Panel Discussion
    Footnotes

    Panel Discussion

    2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction • February 28, 2019 • Conference Center Theater

    [Elder David A. Bednar]

    I am delighted to be here with these faithful Latter-Day Saints. These are real members of a real ward council presided over by Bishop Paul Wyner. Bishop, would you please introduce the members of your council for us?

    [Bishop G. Paul Wyner]

    Yes. This is the Relief Society president, Sister Simmons; elders quorum first counselor, Brother Mendoza; and the temple and family history leader, Brother Steve McConnell. We have our youth consultants, Ethan Simpson and Sierra Tate; the first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, Sister Stauffer; and the elders quorum president, President Tate.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Thank you, Bishop, very much. I just want to give one guideline as we begin. I will never ask a question that has one right answer that I’m trying to get you to say. Typically people, when we ask questions, are terrified, thinking that you have to figure out the answer that I have in my head. I have no answer in my head, Sierra. I’m just going to ask questions so that we can begin to talk. OK?

    What did you hear? I am not asking what was said, but what did you hear in the teachings of Elder Renlund and Elder Stevenson today?

    [Brother Steven L. McConnell]

    That we need to have a plan, a temple and family history plan for our ward.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Is that new to you?

    [Brother McConnell]

    Yes.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Other thoughts about the concept of a plan since that was introduced tonight?

    [Sister Jessica Stauffer]

    Everyone needs to have an account. They need to get it started, and at least have their four generations of history done back.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. What about the ward plan?

    [Sister Jaelyn H. Simmons]

    I think it’s very important that we keep open communication between our auxiliaries so that those meetings can go a little more flawless, so that we can communicate more clearly to our bishop and anyone else—the ward family history person.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Is it possible to have a simple ward temple and family history plan that doesn’t become so burdensome, so bureaucratic, so complicated that it gets in the way? What would be necessary to keep it that simple?

    [Brother McConnell]

    I think part of that plan is, like was said, it doesn’t need to be a formal meeting. It could be a text, it could be an email, it could be a phone call, it could be, maybe—after church, of course—a little short discussion in the hall. Something that’s informal will definitely help facilitate that.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good.

    [Brother Joe C. Tate]

    It is a simple plan. It could be focusing on new converts in the ward.

    [Elder Bednar]

    But we don’t do simple plans well. We do complicated plans that nobody pays attention to. So how do we get a simple plan that people can really understand and work with? Bishop, what do you think?

    [Bishop Wyner]

    You know, I think if we remember the true purpose of what we’re doing here is to convert those here on earth and beyond the veil, if we remember that the true purpose is to direct everyone to the temple, that if we do that, then we can focus on the individual and not on a plan. And I like that because sometimes it’s been difficult in my own life to find four names this month, and instead this new plan individualizes it to every family within each ward.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. Let me give a quick example. Every year in the Church, 500,000 people—youth, converts, and others—become eligible for first-time temple ordinances. If we had a simple plan, what would we do in the ward to help people prepare to worthily receive, remember, and honor temple ordinances?

    [Brother Christopher L. Mendoza]

    I think as we quickly identify those that are ready—or have not taken those steps—to incorporate them into that plan so that we can make sure, as a ward council, that we’re identifying and finding ways to give them the tools to get to that part.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Now. Can I ask you a question?

    [Brother Mendoza]

    Of course.

    [Elder Bednar]

    We overprogram this way too often in the Church. We make it too formalistic. Home-centered, Church-supported. How do we support what should be happening in the home without supplanting and taking over what should be happening in the home?

    [Sister Stauffer]

    I think our youth are a great asset to us because once we start with them and we start teaching them how to use the app, and they start learning how to use the programs, they teach the parents, and they usually pass the information down. I know my daughter was a consultant for a while, and I didn’t have a Family Search account before she started. And as soon as she got into that and she started all the different things on the app and the games that she could do, she got me interested. And I started opening my account, and so I think the youth play a big part in this because they can definitely motivate the parents and other siblings.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. What’s your favorite game?

    [Sister Stauffer]

    I like the one where you take a picture of yourself to see which relative you look the most like.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Sierra, you were nodding your head as she was talking about that and when she made reference to the youth. What are you thinking?

    [Sister Tate]

    I was just thinking that I could help my little brother learn how to do it, because I think he knows a little bit how, but I can help him more and help my parents to know how to do it and stuff.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Outstanding. So the objective of the plan is to have simple, basic, fundamental targets related to this work of salvation. What else did you hear in the teachings of Elder Renlund and Elder Stevenson?

    [Brother McConnell]

    Well, I heard that Bishop Wyner needs to pick a number.

    [Bishop Wyner]

    We already know that. One.

    [Elder Bednar]

    I think we just made a point. He thinks he has already picked one. What is it going to take?

    [Brother McConnell]

    So, a little bit of communication so that we’re all on the same plan, then hold that maybe informal meeting—or maybe at first it’s more formal, but not long. But more formal, and that we’re all on the same page. And then we continue that momentum.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. Other thoughts?

    [Brother Tate]

    Well, we were backstage, and I put my hand on Bishop Wyner’s shoulder, and I said, “Pick number one.” And he nodded, so …

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. So, President, if I can call on you, lots of things have been adjusted. We talk about, you know, all these changes. I’m not sure there’s that many radical changes. We’ve made some adjustments. What has it been like for you as an elders quorum president?

    [Brother Tate]

    I have a great presidency, and it’s brought us together. They support me. I think the bishop has broad shoulders, but I think we’re able to shoulder more. And it’s really brought the Relief Society and the elders quorum closer together. We’re in constant texting communication to help our neighbors.

    [Elder Bednar]

    So if the bishop picks number one, what do you see your role to be?

    [Brother Tate]

    Well, I see me working with Brother Mendoza, who’s working hand-in-hand with Brother McConnell to streamline that communication. So I am acting under the inspiration of the bishop but having multiple hands in the work.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. Very good. Other things that you heard in their teachings that stood out to you?

    [Brother Mendoza]

    I think a renewed excitement in trying to find your ancestors and get to know them. Something that I can learn and implement in myself is looking at all the pictures that were put in and all the entries, whether my lineage has four generations or more; to implement the stories that my ancestors have and be able to look that up quicker so I can teach my kids.

    [Elder Bednar]

    We have a tremendous capacity to be innovative and create new things. I would recommend that we not do that. I invite everybody to use the tools that have already been developed, such as the Family Tree app. The teams in the Family History Department are developing remarkable tools that are not going to be replicated by folks working in a ward council. Now, my question is for the two of you. Have you helped older folks learn how to do this? What have you learned?

    [Sister Tate]

    Well, I think that it’s just a really easy app to use, and that if we just teach them how to use it, then they can pick it up really quick and use it.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Have you been successful at doing that?

    [Sister Tate]

    Yeah, I’ve tried.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good.

    [Brother Simpson]

    I think if we teach them how to do family history, they can teach other people, and it could spread. And other people could tell them, and then they can get the family names into the temple and baptize them so they can be with their family again.

    [Elder Bednar]

    That’s a brilliant answer because the only way you ever learn how to really do it is by teaching someone else. But somebody has to get that started. So if you help me learn how to do this, then I can teach my family, and while I’m teaching them, I’m really learning how to do it.

    [Bishop Wyner]

    I have a question. On the app, you know, in the history, with the searching for our ancestors, it’s been really difficult if you hit a roadblock. I know we were talking, Brother Mendoza, that you hit a roadblock with finding family. You even traveled to the country where the family was and found out the courthouse had burned down with all your records in it. What do we do, as consultants, to help when we hit those roadblocks with the members? And a two-part question is what do we do with the member that says, “I don’t need to do any more temple work”?

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. Great questions. I’m about to do something you can’t do in your ward council. You ready? Brother Rockwood? But, before he begins, we do have a special deal, and that is, because of your participation tonight, you call me, and I’ll call him.

    [Brother Stephen T. Rockwood]

    Well, actually, I would suggest you can do this in your ward council because the answer was in your question. You said, “How do we get help?” And on the app and on the website, there’s this wonderful button called “Help.” And so literally, we want to make sure you can always go to a person or to a place for help. Now, the person will be your ward temple and family history leader and/or the consultants, and we’re going to love it when they have the answers, but we’re going to love it even more when they say, “I don’t know.” Because that, then, will initiate the Spirit, and we invite you, just push “Help,” because these consultants and this leader are part of a huge global network. And I promise you, if you push “Help,” you will tap into that network, and you will be guided to even the toughest questions, like the Dominican Republic.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Good. Other thoughts that have come to your mind or things that have occurred to you as you listened to Elder Renlund and Elder Stevenson?

    [Sister Stauffer]

    I just kept thinking, this whole week, how important it is to get the sisters all signed up to have their account, mainly because I love the emails that I get from the account. I don’t have to, I guess, put forth as much work because they just come to me, and then I have ordinances I can sign up for, or there’s hints. So I just felt how important it was for each sister to be able to get their account started so that they can start to get those emails or those notifications, which makes it so simple for them to just dive in and start figuring things out or going and doing the ordinances.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Great. Now, as we talk about the plan and then coordinating, Elder Renlund already has mentioned that we don’t have meetings to have meetings. There is a reason it is called the coordinating meeting. We coordinate in a number of ways—if necessary, in a face-to-face meeting—but the objective is to coordinate and not just to have a meeting. And sometimes we mistakenly think we are doing our work just because we attend meetings. And that is not the case. In the formulation of the plan, we have talked about new people having opportunities to receive temple ordinances, and there are lots of them in every unit. One of the things I have found fascinating recently is that among the different age-groups within the Church, the age-group increasing most rapidly in submitting names for temple ordinances are children. Sister Jones, this is an invitation, not a command. Anything you would care to offer about children and what we’re talking about, with temple and family history work plans and coordination?

    [Sister Joy D. Jones]

    I would love to, Elder Bednar. Thank you. Honestly, I’ve been doing a little research. I’ve been talking to temple presidencies in our area and asking what they’ve noticed in their baptistries lately. It’s been quite remarkable to hear that children are coming to the temple. They embraced this [adjustment to] age-group progression so beautifully, moved into Young Men and Young Women, and recognized the opportunity to qualify for limited-use recommends. They’re coming to the temple, but not only are they coming to the temple, they are coming with family names to perform ordinances for, and—this is even better—they’re bringing their families with them. That’s what I’ve been told over and over. They are bringing their families with them. They are leading us. The children have the ability to lead out. They love the temple. And I’ve talked to many 11-year-olds who have already committed to be in the temple every week. So that’s pretty exciting.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Thank you very much. I’m not trying to suggest what should be in a plan; I’m just trying to give some suggestions and some options. In many places where we have close proximity to a temple, we have missionaries who will receive a call, and because of challenges with visas, the time that it takes for the visa to be received, they may have two or three months before they will enter the MTC. Those young people can serve as ordinance workers in the temple during that waiting period. That’s happening all over the world. And they are qualitatively different missionaries when they have served in the temple as an ordinance worker for a few weeks or months before they get to the mission field. In relation to that, for priesthood leaders everywhere, every single return missionary, as soon as he or she gets home, ought to be considered to be an ordinance worker. They can serve in the temple in a very powerful way, both in the service that they offer and in the blessings that they receive. What else have you been thinking about? In terms of a plan, and coordinating, and the app?

    [Sister Simmons]

    Oh, I was just going to say that I’m really excited about this FamilySearch app. I’m excited to project some excitement to my Relief Society sisters. Once you open that app, it’s really, really exciting to hit all of the different information that you can reach at your fingertips. It’s amazing. I actually walked into FamilySearch yesterday for the very first time. And I spoke with two of the sweetest sister missionaries, and I believe it was Sister Parker that said, “This is so cool. I just found a really great way to get my teenage grandsons really excited about family history. I just asked them to take a selfie and then attach their testimony and upload it to FamilySearch.” Isn’t that brilliant?

    [Elder Bednar]

    Fantastic. Bishop, I want to give you the final word in this setting since I have the opportunity to go to the pulpit in a minute. Anything you want to say to all who are listening about things we have learned tonight?

    [Bishop Wyner]

    I just think it’s really important that we kneel down before our Father in Heaven and that we pray to Him for the guidance of the Spirit in this work. This is very important work, as you can tell from the General Authorities that are here supporting this. Our Heavenly Father knows that this is important, and He will answer our prayers if we just kneel to Him and ask for His guidance. And it’s exciting. It’s a great work, and there’s nothing but good that will come from our coordinating councils and our teaching of all the families in our wards.

    [Elder Bednar]

    Thank you. We very much appreciate all of you taking your time to be here. Thank you for your inspired observations tonight. You have represented members of ward councils all over the world, and you’ve done it fabulously well.