Thank you for that introduction. You may be wondering, as some people do, “How did the old hospital man end up as the Managing Director of the Family History Department?” I still ask myself that question on occasion, but here I am, and I am learning. I joke sometimes that seven months ago I could not spell genealogy, and here I am learning about it and teaching it and have become a little bit passionate about this.
I would like to thank you all for being here. I know this is a sacrifice for some; you have come from long distances, and it is really an exciting time to come to Salt Lake and come to Temple Square, and we hope you enjoy all that is going on. And particularly to be with others who are involved in this wonderful effort of family history and learning how it relates to the work that Heavenly Father would have us do.
A number of years ago I was involved in missionary work, and it is a little bit like family history work, and that is, we were always trying to get people engaged and do the work. And I remember, once, asking our ward this question: “How many of you believe that you can get to heaven without a year’s supply of food?” Now, you don’t need to raise your hand; I will just watch your body language, and that will probably give me the answer. Then I asked the question, “How many think you can get to heaven without faith in Jesus Christ?” And of course the answer to that is obvious. You can probably get to heaven without a year’s supply of food, but nobody gets there without faith in Jesus Christ.
So the question is, “What is the difference between these two?” Well, one is a program of the Church and the other is a principle of the gospel. And so, taking that experience before and now applying it to where we are today, I thought maybe that applies to family history. Maybe there are some who look at family history simply as a program of the Church and have not adequately understood what it might mean to be a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, when I was first asked to consider this responsibility as director of Family History, I was asked by Elder Maynes to consider this; Elder Maynes is now the President of the Seventy, and when I finally said yes, I asked Elder Maynes, “What do you want me to do?” And I thought that was a natural question. I am kind of a goal-focused person, and I thought, “If I just know what I am supposed to do, I can do it and get it done, and I will have this job over with.” Elder Maynes did not give me an answer. I checked back a week or two later and asked him again, and he finally just said, “You will figure it out.”
Well, I was not very satisfied with that, but the more I thought about it the more I recognized it was probably the right answer. If we had children and they brought home from school a math problem and they said, “Dad, give me the answer,” we would not give them the answer; we would have them work at it and help them, and then they would come and learn themselves.
And so knowing that I needed to figure this out, I began to—I began a journey, a journey of discovery about family history. About what it was and what are the doctrines and what are the lessons and principles of this that make it so essential to the work we do in the kingdom. I thought today I would share with you what I learned on that quest, to learn about family history as a principle of the gospel, not just as something that some people do, kind of on the side of the Church. And so today I would like to share with you what I have learned and see if we can better understand how what we do is related, absolutely, to a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Well, my journey took me a lot of places, but one of the places I ended up was in our new handbooks of instruction. And if you go to handbook number two, and you go to chapter number two in that book, you can find a wonderful statement about the purpose of the Church. Now when I was trying to learn about these things and I came across this statement, I thought, “Wow! Purpose of the Church—that’s perfect!” Because we in the Family History Department are part of the Church, and if we learn what the purpose of the Church is, then we are going to have a pretty good feel about what we do and how this relates to what the Church is trying to accomplish.
And so, in this, as you can see on the screen, we have this wonderful statement out of handbook number two. Let me just read it to you. “In fulfilling its purpose to help individual families qualify for exaltation, the Church focuses on divinely appointed responsibilities.” So, here the Church and the members have divinely appointed responsibilities from our Heavenly Father. These divinely appointed responsibilities include helping members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, gathering Israel through missionary work, caring for the poor and the needy, and then, finally, enabling the salvation of the dead by building temples and performing vicarious ordinances. Now that is a very interesting statement because we used to call this redeeming the dead. Well, redeeming the dead implies, to a certain degree, that the dead do not have a choice. And so, really, what we are doing is we are enabling that. We are enabling the salvation of the dead by the things we do. The Church builds temples and makes it possible for us to do the vicarious ordinances which will bless those members.
Now, one of the things that I noticed as I began to read this, is this performing of vicarious ordinances requires a couple of things, some of which we will talk a little bit more about in a minute. But it requires two things: it requires for us to find these ancestors, those that have passed on. That is one part of the requirement. The second requirement is it requires us to take those names of those ancestors to the temple and thereby provide ordinances for them so that they might have certain blessings.
Now, I came across this wonderful quote by Howard W. Hunter which I think gives us a little bit of the state of this question we are asking today, and that is, “Is family history, is it a part of the principle of the gospel, or has it become in some ways, just a program that some people do?” This wonderful quote by President Hunter goes like this: “Yet, there are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples. They do the best they can. They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinances [performed] by others” (“A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 4). And that is true for a lot of people in the Church, who simply do not have access to the temple, or for whatever reason can’t get there.
President Hunter continues, “Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do the family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets” (“A Temple-Motivated People,” 4). And then, finally, President Hunter goes on with this very important statement: “I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those names whom they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing” (“A Temple-Motivated People,” 4-5).
And so somewhere there is a connection. There is a unity in this work of finding our families and providing for them the blessings of the temple; both halves of the blessings come together. Now I tried to figure out how they got linked to begin with. What is the doctrine that we had from the very beginning that linked these two things together? Well, I tried to go back and find out where is the very, very first example we have ever had of the “turning of the hearts,” and then follow that concept of “turning the hearts” down through our doctrines.
So I would like to cover for a few minutes these things: a little understanding of the plan of happiness, what we learn about that plan from Abraham, what we learn about it from Malachi, what took place in the Restoration, and what we have today.
Well, the first evidence I could find anywhere, of a turning of the hearts, was in the council in heaven. Now, brothers and sisters, we do not know a lot about this. I think if you took all the scriptures that we have about the council in heaven, it might fill a half of a column on one side of a scripture page. But from that, and by the work of—the comments of living prophets, we have learned a couple of things about this.
First of all, that we were the children of loving Parents, and Their hearts turn to us. Our Father in Heaven knew us, He loved us and, more than anything else, He wanted us to be happy. Now that is not too much of a mystery to us because that is what we want for our children. And so, Heavenly Father wanted His children to be happy, because His heart was turned to them, His heart was turned to us, and He wanted to bless us with happiness.
And therefore, He put together a plan, a plan of happiness—that is what we call it. And this plan of happiness was basically a way in which we could do certain things that He wanted and in return He would give us the blessings. We call that a covenant. We enter into a blessing—a covenant—and in return for doing certain things, we get things back.
Let me give you an example. We enter into a covenant of baptism. We promise that we will take upon ourselves the name of Christ, that we will always remember Him, that we will keep His commandments. In return, Heavenly Father promises that our sins will be taken away. And when our sins are taken away, we are happy. We are promised that we can have the Holy Ghost to guide us. It makes us happy. We are promised that we can be members of the Church and in fellowship with others who feel the way we feel, and have additional blessings, and then it makes us happy. And so this access to happiness came about by covenants. Well, each important covenant is associated with an ordinance. And so part of the plan of happiness was for Father in Heaven’s children to have covenants and ordinances whereby they could get access to the happiness that He promised them.
Well, then we come to Abraham. Now I don’t claim to be a great scholar on the Abrahamic covenant, and I have done what I think many of you might do, when I need to learn something that I can’t quite get out of the scriptures—I kind of go to the Bible Dictionary. I admit it, I go to the Bible Dictionary, because sometimes it is stated there in a way that I can understand a little bit better. So I went to the Bible Dictionary under “Abraham, Covenant of.”
And in here I learned a lot; very important understanding of this turning of the hearts. And so here it says that Abraham first received the gospel by baptism, which was a covenant of salvation. Then he had conferred upon him the higher priesthood and entered into celestial marriage, which is the covenant of exaltation, gaining assurance thereby that he would have eternal increase. Then listen to this—finally he received a promise that all of those blessings would be offered to his mortal posterity. And so now what we have is this wonderful promise that Heavenly Father made to Abraham that all of his children would have the promise of the covenants that allowed them to be happy.
Well, the next time we find reference to this was in Malachi. We have all heard this many times; we have read it many times. But in Malachi we give the first little hint of how this was going to happen. Of how Heavenly Father is going to fulfill the promises that He made to all the children of Abraham. And in there we read this, “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children”—and note this; I had not noted this before—“the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5–6; italics added).
And so here we get the first indication of how these promises are going to be fulfilled for the children of Abraham. One is, Elijah is going to be involved with it, and it involves a turning of the hearts of us, not to the fathers, but to our fathers.
Well, we got a little more information about this when Moroni came and talked to the Prophet, Joseph, three times in one night and again the next day. And he added things to what was stated to Malachi, which help us understand what might have been lost through translation or through all the years since that was given to us by Malachi. The angel Moroni said to the Prophet Joseph, and again he quoted the fifth verse, saying, “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (D&C 2:1).
So what Moroni added was the fact that Elijah was not just going to come back, but he was going to bring power, or priesthood, and it was through this priesthood that these promises were going to be made available to the people, to the descendants of Abraham. And then he said he also quoted the fifth, the next verse differently: “And he shall [turn and] plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming” (D&C 2:2–3; italics added).
Now brothers and sisters, think of that for a second. Elijah will come and bring power, and the power will turn our hearts to the promises made to our fathers, the promises—the promises made by Heavenly Father to Abraham that they could all have the promises and covenants and ordinances that allow happiness to come to Heavenly Father’s children.
And so this is how this is going to happen; this is how Heavenly Father is going to fulfill His promises. He is going to bring us power, and He is going to plant in our hearts a desire to know our ancestors and to fulfill the promises made to them, which is, of course, what we do when we do our family history. We turn our hearts, and when we take the name to the temple we give them the promises that were made from Heavenly Father to the descendants of Abraham.
Well, where are we next? Well, what happened was that in the Kirtland Temple, this prophecy that was brought to us by Malachi, and then refined by Moroni, was fulfilled. And we know from the scriptures in the 110th section of the Doctrine and Covenants that Elijah did return, as was prophesied, and it said that he said that, “Behold, the time has fully come which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi— testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (D&C 110:14). Now what happened here was that that prophecy was fulfilled, and what was Elijah to do? To turn the hearts of the fathers and to give the power, the power, the keys that allowed this work to take place, and to remind us of the promises that Heavenly Father wants us to help Him keep to those who descended from Abraham, which is all of us.
Well, where are we today? Today we have taken all of that doctrine, going clear back to the first turning of the hearts in the councils in heaven, and we have in place today those policies and procedures and efforts and doctrines that allow these promises to be fulfilled to the children of Abraham. We have policies which are governed by doctrines.
Every policy that we follow, relative to family history work and temple, is governed by a doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are administered by priesthood keys; the same keys that came to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple are now resident with President Monson. And through his use of those keys, he provides power to individuals who work in the temple to provide the promises to the children of Abraham.
Now, we have another blessing we did not have before—we have technology. And technology has allowed us to do things we could not do before. I did a little research and went back to when we were submitting names to the temple on family group sheets. It was very interesting, because in the old days, and some of you remember, you had to fill out a family group sheet, you put it in an envelope, you sent it to Salt Lake, and you waited. And then when it came back, you—with some trepidation—opened the envelope hoping you would not be a victim of the red pencil.
Well, what happened was, we did a little research—42 percent of all of the papers submitted were sent back to the submitter because there were errors in the submissions, some of them as simple as not having a period after an abbreviation. Twenty-six percent of those that were submitted were duplicates and therefore could not be done. We simply could not process enough names in those early days to satisfy the demand of what was going on in the temples.
But now, we have technology. You all know this. You can—literally, in a few minutes if you have found a name, you can hook that name into your family, and when that is done, that qualifies that individual to receive the temple ordinances and covenants and thereby the promises made by the fathers to the children. Now, we also have an enormous ability to bless the lives of us, who are here today, the children, and to bless the lives of our ancestors by virtue of this technology and by virtue of the policies and doctrines that we have.
Now the question would come, if that is the case, how are we doing? Well, the answer to that is sobering. Remember, our responsibility is to help the members fulfill a divinely appointed responsibility. So we are here as those engaged in family history work, whether it’s at the Family History Department, whether it’s family history consultants, whether it’s anybody who is engaged—the priesthood. We are here to help members engage in this work to make sure the promises to the fathers are available to those children. All those who have lived, from Abraham to now, we are responsible to do that.
How are we doing that? Well, it’s a sobering answer. Today we only have 2.4 percent of the adults and youth in the Church who are submitting names to the temple. Now if I were asked by senior quorums of the Church, the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, if they said, “Brother Brimhall, we would like you to give us a report. How are we doing in family history? We have spent a lot of effort and a lot of money.”
My answer would be we’ve only got 2.4 percent of our adults and youth submitting names to the temple. That does not seem adequate. That doesn’t seem like we are helping enough fulfill a divinely appointed responsibility, not a program of the Church, but a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of the reason for that is that there are many over the years who have disconnected the turning of the hearts from temple worship. They have disconnected the two halves of the blessings. And so one of the ways that we report on how we are doing, is not too good, because of that disconnect. Just as President Hunter said, we have many who do one, many who do the other, but we have really only about 2.4 percent that are getting both halves of the blessing. And so we are trying to figure out what we must do to make those blessings of family and temple available for more of our members.
Now there is a saying we use in the department quite often. It is kind of one of the things we talked about today, and that saying goes like this: “Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Now think about that. As a Church—members, priesthood, Family History Department, leadership, computers, everything we are doing—we are perfectly designed to get 2.4 percent. And we know that if that is going to increase, if we are going to help more members fulfill the divinely appointed responsibility, something has to change. What must change? We now try to figure out, “What changes do we need to make to have that number begin to increase so that our Saints get both halves of the blessing, and more of the children of Abraham get access to the covenants and promises which ensure their happiness?”
Well, what we found is that many stakes are having terrific success even though on an average it is quite low. We have found some stakes that really are doing a terrific job, many multiples of the 2.4 percent. So we tried to visit them and ask and inquire about how they are doing. We have learned a few things.
The successful stakes have several things in common. One is they love their ancestors. Fundamentally, this work we do is because we love those who have gone before. Our hearts are turned to them, and because of the turning of our hearts, our love for them, we want them to have the same blessings we have.
So one of the common characteristics of these most successful stakes is they truly love their ancestors. I visited a stake in Ghana a few months—a few weeks ago, in West Africa—and they were having pretty good success on this, much better than the rest of the Church, and I asked them a little bit about it. And I was very interested in one of the brethren, who said, “I am so grateful for this Church who gives me the opportunity to express my gratitude for my grandfather, who has passed away.” Now, I thought, that is a turning of the heart.
Now, likewise, we find that successful stakes view the temple experience as a family history experience, and the family history experience as a temple experience. In this stake that I visited I noticed one thing. They, when this stake was first organized—and it’s a 10-hour trip to the temple there for that stake—I asked the stake president how did they have such success? He said, “When we first became a stake, we committed to be a temple stake. But we did not know that you could go to the temple and just get a file—get a name out of the temple file. We understood that we needed to take to the temple the names of our ancestors. So he said in order for us to be a temple stake, we needed to be a family history stake.
And so without computers—they had no computers there except for a couple in the family history center in the stake center—they began to go out and collect the family history of their members and prepare those so that they could go to the temple. Now, if you are interested, when they first started they had a hundred people going to the temple, making this very long trip. Now they have 500 who go when they have their stake temple activities, and they take more names than they can do, because they have viewed these two as together, as being part of one blessing.
Now one of the other things we found that they do is they engaged their youth. They engaged their youth by helping their youth not only to do Indexing, which is very good and very exciting, but also to find their own ancestors. Turn the hearts of the youth to their ancestors.
And so when they take their youth to the temple, they make sure that from the youth’s own family or from their ward or from their stake sources, they have the names that the youth can do. Now this is a wonderful sense of, as you well know, that when you go to the temple it makes you happy. But when you go to the temple to do a name for somebody to whom you are related, one of your ancestors to whom you have turned your heart, there is something about that that is different. And so they try to make sure that when the youth go to the temple they are taking names, either from their own family or from people in the ward who are saying, “Would you do this for me?” And then they know about these people for whom they are doing the work.
Now one of the things that we have also learned is that the most successful stakes are not just about collecting names, dates, and places. That is kind of just mechanical work. What they collect are stories. And so the turning of the hearts in these stakes is not just turning the hearts to the name, date, and place, but it’s turning the heart to the experience and the stories of these ancestors, so that when they do the work for them in the temple, they know about them. They want to do the work because they are connected, because they turned their hearts.
Well, let’s now talk a little bit about the Family History Department. We are here to help the members. And so one of the things we have tried to do is recalibrate our thinking about what our real purpose is. We in the Family History Department cannot have 15 different purposes. We have to have one purpose. And so we have tried to take that purpose from the doctrines.
And so, we now in the department, if you ask us what we do, we kind of joke if we have somebody who works in the department and they go home at night and their little boy says, “Dad, what did you do at work today?” We always look to that individual and say, “What would you tell him?” And we try to get him to say to his son, “I helped a member fulfill a divinely appointed responsibility.” Now we know that his son is going to say, “Come on, Dad, what did you really do at work?”
But the fact of the matter is that we need to have a universal understanding of what we do. We are here in the Family History Department to help members. We help members. What do we help them do? We help them find their family, their ancestors, to whom their heart is turned. We help them to link that ancestor into their family tree, which thereby qualifies them for the temple blessings. And then, once that is done, we help them and motivate them to try to get to the temple where they can provide those blessings.
So we aid in research. Now we do that by a lot of ways. You are involved in one of those ways. But what we need to do is we need to go out and find records. And so we have teams of camera crews and people getting contracts and getting digital rights. And we go out throughout the world and we find archives and we go in and we photograph these records. These teams are going 24/7 all over the world. And they find an archive, they get the permission to record it, and then they take a picture of these.
Well, once we have the picture, it is not necessarily searchable. Yes, we can go and pull the picture out, the image of the record, and you can kind of search through it. But what people want today is they want to be able to search it by name. So what we do is we take that image, we give it to 170,000 volunteers. You know about all this. And we say, “Will you look at that image and will you type that name into the computer?” That is what we call Indexing. And by virtue of doing that, these records, which are just images, just pictures, are now something that people can search. And so we provide this finding and imaging and indexing so that the members have the ability to find their family.
Now, in addition to that we have research tools. And so if you go on our websites, you can go to our libraries, you can talk to a family history consultant. We have tools to help you know where to look. You say, “I am at a dead end; my great-great-grandmother lived in this area, but I can’t find any record of her.” We have people say, “Well, there are some records we have. Here is what you might do: you might check the census; you might check this immigration record; you might look over here to see whether somebody else has done that.” So we have these aids and these tools to help you do that.
Now, to what end? To this end—we know because doctrinally it says, to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. The doctrine is, we do this work; we submit names for people to whom we are related. That is a statement from the First Presidency, because it is doctrinally correct. And so we know when we find a name, for us to be able to bless that individual with the blessings of the temple, what is required is the ability to connect that name into somebody’s family tree. And once it is connected and we do a little checking and realize it is not duplicated or it is not part of something that has some restriction to it, then literally, in a matter of a few seconds, we can come back and find out, and tell you that you can now have that name done in the temple.
So we aid in the research; we help the members develop their trees. The [Family] Tree is how we qualify somebody to go to the temple and have those blessings. So, with that, where are we going? If we are only at 2.4 percent now and we need to help more of the members fulfill their divinely appointed responsibility, what are some of the things we are going to be doing to help that to happen? Let me share with you a couple of those.
First of all, we need to work very, very closely with priesthood leaders, in this goal of increasing the number of people, of members, who are submitting. We do not have access to the members. We do not want independent access to the members. This is a priesthood responsibility; it is a divinely appointed responsibility for everybody. And so our goal is to work more closely with priesthood leadership to help them help the members fulfill what is not just a Family History Department responsibility, but everybody in the Church. It is a Church responsibility. It is a principle of the gospel, not a program of the Church.
Now, in doing that we know we have many opportunities. One is that for many of our members of the Church, we have not even collected the living memory. And that is, we have not collected and built the family tree out of what we know today, or can get from a mother or grandmother. I will give you an example: if you happen to live along the Wasatch Front here in Utah, for example, we know that about 60 to 70 percent of those that live here have completed a living memory going back multiple generations.
If you go outside of North America, that number is less than 2 percent. And so we have, in the growing areas of the Church, we have in the areas away from Utah, we have this enormous opportunity to capture this memory. Now it is not just an opportunity, it is a responsibility, because if a member has not recorded this information down, or has not inquired of the stories of their parents or grandparents and they die, then that memory is gone.
We found another very interesting statistic. It is not necessarily related to getting names to the temple, but it tells you a little bit about the future. We kind of ask this question on occasion: What would our great-grandchildren wish we would have done? Just remember, we are looking back using the resources that our great-grandparents created. Our great-grandchildren will look back at us and wish we would have done something.
We found, for example, from some research done by the United Nations, that 41 percent of the people on the earth today will be born, live, and die and never have a documentation of any of those events. Their story will never be told. And so one of the things we are trying to do is figure out how we can increase this acquisition, this finding, this collection of living memory, of living generational experiences, knowing that our great-grandchildren will wish we would have done that. And there is an enormous amount of opportunity there to build family trees and perform ordinances for the children, to bless the children of Abraham.
Now, obviously, that means we have great work to do in the developing areas of the world. In many of these areas people do not have computers; they probably will never have computers. We are finding that in many of these places they will skip over the computer and they will go right to a mobile device, or a cell phone or something like that. But we need to begin to make available to them tools and resources which are different than ours. I’ll give you an example. Here, when we try to identify a unique individual, we identify a unique individual by identifying a name, a date, and a place. That’s the way we do it in kind of North America and the Europe-centric, English-centric world.
When I was in Africa a few weeks ago, we found that many of the people there do not know the date on which they were born; it is not particularly important to them. Now they do know their relationships; they know the day [of the week] they were born because they include in the name given to the child, the day on which they were born. And so I checked on mine, and I would have been named Dennis Friday Brimhall because I was born on a Friday.
But you see they have a different way of looking at that, but we do not have systems and mechanisms in place that are sensitive to the growing areas of the Church, whether is it Africa or Asia or Latin America. And so we need to begin to move from the 2.4 percent, much of which resides in kind of the North American area, and begin to say, “How do you develop systems?” and “How do you develop approaches?” And many times it is not with a computer to begin to help the growing areas of the Church. Now it is also true that that means we have to find records. Because if you have somebody in Brazil and they have collected the living memory, very quickly they are going to say, “Okay, now I need some help from the Church; what records do you have for me to search?” So they can continue to build that tree.
The next thing is we need to be able to demonstrate to the local leadership that family history is an important tool in creating in the hearts and souls of our Saints deep, true conversion. We know, for example, that if you have a new convert and the new convert, shortly after baptism, begins to build their family tree and understand the doctrines of blessing their ancestors, turning their hearts, that the retention rate of those Saints who have that experience is multiple times higher than those who do not do that.
So once we look at family history as a way to develop deep conversion, to retain, to activate, to keep strong testimonies, to build opportunities with the youth—to understand this early on so that we do not develop a generation of family historians that starts at 65 but rather one that starts at 12 or 13. Once we understand that in the Church, then we will look at family history as a principle of the gospel—something that helps us create for our Saints happiness and the ability for them to experience the happiness that Heavenly Father wanted.
Now, finally, we recognize, as a department, that this is very–that it is very, very important for us to change how this works. We are fully aware that the software, that the websites that people go to are not particularly easy to use. Now, they do a good job; I don’t want any of you to think that they don’t do a good job. How do we know that? Because now you can submit a name to the temple much easier than ever before. The duplication rate of ordinances has dropped in the last several years to just a fraction of what it was before.
So all that we have done has been terrific and wonderful, but once that is done, there is a foundation built for us to step to the next step. Because, you remember, “Every organization is perfectly designed . . .” So what must we change? We have to significantly improve the delightfulness, the fun, the effectiveness of the FamilySearch experience. We have to make people want to come and do this, not out of guilt. We tried guilt; it does not work very well. Elder [M. Russell] Ballard said, “If guilt was effective, this would be a lot better Church.” Guilt is not the angle. What is the angle, is to have people say, “I like this. I want to collect this story. I want to share a story.”
We ask ourselves on occasion this question: “What would get a 68-year-old retired grandfather to come to the Family History site?” Aside from a football game or something, which we are not going to do. So, what would get them there? Well, we tried to figure out the answer to that. We know one thing will get them there, and that is grandchildren. And so if we have on this site the ability to begin to create a book of the family, which has videos and stories and pictures and things like that, then we have a much higher likelihood that a grandfather might come to the site and say, “I would like to be there because I can share my stories with my grandchildren, or I can learn about them, or I can learn about my ancestors.”
From the stories, we collect the information necessary to qualify a name for the temple. But it’s more—it has to be more delightful, more fun, more effective than what it is, and we pledge that over the next several months you will begin to see the things take place in our FamilySearch experience which makes this experience much more delightful to the Saints. And whether that is taking place on our website, whether it is taking place in our libraries and family history centers, or whether it is taking place just by the interaction and encounter with a family history consultant, all of that will change significantly over the next several months as we try to change this part of our work in fulfilling these divinely appointed responsibilities.
Now, brothers and sisters, let me just conclude by sharing with you my feelings and testimony of this work, much of which has come to me over the last several months as I embarked upon this journey of discovery about doctrines and scriptures, about why this work is so important, about why it is not just a program. I have come to realize a couple of things, and that is, what we do today in the Church is governed and based upon the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is based upon doctrines that go back to the very beginning of the council in heaven, where a Father’s heart was turned to His children. He wanted us to be happy. He created a plan of happiness whereby we could be obedient and have these blessings. I have come to the absolute realization that what we do today is based upon pure doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father’s love for His children.
Second, I testify to you that all we do is done by the power of the priesthood; that the keys that Elijah brought back in the Kirtland Temple are here today, and what we do makes a difference. Now I know that sometimes you might think as you are involved in your indexing, where does this fit in? But remember, every name indexed is now searchable; it is findable. Somebody will take that name that has been indexed, and they will find it, and they will put it in the Tree. They will take that name to the temple, which means that name you indexed, when you did that, you changed a person’s life forever. Because of the keys that allow the promises given to the fathers to be available to those that we found and made available to the Saints today through indexing, as an example.
Finally, let me assure you that heaven knows of our work. They not only know of our work, they are dependent upon our work to provide the blessings to the children of Abraham, which is everybody who is a literal descendant, but also anybody who joins the Church, who is gathered in, becomes the children of Abraham and entitled to the blessings.
Knowing this, I thank you for all you do. I testify that great things are in store for us. We will do better; 2.4 percent is not enough. We will do better, is my promise and my witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.