“26. Temple Recommends,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“26. Temple Recommends,” General Handbook.
A bishop should consult with his stake president if he has questions about temple recommends that are not answered in this chapter or in 38.4. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
The opportunity to enter a temple is a sacred privilege. It is also an indication that a member is willing to obey God and follow His prophets. Priesthood leaders encourage all members who are of age to prepare themselves to enter the house of the Lord. This sacred privilege allows those who are properly prepared to make sacred covenants and receive promised blessings.
A valid recommend admits a member to all temples. The three types of temple recommends are listed below:
Limited-use recommend for unendowed members (see 26.3.2).
Temple recommend for previously endowed members. This recommend, issued from recommend book 1, authorizes a member to participate in all temple ordinances for the deceased. This recommend is also used when a member is sealed to living or deceased parents or children.
Recommend for living ordinances for members receiving their own endowment, those being sealed to a spouse, and those being married in a temple for time only. This recommend, issued from recommend book 2, includes a recommend for living ordinances and is attached to a valid temple recommend, which is retained by the member and used when the member returns to the temple (described above).
Children under the age of 8 who are to be sealed to their parents or are to observe the sealings of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents do not need temple recommends.
Priesthood leaders who have temple recommend books should safeguard them carefully. No unauthorized individuals should have access to these books. When Church headquarters updates temple recommend books, the outdated books should no longer be used and should be destroyed.
Stake, mission, and temple presidents (and their counselors who are authorized to conduct temple recommend interviews) should retrieve expired temple recommends when issuing new recommends to worthy Church members. These expired recommends should be shredded.
The bishop should ask members to notify him promptly if a recommend is lost or stolen. If the bishop learns of a lost or stolen recommend, he uses Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR) to cancel the recommend as soon as possible. If he is not able to cancel the recommend in a timely manner, he asks one of his counselors or the ward clerk to cancel it. If LCR is not available, the bishop or stake president contacts the temple recorder of the temple to which the stake is assigned.
If the bishop determines that a member who has a current recommend is unworthy, he immediately requests the recommend from the member. He uses LCR to cancel the recommend according to the guidelines in 26.1.4.
Authorized Church officers conduct worthiness interviews for temple recommends as outlined in the temple recommend book. Church officers make every effort to see that only worthy members enter the house of the Lord. This requirement is both to protect the sanctity of the temple and to avoid placing that which is sacred before those who are unprepared (see Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–16).
Temple recommend interviews follow the pattern set by the Lord, “that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16). The interview allows a member to attest that he or she is living according to God’s commandments and he or she is prepared to enter the house of the Lord. Priesthood leaders also attest, through an interview, that the member is worthy and understands the sacred responsibility he or she assumes by making covenants and participating in temple ordinances.
Temple recommend interviews should not be rushed. They should be private. However, the person being interviewed may invite another adult to be present.
Interviewers should not add to or remove any requirements from those that are outlined in the temple recommend book. (See 220.127.116.11 for an exception to this policy when interviewing youth.)
A member of the stake presidency or a stake clerk activates the temple recommend in LCR (where it is available) soon after it is issued and before the member attends the temple. Limited-use recommends for baptisms and confirmations are printed under the direction of a member of the bishopric using LCR. The temple recommend remains the property of the Church and is not transferable.
The bishop, his counselors as authorized by him, or the branch president interviews ward or branch members and issues temple recommends to those who are worthy.
The bishop or branch president personally interviews members who (1) are preparing to receive their own endowment, (2) are planning to be married or sealed in a temple, or (3) have not lived in the ward or branch continuously for at least one year. Only in the most urgent cases when the bishop is absent may he authorize one of his counselors to issue recommends in these circumstances.
Before issuing a recommend in any of the three above-listed circumstances, the bishop carefully reviews the membership record to verify that it does not include a notation about a sealing or ordinance restriction or formal Church membership restrictions.
Following the interview by a member of the bishopric or by the branch president, a member of the stake presidency interviews the person and signs the recommend if he determines that the person is worthy. The stake president personally interviews members who are receiving their own endowment and members who are planning to be married or sealed in a temple. Because of the large number of such interviews in a young single adult stake, as an exception the stake president may authorize his counselors to interview those who are receiving their own endowment or being married in a temple.
In districts, the branch president interviews branch members and issues temple recommends to those who are worthy. Before issuing a recommend to a member who is to receive the endowment or be married or sealed in a temple, the branch president carefully reviews the membership record to verify that it does not include a notation about a sealing or ordinance restriction or formal Church membership restrictions.
Following the interview by the branch president, a member of the mission presidency interviews the person and signs the recommend if he determines that the person is worthy. The mission president interviews members who are receiving their own endowment and members who are planning to be married or sealed in a temple. He may also authorize his counselors to conduct these interviews as needed.
The district president does not interview members for temple recommends unless authorized by the First Presidency.
A temple president may interview and sign a recommend for a member who lives in an isolated area that would require unusual travel expense or difficulty for the member to meet with a member of the stake or mission presidency. The temple president first confers with the stake or mission president. In these cases, the bishop, an authorized counselor, or the branch president should have already interviewed the member and signed the recommend. This policy also applies to members in the military who are in isolated areas and have been interviewed by the bishop of their home ward or the unit that supports their duty station.
A temple president may interview and sign a recommend for a member who lives outside an organized stake or mission. No other interview is needed.
The bishop interviews new members who are of an appropriate age to receive a limited-use recommend soon after their confirmation, normally within a week, according to the guidelines in 26.4.1. For male converts, this interview may be held as part of the interview to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. A limited-use recommend should not be issued to a brother until after he has been ordained to an office in the priesthood.
A waiting period of at least one full year after confirmation is required before a worthy adult may receive his or her own endowment. When issuing temple recommends for new members to receive their own endowment, priesthood leaders ensure that the date the endowment will be received is at least one full year from the member’s date of confirmation, not from the date of baptism. Only the First Presidency may authorize exceptions.
Instructions for issuing a recommend to a person who is receiving his or her own endowment are provided in the temple recommend book. A man must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood to receive his endowment. In addition, members should not receive their own endowment until they (1) have reached the age of 18 and (2) are no longer attending high school, secondary school, or the equivalent.
Adult members can be interviewed for a recommend to receive their own endowment when they are called as missionaries, when they are to be married in a temple, or when they feel a desire to make these sacred covenants. The bishop and stake president determine whether they are sufficiently mature to understand and keep the sacred covenants made in a temple. Such eligibility is determined individually for each person. Bishops and stake presidents should not define eligibility by outward criteria such as reaching a certain age, leaving home for college or employment, or desiring to observe the temple marriages of siblings or friends.
In assessing questions of maturity, preparation, and timeliness, the bishop and stake president take into account a single adult’s personal circumstances and conduct over time. They ensure that responses to the temple recommend questions meet the requirements for worthiness. They should also consider matters such as the person’s:
Depth of gospel understanding and testimony.
Faithfulness in Church service.
Appreciation of the implications of entering into sacred temple covenants.
Commitment to wear the temple garment appropriately.
A worthy member who is married to an unendowed spouse, whether the spouse is a member or nonmember, may receive his or her own endowment when both of the following conditions are met:
The bishop receives written consent from the spouse.
The bishop and stake president are satisfied that the responsibility assumed with the covenants of the endowment will not impair marital harmony.
Before a full-time missionary completes his or her service, the mission president may provide a temple recommend to the missionary. The mission president interviews the missionary and signs the recommend in place of the bishop and the stake president. A temple recommend issued in this way should be activated in the mission office so that it expires three months from the date the missionary leaves full-time missionary service. Missionaries should meet with their bishop within three months of their release to receive a new temple recommend.
If a member has not lived in the same ward continuously for at least one year, the bishop contacts the prior bishop to certify the member’s worthiness before interviewing him or her for a temple recommend. Members of young single adult wards and single adult wards are included in this policy. Members who seek limited-use recommends are also included, except new converts.
Members who have physical disabilities may receive their own endowment.
Melchizedek Priesthood holders and sisters who have intellectual disabilities may receive their own endowment if the bishop determines that they have sufficient intellectual capacity to understand, make, and keep the associated covenants. The bishop seeks the direction of the Spirit in making this determination. If the member lives with his or her parents, the bishop counsels with them. If priesthood leaders determine that a member is not accountable, they should record this designation in LCR.
Persons with intellectual disabilities who are the age of 8 or older and are sufficiently accountable must be baptized and confirmed before they can be sealed to their parents. Those who are not accountable do not need to be baptized and confirmed before they can be sealed. Bishops refer questions about specific situations to the stake president. He may refer the questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
Members older than 21 who do not have sufficient intellectual capacity to understand the endowment may be sealed to parents without being endowed.
Members who have disabilities may do temple work for the dead if they:
Have sufficient intellectual capacity to understand the ordinance.
Can care for themselves without help or are accompanied by relatives or friends who can provide the help they need.
Blind members should have members of the same gender accompany and assist them. Guide dogs are not permitted in temples.
If a member has been divorced or legally separated or has had a marriage annulled since last receiving a temple recommend, the bishop and stake president may feel impressed to interview the member to strengthen him or her spiritually and emotionally and to ensure continued temple worthiness. If the member has not committed any serious sin contributing to the divorce or separation, a temple recommend may be retained by the member or renewed according to the usual procedure.
The bishop, his counselors as authorized by him, or the branch president may issue limited-use recommends to worthy unendowed members as follows:
For members ages 11 and older to be baptized and confirmed for the dead. (Young women and ordained young men are eligible for a limited-use recommend beginning in January of the year they turn 12.)
For single members ages 8–20 to be sealed to their parents.
For single members ages 8–20 to observe sealings of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents.
The same standards of worthiness apply to those who receive limited-use recommends as to those who receive other temple recommends. Male Church members who are old enough to hold the priesthood must be ordained to an office in the priesthood before being issued a temple recommend. The bishop interviews new members, including 11-year-old new members who will turn 12 during the current year, to receive a limited-use recommend soon after their confirmation, normally within a week. Members who have been previously endowed are not issued limited-use recommends.
When issuing a limited-use recommend, a member of the bishopric or the branch president interviews the person individually. A member of the stake presidency or mission presidency does not interview the person if the recommend is being issued only for baptisms and confirmations for the dead.
When interviewing newly baptized and confirmed members, the bishop helps them understand the importance of testimony, sustaining the President of the Church and other leaders, and keeping the commandments. These commandments include obeying the law of chastity, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and attending Sabbath meetings.
Because new members typically have not had sufficient time to establish a pattern of paying tithing, the bishop asks if they are willing to pay tithing, rather than if they are full-tithe payers. He helps new members understand the blessings of paying a full tithe. As needed, he invites them to start paying tithing and to attend tithing settlement.
If a member has not lived in the same ward continuously for at least one year, the bishop contacts the prior bishop to certify the member’s worthiness before interviewing the member for a limited-use recommend.
Limited-use recommends that are issued to perform baptisms and confirmations for the dead may be used only for that purpose. These recommends are printed using the LCR where it is available.
For information about scheduling baptisms and confirmations for the dead, see 28.2.
Single members ages 8–20 are issued limited-use recommends to be sealed to their parents or to observe the sealing of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents. Those who are issued limited-use recommends for the purpose of being sealed to parents or to observe such sealings are interviewed by both a member of the bishopric and a member of the stake presidency. Based on the age and maturity of the member, this interview could cover the eternal nature of families and the significance of the sealing ordinance. For a basic understanding of temple ceremonial clothing, members may view the video titled “Sacred Temple Clothing” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
All children under the age of 21 must be born in the covenant or have been previously sealed to their parents to observe a sealing of living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to parents. Members who are married or are 21 or older may not be sealed to their parents or observe the sealing of living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents unless they are endowed.
Limited-use recommends may be issued for individual children or for a group of children in the same family. The same recommend may be used to list children who are being sealed and children who are observing. Children under age 8 do not need recommends to be sealed to their parents or to observe such sealings.
Some children desire to observe the sealing of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents or to a natural parent and a stepparent. If the children who want to observe the sealing do not live the majority of the time in the same home as the children who are being sealed, local priesthood leaders should obtain permission from the children’s custodial parent or guardian.
First Presidency approval is necessary if a person who is not baptized or endowed at the required ages due to intellectual disabilities would like to observe the sealing of his or her living siblings. The stake president sends a request with the relevant information to the Office of the First Presidency.
Unendowed children are not permitted to observe the sealing of their parents.