Family History Together


Latter-day Saints find blessings and enjoyment by working together on family history and temple ordinances.

As Latter-day Saints, we share a common desire to identify our ancestors and provide temple ordinances for them. Many Church resources are available, such as the FamilySearch• Internet Genealogy Service at www.familysearch.org. However, people are also an important resource. Following are three stories of how members joined with others in their area to help one another with their family history and temple work.

Personal Ancestral File Parties

Tim and Donna Foster of the Manitowoc Branch, Appleton Wisconsin Stake, had been involved in family history and temple work for years. In the spring of 1995, however, Brother Foster felt a great sense of urgency to generate more interest in family history in his branch and discussed it with his branch president. The Fosters met with Ray and LaFond Hall, who were serving a full-time family history mission, and an idea was born: Why not bring members together in a workshop where they could enter their names into the computer using the family history software Personal Ancestral File? With the help of the Fosters and the Halls, members could run the names that were ready for temple work through TempleReady and go home with a submission disk.

With the blessing of the branch president, the Fosters and the Halls planned the evening. They brought seven computers to the Manitowoc church building. Members came on the appointed date, some with 2 names, some with 20 or more. They entered their names enthusiastically, and when they needed help, it was there. By the end of the evening, 11 members had a TempleReady submission disk.

Manitowoc members who had not attended the first workshop asked for a second chance, and when a second workshop was conducted, members from neighboring Sheboygan Branch attended too.

Over all, the workshops resulted in nearly 50 TempleReady submission disks being prepared. Many of the members traveled to the Chicago Illinois Temple to perform the temple work, and in addition they have increased their confidence and enthusiasm for family history.Ray M. Hall, Perry Fourth Ward, Willard Utah Stake

A Night in Sicily

As a convert from an Italian Catholic background and the only member of the LDS Church in my family, I’d been working on my family history for about 12 years with little success. I could not find my maiden name, Trifiletti, when I searched Ancestral File and not even when I attempted original research at the Family History Library. I learned that microfilmers were still working to secure records in the rural hills of Sicily, the birthplace of my forebears.

As time passed, I continued to pray for the Lord’s help. One Sunday afternoon I felt besieged by the sight of my nearly blank family history papers scattered over the kitchen table. I went to the living room and sat down on the couch. As I searched my scriptures, I found answers and the courage to move forward.

Again I went to the Family History Library and discovered that the records I needed had finally been microfilmed. I remember running my hands over the image of the names of my grandparents in San Marco and feeling as close to them as if I were personally visiting them. From that point on, I found hundreds of my relatives. My joy was full.

My husband, Don, and I yearned to share our joy and testimony of temple work with our friends. Before we moved to Florida, we decided to invite friends from our Sandy, Utah, ward and stake to our home on different evenings for what we called “A Night in Sicily.” For each gathering, we sent out invitations, prepared an Italian meal, and enjoyed a slide presentation featuring Italy and my ancestors. Following the slides, I bore a simple testimony in Italian and invited our friends to help us perform the temple ordinances for my ancestors.

The response was overwhelming. As our friends attended the Jordan River Temple with us, the Spirit was strong. A friend commented, “At one point in the endowment I realized I was crying and it surprised me—the tears were there before I even noticed them. I just felt that your grandmother was there too.”

This help from our friends has enabled me to accomplish the temple work for my ancestors. But even more important, these “Nights in Sicily” and the days and evenings in the temple with our friends have also allowed us to share the Spirit in a powerful way with those we love on both sides of the veil.Karen Merkley, Oviedo Ward, Lake Mary Florida Stake

Two Days in the Temple

“It was like holding stake conference at the temple!” says stake president John R. Thomas, describing the Slidell Louisiana Stake family temple trip to the Atlanta Georgia Temple, the temple they were assigned to at the time. More than 400 members—families and singles—attended the temple together as a stake on 24–25 July 1995. Many young children and teens came along to be sealed to their parents, so arrangements were made to keep them busily engaged in a variety of prepared activities to be held in the stake center behind the temple when they were not involved in the sealings. Several families in the stake cleared the names of some of their ancestors through TempleReady so they could have ward and stake members help them perform the temple ordinances.

Members commented on the joy of seeing the faces of stake members everywhere in the temple and the feeling it created of togetherness; it felt like the stake was a family. Several who had been members for less than a year performed baptisms for the dead, looking forward to the day when they would be able to come to the temple for their own endowments. A number of others who had been members for more than one year were able to do ordinances for themselves and then for their ancestors. Several of these families were also sealed together.

The Primary children and teens who had come to be sealed to their parents took a tour of the temple grounds, then met briefly with the youth who had just left the baptistry. The teens said to the children, “You’ll be able to do this some day” and “It felt good doing something so meaningful for other people.” The Primary children sang “I Love to See the Temple” (Children’s Songbook, 95).

That evening, stake members met for a fireside in the meetinghouse behind the temple. As leaders spoke and members bore their testimonies, the Spirit filled the chapel as they enjoyed the unity and love that brought them closer together as a result of their temple attendance.J. Thomas Cearley, Slidell First Ward, Slidell Louisiana Stake

[photos] Members in Sandy, Utah (right), helped Karen Merkley (back row) with temple and family history work. (Photo by Don Merkley.) Church members perform ordinances for deceased family members in temples such as the Atlanta Temple (far right). (Temple photo by Jed Clark.)

[photos] Below: Photos courtesy of LDS Church Archives; electronic composition by Charles M. Baird

[photos] Performing baptisms for the dead provides members with the opportunity to experience the peace and joy of temple work. (Above, center: Temple photo © by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., all rights reserved; Left: photo courtesy of Ronald Petersen.)