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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Working within the Guidelines: Family History in the Ward

The guidelines for implementing activities for supporting family history in the Ward are very clearly outlined in the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts. It is important to remember Doctrine and Covenants, 128:13:
For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, [for] they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect. 
This should be the guideline for considering family history work in the Ward. Crucial to the advancement of Temple and family history work is the dedication and leadership of the Bishop and his counselors. Here is a quote from page 12 of the Leader's Guide:
The bishop directs the work of salvation in the ward, which includes temple and family history work. Bishops can use temple and family history work as a way to strengthen members and their families. Bishops consider ways to use family history to help with missionary work, convert retention, member acti-vation, and teaching the gospel. Bishops should read through the entire “Ward Leadership” section for examples of ways to use family history in these efforts. 
The bishop and his counselors set an example by teaching ward members the doctrine of temple and family history work and testifying of the blessings that come by participating in this work. The bishopric ensures that the high priests group leader acts as the coordinator of the ward council’s temple and family history work.
The bishop and his counselors should be setting an example by actually participating in seeking after their own ancestors. I am sure that some would think the bishops to be "too busy" to be personally involved in their own family history work, but it is the spirit of the work, not the total amount of time spent that is important. In addition, as the Leader's Guide points out on page 16:

Under the direction of the bishop, members of the ward council discuss and develop a plan to encourage members to participate more fully in temple and family history work. They identify specific individuals and families who could most benefit from being involved in the work. They determine specific ways in which this work can strengthen all members—adults, youth, and children. The high priests group leader coordinates these efforts.
I have seen very positive results when these guidelines are followed and when the bishop and the High Priests Group Leader work together to advance family history work in the Ward. On the other hand, apathy or lack of interest on the part of the bishop and the High Priest Group Leader almost guarantee that family history work will progress either very slowly or not at all. Here is a quote from Elder D. Todd Christofferson from the Religious Educator, vol. 6, no. 2 (2005), 10-11, taken from page 19 of the Leader's Guide:

If I were a bishop again, my approach would be to charge the high priests group leader with the responsibility to lead out in the ward council on this subject. I would ensure that we had one or more . . . family history consultants who were ‘people persons’ who could work under his direction. . . . I imagine that in the course of a year we could help at least ten families. In five years, we could have a corps of fifty families active at some level in family history and its attendant temple work. That to me would be a successful, well-run program.

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