Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—A Summary of Elder Renlund’s 2019 Leadership Instruction

March 1, 2019  - by 
A boy and grandma work together on their family history.

On February 28, 2019, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting. He suggested three things ward leaders can do to help members in temple and family history callings be more comfortable and effective.

  1. Clarify the ward’s leadership pattern for temple and family history work.
  2. Create a ward temple and family history plan.
  3. Hold ward temple and family history coordination meetings.

Clarifying Your Ward’s Temple and Family History Leadership Pattern

Ward leaders should choose a pattern for how temple and family history consultants communicate with their leaders. This pattern shows consultants who to communicate with when receiving assignments, reporting efforts, and asking for help.

Elder Renlund said that in the ideal leadership pattern, a “consultant reports to the ward temple and family history leader, who works closely with the elders quorum presidency, who supervises the work under the direction of the bishop.”

A slide from Elder Renlund's 2019 RootsTech Presentation.

“To deviate from this standard leadership pattern requires a good reason, concurrence of the stake president, and confirmation by the Holy Ghost,” Elder Renlund said.

Elder Renlund offered three alternatives for when the ideal pattern isn’t possible—such as when a ward may not have a temple and family history leader. In such cases, a consultant may report to one of the following:

  • A counselor in the elders quorum presidency
  • The elders quorum president
  • Directly to the bishop

A slide from Elder Renlund's Presentation.

A slide from Elder Renlund's 2019 RootsTech Presentation.
A slide from Elder Renlund's 2019 RootsTech Presentation.

Elder Renlund encouraged ward leaders to pick one of these patterns and follow it. “Don’t keep it a secret!” he said. The leadership pattern should be clear and easy for everyone to understand.

Creating a Ward Plan and Holding Coordination Meetings

Elder Renlund then talked to leaders about the importance of creating a temple and family history plan and holding coordination meetings. The ward council is responsible for creating the plan, which would be approved by the bishop. It could focus on any number of things, including the following:

  • Involving 10- and 11-year-old children in family history work.
  • Helping youth and new converts obtain limited-use recommends to attend the temple.
  • Encouraging members to enter at least four generations of their family tree on FamilySearch.org.
  • Inspiring members to attend the temple more often without establishing a quota or reporting system for temple attendance.

When coordination meetings are held, the ward temple and family history leader would conduct the meeting. Ward consultants would attend, along with a counselor from both the Relief Society and elders quorum presidencies. On occasion, even full-time missionaries could be invited.

Elder Renlund cautioned, “The goal is not to hold a meeting. The goal is to coordinate temple and family history work. Text messages, emails, and phone calls can oftentimes accomplish the needed coordination.”

An Invitation to Act

In closing, Elder Renlund reminded leaders of his three invitations. “Please clarify leadership patterns for ward temple and family history consultants,” he said. “Implement ward temple and family history coordination meetings and ward temple and family history plans. As you do, the Lord will hasten His work on both sides of the veil, and you will be blessed in the process!”

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—Elder Stevenson

Coordination Meetings in Action—Elder Bednar

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App

RootsTech 2018 leadership temple and family history sessions

My Family Booklet

RootsTech 2018 leadership temple and family history sessions

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Comments

  1. How is stake leadership organized around Temple and Family History? Certainly a counselor in the stake presidency and a high councilor have responsibilities, but is there another stake leader in this calling? And, if so, is this also a Melchizedek Priesthood calling?

    1. Handbook 2: Administering the Church was recently updated. Section 5.4.6 addresses stake leaders. Family history is under the direction of the “stake president and his counselors…” Section 5.4.6.2 provides direction for the high councilor assigned to temple and family history work. The HC “may be assisted by a stake temple and family history consultant”. There is no other stake leader other than the presidency and the high councilor.

    2. I really would like to see a hierarchy chart with all Temple and Family History callings, stake and ward level with all the lines indicating who reports to who. Ward level is clearer to understand now, but at stake level things are a little bit confusing to me.

    3. Handbook 2 clearly outlines the responsibilities in Section 5.4.x, and the Chart of Callings in Section 19.7 also shows that there are just a small number of designated temple and family history callings. At the stake level, the responsibility is indeed on the stake presidency and one or more high councilors specifically assigned to temple and family history work. “The stake president and his counselors oversee temple and family history work in the stake. They ensure that the doctrines and blessings of this work are taught regularly in stake meetings.” (Section 5.4.6.1) “[They] may assign one or more high councilors to train the ward temple and family history leader (if called; see 5.4.1) and members of the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies who lead temple and family history work.” (Section 5.4.6.2) The high councilor(s) “may be assisted by a stake temple and family history consultant.” (Same section.)

      There is no longer a calling for a “Stake Temple and Family History Consultant – Lead.” The high councilor now has those responsibilities, and can utilize one or more stake temple and family history consultants to assist him. Reading through Section 5.4.x of Handbook 2, as well as the chart of callings in Section 19.7, is a very instructive exercise for leaders as well as others involved in Temple and Family History work.

      The focus now is clearly on what the Church leadership is teaching – that we are becoming a home-centered, Church supported people, and that the focus is at the ward/quorum/Relief Society level with one-on-one contacts being the ~key~ means of effecting future growth and commitment in the Church. A stake has very little direct role in missionary work, and temple and family history work is nothing much more than the equivalent of missionary work when it comes to our deceased. Missionaries at the ward level work one-on-one with individuals and families, largely in their homes, inviting the Spirit to direct that work. There is essentially no meaningful difference in how ward temple and family history consultants should be functioning: one-on-one with individuals and families. That’s where the Spirit enters into the equation for the members, as those ward-based consultants work alongside the members in helping them to prepare their family histories, and (most importantly), feel the spirit of the work, and begin to recognize the Spirit’s influence. After all, the gathering, which President Nelson said is THE most important work in which we can be engaged, is done on both sides of the veil – on this side through missionary activities, and on the other side it is essentially the same with ward T&FH consultants working one-on-one with ward members to complete the work for our ancestors who’ve been taught by missionaries on the other side of the veil.

  2. thank you! I was just called last week as family history consultant with no idea how to proceed and after praying did a search and found this. I’m excited to start! got some ideas from here. thank you!!

    1. same with me as I’m confusing with meeting and I still figure out how many meeting a there should be done in family history