Handbooks and Callings
    25. Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake
    Footnotes
    Theme

    “25. Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).

    “25. Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake,” General Handbook.

    25.

    Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake

    25.1

    Introduction

    In temples, Church members make sacred covenants as they receive ordinances that are essential for exaltation. Church members also go to temples to perform ordinances in behalf of deceased persons who have not received them.

    Leaders teach members about the responsibilities and blessings of temple and family history work as follows:

    • They encourage members to receive their own temple ordinances and help family members receive theirs. Leaders teach members that the purpose of the endowment is to prepare for exaltation, not merely to prepare for marriage or a mission.

    • They encourage each endowed member to hold a current temple recommend and go to the temple as often as circumstances and family needs allow. Leaders also encourage youth and unendowed adults, including new members, to have limited-use temple recommends and go to the temple often to be baptized and confirmed for the dead. Leaders do not establish quotas or reporting systems for temple attendance. Each member determines his or her own level of participation in temple work.

    • They teach members to participate in family history work by identifying their ancestral family members, requesting temple ordinances for them if needed, and providing these ordinances in the temple themselves if possible.

    • They help members understand that they should not request that temple ordinances be performed for any unrelated person without the approval of the person’s closest living relative. Leaders also help members understand that they should not make such requests for famous people who are not related to them or for people whose information has been gathered from unapproved indexing projects.

    For information about calling a ward temple and family history leader or having a member of the elders quorum presidency fill that role, see 8.2.4.

    25.2

    Bishop and His Counselors

    The bishop holds the keys for the work of salvation and exaltation in the ward. With his counselors, he oversees temple and family history work in the ward. However, he may assign the elders quorum president to lead this work under his direction. Generally, the elders quorum president delegates this assignment to one of his counselors.

    The member of the elders quorum presidency who leads temple and family history work may function as the ward temple and family history leader or may supervise the ward temple and family history leader. Through inspiration, the bishop determines whether to call a temple and family history leader or to have a member of the elders quorum presidency function in this role.

    The Relief Society presidency may follow the pattern of the elders quorum, with a member of the presidency assigned to help with temple and family history work.

    The bishop and his counselors ensure that the doctrine and blessings of temple and family history work are taught regularly in ward meetings. They are assisted by members of the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies who lead temple and family history work and the ward temple and family history leader (if called).

    As the bishop meets with members, he helps them prepare to receive the ordinances of the temple and qualify to continue going to the temple as often as circumstances allow.

    The bishop and his counselors encourage members to identify their ancestral family members and provide temple ordinances for them.

    Other responsibilities of the bishopric related to temple work are outlined in 27.1.

    25.3

    Ward Council

    In ward council meetings, leaders consider matters relating to temple and family history work. The ward temple and family history leader (if called) or members of the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies assigned to temple and family history work may be invited to discuss topics such as the following:

    • They discuss ways to help individuals and families receive the ordinances of the temple and go to the temple as often as circumstances allow.

    • They prayerfully consider ward members who may be invited to participate in a temple preparation course or work with temple and family history consultants.

    • They discuss ways to help members participate in family history work.

    • They may discuss ways to use family history work to find people for the full-time missionaries to teach and to reach out to new members and less-active members.

    25.4

    Organizing Temple and Family History Work in the Ward

    25.4.1

    Elders Quorum Presidency and Ward Temple and Family History Leader

    The bishop may assign the elders quorum presidency to coordinate temple and family history work for the ward council. The Relief Society presidency may work closely with the elders quorum presidency and the temple and family history leader (if called) to encourage temple and family history work in the ward.

    For information about calling a ward temple and family history leader or having a member of the elders quorum presidency fill that role, see 8.2.4.

    The Melchizedek Priesthood holder who serves in the role of ward temple and family history leader has the following responsibilities:

    • He coordinates the ward’s temple and family history efforts, including the development and implementation of the ward temple and family history plan (see 25.4.2). He may attend ward council meetings when invited.

    • He conducts temple and family history coordination meetings and directs the work of temple and family history consultants.

    • He directs the work of helping members prepare for the temple and organizes temple instruction, activities, and trips.

    • He coordinates with members of the ward council, the ward mission leader, and the full-time missionaries to provide family history experiences, especially for those learning the gospel, new and returning members, and children and youth preparing to receive a limited-use temple recommend.

    • Under the direction of the bishop, he works with the elders quorum presidency to assign consultants to serve in the family history center as needed.

    25.4.2

    Ward Temple and Family History Plan

    Under the direction of the bishop, the ward council develops a ward temple and family history plan that is brief, simple, and specific. The plan helps ward members gain a vision of temple and family history work.

    The ward temple and family history leader or a member of the elders quorum presidency may lead the plan’s development. A member of the Relief Society presidency may assist. These leaders:

    • Consider needs and resources.

    • Set specific goals for temple and family history work for the year without establishing quotas or reporting systems for temple attendance.

    • Determine how to accomplish the goals.

    Plans should be brief and simple. They could include:

    • Involving new members, youth, and children.

    • Helping members enter four generations into FamilySearch.

    • As invited by the bishop, helping members prepare to attend the temple.

    The ward council reviews and updates the plan regularly.

    25.4.3

    Ward Temple and Family History Coordination Meeting

    To help coordinate temple and family history work, a ward temple and family history coordination meeting may be held regularly. The ward temple and family history leader, if called, conducts the meeting with ward temple and family history consultants. As often as circumstances allow, a member of the Relief Society presidency and a member of the elders quorum presidency attend. On occasion, full-time missionaries could be invited.

    The coordination meeting should not be long and focuses on helping people. The meeting need not always be held in person. Coordination can also happen through electronic means.

    25.4.4

    Temple and Family History Consultants

    Ward temple and family history consultants serve under the direction of the ward temple and family history leader or a member of the elders quorum presidency. These consultants:

    • Help individuals and families discover their ancestors and gather names for temple ordinances.

    • Help members prepare to attend the temple and may participate in temple instruction, activities, and trips.

    • Attend temple and family history coordination meetings.

    • Provide family history experiences, especially for those learning the gospel, new and returning members, and children and youth preparing to receive a limited-use temple recommend.

    • Serve in a local family history center when assigned.

    25.5

    Temple and Family History Classes and Resources

    25.5.1

    Temple Preparation Course

    The temple preparation course helps members prepare to receive the ordinances and blessings of the temple. This course is planned under the bishop’s direction. It is taught outside of regular Sunday meetings at a time that is convenient for members. It is organized under the direction of the bishopric and may be held at the meetinghouse or in a home.

    The temple preparation course is especially helpful for new members, less-active members returning to Church activity, and endowed members who have not renewed their recommends for an extended time. The course may also be helpful for active members who are preparing to receive the endowment.

    Under the bishop’s direction, ward council members, assisted by members of the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies who lead temple and family history work, prayerfully select members to invite to each course.

    The bishopric calls one or more teachers, who may be a husband and wife. Lessons and instructions for organizing the course are in Endowed from on High: Temple Preparation Seminar Teacher’s Manual. Participants in the course should receive their own copies of the booklet Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple.

    25.5.2

    Access to Online Family History Resources

    FamilySearch is the Church’s website for temple and family history work. It is a tool for the following activities:

    • Searching historical documents and discovering ancestors

    • Documenting family relationships

    • Preserving family photographs, stories, and histories

    • Preparing family names for temple ordinances

    The FamilySearch Family Tree app and FamilySearch Memories app allow people to perform temple and family history work from their phones.

    When computers and internet services are provided in ward buildings, they should be available at convenient times for people to use. Any membership or financial information stored on the computers should be protected.

    25.6

    Stake Leaders

    25.6.1

    Stake President and His Counselors

    The stake president and his counselors oversee temple and family history work in the stake. They ensure that the doctrine and blessings of this work are taught regularly in stake meetings.

    As the stake president meets with members, he helps them prepare to receive the ordinances of the temple and qualify to continue going to the temple as often as circumstances allow.

    The stake president and his counselors encourage members to identify their ancestral family members and provide temple ordinances for them.

    Other responsibilities of the stake presidency related to temple work are outlined in 27.1.

    25.6.2

    High Councilor(s) Assigned to Temple and Family History Work

    The stake presidency may assign one or more high councilors to train the ward temple and family history leader (if called) and members of the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies who lead temple and family history work. As needed, these high councilors also coordinate the stake’s efforts in FamilySearch indexing and at family history centers. They may be assisted by a stake temple and family history consultant.

    25.7

    Temple and Family History Resources in the Stake

    25.7.1

    Indexing in the Stake

    Indexing is the process of entering information from a historical record into a searchable database on FamilySearch. Those who index provide an important service. They make it possible for other people to discover their ancestors and perform temple ordinances on their behalf.

    Anyone can index. This includes youth, members who are homebound or less active, and people who are not Church members.

    If the stake presidency desires to encourage members to index, they may assign a stake temple and family history consultant to coordinate this work.

    For more information about indexing, see “Indexing Overview” on FamilySearch.org.

    25.7.2

    Family History Centers

    If resources are available, a stake may have one or more family history centers to facilitate inspiring experiences that bring joy as visitors discover, gather, and connect their family on both sides of the veil. Anyone is welcome to use these centers.

    The stake president assigns a stake temple and family history consultant to coordinate efforts in the family history center. As an exception, large regional libraries are overseen by an Area Presidency.

    A family history center should be open at convenient times for people to use. It is staffed by ward temple and family history consultants.

    25.8

    Recommending Temple Workers

    25.8.1

    Service in the Temple

    Local priesthood and Relief Society leaders help members recognize and understand the blessings of temple service. These leaders encourage members to do ordinance work. They also encourage members to serve in the temple as ordinance workers and volunteers, as appropriate.

    With the guidance of the Spirit, leaders seek out members whose lives would be blessed by serving in the temple, which may include endowed members of all ages. In addition to blessing the member, this service is essential for operating each temple. Much of the work done in temples is done by members of the Church who volunteer their time and talents.

    Members who are called as temple workers normally commit to a standard shift of a specified duration. Temple workers include ordinance workers as well as regularly scheduled volunteers. Once members have been called and set apart to serve in the temple, local priesthood leaders should avoid issuing additional callings that would conflict with the calling to serve in the temple.

    25.8.2

    Process of Calling

    Recommendations for prospective temple workers may come to a temple president from ward or stake leaders and other temple workers. The temple presidency, the matron, and assistants to the matron may also recommend members to be approved through the bishop and stake president.

    When a stake president or bishop identifies a member who he feels should be called as an ordinance worker or temple volunteer, he logs in to ChurchofJesusChrist.org and uses the Recommend Temple Worker tool. He reviews the requirements, and if he feels that the calling would be suitable, he completes the information and submits the recommendation. After the bishop and the stake president provide a recommendation, the information is sent to the temple president.

    A temple president may also submit the name of a member to be approved as an ordinance worker or temple volunteer. He submits the name to the bishop and stake president using the Recommend Temple Worker tool on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The bishop and stake president review the recommendation. If they feel it is appropriate, they approve it in the system, which returns the approved submission to the temple president.

    After the temple president receives the approval, a member of the temple presidency interviews the person. When so inspired and as appropriate, he calls those who are able to serve and sets them apart. He or a staff member records the setting apart in the system. The Recommend Temple Worker tool includes a report that shows to each bishop and stake president the members from their ward or stake who are serving in the temple.

    25.8.3

    Requirements for Ordinance Workers

    To be recommended for a calling as a temple ordinance worker, a member should reside in the temple district of the temple where he or she will serve. The member should also meet each of the following qualifications:

    • Be endowed, comply with temple covenants, and hold a current temple recommend

    • Have a mature knowledge of the restored gospel

    • Be respected in the Church and the community

    • Work well with others

    • Be dependable, in good health, and emotionally stable

    • If ever a recipient of formal Church membership restrictions or withdrawal, have had the restrictions removed or have received a restoration of blessings at least five years ago

    • Not currently have an annotation on his or her membership record

    25.8.4

    Requirements for Volunteers

    Regularly scheduled temple volunteers may be called to serve under the direction of the temple presidency. Depending on the services offered at the temple, volunteers may serve in the temple office, laundry, cafeteria, youth center, and baptistry, as well as at the recommend desk. They may also perform tasks such as cleaning or maintaining the temple.

    To be recommended as a regularly scheduled temple volunteer, a member should reside in the temple district of the temple where he or she will serve. The member should also meet each of the following qualifications:

    • Be endowed, comply with temple covenants, and hold a current temple recommend

    • Work well with others

    • Be dependable, in good health, and emotionally stable

    • Not currently have an annotation on his or her membership record

    As an exception to the above requirements, members who volunteer to work outside the temple, such as those who work on the grounds, do not need to be endowed.

    See 25.8.2 for information about the process of calling volunteers.