Step 2: Find Out Which Ancestors Need Temple Ordinances

"Step 2: Find Out Which Ancestors Need Temple Ordinances," A Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work: Ordinances and Covenants, (1993), 13


Find Out Which Ordinances Need to Be Performed

After you have gathered and organized information about your ancestors, you should determine which ordinances need to be performed for them.

Seek the guidance of the Spirit as you determine whether you should do the ordinance work for an ancestor now or try to find more information first. Some members have found only limited information for a few ancestors and yet have felt inspired to do the ordinance work. Others have had what appeared to be complete information, yet they felt impressed to look for more information before submitting the names.

Following are three methods that can help you find out which ordinances need to be performed:

  1. 1.

    If you are using paper forms, look for blank ordinance spaces on a family group record (see the illustration below). To keep track of which ordinances have been performed, mark the ordinance boxes on your pedigree chart.

    Family Group Record
    Ordinance spaces on a family group record
    Pedigree Chart
    Ordinance boxes on a pedigree chart
  2. 2.

    If you are using the Personal Ancestral File computer program, print out the “Incomplete Individual Ordinance” and the “Incomplete Marriage Sealings” lists. You can also print a pedigree chart showing the ordinances that have been completed. See the Personal Ancestral File Reference Manual for instructions.

  3. 3.

    If you are using the FamilySearch computer system, select Ancestral File and print out a list of incomplete ordinances for any ancestors you find in that file. Be aware, however, that this should be only a starting point for your work. Ancestral File is compiled from personal records contributed by individuals and families. The records contributed may or may not have included ordinance information. Verify what you find in Ancestral File by checking the International Genealogical Index and your own records.

    If you find inaccurate names, dates, and places in Ancestral File, your ward family history consultant can tell you how to correct the information.

General Guidelines

Before preparing names for temple ordinances, consider the following guidelines:

  • A waiting period of at least one full year after death is required before temple ordinances may be performed for those who died without receiving their ordinances. This one-year waiting period does not apply to worthy members who died when under twenty-one years of age or who were unable to go to a temple in their lifetime for reasons beyond their control.

  • If the person was born within the last ninety-five years, obtain permission for the ordinances from the person’s closest living relative. This relative often wishes to receive the ordinances in behalf of the deceased or designate someone to receive them. In some instances, the relative may wish to postpone the performance of the ordinances. Also, be aware that acting in conflict with the wishes of the closest living relative can result in bad feelings toward you and the Church.

  • Information about royalty or persons who lived before A.D. 1500 is difficult to verify. Before preparing the names of such people for ordinances, write or call the Family History Department, Medieval Families Unit, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150; telephone 1-800-346-6044. The Medieval Families Unit can help you avoid duplicating ordinances for those born before A.D. 1500.

  • If you find an ancestor listed in the International Genealogical Index with his or her name spelled differently or with a different event date or place given, the ordinances for that person are valid. You do not need to submit the person’s name for temple ordinances again. To share the corrected information, submit your work to Ancestral File.

As you identify your ancestors and prepare their names for ordinances, you may discover some unusual circumstances. These include, for example, persons presumed dead, persons with mental handicaps, and couples who lived together as husband and wife for whom no marriage record can be found. Instructions on how to handle these and other circumstances are available wherever TempleReady is located. See your ward family history consultant for help.

Ordinances That May Not Be Needed

Some of your ancestors or their children may not need all temple ordinances, for example:

  • When a husband and wife are sealed in the temple before their children are born, their children are born in the covenant and do not need to be sealed to their parents.

  • No ordinances are necessary for children who are stillborn. However, if there is any possibility that a child lived after birth, he or she should be sealed to the parents unless the child was born in the covenant.

    Note: In some countries, children who died shortly after birth were listed in vital records as stillborn. Countries that have sometimes listed live births as stillborn include Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, German states (Baden, Bavaria, Germany, Hesse-Darmstadt, Prussia, Saxony, Thuringia, Württemberg), Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland. Children listed as stillborn on records from these countries may be sealed to their parents.

  • Children who died before age eight and were not born in the covenant need only to be sealed to their parents. They do not need any other ordinances.

The Church will automatically ensure that ordinances are completed for deceased members if the family of the deceased does not perform the ordinances within five years.

Delaying Ordinance Work

You may wish to delay having ordinances performed for a person when research is still in progress, when you have not received permission from the immediate family members, or when another family member is going to submit the person’s name for ordinances. If you do not want some ordinances to be performed for a person at this time, you may submit the person’s name at a later time or submit the name now and request that only certain ordinances be performed.

Use TempleReady to Prepare Names for Ordinances

TempleReady is a FamilySearch computer program that helps you prepare names for ordinances and send them directly to the temple. The TempleReady program is available in many stakes. Your ward family history consultant can arrange for you to use it and provide any other help you need.

If TempleReady is not yet available in your stake, send your family group records or diskette containing your information to—

  • United States and Canada: Family History Department, Attention: Names Submission, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.

  • Outside the United States and Canada: The temple nearest to you.

When using the TempleReady program, you will do the following:

  • Enter your information into the computer.

    Type the information from your family group records, or copy your information from a computer diskette that you have brought with you. Enter only the names of ancestors who you believe need temple ordinances performed. If ordinances have already been completed for an ancestor, they do not need to be repeated.

    The TempleReady program checks to see if the information you typed is complete enough for ordinances to be performed. It then checks the International Genealogical Index to see if temple ordinances have already been completed for that person.

    As the program checks your information, questions are displayed on the computer screen. Your answers to these questions help TempleReady prepare your ancestors’ names for temple work. You respond to the questions by selecting options from a list or typing in additional information.

  • Specify whether you will provide proxies for the ordinances.

    Proxies are people who receive ordinances in behalf of the dead. Since your ancestors cannot receive the ordinances for themselves, someone on earth—a proxy—receives the ordinances for them.

    If you will be providing the proxies, you should plan to provide them for all the ordinances. You may perform the ordinances yourself or invite relatives, friends, and ward members to help you. The temple can assist you if you have special needs.

    If you plan to provide the proxies yourself, the names you submit will be put in the Family File at the temple. Plan to submit only as many names to the Family File as you can complete ordinances for within two months. When necessary, the temple can extend the time for up to one year. If you let two months go by without completing any ordinances or requesting an extension, temple workers will try to contact you about placing the names in the Temple File and making them available to others attending the temple. This ensures that the ordinances will be performed for your ancestors.

    If you request that the temple provide the proxies, your names will be put directly into the Temple File.

  • Copy the prepared names and other information onto a diskette.

    The last step in using TempleReady is to copy onto a diskette the names that are prepared for ordinances. You will take or send this diskette to the temple so that ordinances can be performed. TempleReady helps you prepare a backup diskette containing the same information for you to keep in case the diskette sent to the temple is lost or damaged.

When you finish using TempleReady, the program will prepare a report containing the names to be sent to the temple for ordinances. The report also includes the names of ancestors for whom temple ordinances have already been completed and the dates of those ordinances, as well as the names of ancestors for whom additional identifying information is needed.