Church Announces New Tools to Help with Work of Salvation

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 7 February 2016

Elder Brent H. Nielson introduces "Strengthening Eternal Family Bonds through Temple Service," a new pamphlet for introducing people to family history and temple work. Priesthood keys facilitate the work of salvation on both sides of the veil, Church leaders emphasized during the leadership session at RootsTech.   Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Article Highlights

  • Priesthood keys facilitate the work of salvation on both sides of the veil.
  • New tools include pamphlets, a family history starter card, and the ability to print family ordinance cards at home.

Priesthood keys and the work of salvation

One word—salvation—is the key, “the bottom line” to missionary, family history, and temple work, Elder Allan F. Packer, General Authority Seventy, said February 6, at the family history leadership session at RootsTech 2016.

“As you exercise your [priesthood] keys, utilizing best practices and the tools we share with you today, there will be a synergy to increase the results for your families, your wards, and stakes,” said Elder Packer, Executive Director of the Family History Department.

The meeting, held at the Salt Palace Convention Center on the closing day of the RootsTech family history conference, was recorded, and content from it will be incorporated into training materials that will be used throughout the world in various Church units.

Elder Packer was featured on a panel with Elder Brent H. Nielson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department, and Elder Kent F. Richards, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department.

New resources for the work of salvation

Several new resources were introduced during the session:

  • From the Missionary Department, two new pamphlets that missionaries will use in teaching investigators and retaining them as new members of the Church.
  • From the Temple Department, the newly offered ability for Church members to print ordinance cards at home before going to the temple to perform the ordinance work. [See related story.]
  • From the Family History Department, a “beginner card” named “Strengthening Eternal Family Bonds through Temple Service: Start Building Your Family Tree,” and an accompanying online experience.
  • Also from the Family History Department, the newly offered ability to enter names, pictures, and stories from the My Family pamphlet that has been available for several years into FamilySearch.org. The new tool is now available in 42 languages.

Five components to the work of salvation

“You may wonder why we have temple and missionary leaders here,” said Elder Bradley D. Foster, General Authority Seventy and Assistant Executive Director of the Family History Department, as he opened the session. “The work of salvation includes at least all of the following: member missionary work, retention, activation, temple and family history work, and teaching our children the gospel.”

Elder Allan F. Packer speaks during the family history leadership session of RootsTech on February 6. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

He told the assembled priesthood leaders, mainly stake presidents, mission presidents, and temple presidents, those five components should be viewed and accomplished as one whole.

“Today, we hope we can share with you a vision for all of God’s children,” he said. “The scriptures teach us the purpose of His work is for immortality and eternal life. He desires exaltation for each of us. In these last days, He is nourishing His children for the last time. We are privileged to participate in that work. Our work is to help exalt His children, which will help exalt us.”

Elder Packer admonished the stake presidents and bishops to use the priesthood keys they hold to “open the door to all the blessings of the Lord’s true Church and then to let the people in the temple.”

“With this understanding, we can teach to educate, and motivate to act. In this way, we become agents of change. We must focus on outcomes, not just activities.”

Elder Kent F. Richards of the Temple Department instructs priesthood leaders during a session at RootsTech. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Expected outcomes

In temple and family history work, Elder Packer said, there are three expected outcomes: first, that more and more members will submit names of their families for temple ordinances; second, to achieve self-sufficiency as individuals and families and as wards, stakes, and areas; and third, to have more families working together to accomplish the work.

Elder Nielson said the keys of the gathering of Israel bestowed by Moses in the latter-day dispensation are the keys that bishops, stake presidents, and temple presidents share.

“The work is hastening on both sides of the veil,” he said, “and we can hasten the work on this side by beginning with the end in mind. When our missionaries get involved in family history work with their investigators and see both the baptismal font and the temple as the goal, we see amazing things happen for missionaries and recent converts.”

A recent multiyear study showed that when recent converts perform baptisms and confirmations in the temple with family names within the first two months of their baptism, convert retention improves significantly, Elder Nielson said. He added that this finding “is one of the most significant breakthroughs in improving convert retention that we have seen in many years.”

President Shawn Douglas, who returned last July from presiding over the Peru Lima South Mission, was invited to share his experience.

He said two sister missionaries were assigned in each stake in the mission, along with their proselytizing duties, to be family history specialists.

“These sister missionaries, along with their other work, would meet with every convert in that stake through the ward council coordination and help every convert and every rescued member complete My Family, help them go online, help them obtain their own family names, and then take them to the temple.”

Some days, there were over 70 converts in the temple, President Douglas said.

Within a year, more than 500 converts and more than 300 reactivated members went to the temple through the instrumentality of this missionary force and the ward councils, he said.

“We saw retention go from 20 percent to over 80 percent for those that participated,” he added. “Talk about hastening the work on both sides of the veil!”

Missionaries went “from font to font,” beginning with white in mind, he said, baptizing converts and then preparing them to do baptisms for the dead in the temple.

A video was shown illustrating how family history work, temple work, and missionary work all combined in one to bless the life of a new member, Zayna Chubb, who was baptized last November 15 in the Arizona Tempe Mission.

Elder Kent F. Richards, right, interjects a comment during Elder Allan F. Packer's presentation during the family history leadership session at RootsTech. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

New missionary pamphlets

In new member lessons with her, missionaries used the new pamphlet Families and Temples to teach her to identify ancestors through FamilySearch.org, fill out a four-generation family tree, find information through FamilySearch.org, prepare the names for temple work, and then go to the temple to participate in baptisms for her ancestors.

It is one of two new pamphlets Elder Nielson announced, the other being Learning and Serving in the Church.

“These pamphlets are now available in English and soon will be translated into multiple languages,” he said. “We are also working on a digital version.”

My Family pamphlet and online experience in 42 languages

Elder Packer said there are already 4.8 million copies of the My Family pamphlet that have been distributed, and, by design, it is similar to the new Families and Temples pamphlet. That is evidence, he said, of the interdepartmental collaboration of the Church departments.

He announced that there is now on FamilySearch.org the possibility of inputting data from the My Family pamphlet in 42 different languages, for both stories and pictures, along with family history information.

“This means now that approximately 99 percent of Church members globally can enter the information, identifying the ancestor, clearing the name, and being able to perform the ordinances for their families,” he said.

Elder Richards interjected that the Temple Department now has the capability to do the ordinance work in 83 different languages.

“Starter card” for people new to family history

Elder Packer announced a new card, “Strengthening Eternal Family Bonds through Temple Service: Start Building Your Family Tree,” intended to help people new to family history become engaged.

“The card by itself will answer the question ‘Where do I get started?’” he said. “It doesn’t really matter whether they have a lot of names in the tree or a lot of experience; whether they think the work is done or not, it leads them through a way to start.”

A new “starter card” is intended to help people new to family history become engaged.

The card has three sections: find a family name, take the name to the temple, and teach someone else to do the same. Each section has step-by-step instructions.

“But the good news is it doesn’t end there,” Elder Packer said. “We’ve been able to create an accompanying online experience for those who are beginning.”

It begins by using the intelligence of a computer to analyze one’s family tree, he said. “Based on that information, it will then begin the process of helping you find names.”

Elder Richards said the Temple Department is trying to do a number of things to alleviate congestion that new members coming to the temple sometimes find in the baptistry.

Print family ordinance cards at home

“The printing of the family names at home becomes one of the first things you can do even before you come to the temple,” he said. He then showed a video showing how to print temple ordinance cards from one’s own personal computer.

Temple family priority time

Elder Richards said each temple will now have a special “family priority time” when individual families can schedule an occasion to perform ordinances together without a long wait or delay. For recent converts, a baptism time can be scheduled for the first time they go “so the temple can be prepared to receive and welcome them and make sure their first experience is a wonderful experience.”

Limited-use temple recommend

A new limited-use recommend can be created online by priesthood leaders and printed from any computer and printer. It is activated when it is printed, and the bishop simply needs to sign it, along with the candidate, Elder Richards said.

Expedited temple confirmations

“Finally, you will see a procedural change in the confirmation area to facilitate the more rapid use of the confirmation area and allow more patrons to receive the ordinances when they get there,” he noted.

“So, in essence, we are trying to do everything we can to make sure that the temple becomes a wonderful, uplifting, spiritual experience for every patron every time in every temple around the world, and we encourage your support in helping new converts, recent converts, and youth have a marvelous experience, as well as families.”