Watch Elder Richard G. Scott's invitation to prepare family names for the temple.
A First Presidency letter dated October 8, 2012, encourages members to perform essential ordinances for their own ancestors when attending the temple. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided additional information on this subject during his October 2012 general conference address.
Below is the direction from the First Presidency followed by additional explanation from Elder Scott and links to useful resources.
When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched.
“Any work you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred, and even greater blessings will be received. The First Presidency has declared, ‘Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors’ (First Presidency letter, Feb. 29, 2012),” said Elder Scott.
Members with limited ability to do their own family history research are encouraged to perform vicarious ordinances with names provided by other members or by the temple.
"Temple and family history work is one work divided into two parts. … Some members may not be able to do both works," said Elder Scott.
We especially encourage youth and young single adults to use for temple work their own family names or the names of ancestors of their ward and stake members.
“Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life,” said Elder Scott.
Priesthood leaders should assure that young people and their families learn the doctrine of turning their hearts to their fathers and the blessings of temple attendance.
“The prophet Elijah committed the keys for vicarious work to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple to fulfill the Lord’s promise that ‘he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promise made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.’ Through further revelation to Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets, there has come an understanding of and the provision for temple work and the family history effort that supports it. Every prophet since Joseph Smith has emphasized the imperative need to provide all ordinances for ourselves and our deceased ancestors,” said Elder Scott.
Some Church members have large numbers of family names reserved so they can personally attend to the temple work. We encourage them to release these names in a timely manner so the necessary ordinances can be performed.
“Many faithful Saints have done the work of researching their family lines and are using the reserve feature of FamilySearch to hold the ordinances for their own family members to serve as proxy. The intent of reserving names is to allow a reasonable period of time for individuals to perform ordinances for ancestors and collateral lines. There are currently 12 million names and millions of corresponding ordinances that are reserved. Many names have been reserved for years. Ancestors who have been found are no doubt anxious and thrilled when their names are cleared for ordinances. They, however, may not be very happy when they have to continue to wait for their ordinances to be performed.
“We encourage those of you who have a large reservation of names to share them so that members of your extended family or ward and stake can help you in completing that work. You can do this by distributing temple cards to ward and stake members willing to help or by using the FamilySearch computer system to submit the names directly to the temple,” said Elder Scott.