6:27am

Fri November 2, 2012
Kentucky Arts and Culture

Tips to Retrace Ancestral Steps

A reality show prompted a Louisville pastor to explore his family tree.  This weekend, he shares the lessons he learned during a work shop in Frankfort.

First Christian Church Pastor Brian Gerard was the grand prize winner on the Swedish game show called, ‘Everything for Sweden.”  It told the story of ten Americans of Swedish descent who travel to the Scandinavian country to explore their ancestral homeland and meet their relatives.  Gerard learned about his great grandfather, who also was called to preach.

“They took me to the church where he experienced his call to ministry and where he was confirmed.  I got to hear his story and walk the ground where his family worked and where they lived.”

As part of the competition, a genealogist helped research the Swedish past of the participants.  Gerard says much ancestral information is found in churches.

“The records in Sweden are really good.  The reason for that is that the churches for generations were responsible for basically being the census takers.”

Pastor Gerard says the experience helped bring his Swedish heritage to life.

“These aren’t just names on paper.  They’re not just people who are part of a family tree.  They’re stories and they’re stories are filled with life, and success, and disappointment and hardship.”

Gerard will participate in a free family history workshop Saturday morning at Frankfort’s Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.  The program begins at 10:30.