Family History Work Vital, Prophets and Apostles Say

Modern-day prophets and apostles have continually taught the need for Church members to enable the salvation of the dead by performing temple and family history work on behalf of deceased ancestors. (See Handbook 2, Administering the Church, p. 9). To assist members in doing their family history work, Church leaders have directed the development of FamilySearch™ (a research tool) and FamilySearch™ indexing, and they have established family history centers throughout the Church.

Turning Hearts to Family History

Several scriptures speak of turning “the hearts of the children to the fathers.” Here are some selected passages.

 “We thank you for all you are doing to identify ancestors,” Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who directs the Church’s Temple and Family History Executive Council, said in a question-and-answer session at the 2011 RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City on February 12. “The real value of research in identifying ancestors is providing the ordinances for them in the temple,” he said.

Success through patience

Elder Scott encouraged family history consultants and others participating in the conference to keep trying to involve local members in family history work. “Success,” he said, “comes from a word that’s hard for us to sometimes accept, and that’s patience.” Then he added, with a smile, “And there’s always a place for ingenuity.”

As he closed the question-and-answer session, Elder Scott said, “As one of the twelve Apostles, I would like to invoke a blessing on you that as you pray you will know how the Lord feels about what you are doing. . . . I would like to also invoke a blessing that as you prayerfully ask for guidance in this sublime and important work, that you will have feelings from the Holy Ghost that will guide you.”

In a previously delivered general conference address, Elder Scott described envisioning spirits waiting for their temple work to be done, “rejoicing because finally there is a place that can free them from the chains that hold them back in their eternal progress.” He reminded Church members that this can only happen if they find their ancestors.

Articles about RootsTech, including an interview with Elder Scott after the conference, are available at News & Events and Newsroom.

Prophets and Apostles Speak on Family History

Elder Scott joins other prophets and apostles in testifying of the importance of turning “the hearts of children to the fathers” (see Malachi 4:6; D&C 2:2, 27;9, 98:16, and 110:15; 3 Nephi 25:6).

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said, “Think of the Savior when you meet Him. . . . He has trusted you by letting you hear the gospel in your lifetime, giving you the chance to accept the obligation to offer it to those of your ancestors who did not have your priceless opportunity. Think of the gratitude He has for those who pay the price in work and faith to find the names of their ancestors and who love them and Him enough to offer them eternal life in families, the greatest of all the gifts of God. He offered them an infinite sacrifice. He will love and appreciate those who paid whatever price they could to allow their ancestors to choose His offer of eternal life.” Read the full address.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke in April 2010 general conference about ways in which temples and family history work strengthen families. 

“Consider the spiritual connections that are formed when a young woman helps her grandmother enter family information into a computer or when a young man sees the name of his great-grandfather on a census record,” Elder Nelson said. “When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves. Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple.

“Because of the importance of this work, the Church has built temples closer to the people, and family history research is being facilitated as never before. Methods to find and prepare names for temple ordinances are also improving.” 

He noted that, “While temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it. They are literally helping to exalt their families.” Read the full address.

Along with suggesting how people new to family history can get started, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in general conference that, “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.”