News Release

More Highlights from 2023 RootsTech

Find links to news articles and YouTube videos of speakers and classes

RootsTech 2023 was held in person for the first time since 2020 with the theme “Uniting.” Thousands of virtural and live participants from around the world attended various events online and in Salt Lake City March 2-4, 2023.

Read highlights from the annual family history conference with the following summary that includes links to news articles and YouTube videos.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, right, and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, speak at the final day of the RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo by Spenser Heaps, courtesy of Church News. Copyright 2023 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, were keynote speakers for Family Discovery Day on Saturday, March 4. The Gongs were filmed visiting several locations in Hawaii where the Church leader has family roots and connections. The couple then toured places in Ireland where Sister Gong’s ancestors once lived.

“We know something special happens to us and to our family members when we come to God and Jesus Christ through temple ordinances and covenants,” Elder Gong said on Saturday, March 4. “No wonder President Russell M. Nelson calls gathering Israel and uniting families on both sides of the veil the greatest cause in the world.”

The presentation ended with a music video featuring singer Alex Sharpe of Celtic Woman singing the hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” and imagery of Ireland and Hawaii.


Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Gong, led a panel of Church leaders in a council-type discussion during the Temple and Family History Leadership Training for Latter-day Saints with responsibilities for temple and family history work in congregations of the Church worldwide. Messages focused on Christ, covenants and uniting families for eternity.

“Every leader should make a conscious decision on every occasion and in every circumstance to make sure there is an appropriate witness of the Savior in what they are doing,” said Elder Bednar.


In Church News podcast, Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Family History Department for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joined Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, to talk about the importance and global reach of family history.

Keynote Speakers

Jordin Sparks

RootsTech 2023 got off to a high-powered start Thursday with music and meaningful memories fromJordin Sparks, a multiplatinum recording artist, winner of “American Idol” Season 6 and actress. She shared her personal story and spoke of the power of uniting through song and word.


    Sean Astin

    Sean Astin, an award-winning actor, producer and director, talked about how not all families are alike and how we can establish wholesome united relationships. “I think we all repeat certain generational patterns, and learning from my ancestry is the biggest cheat sheet to solving life’s greatest problems,” he said.

    Actor Sean Astin speaks with emcee Kirby Heyborne at the final day of the RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo by Spenser Heaps, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2023 Deseret News Publishing Company.

    His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi

    His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi said he finds “great inspiration from learning about and remembering my ancestors and what they stood for and worked toward.” As a major contributor to achieving sustainability and food security in the United Arab Emirates, he was awarded the Medal of Excellence for being an important figure in sustainable investment.

    Me Ra Koh

    Me Ra Koh, a prominent photographer and Sony Artisan who is sponsored by Pictureline, shared her own story about how to be a living portrait of resilience. Embracing all the good and all the bad in one’s personal narrative is the most powerful story people can give to the future, she said.

    Tuti Furlan

    Tuti Furlan, an influential psychologist in Guatemala who specializes in positive psychology and the science of happiness, shared her message is Spanish.

    Mona Magno-Veluz

    Mona Magno-Velu from the Philippines designed and engineered initiatives that empower persons on the autism spectrum and those who care for them.

    “It is important for me that it is not just our generation to have access to information and access to the stories. I want my children to have the same thing. I want my children to have more,” she said.

    Steve Rockwood

    Steve Rockwood, president and CEO of FamilySearch, focused on how to unite past, present and future family. He announced the dates for RootsTech 2024. The event, which will be both online and in person, is scheduled for February 29-March 2, falling on leap year.

    Other Classes

    In the class, “Opening the Heavens: A Live Panel Discussion With Young Adults From Around the World,” participants shared how temple and family history work brings them closer to their ancestors and to their Savior.


    Diahan Southard, founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, said DNA tests to help individuals learn about their family history and relationships. With a DNA test, people can find what they’re looking for as well as information they were unaware of. She shared five reasons to receive multiple DNA tests.

    Family history can be like time travel or a treasure hunt, taught researcher Justin G. Thomas, who identified aspects of family history work that make it more effective and meaningful. By focusing on the people in one’s family history, anyone can discover “ancestors are more than just names and dates,” he said.

    Using terms like augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the cloud, blockchain, social media and 5G, the RootsTech 2023 Innovation and Tech Forum highlighted some of the latest innovations, technology and platforms available in the world of family history.

    Jennifer Jacobs and Jessica Sterns, co-founders of “Connect Our Kids,” explained how the nonprofit organization is pioneering technology to find families, build connections and create community for children in foster care.

    “When you build out your family tree and share it online you are helping put together connections and unite or reunite families. For some children, it can even be the difference between life and death,” said Jacobs.

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