You may recall the impressive story in the Book of Mormon where King Benjamin shared his thoughts and teachings with the Saints. Feeling that his voice would not reach all who were gathered as families, he had his words recorded and sent out to them (Mosiah 2). I have imagined what it might have been like to have received those precious words of King Benjamin and shared them with my family.
This pattern of letters from the prophets to the members of the Church continues today. A few times every year, we get a letter from the First Presidency instructing Church members on important teachings and doctrines. These letters are generally read from the pulpit for all to hear. In 2012, two of these special letters from the First Presidency contained instruction about family history and temple work.
On October 8, 2012, the First Presidency letter contained, among other things, this very important clarifying statement, “When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched.”
These words contain both instruction and promised blessings. They also provide for us the focus for our efforts in the Family History Department. As we strive to help Church members fulfill their divinely appointed responsibility of enabling the salvation of the dead, one of the keys to success is to enrich the experience of finding the names of ancestors and having their ordinances completed in the temple.
Recent instruction to General Authorities, which in turn will be provided to local leadership, builds on the October 8, 2012, letter from the First Presidency. That instruction is profound in it simplicity and focus:
- Use the FamilySearch website or the booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together to find the names of one or more of your ancestors or their descendants.
- Take these names to the temple or share them with others so they can take them to the temple. (When possible, do this as a family.)
- Finally, teach your family and others to do the same thing.
The promise is that if we do these three things, we will not only fulfill our divinely appointed responsibility, but we will have enriched joy.
More simply stated and more focused than ever before, we who work in family history can align ourselves with doctrines and prophetic directions. This “find, take, teach” approach should become part of our very fabric and find its way into our personal work goals and objectives. It should be the essence of our communication to our member patrons. Yes, we do and will continue to do many things in the department, but all our efforts support these simple objectives.
We have had tremendous success over the last many years; that success has even accelerated in recent months. Just imagine what can happen when we all align with the teachings of our leaders and focus on their prophetic instructions.
Thanks for all you do.
Hurrah for Israel!