OFSL Policy for Doing Temple Work

Staff Guidelines

Preparing Names for Temple Work

Preface:  President Howard W. Hunter stated that in respect to doing the work for our kindred dead: “Man was not given a choice to do this work when and if he pleased, or when he had time, but the work was given as an obligation to be filled…This work must hasten”.  President Monson recently said:  “Our job is to search out our dead and then go to the temple and perform the sacred ordinances that will bring to those beyond the veil the same opportunities we have”.  Given this kind of admonition more members’ hearts are turning and they desire to learn how to research their families in order to take their names to the temple.  FamilySearch Libraries and Family History Centers are staffed by volunteers who have specific skills in teaching and doing family history research, and using the latest FamilySearch technology.  Those who serve should also have a clear understanding in regards to the basic instructions and church guidelines that members need to know to prepare their ancestral names to take to the temple.  To be baptized, confirmed and endowed on earth, only requires our uniquely identified name, gender, birthdate and place.  No more information than this is required to do these same ordinances for a person on the other side of the veil.  The vicarious ordinances available in our temples do not have to be done all at the same time.  Let us free them first and other important ordinances will follow.  Ancestors there, who have accepted the Gospel, and are vicariously baptized and confirmed as members of the church, are then released from spirit prison and will be able to progress as members of the church, limited only by the restraints of the spirit realm.  Paul the Apostle said, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? (Cor. 15) His reference is to the resurrection but there are other things they may do to progress before that time. Duplication:  While providing accurate information and assistance to members in identifying their ancestors needing temple work we should encourage patrons to avoid duplication.  Members generally agree that duplicating temple work is of no value in respect to furthering the work for the dead.  While a person may gain personal spiritual insight for themselves by attending the temple for one whose work has been done, it has not freed a person on the other side.  Members are being encouraged  to become involved in family research and they come to the Library for the first time hoping to find names ready to take to the temple.  Some have been advised to look for green arrows. Green arrows are only a good place to start researching.  President Hinckley authorized the development of the very comprehensive FamilySearch program with the declared purpose of helping us avoid duplicated effort.  With the assistance of Family Search technology and with our leaders admonition to avoid duplication when possible, we as family history staff, should teach standards of accuracy when we can.  At the same time we must be in-line with what President Monson has admonished: “We are going to make mistakes, but none of us can become an expert in family history work without first being a novice.”  We should avoid imposing our standards of research on novices unless they request that level of assistance. As Library staff we should: Instruct members only on the official published church policies.
  • If asked, provide scriptures and teachings about family history.
  • If asked, you may teach them how to perform more accurate research.
  • Seek the guidance of the Spirit as you determine how to increase patron involvement and promote accuracy.
  Following are specific guidelines regarding names members may submit for temple ordinances:  (from the Member’s Guide 2013)
  • “Generally you may perform temple ordinances for deceased persons one year or more after the date of death without regard to the person’s worthiness or cause of death.  (less than one year if the individual was a worthy member of the church who died before age 21 or who, for reasons beyond the individual’s control, was unable to go to a temple in mortality).
  • You are primarily responsible to submit names of the following deceased individuals for temple work:  immediate family members, direct-line ancestors, (parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on, and their families as well as your own descendants)
  • You may perform ordinances for all relatives whose death date is unknown but whose birth date exceeds 110 years ago.  Their work may be done without gaining permission from the closest living family members.  (The “Rights of Privacy”does not apply after 110 years.)
  • You may also perform ordinances for persons who are assumed dead but whose death date is unknown and if their birth date was within 110 years ago.  The “Rights of Privacy” must be followed for these cases, meaning: That if there is anyone more closely related to the deceased individual, you must obtain that person’s permission to do the ordinance work, even if the relative is not a member of the church.  That relative may not want the ordinances performed or may want to perform the ordinances themselves.  The closest living relatives are, in this order: an undivorced spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings.  This includes biological, adoptive, and foster family lines connected to your family.
  • Your secondary responsibility is to do temple work for collateral family lines (uncles, aunts, cousins, and their families including descendants from their direct family lines).  The same before and after 110 year guidelines apply here.  We are encouraged to collaborate our research efforts with the immediate family members where and when possible to avoid negative feelings.  (General guidelines do not state that you cannot perform the work for an in-law ancestor, but many feel that is inappropriate.  Members should seek the guidance of the Spirit as they determine if they will submit such names.)
  • You may also perform temple ordinances for possible ancestors, meaning individuals who have a probable family relationship that cannot be verified because the records are inadequate, such as those who have the same last name and resided in the same area as your known ancestors.
  • You may submit the names of individuals with whom you shared a friendship.  This is an exception to the general rule that members should not submit the names of individuals to whom they are not related.  Before performing ordinances for a deceased individual who was a friend, you should obtain permission from the individual’s closest living relative.  The 110 year rule applies here.
  • Below is a list of the only official requirements for uniquely identifying people in order to clear a name for specific ordinances.  
    1. For Baptism and Endowment:
      1. The ancestor’s name
      2. Their gender
      3. An event date and place (example of an event can include birth, christening, marriage, death and burial) in absence of an exact date, use: before, after, about.  An event place should be as complete as possible, at a minimum, the name of a country is required.
    2. Sealing of Husband and Wife:
      1. Name of the husband (If the wife is unknown, the ordinance will clear with “Mrs” for her title and her husband’s last name.)
      2. Marriage date and place
    3. Sealing to Parents:
      1. Everything required for baptism and endowment
      2. The name of the father.  If the mother is unknown, the ordinance will clear with “Mrs” For her title and her husband’s last name.
      Cautions and Concerns: 
    1. Do not submit the names of persons who are obviously not related to you, including names of famous people or names gathered from unapproved extraction projects, especially victims of the Jewish Holocaust.
    2. We should not submit names of individuals who lived before A.D. 1500 or who are members of royalty without first consulting with the Family History Department in Salt Lake City.  Many such names have already been submitted.
    3. You may find errors in the internet databases, for example:  If you find that previously submitted records, such as the IGI misspells your ancestor’s name or lists incorrect ordinance dates or places, do not resubmit your ancestor’s name for temple work.  Those ordinances are still valid but the errors should be corrected in the FamilySearch database.
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