and his wife, Elizabeth now have 10 grandchildren.
Leon has served as a Branch President in the Strand Branch in the Cape, as well as a Bishop in The Benoni and Rynfield Wards. From 1998 to 2006 he served as the President of the Benoni Stake. This year he and his wife completed their three year service in Ghana where Leon was assigned to preside over the newly created Ghana Kumasi Mission.
The task now lying ahead for the Church History Department in Johannesburg is to train country and regional Church History advisors, who can take the work forward. They are hoping to achieve a quantum leap in the amount of historical information that is collected and preserved. Leon shared: “We want all members of the Church in the Area to become aware of what we do and how they can access historical information that will strengthen their faith by helping them remember what the Lord has done for them and their families. We would like to see the day when African members can be strengthened by stories of African pioneers who have gone before.”
The purpose of the Church History Department is -
To help God’s children make and keep sacred covenants by:
• Keeping and sharing a record of His Church and its people
• Ensuring remembrance of God’s hand in the lives of His children
• Witnessing of and defending the truths of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ
by Collette Burgoyne