The Family That Prays Together . . . Feels Connected, Unified, Bonded with Less Relational Tension

In a recently-published study in the Journal of Family Psychology, BYU researchers explored how family prayer influences family relationships, finding a connection between prayer and a number of benefits for families.

The 198 Christian, Jewish and Muslim families in the study lived in 17 different states and represented eight religious/ethnic faith communities. Family members were asked questions such as “Does your relationship with God influence your family relationships?,” “How does your family overcome major stresses and problems?” and “How do you share your faith with your children?”

None of the questions actually included the word prayer, but while coding the interviews, the researchers found 96 percent of the families referenced prayer in their responses, with 3,868 references in their interviews in total. The references were sorted into various categories.

“Many families loved to pray together, and it was the most important practice in their daily lives,” said Joe Chelladurai, BYU PhD student in the School of Family Life and lead author of the study. “As a family ritual, it was more than just putting up with the experience and getting through it. Family prayer provided sacred time and space to connect with God and with each other. It was a time of togetherness and interaction and a space to express love and concern for each other.”

Some of the themes from participants’ responses, listed in the results of the study included:

  • Family prayer as a means for continuing family religious traditions
  • Family prayer involves issues and concerns of individuals and the family
  • Family prayer provides feelings of connectedness, unity and bonding
  • Family prayer helps reduce relational tensions

Continuing family regligious traditions

In the interviews, parents indicated their eagerness to instill meaning and a sense of ritual to prayer. It was important to them to pass this on to their children. Children reported that they learned to pray through their parents’ examples. It was evident that a flow of religious direction and communication was occurring during this time. Family prayer was a practice, but also a means to transmit faith.

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BYU family history students connect missing soldiers to their families

A group of BYU students has answered the Army’s call for genealogical reinforcements.

With more than 82,000 Americans still missing from conflicts dating back to World War II, students at the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy have been working with the Army and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to return the remains of missing soldiers to their family members.

“Normally in our family history work, we are going as far back through as many generations as we can,” said Sydney Bjork, one of the students who worked on the project this past year. “But this sort of feels like reverse family history work. We start with a soldier and then look for the closest living relative they have.”

The Army sought help with this project from BYU, which has the only family history degree in the nation. Other partners in this project include historians who research where there might be remains of missing soldiers. Archaeology units take that information and get digging. And it’s BYU’s job to find the relatives.

Since starting on the project, the students have been assigned just more than 65 cases and have finished about 48 of them. After the cases are complete, students submit a report to the Army with the results of their research, the potential DNA donors and the contact information of the soldier’s relatives.

Professor Jill Crandell standing amid her two students in the JFSB courtyard
From left: Student Melanie Torres, Professor Jill Crandell, and student Kimberly Brown.

“Family history is something that’s really tender to all of us because it’s about family and we know how much our own families mean to us,” said Professor Jill Crandell, director of BYU’s Center. “We actually become attached to those families and there is a certain amount of inspiration involved when working on these cases.”

Not all cases are created equally. Some cases take three hours to solve. Some cases take three weeks to solve. However long it takes, the students on the project always feel an overwhelming sense of joy that they were able to help in the process of bringing families closer together.

For these students, this project is more than names and dates; it’s not just casework, each one is a meaningful story. Here’s a sample of the stories they’ve learned and worked on:

  • One mother continued for decades to set an extra place at the dinner table, just in case her son came home.
  • A still-living widow of a WWII soldier still longs to know at age 97 what happened to her husband.
  • One family of Italian immigrants has two brothers missing in action.

Melanie Torres and some of her fellow students who worked on these cases have close family members who have served in the military so this work really hits home for them.

“My grandfather was in the military, my great-grandfather was in World War II and my husband is in the Air Force. It is something that just really connects to my heart,” said Torres.

-Joe Hadfield, University Communications

Museum camp participants drop artifacts (to learn the importance of artifact care)

During the 2018 BYU Museum Camp, camp-goers dropped several artifacts…to learn the importance of artifact care!

The artifact drop (think of an egg drop but with festive ceramic holiday decorations from the Dollar Tree) was just one of the many activities that individuals were able to participate in during the camp. While not all artifacts survived the drop, campers learned preservation techniques and the importance of proper artifact storage.

As one camper shared, BYU Museum Camp allowed youth to do lots of “museum stuff”.

daily hearld2Camp participants got a special behind-the-scenes look at each of BYU’s four campus museums. They replicated fossil and worked with paleontologists in the lab at the Paleontology Museum, learned about building and planning exhibits at the Museum of Art and the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, and learned more about Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum collections behind closed doors.

Throughout the camp, youth were able to create and build their own exhibit displays at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. The first session of campers titled their exhibit “Before Bach” and displayed a number of musical instrument artifacts from the museums.The second session of campers made their final exhibit on animals from around the world.

Museum Camp provided youth with an interest in the museums, art, paleontology, anthropology or biology with experience in the museum world as they learned new skills and challenged their creativity. For many campers, this experience motivated them to consider working in museums in the future.

“I think this would be a great college job!” shared one camper.

Another camper shared that her dream job is to work in a classical art museum.

IMG_1528BYU is passionate about providing experiential learning opportunities to all of its students. At Museum Camp, BYU staff extend experiential learning to youth in the community as well. Museum Camp provides an opportunity to share BYU knowledge and resources with potential students and even the chance to occasionally drop some artifacts.

The Museum of Peoples and Cultures hosts a variety of events and activities in addition to Museum Camps, including date nights, family home evening activities, as well as special summer programs and events. For more information on MPC events and activities, please contact mpc@byu.edu.

The Museum of People and Cultures is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open to the public and general admission is free except for specified programs and events.