Handbooks and Callings
28. Temple Ordinances for the Deceased
previous next


“28. Temple Ordinances for the Deceased,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).

“28. Temple Ordinances for the Deceased,” General Handbook.

28.

Temple Ordinances for the Deceased

28.0

Introduction

Uniting families for eternity is part of the work of salvation and exaltation (see 1.2). Ordinances performed in temples make it possible for families to be together for eternity and experience a fulness of joy in God’s presence.

For Heavenly Father’s children to return to Him, each of them must repent, become worthy to receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation, and honor the covenants associated with each ordinance. The ordinances of salvation and exaltation are:

  • Baptism.

  • Confirmation and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • Conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordination to an office (for men).

  • The temple endowment.

  • Temple sealing.

Heavenly Father knew that many of His children would not receive these ordinances during their mortal lives. He provided another way for them to receive ordinances and make covenants with Him. In temples, ordinances can be performed by proxy. This means that a living person receives ordinances on behalf of someone who is deceased. In the spirit world, deceased persons can choose to accept or reject ordinances that have been performed for them (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:19, 32–34, 58–59).

The ordinances of salvation and exaltation are not needed or performed for those who were not accountable in this life (see 18.1, 28.3.2, and 28.3.3).

Church members are encouraged to identify deceased relatives who have not received the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. Members then perform the ordinances on behalf of those relatives. (See Malachi 4:5–6; 1 Corinthians 15:29; Doctrine and Covenants 2:1–3; 128:15–18; see also 25.1 in this handbook.)

If members have not prepared family names for temple work (see 28.1.1), the names of deceased persons who need ordinances will be provided at the temple.

Members are encouraged to attend the temple as often as their circumstances allow, whether they are performing proxy ordinances for their own relatives or for persons whose names are provided at the temple.

Church members are blessed when they perform temple ordinances for the deceased. While performing proxy ordinances, they are able to reflect on their own temple covenants and their commitment to keep those covenants.

Stake presidents and bishops help members prepare to have positive experiences performing temple ordinances. They do this by teaching the doctrinal basis of temple work and ensuring that members understand the guidelines for this work. See chapter 25 for more information.

28.1

General Guidelines for Performing Proxy Ordinances

Deceased persons who were age 8 or older at the time of their death may have proxy ordinances performed on their behalf. Except as noted in 28.3, proxy ordinances may be performed for all deceased persons as soon as 30 days have passed from their date of death if either of the following applies:

  • A close relative of the deceased (undivorced spouse, adult child, parent, or sibling) submits the name for temple ordinances.

  • Permission to perform the ordinances is received from a close relative of the deceased (undivorced spouse, adult child, parent, or sibling).

If neither of the above conditions applies, proxy temple ordinances may be performed 110 years after the deceased person was born.

For more information, see the following articles on FamilySearch.org:

28.1.1

Preparing the Names of Deceased Persons for Temple Ordinances

Many resources are available to help members identify deceased relatives who need ordinances performed on their behalf (see 25.4 and 28.3). The following leaders help members learn how to prepare the names of deceased family members for temple ordinances:

  • Elders quorum and ward Relief Society presidencies (see 25.2.2)

  • The ward temple and family history leader (see 25.2.3)

  • Ward temple and family history consultants (see 25.2.4)

Where possible, information identifying deceased family members should be entered into FamilySearch.org before temple ordinances are performed (see 25.4.2).

28.1.1.1

Submitting the Names of Family Members

When submitting names for proxy temple ordinances, members should generally submit only the names of persons to whom they are related.

28.1.1.2

Submitting the Names of Celebrities and Unauthorized Groups

Generally, Church members should not submit names to FamilySearch.org from the following groups:

  • Famous people

  • Names gathered from unapproved extraction projects

  • Jewish Holocaust victims

For more information, see the following article on FamilySearch: “Can I do temple work for victims of the Jewish Holocaust?

28.1.2

Who May Participate in Ordinances for the Deceased

All members who have a current temple recommend may participate in baptisms and confirmations for the dead. Endowed members with a current temple recommend may participate in all ordinances for the deceased. See 26.3.

28.1.3

Participation by Members Who Have Physical or Intellectual Disabilities

Members who have disabilities may do temple work for the deceased if they:

  • Have a current temple recommend (see 28.1.2).

  • Have the intellectual capacity to understand the ordinance.

  • Can care for themselves or are accompanied by a relative or friend of the same gender who has a temple recommend and can provide help if needed.

See 27.1.3 and 27.2.1.3.

28.1.4

Scheduling

Members may need to make an appointment before performing ordinances for the deceased. See temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for each temple’s contact information and scheduling requirements.

28.1.5

Translation or Interpretation Assistance

See 27.1.4.

28.1.6

Clothing to Wear to a Temple

See 27.1.5.

28.1.7

Child Care

See 27.1.6.

28.2

Performing Temple Ordinances for Deceased Persons

The following sections explain the ordinances that are performed by proxy for deceased persons in temples. When performing proxy ordinances, a member may act as proxy only for a deceased person who is the same birth sex as the member.

28.2.1

Baptisms and Confirmations for the Dead

Any member who has a current temple recommend may be invited to serve in baptistry assignments. Some of the assignments might include:

  • Acting as proxy for baptisms and confirmations.

  • Acting as a witness for proxy baptisms.

  • Assisting patrons.

  • Distributing clothing and towels.

  • Helping record baptism and confirmation ordinances in the computer system.

Melchizedek Priesthood holders and priests in the Aaronic Priesthood may be invited to perform baptisms for the dead. Melchizedek Priesthood holders may also be invited to officiate in confirmations for the dead.

Only endowed men may be invited to:

  • Serve as the font recorder.

  • Serve as the confirmation recorder.

Organized groups such as families, wards, and stakes that desire to participate in ordinances in the baptistry normally schedule with the temple in advance (see 28.1.4). One or more adults with current temple recommends should accompany these groups.

28.2.2

Endowment (Including Initiatory)

When performing proxy endowments for the deceased, the initiatory portion of the endowment is performed and recorded separately (see 27.2). Any endowed member with a current temple recommend may act as a proxy to receive these ordinances.

28.2.2.1

Verifying Ordinances Necessary to Receive the Endowment

A deceased person should have been baptized and confirmed, either in life or by proxy, before the endowment, including the initiatory portion, is performed on his or her behalf.

Sometimes, after a deceased person has received the endowment by proxy, it is later discovered that the baptism and confirmation he or she received while living cannot be verified. In that case, the person must be baptized and confirmed by proxy. It is not necessary to perform the endowment again after the proxy baptism and confirmation.

28.2.3

Sealing to Spouse and Sealing Children to Parents

In the temple, deceased persons may be sealed to spouses to whom they were married in life (see 38.4.1.3 if either spouse is still living and 38.4.1.7 if both spouses are deceased). Deceased persons may also have their living or deceased children sealed to them (see 38.4.2.2). An endowed member with a current temple recommend may act as a proxy for sealing ordinances.

The ordinances of baptism, confirmation, initiatory, and endowment must have been performed, either in life or by proxy, before a deceased person can be sealed to a spouse or to his or her parents. However, a deceased person who died before age 8 or who was not accountable in life does not need to receive any other ordinance before being sealed to his or her parents (see 18.1, 28.3.2, and 28.3.3).

28.3

Special Circumstances

This section explains circumstances in which some of the guidelines in 28.1 may not apply.

28.3.1

Children Who Died before Birth (Stillborn and Miscarried Children)

Temple ordinances are not needed or performed for children who die before birth. For more information, see 38.7.3.

28.3.2

Children Who Died before Age Eight

Little children are redeemed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and “saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10). For this reason, no baptism or endowment is performed for a child who died before age 8. However, sealings to parents may be performed for children who were not born in the covenant or did not receive that ordinance in life (see 18.1).

28.3.3

Deceased Persons Who Had Intellectual Disabilities

Temple ordinances may be performed for deceased persons who are known to have been accountable (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:71). Temple ordinances may also be performed for persons whose accountability is unknown.

If it is clearly known that a deceased person had intellectual disabilities and was not accountable, the only ordinance performed is that of sealing to parents (see 38.2.4). This is done only if the person was not born in the covenant or was not sealed to his or her parents while living. Other temple ordinances are not needed or performed even if the person lived to be age 8 or older.

28.3.4

Persons Who Are Presumed Dead

Temple ordinances may be performed for a person who is presumed dead. The ordinances cannot be performed until 10 years have passed since the time the person is presumed dead or legally declared dead. This policy applies to persons who either:

  • Are missing in action or are lost at sea.

  • Disappeared under circumstances where death is apparent but no body has been recovered.

In all other cases of missing persons, temple ordinances may be performed 110 years after the person’s birth.

The stake president may contact the Temple Department if he has questions about this policy:

Email: TempleDepartment@ChurchofJesusChrist.org

28.3.5

Persons Whose Church Membership Was Withdrawn or Who Resigned Membership

If persons either had their Church membership withdrawn or had resigned membership before they died, First Presidency approval is required before temple ordinances, including restoration of blessings when applicable, can be performed for them. A family member may seek this approval in a letter to the Office of the First Presidency after one year has passed since the person’s death. The letter should explain the circumstances. No form is required. The bishop or stake president may assist with this request as needed.

28.3.5.1

Readmission of Deceased Persons Who Were Not Endowed

Deceased persons who were not endowed but whose Church membership was withdrawn or who resigned membership may be readmitted by baptism and confirmation. First Presidency approval is needed, as noted in 28.3.5. These deceased persons do not need to be sealed to their parents again if they were born in the covenant or sealed to their parents in life.

28.3.5.2

Restoration of Temple Blessings for Persons Who Were Endowed

Deceased persons who were endowed but whose Church membership was withdrawn or who resigned membership and were later readmitted by baptism and confirmation can receive their priesthood and temple blessings only through the ordinance of restoration of blessings. Such persons are not ordained to any priesthood office or endowed again, since these blessings are restored through this ordinance.

As noted in 28.3.5, First Presidency approval is required to perform this ordinance for deceased persons. For information about performing this ordinance for the living, see 32.17.2.