President McKay is probably best remembered for one of the notable phrases, in the April, 1959 General Conference he urged, "Every member a missionary." Another notable quote came from the April, 1935 General Conference when he said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." Here are several quotes from President McKay on the importance of Temple work and searching out our ancestors:
There is the Temple “endowment,” which is … an ordinance pertaining to man’s eternal journey and limitless possibilities and progress which a just and loving Father has provided for the children whom he made in his own image—for the whole human family. This is why Temples are built. See The Purpose of the Temple (1976), Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (closed stacks, pamphlet), 11; paragraphing altered.
One of the distinguishing features of the restored Church of Jesus Christ is the eternal nature of its ordinances and ceremonies. For example, generally in civil as well as in church ceremonies, couples are married “for time” only, or “until death dost thee part.” But love is as eternal as the spirit of man; and if man continues after death, which he does, so will love. See The Purpose of the Temple (1976), Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (closed stacks, pamphlet), 5-7; paragraphing altered.
It should not, and it need not, for when Jesus was upon the earth he told his Apostles: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19.) And with the restoration to earth of the Holy Priesthood, the Church asserts that this power was again given to chosen men, and that in the house of the Lord where the marriage ceremony is performed by those who are properly authorized to represent our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the union between husband and wife, and between parents and children, is effected for time and all eternity, and that for those thus married the family will continue into the eternities. See The Purpose of the Temple (1976), Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (closed stacks, pamphlet), 5-7; paragraphing altered.
A Chinese student, returning to his homeland, having graduated from one of our leading colleges, was in conversation with a Christian minister, also en route to China. When this minister urged the truth that only through acceptance of Christ’s teachings can any man be saved, the [student] said: “Then what about my ancestors who never had an opportunity to hear the name of Jesus?” The minister answered: “They are lost.” Said the student: “I will have nothing to do with a religion so unjust as to condemn to eternal punishment men and women who are just as noble as we, perhaps nobler, but who never had an opportunity to hear the name of Jesus.”
One who understands the truth, as revealed to the Prophet Joseph regarding this doctrine, would have answered: “They will have an opportunity to hear the gospel, and to obey every principle and ordinance by proxy. Every man here or hereafter will be judged and rewarded according to his works." See Improvement Era, January, 1945, 15, 45.
Now the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances thereof. [See Articles of Faith 1:3.] Nor is the term “all” restricted in meaning to include only a chosen few; it means every child of a loving and divine Father. And yet, hundreds of millions have died without ever having heard that there is such a thing as a Gospel plan.
All nations and races have a just claim upon God’s mercies. Since there is only one plan of salvation, surely there must be some provision made whereby the “uncounted dead” may hear of it and have the privilege of either accepting or rejecting it. Such a plan is given in the principle of salvation for the dead. …
Paul referred to [the] practice of baptism [for the dead] in his argument in favor of the resurrection. He said, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?” (1 Cor. 15:29). … Not a few commentators have tried to explain away [this passage’s] true significance; but its context proves plainly that in the days of the apostles there existed the practice of baptism for the dead; that is, living persons were immersed in water for and in behalf of those who were dead—not who were “dead to sin” but who had “passed to the other side.”
In the Kirtland Temple, April 3, 1836, the Prophet Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and delivered to them “powers of the priesthood” that authorize the living to do work for the dead. These “keys” were restored in fulfilment of the prophecy of Malachi:
“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 to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5–6). The hearts of the fathers and of the children will be turned to one another when the fathers in the spirit world, hearing the Gospel preached and realizing that they must obey the ordinances thereof, know that their children on the earth are performing those ordinances for them.
All such “work for the dead” is performed in temples, dedicated and set apart for such purposes, where proper records are kept, and where everything is considered sacred. See “Salvation for the Dead,” Millennial Star, 25 Oct. 1923, 680–82.