Family history is discovering and learning more about our family members, both living and the dead. It is about gathering and preserving information; this would be a simple understanding of family history for a friend of a different faith. However, it is much more significant for us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We take the names of our family members – who are dead and who did not have the opportunity to learn of the Gospel, to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and those who could not receive the ordinances of salvation. These names are taken to the temples to perform saving ordinances by the power of the Priesthood. Temple work is the eventual destiny of Family history work.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: 'The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.' 1
President Nelson taught, 'In some respects, it is easier to build a temple than it is to build people prepared for a temple.' 2
Elder Boyd K. Packer reminded that 'Genealogies, or family histories… are an indispensable part of temple work. Temples are nourished with names. Without genealogies, ordinances could be performed only for the living.' 3
For the church members in India, it is a significant time; as we are witnessing the construction of the temple in our country, it is imperative to recognize that we need to be 'the people prepared for a temple' in all aspects. Our temple should be nourished with our family names. We can do that only with diligent efforts in doing our family history work.
Temple and Family history work can be done in three steps:
Discover: We can discover the names of our ancestors in our day-to-day activities. We often participate in family gatherings on various occasions, such as newborn baby ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. By asking simple questions like, how are we related? tell me about your parents or grandparents? Share some of your childhood experiences? how did your parents meet? etc. We can turn these kinds of gatherings into a beautiful opportunity to discover various events of our ancestors.
Just before COVID-19, I met with some of my cousins at my nephew's wedding – he is the first one in the family to be married from the next generation. After the wedding ceremony, we all gathered around and one of our aunts, grandmother of the groom. She is 82 years old and, I asked her to share stories about our parents. She is the only living person who knew of everything that happened to our parents, as she is my paternal grandparents' Family's first daughter-in-law. She shared so many stories of how our parents found each other and got married, shared the dates of those events, names of ancestors we were unaware of, and many other things. In the end, she offered a prayer for each of our family members. We had a lot of fun and felt her faith as we listened to her and her prayer. Fortunately, I captured all her words on my phone and recorded them using the FamilySearch-Memories app, and those wonderful things she shared are now with me and will be there forever.
Gather: Record the details of your ancestors on your phone using FamilySearch-Tree or FamilySearch-Memories Apps or on a book and later enter them on familysearch.org. If you need help to record them, contact your branch/ward Temple and Family History Consultants. They are great resources to help you.
Connect: When you have those names ready, take them to the temple to perform ordinances that will help them receive salvation and seal them to you and your family.
There are many blessings that we receive, as we do this work, and some of the promised blessings pronounced by our living prophets are:
'Temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it.' 4
'I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.' 5
As we engage in this work, we will be able to experience the love our Saviour has for each of his children both, living and those who are dead. I testify of the truthfulness of this work, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 'Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion,' Chapter 41
2 President Russell M. Nelson, 'Closing Remarks,' October 2019, General Conference.
3 Elder Boyd K. Packer, 'Covenants,' April 1987, General Conference
4 President Russell M. Nelson 'Generations Linked in Love,' Apr 2010, General Conference.
5 Elder David A. Bednar 'The Hearts of the Children shall turn,' October 2011, General Conference