Tuesday, March 8, 2016


“The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a “course of steady improvement.” As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home. … The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time, or as the Lord has taught, “line upon line, precept upon precept, … and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, … for unto him that receiveth I will give more.”  Elder Larry R. Lawrence, of the Seventy

Elder Melvin J. Ballard (1873-1939) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught of a guiding influence from our ancestors that can help us accomplish our family history goals: "There are thousands of them, hundreds of thousands and millions of them in the spirit world who long to receive this gospel and have been waiting hundreds of years for their deliverance.  They are waiting on you.  They are praying that the Lord will awaken your hearts in their interest.  They know where their records are, and I testify to you that the spirit and influence of your dead will guide those who are interested in finding those records.  If there is anywhere on the earth anything concerning them, you will find it.  That is my promise to you.  But you must begin to work.  You must begin to inquire after your dead.  And the spirit of your heart turning towards them will come upon you, and the way will be opened in a marvelous manner, and if there is a scrap of evidence concerning them upon the earth, you will find it.  When we have done all that we do ourselves, the Lord will come to our rescue. ... If we have done our best and have searched and have discovered all that is available, then the day will come when God will open and part the veil, and the records ... will be revealed" (in Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard [1949], 230).

President Harold B. Lee taught "that there are forces beyond this life that are working with us.  I have the simple faith that when you do everything you can, researching to the last of your opportunity, the Lord will help you to open doors to go further with your genealogies, and heaven will cooperate, I am sure."  (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 585)

In the October 2014 General Conference talk, Elder Allan F. Packer referred to preparing a "book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.  This 'book' will be prepared using the records of names and ordinances in the Church's Family Tree database because we want the names of those we love to be in the "book."

The Prophet Joseph Smith stated that, "The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead."  (History of the Church, 6:313)

Wilford Woodruff taught that "if the veil were lifted, all of us would lose all interest in the riches of the world, and all of our desires and labors would be directed to redeem the dead."  (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, [1946], 152)

In the April 2014 General Conference, Elder Quintin L. Cook stated that, "Hastening family history and temple work in our day is essential for the salvation and exaltation of families.  The doctrine of the family in relation to family history and temple work is clear.  Our doctrinal obligation is to our own ancestors.  We need to be connected to both our roots and branches.  This is the last dispensation, and we can feel the hastening of the work of salvation in every area where a saving ordinance is involved.  We now have temples across much of the world to provide these saving ordinances.  We can perform vicarious ordinances and truly become saviors on Mount Zion for our own families in order that we, with them, might be exalted as well as saved."

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, "If temple ordinances are an essential part of the restored gospel, and I testify that they are, then we must provide the means by which they can be accomplished.  All of our vast family history endeavor is directed to temple work.  There is no other purpose for it.  The temple ordinances become the crowing blessings the Church as to offer."  (Ensign, April 1998, "New Temples to Provide 'Crowning Blessings' of the Gospel")

President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Rejoice in This Great Era of Temple Building" Ensign, Nov. 1985

"This work, unselfishly given in behalf of those on the other side, comes nearer to the unparalleled vicarious work of the Savior than any other of which I know."

Joseph Fielding Smith stated that, "the responsibility [for family history] rests with equal force on all, according to our individual ability and opportunities.  It matters now what else we have been called to do or what position we may occupy or how faithfully in other ways we have labored in the Church; none are exempt from this great obligation.  It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder."
(Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 2, pp. 148-9, also first published in the February 1910 Improvement Era)

President Howard W. Hunter stated, ...may we be valiant in hastening our family history and temple work.  I love this work. . . I know the Lord will provide all that will be required to accomplish it as we devotedly do our part."  "Genealogical research and temple ordinance work are required of every Latter-day Saint."

"In recent years we have begun using information technology to hasten the sacred work of providing ordinances for the deceased. The role of technology in this work has been accelerated by the Lord himself, who has had a guiding hand in its development and will continue to do so. However, we stand only on the threshold of what we can do with these tools. I feel that our most enthusiastic projections can capture only a tiny glimpse of how these tools can help us—and of the eternal consequences of these efforts."

("We Have a Work to Do" - Ensign March 1995) and ("Primer in Genealogy" - Ensign February 1971)

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, of the Seventy, taught that "The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility.  It cannot be passed off or given to another.  A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory.  What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family.  Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives.
("Bridges and Eternal Keepsakes," Dennis B. Neuenschwander, General Conference April 1999)

President Thomas S. Monson said, ". . . 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." ("The Key of Faith," Ensign, Feb. 1994, 5, 7)

We are the chosen
In each family, there is one who seems called to find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again,
To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts.
But instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.
We are the storytellers of the tribe.

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