Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Who are our kindred dead?

In the 1986 October General Conference, Elder Franklin D. Richards made the following comment:
Temple worship provides an opportunity to do ordinance work for our kindred dead and for others, an opportunity for us to serve the dead. This service is the source of eternal satisfaction. However, it is well to remember that vicarious service for the dead by the living does not affect the right of the dead to accept or reject such vicarious service.
 In a more recent General Conference in October 2003, Elder James E. Faust said something similar:
Searching for our kindred dead isn’t just a hobby. It is a fundamental responsibility for all members of the Church. We believe that life continues after death and that all will be resurrected. 4 We believe that families may continue in the next life if they have kept the special covenants made in one of the sacred temples under the authority of God. We believe that our deceased ancestors can also be eternally united with their families when we make covenants in their behalf in the temples. Our deceased forebears may accept these covenants, if they choose to do so, in the spirit world. 5
 These and hundreds of other similar quotes that I could cite, all talk about doing Temple work for our "kindred dead." What does this mean? What is our responsibility? Who are our kindred dead? All of these are valid questions.

Elder Richard G. Scott explained this principle a little more in his talk at the October 2012 General Conference, where he said:
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 ordinance work done by others. Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do 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. …

“I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.”6
In a First Presidency letter dated 1 March 2012 entitled "Names submitter for temple ordinances" it states:
Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors. Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter.

Without exception, Church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims. If members do so, they may forfeit their New FamilySearch privileges. Other corrective action may also be taken.
Although this focuses the responsibility for Temple work on our ancestors, there is even more specific information posted on 6 December 2013 in a Help Menu document entitled "Temple policy regarding who members should be performing proxy temple work for and the 110 year rule." The link will not work unless you are signed in with an LDS account. Clearly, the obligation of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to seek out their kindred dead is to their own ancestors and not to those to whom they are not related. But everyone has this responsibility equally.


  1. Thanks for starting this blog. It's good to have a blog written from the perspective of an LDS Church member. I have to say at this point that one of the biggest frustrations I face is Family Tree. The concept is great and I have been trying hard to get my information input and to correct what is there. However, the system seems to have major performance issues. Today I had set the afternoon aside to work in Family Tree, but have been unable to to anything because all I get is the "System Unavailable" error. When the system is working either the screens are so slow to redraw as to be mostly unusable or you continually get error messages such as "No server is available to handle this task." Maybe they need to slow down the enhancements and spend some time just stabilizing the system.

    1. We were just discussing this today with the ups and downs of We certainly agree.