Relief Society supports temple, family history work
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Each month, the Church News publishes a message to complement the Relief Society visiting teaching message found in the Ensign magazine. The article on this page is based on the December 2010 message, "Our Responsibility to Participate in Temple and Family History Work."
No matter the age or circumstance of Relief Society sisters around the world, new technology and increasing access to temples are helping most have the opportunity of participating and gleaning the blessings of family history and temple work.
Beginning this past summer and stretching into fall, the Orem Utah University 1st Stake sought to help its young single adult members enhance their temple experience.
High councilor Todd Mortensen said the key to reaching the stake goal was family history work.
"One of the drivers was creating a way to help the members of our stake see the correlation between family history, indexing and temple work," Brother Mortensen said. "Sometimes they are seen as two separate initiatives. We wanted to tie them together."
Members of the stake received the charge to use family file names at the temple as often as possible. For many, that meant indexing names and using the FamilySearch website for the first time. The stake also had events and themes to help provide motivation. August was Family History Month, September was Limited-Use Recommend Month and October was Stake Temple Month. One highlight was a stake fireside featuring messages from the Provo Utah Temple presidency.
From the view of Brother Mortensen and the stake presidency, the push has had a stake-wide impact.
"We conducted a survey and had some response from every ward," Brother Mortensen said. "Of those who responded, half said they were using the new FamilySearch for the first time and one-third said they were either indexing or writing journals and personal histories for the first time.
"Without exception, what we hear is that once our members have the experience of going to the temple for personal, family names, it changes the experience."
One young woman impacted by the initiative was Rachel Coleman, a native of Orem. Together with her brother, she said she indexed over 400 names in response to the stake's call to action.
"Family history in general is something that I love," she said. "Sealing families together is a great motivation to do all the work."
Sister Coleman added that bringing family file names with her to the temple changed her experience there.
"Going there with family names is a different experience," she said. "I feel the spirit of those people there."
'Our opportunity is to prepare the way'
"The person who is working on his or her family history fits the description of one who is fulfilling his or her duty. I know the effort, I know the expense, I know the difficulties through which one may go to uncover one name. I know our Heavenly Father is aware of these efforts. And those for whom we perform sacred ordinances are aware of our efforts. Oftentimes, in a miraculous way, there shall appear before us a clear pathway through a field of turbulence. ...
"My brothers and sisters, do not be weary in well doing. If you feel your contribution is small or insignificant, remember that the worth of souls is precious in the sight of God. Our opportunity is to prepare the way, and to accomplish the ordinance work, after faithful research, that these souls may prepare for the glory which is their divine opportunity."
— President Thomas S. Monson, "The Key of Faith," Ensign, February 1994, p 2.
"Every human being who comes to this earth is the product of generations of parents. We have a natural yearning to connect with our ancestors. This desire dwells in our hearts, regardless of age.
"Consider the spiritual connections that are formed when a young woman helps her grandmother enter family information into a computer or when a young man sees the name of his great-grandfather on a census record. When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves. Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple. …
"While 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. They are literally helping to exalt their families.
— Elder Russell M. Nelson, "Generations Linked in Love," April 2010 general conference
"As we participate in temple and family history work, we are certain to have the Spirit to comfort us in our challenges and to guide us in important decisions. Temple and family history work is part of our work of providing relief, or service, to our own ancestors."
— Sister Julie B. Beck, December visiting teaching message
Call to action
Family history has always been a part of Relief Society. In order to help the work move forward, the Relief Society general presidency encourages every Relief Society leader to be registered on FamilySearch before the end of the year. Registration is quick and gives you everything you need to do to get started.
To register visit www.familysearch.org and click on the link "Register" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.