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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The basic challenge of doing family history

There seems to be a definite practical disconnect between the scriptural concept of seeking out our dead ancestors and actually doing the work necessary to find, record and then perform the ordinances for them. Why are so few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints involved in this work? What can we do to involve more of the members? Here are some of the statements made by the prophets and apostles to find the names of our ancestors, take those names to the temple, and teach our family and others to do the same.

Quoting from the last of these links and the video from Elder Richard G. Scott, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 

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.

“Any work you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred, and even greater blessings will be received. The First Presidency has declared, ‘Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors’ (First Presidency letter, Feb. 29, 2012),” said Elder Scott.
 Why then is it so difficult for the leaders of the Wards and Stakes to find time for family history? I ask these questions for the simple reason that I am in a position to talk and teach about family history every day. Perhaps I am too close to the problem to see a solution? From my limited perspective, I see tremendous opportunities to find previously unknown and undocumented family members using the marvelous electronic tools we have at our disposal and yet I also see the very small percentage of people who take advantage of those tools and resources. Every time I think about this subject in detail, I go back to the statement made by Elder Allan F. Packer, Of the Seventy, in the October, 2014 General Conference. He said, in part:
Like partaking of the sacrament, attending meetings, reading the scriptures, and saying personal prayers, doing family history and temple work should be a regular part of our personal worship. The response of our youth and others to prophetic invitations has been inspiring and proves this work can and should be done by all members at any age. 
As Elder Quentin L. Cook explained, “We [now] have the  doctrine, the temples, and the technology.”16 Doing the work now is much easier and limited only by the number of members who make this a priority. The work still takes time and sacrifice, but all can do it, and with relative ease compared to just a few years ago. 
To assist members, the Church has gathered records and provided tools so that much of the work can be done in our own homes or in the ward buildings and the temple. Most obstacles have been removed.Whatever your past perception, it is different now! 
However, there is one obstacle the Church cannot remove. It is an individual’s hesitation to do the work. All it requires is a decision and a little effort. It does not require a large block of time. Just a little time on a consistent basis will yield the joy of the work. Make the decision to take a step, to learn and ask others to help you. They will! The names you find and take to the temple will become the records for “the book.”17 
Even with the dramatic increase in member participation, we find that relatively few members of theChurch are regularly involved in finding and doing temple ordinances for their family.18 This calls for a change in our priorities. Don’t fight the change, embrace it! Change is part of the great plan of happiness.
Can we see the vision?


  1. "Why then is it so difficult for the leaders of the Wards and Stakes to find time for family history?"

    Lack of time due to work, family obligations, church callings & assignments

    Inadequate leader training,

    Distractions like TV programs, online gaming, social networking (cat videos etc), too many kids' sports or other activities

    Excuses like don't know how, can't learn how, foreign language difficulty, can't read handwriting, don't know how to use a computer, don't have a computer, don't have internet at home


    We've heard it all and more

    1. Yes, but most people spend more time on non-productive activities than they know. Try keeping a log of the things you spend your time on for a while. You might be surprised at the time you waste on unproductive activities.