“26. Temple Recommends,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“26. Temple Recommends,” General Handbook.
Entering the temple is a sacred privilege. Ward and stake leaders encourage all members to be worthy of and to have a current temple recommend even if they do not live near a temple.
Church leaders make every effort to see that all who enter the temple are worthy to do so (see Psalm 24:3–5). Authorized priesthood leaders conduct temple recommend interviews and issue temple recommends to members who answer the interview questions appropriately and sincerely (see 26.3). The Lord promises that if those who enter the temple are clean, His presence will be there (see Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–16).
Members must have a valid temple recommend to enter a temple. Children younger than 8 who are being sealed to their parents or observing the sealing of their siblings to their parents do not need a recommend (see 26.4.4).
This chapter provides instructions for leaders who issue temple recommends. A bishop counsels with his stake president if he has questions about temple recommends that are not answered in this chapter. The stake president may contact the Office of the First Presidency with questions.
A valid temple recommend allows a member to enter all temples. Priesthood leaders ensure that members receive the correct recommend for their circumstances. There are three types of recommends:
Limited-use recommend. These recommends are for unendowed members. They are issued through Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR). For more information, see 26.4.
Recommend for living ordinances. These recommends are for members receiving their own endowment, being sealed to a spouse, or being married in a temple for time only. They are issued from recommend book 2. The recommend for living ordinances is attached to a regular temple recommend (described below). The temple retains the living ordinance recommend when the ordinance is performed. The member retains the regular recommend and uses it when returning to the temple.
Temple recommend. These recommends are for members who have previously been endowed. They are issued from recommend book 1. They authorize a member to participate in all temple ordinances for the deceased. They are also used when an endowed member is sealed to living or deceased parents or children. For more information, see 26.5.
Priesthood leaders who are authorized to have temple recommend books should carefully safeguard them. No other person should have access to them. When the Church updates temple recommend books, leaders destroy the outdated books.
Stake and mission presidency members request old temple recommends when they interview members for a new recommend. They destroy the old recommends.
The bishop asks members to notify him as soon as possible if their recommend is lost or stolen. He or an assigned counselor or clerk uses LCR to cancel the recommend as soon as possible. If this system is not available, the bishop contacts the temple office to have the recommend canceled.
Soon after canceling the lost or stolen recommend, the bishop or an assigned counselor conducts a temple recommend interview with the member to issue a new recommend.
If the bishop determines that a member who has a current recommend is not living the standards of worthiness (see 26.3), he requests the recommend from the member. He uses LCR to cancel the recommend.
Authorized priesthood leaders conduct worthiness interviews before a member can receive a temple recommend. Instructions are in the temple recommend book. Priesthood leaders should issue a recommend only if the member answers the temple recommend questions appropriately.
Temple recommend interviews allow members to demonstrate that they have a testimony and are striving to obey God’s commandments and follow His prophets. Priesthood leaders also affirm, through the interview, that the member is worthy.
Temple recommend interviews should not be rushed. They should be private. However, the person being interviewed may invite another adult to be present. A youth may invite a parent or another adult to be present during an interview for a limited-use recommend.
Priesthood leaders should not add any requirements to those that are outlined in the temple recommend book. Nor should they remove any requirements. However, when issuing limited-use recommends to youth, leaders adapt the questions to the age and circumstances of the youth.
Sometimes members have questions during a temple recommend interview. The priesthood leader may explain basic gospel principles. He may also help members understand the temple recommend questions if needed. However, he should not present his personal beliefs, preferences, or interpretations as Church doctrine or policy.
In stakes, a member of the stake presidency or a stake clerk activates the temple recommend in LCR after it is issued. In districts, a member of the mission presidency or a mission clerk activates the recommend. Limited-use recommends for baptisms and confirmations for the dead are activated when they are printed by a member of the bishopric or by the branch president. He uses LCR to print the recommends.
In a ward, the bishop or an assigned counselor conducts temple recommend interviews and issues recommends to those who are worthy. In a branch, only the branch president conducts temple recommend interviews and issues recommends.
In a ward, the bishop personally interviews members who:
Are being sealed to a spouse (see 27.3).
Are being married in a temple for time only (see 27.3.3).
In urgent cases when the bishop is unavailable, he may authorize one of his counselors to conduct these interviews.
In large young single adult wards, bishops may authorize experienced counselors to conduct these interviews.
Before issuing a recommend in any of the situations listed above, the bishop reviews the member’s record to verify that it does not include a notation about Church membership restrictions. For members receiving their own endowment or being sealed to a spouse, he also ensures that:
The person’s baptism and confirmation are recorded on the membership record.
Brethren have received the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Sometimes, dates for a member’s baptism and confirmation or Melchizedek Priesthood ordination have not been recorded. In these situations, the ordinances must be verified and recorded, ratified, or performed again (see 188.8.131.52).
After the interview by a member of the bishopric or the branch president, a member of the stake presidency interviews members who live in a stake. He signs the recommends of those who are worthy. A member of the mission presidency conducts the second interview for members who live in a district. He also signs the recommends of those who are worthy. A district president does not conduct temple recommend interviews unless authorized by the First Presidency.
The stake or mission president personally interviews members who:
Are receiving their own endowment.
Are being sealed to a spouse.
Are being married in a temple for time only.
If the stake president is unavailable, he may authorize his counselors to conduct these interviews.
A mission president may authorize his counselors to conduct these interviews as needed.
In a young single adult stake, the stake president may authorize his counselors to conduct these interviews.
Some members live in areas that would require expensive travel or great difficulty to meet with a member of the stake or mission presidency. In these situations, a temple president may interview the person and sign the recommend. Before conducting the interview, he confers with the stake or mission president. 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. They should first be interviewed by the bishop of their home ward or the unit that supports their duty station.
In a ward, the bishop or an assigned counselor interviews members for limited-use temple recommends. In a branch, only the branch president conducts temple recommend interviews. The leader follows the guidelines in 26.3. He issues a limited-use recommend if the person is worthy.
Limited-use recommends are issued to 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 through 20 to be sealed to their parents.
For single members ages 8 through 20 to observe the sealings of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents.
Members who have been previously endowed are not issued limited-use recommends.
A male Church member who is old enough to hold the priesthood must be ordained to a priesthood office before he may receive a limited-use recommend.
When issuing a limited-use recommend, a member of the bishopric or the branch president interviews the person individually. However, the person may invite a parent or another adult to be present.
The bishop interviews new members who are of an appropriate age to receive a limited-use recommend for baptisms and confirmations for the dead. He conducts this interview soon after the member’s confirmation, normally within a week (see 26.4.1). For brethren, this interview may be held as part of the interview to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. Male Church members must be ordained to a priesthood office before receiving a limited-use recommend.
Limited-use recommends that are issued for baptisms and confirmations for the dead may be used only for that purpose. These recommends are printed using LCR. They require only the signature of a member of the bishopric or the branch president.
For information about scheduling baptisms and confirmations for the dead, see 28.2.
Single unendowed members ages 8 through 20 are issued limited-use recommends to participate in sealings as follows:
To be sealed to their parents
To observe the sealing of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents
Those who are issued limited-use recommends to participate in sealings are interviewed by a member of the bishopric or the branch president. They are also interviewed by a member of the stake or mission presidency.
A member of the bishopric or the branch president prints limited-use recommends using LCR. Limited-use recommends for sealings 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 those who are observing.
Children under age 8 do not need a recommend to be sealed to their parents. Nor do they need a recommend to observe the sealing of their siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents.
Married members and members who are 21 or older may be sealed to their parents or observe a sealing only if they are (1) endowed and (2) have a current temple recommend.
Instructions for issuing a recommend to a person who is receiving his or her own endowment are provided in the temple recommend book. Members should not receive their own endowment until they meet all of the following conditions:
They are at least 18 years old.
They have completed or are no longer attending high school, secondary school, or the equivalent.
One full year has passed since their confirmation.
In addition, a man must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood before receiving his endowment. For information about members preparing to receive their own endowment, see 25.2.8. For information about who may receive the endowment, see 27.2.1.
Worthy adult members may receive their own endowment one full year after being confirmed a member of the Church (see 27.1). Priesthood leaders ensure that the date the member will receive the endowment will be at least one full year after his or her confirmation date, not the baptismal date. Only the First Presidency may authorize exceptions.
New members who are worthy should be issued a limited-use recommend to perform baptisms and confirmations for the dead (see 26.4.2).
Before a young missionary serving away from home completes his or her service, the mission president conducts a temple recommend interview. If the missionary is worthy, he issues a recommend. The mission president dates and activates the recommend so it expires three months from the date the missionary returns home (see 184.108.40.206).
The bishop interviews returned missionaries to issue a new temple recommend near the end of the three-month expiration period. In urgent cases when the bishop is unavailable, he may authorize one of his counselors to conduct these interviews.
In large young single adult wards, bishops may authorize experienced counselors to conduct these interviews.
Returned missionaries then meet with a member of their stake presidency for a temple recommend interview.
In these temple recommend interviews, the bishop and member of the stake presidency also review counsel given in the missionary’s release interview (see 220.127.116.11). They discuss the returned missionary’s progress, well-being, and current Church calling. They also encourage him or her to continue on a lifelong path of spiritual growth and service.
If the returned missionary does not have a Church calling, the bishop and stake president make certain that one is extended. Returned missionaries may be recommended to serve as temple ordinance workers or volunteers if a temple is nearby (see 25.5).
If a member has not lived in the same ward continuously for at least one year, the bishop reviews the member’s record to verify that it does not include a notation about Church membership restrictions.
The bishop or an assigned counselor contacts the prior bishop before conducting a temple recommend interview. If a counselor contacts the prior bishop and learns that there is confidential information, he ends the conversation. He informs his bishop to contact the prior bishop before an interview.
The bishop and stake president may feel impressed to interview a member who has been divorced or legally separated or had a marriage annulled since last receiving a temple recommend. During this interview, they help strengthen the member spiritually. They also verify the member’s continued temple worthiness.
Bishops and their counselors should be sensitive when issuing recommends to members whose close relatives publicly oppose the Church or belong to apostate groups. Members in these circumstances should not be made to feel that they cannot have a temple recommend because of their family associations. They should be encouraged to maintain a loving relationship with close relatives. They may be issued a temple recommend if they answer all temple recommend questions appropriately and sincerely.
Worthy members who identify as transgender but do not pursue a medical, surgical, or social transition to the gender opposite of their biological sex at birth (“sex reassignment”) may receive a temple recommend and temple ordinances.
Temple ordinances are received according to a person’s biological sex at birth. For this reason, the following members may not receive a temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend:
Members who have received elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition
Members who have socially transitioned to the gender opposite of their biological sex at birth
A member who has committed a serious sin may not receive a temple recommend until he or she has repented (see 32.6). The period between the sin and the issuing of a recommend is left to the discretion of the bishop and stake president. It should be sufficient to determine that the person has genuinely repented.
After a member who was not previously endowed has been readmitted by baptism and confirmation, the bishop may interview him or her to receive a limited-use recommend (see 26.4.1). This interview normally takes place within one week of the member’s confirmation. Male Church members must be ordained to an office in the priesthood before receiving a limited-use recommend.
These members may not be issued recommends to receive their own endowment until one full year after the date of their readmission to the Church by baptism and confirmation.
Members who were previously endowed may not receive any kind of temple recommend until their temple blessings are restored through the ordinance of restoration of blessings (see 32.17.2). When their blessings are restored, they may be issued a temple recommend.