Chapter 7: Providing Temple Ordinances

Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work, (2012), 29–36


Awaiting the Blessings of the Gospel

This chapter describes how to make temple ordinances available to your ancestors.

information cycle, perform temple ordinances

Consider how it would be to accept the gospel but be unable to receive baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the ordinances of the temple. Vincenzo di Francesca was someone who had that experience. In 1910 he found and read a copy of the Book of Mormon from which the cover and title page had been torn. Convinced of the book’s truthfulness, he searched for many years for the religion to which the book belonged. He finally found the Church and was baptized in 1951. To the man who baptized him, he said, “I have prayed daily for many years for this moment. … I know that you have led me through the door that will eventually bring me back to my Heavenly Father, if I am faithful” (“I Will Not Burn the Book!” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 21).

You have ancestors in the spirit world who, like Vincenzo di Francesca, have accepted the gospel message and wait to receive the ordinances of salvation. As you consider what your ancestors must feel, you may begin to understand the urgency of temple and family history work. You may come to know why President Joseph F. Smith described missionary work in the spirit world as proclaiming “liberty to the captives” (D&C 138:31).

Policies for Preparing Names for Temple Work

Generally, you may perform temple ordinances for deceased persons one year or more after the date of death without regard to the person’s worthiness or cause of death. If you have questions, please contact your bishop or branch president.

Before you perform ordinances for a deceased person born within the last 110 years, obtain permission from the closest living relative. Relatives may not want the ordinances performed or may want to perform the ordinances themselves. The closest living relatives are, in this order: a spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings.

Determining Which Names to Submit

You are responsible to submit names of the following individuals for temple work (the individuals must have been deceased for at least one year):

  • Immediate family members.

  • Direct-line ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on, and their families).

You may also submit the names of the following individuals who have been deceased for at least one year:

  • Biological, adoptive, and foster family lines connected to your family.

  • Collateral family lines (uncles, aunts, cousins, and their families).

  • Your own descendants.

  • Possible ancestors, meaning individuals who have a probable family relationship that cannot be verified because the records are inadequate, such as those who have the same last name and resided in the same area as your known ancestors.

Do not submit the names of persons who are not related to you, including names of famous people or names gathered from unapproved extraction projects, such as victims of the Jewish Holocaust.

Determining What Ordinances to Perform

Use the following policies to help you know what ordinances need to be performed:

  • When ordinances are not needed. The FamilySearch Internet site will indicate when ordinances are not needed for a person, such as in these situations:

    • Children who are born after their mother has been sealed to a husband are born in the covenant. They do not need to receive the ordinance of sealing to parents.

    • Temple ordinances are not performed for stillborn children. However, a child who lived even briefly after birth should be sealed to his or her parents. In some countries, particularly in Europe, children who died shortly after birth were often recorded as stillborn. Children listed as stillborn on records from these countries may be sealed to their parents. The FamilySearch Internet site will let you know if a sealing ordinance needs to be performed for a child who was recorded as stillborn. You should record all births, indicating any stillborn children.

    • No baptism or endowment is performed for a child who died before the age of eight. Only sealings to parents are performed for such children. If the child was sealed to parents while he or she was living or if the child was born in the covenant, no vicarious ordinances are performed.

  • Sealing couples with undocumented marriages. You may have a deceased couple sealed to each other if they lived together as husband and wife, even if the marriage cannot be documented. You can use the FamilySearch Internet site to prepare these names for temple ordinances without any other approval process.

  • Deceased women married more than once. You may have a deceased woman sealed to all men to whom she was legally married. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before she can be sealed to a husband to whom she was not sealed during life.

  • Deceased persons who had mental disabilities. Temple ordinances for deceased persons who had mental disabilities are performed the same as for other deceased persons.

  • Persons who are presumed dead. You may have temple ordinances performed for a person who is presumed dead after 10 years have passed since the time of the presumed death. This policy applies to (1) persons who are missing in action or lost at sea or who have been declared legally dead and (2) persons who disappeared under circumstances where death is apparent but no body has been recovered. In all other cases of missing persons, temple ordinances may not be performed until 110 years have passed from the time of the person’s birth.

  • Other policies. Please see your bishop for information about the following:

    • Temple ordinances involving living people.

    • Temple ordinances to seal the living to the dead.

    • Any policies not covered above.

Submitting Names to the Temple

After you have found all the required information about an ancestor and it is entered into the FamilySearch Internet site (see chapter 4 of this guide), you are ready to prepare a Family Ordinance Request form to take to the temple. This form will make it possible for temple ordinances to be performed for the person. Follow these steps to prepare the form:

  1. 1.

    If you have a computer with Internet access, go to the FamilySearch Internet site and select the temple ordinances that need to be provided for your ancestor. Select only as many ordinances as can be done in a reasonable amount of time. Then print a Family Ordinance Request form. The FamilySearch Internet site allows you to request that someone other than yourself take the Family Ordinance Request to the temple and perform ordinances for your ancestor. (Refer to the Help Center at www.familysearch.org for detailed instructions on how to use the Internet site.)

  2. 2.

    If you have filled out paper forms, ask a family history consultant to help you obtain a Family Ordinance Request for the temple ordinances that need to be provided for your ancestor. You will need to provide your Helper Access Number. (This number is the last five digits of your Church membership record number. You can get this number from your ward clerk.)

    Give your family group records to the family history consultant, who will arrange to have the information on your forms typed into the FamilySearch Internet site. After the information has been entered into the computer, the consultant will give you a Family Ordinance Request, which you can take to the temple.

You may do ordinance work only for persons of your own gender. Those who do baptisms and confirmations at the temple must be at least 12 years old, must be baptized and confirmed, and must have a current temple recommend. Males must hold the priesthood. Those who do other temple ordinances must be endowed and have a current temple recommend.

Performing Temple Ordinances

Scheduling a Visit to the Temple

At some temples you will need to schedule a time to do ordinances. At others, you can simply go whenever the temple is open. If you have any questions, contact the temple as you plan your visit. Your bishop or branch president can tell you how to contact the temple.

Temple ordinances should be done in this order:

  1. 1.

    Baptism and confirmation.

  2. 2.

    Priesthood ordination for males and initiatory ordinances.

  3. 3.

    Endowment.

  4. 4.

    Sealings. (The marriage sealing should be done after both the husband and the wife have received the endowment. Children may be sealed to parents after the parents have been sealed to each other.)

At the Temple

Take the Family Ordinance Request form with you to the temple. There, a temple worker will print ordinance cards for you, and you can use the cards to do ordinance work.

Whenever possible, you should enter your family history information into the FamilySearch Internet site before attending the temple, either from home or from a family history center. If you cannot do this, temple workers at some temples may be able to help you enter the information and print ordinance cards if you bring the family group records you have prepared. Contact the temple before you go to see if this service is provided.

After Attending the Temple

Once you have completed temple ordinances for an individual, you can verify that the work has been recorded. Just look up the person’s name on the FamilySearch Internet site.

  1. 1.

    If you have a computer with Internet access, go to the FamilySearch Internet site and sign in to the system. Review the information about yourself and your ancestors, and verify that the ordinance work was recorded correctly.

  2. 2.

    If you do not have access to the Internet, ask a family history consultant to print a family group record from the FamilySearch Internet site showing the ordinances completed for your family members.

Blessings of Temple Work

Latter-day prophets have consistently emphasized the importance of performing temple work for our ancestors. President Thomas S. Monson taught:

President Thomas S. Monson“The work of seeking out our dead and ensuring that the ordinances of exaltation are performed in their behalf is a mandate from our Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son. They do not leave us to struggle alone but rather, in ways which are sometimes dramatic, prepare the way and answer our prayers” (“Happy Birthday,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 58).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

President Gordon B. Hinckley“In a spirit of love and consecration, we must extend ourselves in the work of redemption of the dead through service in the temples of the Lord. This service more nearly approaches the divine work of the Son of God, who gave his life for others, than does any other work of which I know” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 8; or Ensign, May 1983, 8).

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the blessings that come to those who engage in this work:

President Boyd K. Packer“Family history work has the power to do something for the dead. It has an equal power to do something to the living. Family history work of Church members has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it. …

“Family history work in one sense would justify itself even if one were not successful in clearing names for temple work. The process of searching, the means of going after those names, would be worth all the effort you could invest. The reason: You cannot find names without knowing that they represent people. You begin to find out things about people. When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple. Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them. In doing so we store up treasures in heaven” (“Your Family History: Getting Started,” Ensign, Aug. 2003, 17).

Continuing Your Efforts

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the eternal consequences of temple work. In 1842 he wrote a letter urging the Saints to do baptisms for their deceased ancestors:

Prophet Joseph Smith“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. … Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free” (D&C 128:22).

This guide has helped you become familiar with temple and family history work. You have studied the doctrines that pertain to the redemption of the dead. You have learned how to gather and record family history information. You have learned how to provide the treasured blessings of the temple for your family.

Refer to this guide as often as needed. You can ask a family history consultant for help when you need it. Continue your efforts to find and redeem your ancestors. Go forward with the promise that through your efforts they “shall go free” (D&C 128:22).