Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

 

5.4 Temple and Family History Work

In temples, Church members receive ordinances and make sacred covenants that are essential for exaltation. Church members also go to temples to perform ordinances in behalf of deceased persons who have not received the ordinances.

Priesthood and auxiliary leaders teach ward members about basic responsibilities in temple and family history work, as outlined in the following paragraphs:

They encourage members to receive their own temple ordinances and help immediate family members receive theirs. Leaders teach members that the purpose of the endowment is to prepare for exaltation, not merely to prepare for marriage or a mission.

Leaders encourage each endowed member to hold a current temple recommend and go to the temple as often as circumstances and family needs allow. Leaders also encourage unendowed adults and youth ages 12 and older, including new members, to have limited-use temple recommends and go to the temple often to be baptized and confirmed for the dead. Leaders do not establish quotas or reporting systems for temple attendance. Each member determines his or her own level of participation in temple work.

Priesthood and auxiliary leaders teach members to participate in family history work by identifying their ancestral family members, requesting temple ordinances for them if needed, and providing these ordinances in the temple themselves if possible.

Leaders help members understand that they should not request that temple ordinances be performed for any unrelated person without the approval of the person’s closest living relative. Leaders also help members understand that they should not make such requests for famous people who are not related to them or for people whose information has been gathered from unapproved indexing projects.

 5.4.1

Bishop and His Counselors

The bishop and his counselors oversee temple and family history work in the ward. They ensure that the doctrines and blessings of temple and family history work are taught regularly in ward meetings.

As the bishop meets with members, he helps them prepare to receive the ordinances of the temple and qualify to continue going to the temple as often as circumstances allow.

The bishop and his counselors encourage members to identify their ancestral family members and provide temple ordinances for them.

Other responsibilities of the bishopric related to temple work are outlined in Handbook 1, chapter 3.

 5.4.2

Ward Council

At least quarterly in a ward council meeting, leaders consider matters relating to temple and family history work, as follows:

They discuss ways to help individuals and families receive the ordinances of the temple and go to the temple as often as circumstances allow.

They prayerfully consider ward members who may be invited to participate in temple preparation seminars or work with family history consultants.

They discuss ways to help members participate in family history work.

They may discuss ways to use family history work to find people for the full-time missionaries to teach and to reach out to new members and less-active members.

 5.4.3

High Priests Group Leader

The high priests group leader coordinates the ward council’s efforts to encourage temple and family history work in the ward.

The high priests group leader also coordinates the work of family history consultants. If the stake has a family history center, he assigns consultants to serve as staff members there as requested by the family history center director. If the stake participates in FamilySearch indexing, he recommends individuals to serve as FamilySearch indexing workers.

If a ward does not have a high priests group leader, the elders quorum president or another assigned Melchizedek Priesthood holder fills this role.

 5.4.4

Family History Consultants

Under the direction of the high priests group leader, family history consultants have the following responsibilities. They use the Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work as a resource.

They help members identify ancestral family members. They help members prepare information so that temple ordinances may be performed for their ancestral family members. They help members who do not have access to computers or who are uncomfortable using computers. Where possible, they provide this assistance in members’ homes.

They serve regularly as staff members in a local family history center, as assigned. They may also be assigned to teach family history classes in the ward.

For additional information on the responsibilities of family history consultants, see the Family History Consultant’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work, which is available on LDS.org.

 5.4.5

Temple and Family History Classes and Resources

Temple Preparation Seminars

Temple preparation seminars help members prepare to receive the ordinances and blessings of the temple. These seminars are planned under the bishop’s direction. They are taught at the meetinghouse or in a home as often as needed.

Temple preparation seminars are especially helpful for new members, less-active members returning to Church activity, and endowed members who have not renewed their recommends for an extended time. The seminars may also be helpful for active members who are preparing to receive the endowment.

Under the bishop’s direction, ward council members prayerfully select members to invite to each seminar.

The bishopric calls one or more teachers, who may be a husband and wife. Lessons and instructions for organizing the course are in Endowed from on High: Temple Preparation Seminar Teacher’s Manual. Participants in the seminar should receive their own copies of the booklet Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple.

Family History Course

A family history course may be taught during Sunday School or at another time that is more convenient for members. This course is organized under the direction of the bishopric rather than the Sunday School president. The teacher uses the Instructor’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work to teach the lessons. The teacher is usually a family history consultant assigned by the bishopric. Lessons are generally conducted as workshops in which members actually complete family history work.

Access to Online Family History Resources

The Church’s online family history resources help members identify their ancestral family members, organize ancestral information, and submit requests for temple ordinances to be performed for these family members. The majority of these resources are available through the Church’s family history Internet site, FamilySearch.org.

Where a stake or ward meetinghouse has computers with Internet access, or where family history programs are installed on stake or ward computers, the stake presidency and bishopric ensure that these computers are available for members to use at reasonable times. Family history consultants can help schedule the computers and teach members how to use them.

Members who use Church administrative computers for family history work should not have access to membership or financial information.

 5.4.6

Stake Leaders

Stake President and His Counselors

The stake president and his counselors oversee temple and family history work in the stake. They ensure that the doctrines and blessings of this work are taught regularly in stake meetings.

As the stake president meets with members, he helps them prepare to receive the ordinances of the temple and qualify to continue going to the temple as often as circumstances allow.

The stake president and his counselors encourage members to identify their ancestral family members and provide temple ordinances for them.

Other responsibilities of the stake presidency related to temple work are outlined in Handbook 1, chapter 3.

High Councilor(s) Assigned to Temple and Family History Work

The stake presidency may assign one or more high councilors to instruct high priests group and elders quorum leaders in their temple and family history responsibilities. As needed, these high councilors also coordinate the stake’s efforts in FamilySearch indexing and at family history centers.

 5.4.7

Temple and Family History Resources in the Stake

FamilySearch Indexing Program in the Stake

In FamilySearch indexing, participants use their computers to access images of documents such as census records, church registers, and vital records. From these images, they create automated indexes that are then made accessible through FamilySearch.org.

Individuals, including those who are not members of the Church, can do FamilySearch indexing on their own. However, the stake presidency may determine that it would be beneficial for stake members to work together in an indexing program. Such an effort can provide service opportunities for members who are less active or homebound. Youth may also participate.

For information on establishing a FamilySearch indexing program, see the Administrative Guide for Family History, which is available on LDS.org.

Family History Centers

Some stakes have family history centers, which exist primarily to help Church members identify their ancestral family members and provide temple ordinances for them. Community patrons are also welcome to use the resources at family history centers.

These centers provide access to the Church’s microfilmed family history records, to family history computer and Internet resources such as FamilySearch, and to training on how to do family history work.

For more information about family history centers, see the Administrative Guide for Family History, which is available on LDS.org.