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

Indianapolis Indiana Temple at dusk

25.

Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake

25.0

Introduction

Uniting families for eternity is part of the work of salvation and exaltation (see 1.2). Temple and family history work is the means for uniting and sealing families for eternity (see Matthew 16:19). This work includes:

The temple is the house of the Lord. Temple ordinances and covenants bless Heavenly Father’s children. Heavenly Father invites all of His children to qualify for and receive temple ordinances.

This chapter guides Church leaders and members in temple and family history work. More information is available at “Temples” and “Family History” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

25.1

Member and Leader Participation in Temple and Family History Work

Church members have the privilege and responsibility to help unite their families for eternity. They prepare themselves to make covenants as they receive temple ordinances, and they strive to keep those covenants. They also help family members understand, receive, and strive to keep temple covenants. Parents have the primary responsibility to help their children experience the blessings of temple and family history service for deceased family members.

Church members are encouraged to identify their deceased relatives who have not received temple ordinances. Members then perform the ordinances on behalf of those relatives (see Doctrine and Covenants 128:18). In the spirit world, deceased individuals can choose to accept or reject the ordinances that have been performed for them.

Members also invite family and friends to learn about their ancestors and discover their stories.

Church leaders support members in the following ways:

  • Teach the importance of making and striving to keep temple covenants.

  • Encourage members to learn about their ancestors, discover their stories, and perform temple ordinances on their behalf.

  • Support parents in helping their children participate in temple and family history work.

  • Encourage endowed members to have a current temple recommend and worship in the temple as often as their circumstances allow.

  • Encourage youth, new members, and other unendowed adults to have a current limited-use temple recommend and go to the temple to be baptized and confirmed for the dead.

See chapter 26 for information about temple recommends.

25.1.1

Individual Responsibility for Temple Attendance

Members determine for themselves when and how often to worship in the temple. Leaders do not establish quotas or reporting systems for temple attendance.

25.1.2

Ward and Stake Temple Trips

Each Church unit is assigned to a temple district. Organized ward or stake visits to temples outside the assigned temple district are not encouraged.

Individual members and families may attend any temple they desire.

25.2

Organizing Temple and Family History Work in the Ward

25.2.1

Bishopric

The bishopric coordinates with the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies as they lead the ward’s temple and family history efforts. These leaders counsel together regularly.

The bishopric also has the following responsibilities for temple and family history work in the ward:

  • Encourage individuals and families to learn the doctrine and blessings of temple and family history work.

  • Ensure that the doctrine and blessings of temple and family history work are taught at church.

  • Ensure that temple and family history work is coordinated in ward council and ward youth council meetings.

  • Review and approve the ward temple and family history plan (see 25.2.6).

  • Oversee the organization of temple preparation courses (see 25.2.8).

  • Issue temple recommends (see chapter 26).

Adaptation Icon
The bishopric consults with the stake president to determine whether to call a ward temple and family history leader (see 25.2.3 for more information).

25.2.2

Elders Quorum and Relief Society Presidencies

The elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies lead the day-to-day temple and family history efforts in the ward (see 8.2.4 and 9.2.4). The elders quorum presidency leads these efforts for members of the elders quorum. The Relief Society presidency leads the efforts for members of the Relief Society. They work together to lead these efforts with the ward council, under the coordination of the bishop.

These leaders have the following responsibilities:

  • Encourage individuals and families to learn the doctrine and blessings of temple and family history work.

  • Ensure that the doctrine and blessings of temple and family history work are taught at church.

  • Help members prepare to receive temple ordinances and make temple covenants.

  • Encourage members to worship in the temple as often as their circumstances allow.

  • Encourage members to learn about their ancestors and perform temple ordinances on their behalf.

  • Help the ward council develop and implement the ward temple and family history plan (see 25.2.6).

  • Ensure that temple and family history work is planned and reported in ward council meetings and in ward temple and family history coordination meetings.

  • Lead the work of the ward temple and family history leader. If this leader is not called, a member of the elders quorum presidency fills this role (see 25.2.3).

The elders quorum president and Relief Society president each assign a presidency member to help lead temple and family history work in the ward. These two presidency members work together. They attend ward temple and family history coordination meetings (see 25.2.7).

Temple attendance

25.2.3

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Ward Temple and Family History Leader

The bishopric consults with the stake president to determine whether to call a ward temple and family history leader. If they decide to extend this calling, the bishopric counsels with the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents in determining whom to call. This person should be a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. If this leader is not called, a member of the elders quorum presidency fills this role.

The ward temple and family history leader supports the elders quorum presidency and Relief Society presidency in their temple and family history responsibilities. He also has the following responsibilities:

  • Coordinate temple and family history efforts with ward organization leaders, including youth quorum and class presidencies.

  • Lead ward temple and family history coordination meetings (see 25.2.7).

  • Attend ward council meetings when invited.

  • Help the ward council develop and implement the ward temple and family history plan (see 25.2.6).

  • Instruct ward temple and family history consultants. Coordinate their efforts to help members with temple and family history work.

  • Work with the ward mission leader and the missionaries to help those learning the gospel, new members, and returning members engage in temple and family history work.

  • Adaptation Icon
    Where applicable, assign ward temple and family history consultants to serve in the family history center (see 23.5.6).

25.2.4

Ward Temple and Family History Consultants

Ward temple and family history consultants serve under the direction of the ward temple and family history leader or the member of the elders quorum presidency who fills this role. The elders quorum and Relief Society presidents may suggest members who could serve.

Consultants have the following responsibilities:

  • Help members experience the blessings of discovering their ancestors and performing temple ordinances on their behalf. These experiences are especially important for those learning the gospel, new and returning members, and those preparing to receive a limited-use temple recommend.

  • Help members prepare to receive temple ordinances and make temple covenants.

  • Participate in temple and family history coordination meetings (see 25.2.7).

  • Serve in a local family history center when assigned (see 25.3.6).

25.2.5

Ward Council

Members of the ward council prayerfully develop and implement a ward temple and family history plan. For information about the plan, see 25.2.6.

The bishop may invite the ward temple and family history leader to attend ward council meetings.

25.2.6

Ward Temple and Family History Plan

Each ward should have a simple temple and family history plan. This plan helps ward members, including children and youth, participate in family history work and prepare to worship in the temple as often as their circumstances allow.

The elders quorum and Relief Society presidents help the ward council develop the plan. The ward temple and family history leader also helps. In developing the plan, they:

  • Consider available needs and resources.

  • Identify actions to take during the year.

  • Determine how to implement the plan and make assignments accordingly.

Examples of what the plan might include are listed below:

  • Help members build their family trees on FamilySearch.org or with the FamilySearch Tree app (see 25.4.2).

  • Involve new and returning members, youth, and children in family history work.

  • Help specific members prepare to receive temple ordinances.

The bishop reviews and approves the plan. Members of the ward council take the lead in implementing it. They report on progress in ward council meetings. They also update the plan as needed.

25.2.7

Ward Temple and Family History Coordination Meetings

Brief informal ward temple and family history coordination meetings are held regularly. If a ward temple and family history leader is called, he conducts these meetings. Otherwise, the member of the elders quorum presidency who fills this role conducts.

Others who are invited include:

  • Assigned members of the Relief Society and elders quorum presidencies.

  • An assistant in the priests quorum.

  • A presidency member of the oldest Young Women class.

  • Temple and family history consultants.

The purpose of these meetings is to:

  • Coordinate efforts to implement the ward temple and family history plan (see 25.2.6).

  • Plan how to help specific ward members with their temple and family history work as requested.

These meetings may be held in person or remotely. Coordination can also happen in other ways, including phone calls, texts, and emails.

25.2.8

Temple Preparation Course

Under the bishop’s direction, a temple preparation course may be organized to help members prepare to make covenants as they receive temple ordinances. These courses are held outside of regular Sunday meetings at a time convenient for members. They may be held at a meetinghouse or in a home.

Ward council members prayerfully select members to invite to participate in each course. These courses may be especially helpful for the following people:

  • New members

  • Members preparing to receive their own endowment or to be sealed

  • Members returning to Church activity

  • Endowed members who have not renewed their temple recommends for an extended time

The bishopric calls one or more temple preparation instructors. A husband and wife may be called. Lessons and instructions for organizing the course are in the Endowed from on High: Temple Preparation Seminar Teacher’s Manual. Participants are given copies of Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. For personal study and lesson resources, see temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

25.3

Organizing Temple and Family History Work in the Stake

Stake leaders support ward leaders and members in their temple and family history efforts.

25.3.1

Stake Presidency

The stake president holds the keys for the work of salvation and exaltation in the stake. He and his counselors have the following responsibilities for the temple and family history aspect of that work:

  • Ensure that the doctrine and blessings of temple and family history work are taught regularly in stake meetings.

  • Help members prepare to make sacred covenants as they receive temple ordinances.

  • Encourage members to learn about their ancestors and perform temple ordinances on their behalf.

  • Encourage members to worship in the temple as often as their circumstances allow.

  • Conduct temple recommend interviews (see chapter 26).

In his regular meeting with each elders quorum president, a member of the stake presidency discusses temple and family history work in the ward (see 8.3.1).

Optional Icon
The counselors in the elders quorum presidency and the high councilor assigned to the quorum may attend.

25.3.2

Stake Adult Leadership Committee

The stake adult leadership committee includes:

  • The stake presidency.

  • The stake Relief Society presidency.

  • High councilors assigned to work with elders quorums.

These leaders instruct and support elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies in their responsibilities for temple and family history work (see 25.2.2). Instruction could take place in a group setting or individually. Ward temple and family history leaders may be invited to receive this instruction.

For more about this committee’s meetings, see 29.3.9.

25.3.3

High Councilors

The stake presidency may assign high councilors to instruct and support the following people in their responsibilities for temple and family history work:

  • Elders quorum presidencies

  • Ward temple and family history leaders

  • Stake temple and family history consultants

One or more high councilors may be assigned to lead these efforts. However, all high councilors have these responsibilities for the wards and quorums to which they are assigned.

High councilors may help ward temple and family history leaders instruct ward temple and family history consultants. High councilors may be assisted by stake temple and family history consultants.

The stake presidency may assign a high councilor to coordinate the stake’s efforts in indexing (see 25.4.3). He or another high councilor may be assigned to oversee the work in family history centers (see 25.3.6).

25.3.4

Stake Relief Society Presidency

Under the direction of the stake president, the stake Relief Society presidency instructs and supports ward Relief Society presidencies in their responsibilities for temple and family history work.

25.3.5

Adaptation Icon
Stake Temple and Family History Consultants

Stake temple and family history consultants support temple and family history work throughout the stake. They serve under the direction of the stake presidency and one or more high councilors assigned to temple and family history work.

These consultants support high councilors and the stake Relief Society presidency in their efforts to instruct others in temple and family history work (see 25.3.3 and 25.3.4). They may also be given the following assignments:

  • Help teach and support members in ward temple and family history callings.

  • Help coordinate stake indexing efforts (25.4.3).

  • Serve in family history centers (see 25.3.6).

25.3.6

Adaptation Icon
Family History Centers

If resources are available, the stake may organize one or more family history centers. These centers are to help visitors discover, gather information about, and unite both living and deceased family members. Anyone is welcome to use them.

The stake president assigns one stake temple and family history consultant to oversee efforts in each family history center. Each center is generally staffed by ward temple and family history consultants. Family history centers should be open at convenient times.

As an exception, large regional family history libraries are overseen by the Area Presidency.

25.4

Family History Resources

25.4.1

My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together

My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together helps people discover relatives and ancestors and gather their stories. This booklet can also help members begin to prepare family names for temple ordinances.

The booklet can be downloaded at ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Physical copies can be ordered at store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

25.4.2

FamilySearch.org and FamilySearch Apps

FamilySearch.org is the Church’s website for temple and family history work. It can help users:

  • Build family tree connections and relationships.

  • Discover ancestors and their stories.

  • Share and preserve family stories, photographs, and histories.

  • Prepare family names for temple ordinances.

The FamilySearch Tree app and FamilySearch Memories app enable people to participate in temple and family history work from mobile devices.

Ghana

25.4.3

Indexing

Indexing is the process of entering information from a written historical record into a searchable database on FamilySearch.org. Those who index make it possible for others to discover their ancestors more easily and perform temple ordinances on their behalf.

Anyone can participate in indexing. This can be a particularly fulfilling experience for the following:

  • Youth

  • Young adults

  • Members who are unable to regularly attend Church meetings

  • New members

  • General public

The stake presidency may assign a stake temple and family history consultant or a high councilor to coordinate this work.

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

25.5

Recommending and Calling Temple Workers

25.5.1

Recommending Temple Workers

Potential temple workers are identified in the following ways:

  • Members identified by the bishop or another ward leader

  • Members who approach the bishop about serving

  • Members recommended by the temple president, the matron, or another temple leader

  • Members who are preparing for or have recently returned from missionary service (see chapter 24)

The names of potential temple workers are submitted using the Recommend Temple Worker tool. This tool is available to bishops, stake presidents, and temple presidencies. The process for submitting names is outlined below.

When a temple presidency identifies a potential temple worker, they submit the person’s name to the bishop using the Recommend Temple Worker tool.

When a bishop identifies a potential temple worker or receives a recommendation from a temple president, he counsels with the member about the opportunity to serve. He reviews the requirements for temple ordinance workers (see 25.5.2) or temple volunteers (see 25.5.3). If both the bishop and the member feel the opportunity would be appropriate, the bishop completes and submits the recommendation using the Recommend Temple Worker tool. The member should understand that a submitted recommendation does not ensure that he or she will be called or assigned as a temple worker.

The recommendation is next reviewed by the stake president. If he approves it, he submits it to the temple president for review using the Recommend Temple Worker tool (see 25.5.4 and 25.5.5).

Members who are called or assigned as temple workers normally commit to a regular time to serve in the temple each week. Leaders should avoid issuing additional callings that would interfere with their ability to serve in the temple.

The Recommend Temple Worker tool also shows bishops and stake presidents a list of all members from their wards or stakes who currently serve in the temple.

25.5.2

Requirements for Temple Ordinance Workers

Temple ordinance workers help perform ordinances in the temple. To be recommended as an ordinance worker, a member must meet the following qualifications:

  • Reside in the temple district of the temple where he or she will serve.

  • Be endowed, honor temple covenants, and hold a current temple recommend.

  • Have a mature knowledge and testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Be worthy of respect in the Church and in the community.

  • Work well with other people.

  • Be dependable and in good health.

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

If a person’s Church membership was formally restricted, the restrictions must have been removed for at least five years. If the person was endowed when membership was withdrawn or resigned, his or her blessings must have been restored at least five years earlier.

25.5.3

Requirements for Temple Volunteers

Temple volunteers help with administrative tasks in the temple, such as serving in the office or laundry. To be recommended as a temple volunteer, a member must meet the following qualifications:

  • Reside in the temple district of the temple where he or she will serve.

  • Be endowed, honor temple covenants, and hold a current temple recommend.

  • Work well with other people.

  • Be dependable and in good health.

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

As an exception to these qualifications, members who volunteer to work outside the temple need not be endowed. An example is a member who works on the temple grounds.

25.5.4

Calling and Setting Apart Ordinance Workers

After the temple president receives the recommendation for someone to serve as an ordinance worker, a member of the temple presidency or someone they designate interviews the person. As inspired, the person conducting the interview calls those who are able to serve as ordinance workers and sets them apart.

25.5.5

Assigning Volunteers

Temple volunteers may be interviewed and assigned by a member of the temple presidency or someone they designate. Volunteers are assigned rather than called. They do not need to be set apart.