A Life Devoted to the Lord
by Lyndie Jackson
In 1999, Renee Furgeson returned to BYU, determined to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree, when her love of history eventually developed into a love for family history. Renee felt drawn to Church historical events in various classes, which prompted her to write papers on pioneer voyages and immigration.
Renee has dedicated hours upon hours to different projects designed to make Latter-day Saint history universally accessible, such as the Mormon Immigration Index and indexing the British Religious census of 1851. She explained, “Since that exposure to Church history I have become captivated by all things in the study of Latter-day Saint records.” After receiving her degree, Renee started a genealogical research company specializing in Colonial Research.
Since retiring, Renee has devoted her time and energy to her love for history and service. She has toured Church historical sites to learn more and is currently writing a book on her English ancestors. She is also serving her second service mission at the Church History Library. Speaking on her recent endeavors, Renee said, “I am now a widow, so I have bolstered my courage to devote all I can to the Lord.”
Her dedication to service for the Lord and His Church is noticeable to others as well. Christian Decker, one of Renee’s supervisors in the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation, said, “I have never met anyone with a greater attention to detail and care. She has made church history her life.”
Renee learned about the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project through her current service mission. She is currently working on transcribing Relief Society Meeting minutes from 1847-1890 in the Church History Library. A leader on her service mission suggested that she join the Project.
Her work for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation includes editing and transcribing the sermons of Wilford Woodruff, as well as transcribing missionary calls from Wilford Woodruff’s office.
Jason Godfrey, another supervisor, said, “She is excellent in her work, completes letters that she starts, and implements the instructions she is given.” He continued, “We are so grateful for her desire and dedication to helping the Foundation's purpose in making the writings of Wilford Woodruff universally accessible. We couldn't do this without her!”
Working on the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project has given Renee the opportunity to have additional spiritual experiences, as well as strengthen her testimony of the Savior and His gospel. She said, “I had a spiritual witness from a sermon I edited that Wilford Woodruff delivered on Feb. 25, 1855 at the tabernacle. He boldly testified that prophets are having physical and spiritual revelations from God.” In this sermon, Wilford Woodruff quoted, “‘They shall come with weeping and with supplications will I lead them… for I am a father to Israel…’ We believe He means what he says… literally.” Renee said, “My body felt a chill as he declared ‘literally’; I know this will happen.”
Renee also described a special connection that she realized her family had with the Woodruff family when she discovered that the home of Sarah Brown Woodruff, one of Wilford Woodruff’s wives, was near the home of her paternal grandparents. This has prompted her to take an interest in their family legacy and to visit their gravesites.
We are all grateful for Renee Furgeson’s dedicated service to the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project and to other Church history endeavors. She truly has dedicated her life in service of the Lord.
Renee and other volunteers work hard each day to make the words of Wilford Woodruff accessible to others. If you are interested in volunteering, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up directly on our website at https://wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/volunteer