Several of Joseph Smith, Jr.’s descendants have joined the Mormon Church (officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), but most of them knew about their family history from a young age. Mike Kennedy did not know about his heritage until he was given an assignment in his Tonopah, Nevada, high school to research his family history and to write a paper on one of his ancestors. When Mike asked his father for help on the project, his father gave Mike a large cardboard box full of pictures and family history.
At this point, Mike had never even heard of the Mormon Church. As he was rummaging through the items he had dumped out on the coffee table, there was a knock on the door. It was two Mormon missionaries. (Remember, Mike knew nothing of the Church at this time.) Mike called his father to come do the door. He also called all of his siblings in to watch. Only a few days earlier, Mike’s father had thrown a different pair of missionaries from another church out of his house. Mike expected the same thing this time and thought his siblings would like to watch the “fun.” However, Mike’s father welcomed the missionaries like they were “long-lost friends.”
As the missionaries visited with the family, they glanced at the papers on the coffee table and saw a picture of Lucy Mack Smith. Curious, they asked what the documents were. Mike told them he was doing a report on his family history on “some guy who started the Mormon Church.” Mike continued, “They went ballistic. I think they tried to give us all six discussions in the next ten minutes.” The missionaries were understandably very excited to get to meet and teach actual descendants of Joseph Smith about the fullness of the gospel which the Mormon prophet helped to restore.
Mike was the only one in his family to continue the discussions, but his busy schedule soon caused him to miss his appointments with the missionaries. Not to be deterred, the missionaries invited another investigator Mike’s age (a girl) to attend the discussions at the same time. Mike consented and was baptized four months later. About a year after that, Mike and this girl, Darcy, were married in the Provo Utah Mormon Temple while attending the Mormon Brigham Young University.
When Mike was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, he was told that his conversion fulfilled, in part, a prophecy contained in Doctrine and Covenants Section 109:70. At the time Joseph Smith received this revelation, he had prayed that the prejudices in his immediate family would be “broken up and swept away as with a flood, that they may be converted and redeemed with Israel.” This was made possible through Mike because his grandfather, who was a member of the RLDS Church, had died in a car accident when Mike’s father was a baby. Mike’s grandmother remarried, but her new husband wanted nothing to do with either the LDS or RLDS churches, so Mike was raised with no prejudices against the Mormon Church.
Mike and Darcy both feel that their conversion to the Mormon Church has changed their lives for the better. They are now striving to reach out to other Joseph Smith descendants in love and friendship. “Our whole mission together from the beginning has been to work with the Joseph Smith Jr. family,” said Darcy. “Everything has revolved around the Joseph Smith Jr. family.”
Doris White is a native of Oregon and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and a minor in Editing. She loves to talk with others about the gospel of Jesus Christ.