Leaders Encourage Members to Tie Family History to the Temple
Family history and temple work are becoming more personal than ever due to an October 8, 2012, First Presidency letter that calls for members to use for temple work their own family names or the names of ancestors of their ward and stake members.
The letter includes five main points, which will help members find greater fulfillment in doing family history and attending the temple.
1. “When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched.”
“Any work you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred, and even greater blessings will be received. The First Presidency has declared, ‘Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors’ (First Presidency letter, Feb. 29, 2012),” Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during his October 2012 general conference address.
President Howard W. Hunter has said, “I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.”
2. “Members with limited ability to do their own family history research are encouraged to perform vicarious ordinances with names provided by other members or by the temple.”
There are many members of the Church who have limited access to temples. Church leaders encourage these members to do what they can. Members without a temple nearby can pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others.
Other members may struggle with feeling like all of their family history research and work has been done. These members are encouraged to continue to attend the temple, preferably taking with them family names of other members.
3. Youth and young single adults are especially encouraged “to use for temple work their own family names or the names of ancestors of their ward and stake members.”
Elder Scott also outlined blessings that could be had by young members of the Church as they participate in family history research:
“Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life?” he asked. “Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life.”
4. Priesthood leaders should ensure that all members “learn the doctrine of turning their hearts to their fathers and the blessings of temple attendance.”
Ward and stake leaders can play an important role in helping members act on this invitation and secure the blessings promised to them.
To Turn the Hearts is a leader resource guide provided as a supplement to Handbook 2: Administering the Church to help priesthood leaders support members in their responsibilities to seek after their dead and provide them the saving ordinances in the temple. It includes supplement videos that document how some stakes have used temple and family history work to strengthen individuals and families.
5. Those with “large numbers of family names reserved [are encouraged] to release these names in a timely manner so the necessary ordinances can be performed.”
There are currently 12 million names on FamilySearch.org that have been reserved by family members who intend to perform their ancestors’ ordinances themselves. Many names, however, have been reserved for years.
“[Ancestors] may not be very happy when they have to continue to wait for their ordinances to be performed,” Elder Scott said. “We encourage those of you who have a large reservation of names to share them so that members of your extended family or ward and stake can help you in completing that work. You can do this by distributing temple cards to ward and stake members willing to help or by using the FamilySearch computer system to submit the names directly to the temple.”
To help members respond to these calls by Church leaders, the Family History Department is developing new tools and experiences to help members find and prepare names for the temple or share them with other temple patrons who can help in those efforts.