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
  • 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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    1. Craig,

      A millennium is a period of 1,000 years. When we speak of “the Millennium,” we refer to the 1,000 years following the Savior’s Second Coming (see Revelation 20:4; D&C 29:11). During the Millennium, “Christ will reign personally upon the earth” (Articles of Faith 1:10).

      The Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace on the earth. The Lord has revealed that “in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease” (D&C 101:26; see also Isaiah 11:6-9). Satan will be “bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of the children of men” (D&C 45:55; see also Revelation 20:1–3).

      During the Millennium, all people on the earth will be good and just, but many will not have received the fulness of the gospel. Consequently, members of the Church will participate in missionary work.

      Members of the Church will also participate in temple work during the Millennium. The Saints will continue to build temples and receive ordinances in behalf of their kindred dead. Guided by revelation, they will prepare records of their ancestors all the way back to Adam and Eve.

      Complete righteousness and peace will continue until the end of the 1,000 years, when Satan “shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies.” The armies of Satan will fight against the hosts of heaven, who will be led by Michael, or Adam. Satan and his followers will be defeated and cast out forever. (See D&C 88:111–115.)

      You can read more about it @ Just enter your query in the search function. Hope that helps…

  1. Where are the Relief Society Counselors in this diagram of ward leadership coordination of Family History and Temple? Our stake trained leaders to coordinate regularly from the direction of the brethren.

    1. As I understand it the R.S. interacts with family history in several ways. (1) by attending family history consultant coordination meetings led by the Ward Temple and Fam. History Leader, as a standing member of the ward council whose job it is to establish the ward family history plan. (3) to interface with the R.S. members in carrying out the general ward family history plan. In my opinion, this does not mean that the R.S. should be carrying out the duties of the ward family history consultant.

  2. Yes, I,m 69 yrs old, a Widower for a yr on this April 5, 2019. I’ve retired for 7yrs now. Ive worked at the SL-Temple for 10yrs now as an Ordinance worker, and still had struggled with my Geneology and had gone to the Church Family Search Library for help, but I’m not as computer literate as I should be, and different bros & sisters had help me, but I forgot things and it’s hard on me. I wonder if someone in the Ward level could help me at home with my old iPad & old laptop… to help me at home set up my digital machines and help me to understand all these new wonderful things of the Geneology so I could easily do it at my own comfort of my own home in my own iPad & laptop so I could master this genealogy thing and fly,!! I had done some but I’m still stuck. I’ve an old apple-iPad at home on which I’m typing on now. And I need help from someone at the Ward to just come to my home & sit down with me and show me how with my own digital iPad & laptop? Can someone from my Ward or Stake do that on a One to One.? That’s the only way I could master this genealogy dream!! I’m in the Meadow Ward, Riverside Stake at Salt Lake City Utah.

    1. You should reach out to your Elders Quorum leader and ask him to send one of your ward Family History consults to help you. In your home is where they work with you;-)

    2. May I suggest in the meantime while you are waiting for one on one help that you consult the computer training page at the Family History Guide website.

    3. In my ward, the Temple and Family History consultants (I was one of them) offered to meet with members in their homes on their computers, or at the public library for those who didn’t have their own electronics.
      I know this is more than three months old, but definitely ask your Elder’s Quorum President for someone to come to your home and show you if you haven’t.

    4. President Eyring spoke at general conference about recently having the ward temple and family history consultants come to teach him more about family history. If a member of the First Presidency discusses his need for assistance, I hope all our leaders who are unfamiliar with the ever-changing resources on take the hint and invite the consultants to our homes too. I find that we as consultants also need to share the new things we find in FamilySearch with each other, too, as improvements are coming so fast and make finding records of our ancestors and extended cousins easier.

  3. I was called to be the Temple Committee Chair in our ward Relief Society last Sunday. There are two other sisters in the committee. I have not been able to find anything about the responsibilities of this calling anywhere. I did not see Relief Society anywhere in the four patterns.

    1. There is no such calling as a “Temple Committee Chair” or committee. It’s NOT in Handbook 2. The “adjusted” pattern of leadership for Temple and Family History was clearly given by Elder Renlund at Roots Tech. A counselor in RS is assigned to work with the Temple and Family History Leader. It’s quite clear. Go to FamilySearch on watch the LDS leadership video. The RS Counselor is part of the temple and family history leaders who hold coordination meetings to create a ward temple and family history plan.

      1. There is no such calling as a “Temple Committee Chair” or committee. It’s NOT in Handbook 2. The “adjusted” pattern of leadership for Temple and Family History was clearly given by Elder Renlund at Roots Tech. A counselor in RS is assigned to work with the Temple and Family History Leader. It’s quite clear. Go to FamilySearch on watch the LDS leadership video. The RS Counselor is part of the temple and family history leaders who hold coordination meetings to create a ward temple and family history plan.

        1. Also a letter from the Church Priesthood and Family Department, dated October 6, 2018, to all General Authorities, Stake Presidents, Bishops, etc. states that, “. . .the elders quorum counselor will act as the ward temple and family history leader OR will supervise a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is called to that responsibility.”

  4. As a Temple and Family History Consultant, I think this is a step backward and that they messed up a system that was working fairly well. When the High Priests Group was dissolved, the Church could have created this new Ward Temple and Family History Leader position and possibly even called the outgoing HPG leader, who was previously over family history efforts in the ward, to the new position. This way, he would have been equivalent to the Ward Mission Leader, working directly under the bishop, and he could have kept going to Ward Council meetings. What they’ve done now, since they made the initial decision last fall that Temple and Family History Work would be under the EQ president (and he obviously doesn’t have time to do much specifically in this arena), is bury family history deeper and deeper down in the EQ. In truth, this could also have been a great opportunity for the church to create a new either/or, male-or-female leadership position for the church, like stake and ward music chair, rather than putting women consultants underneath layers of male leadership, as shown in the diagram of the standard/ideal ward organization in this article. (Who thought this diagram was a good idea??) All around the church, women have been acting as lead consultants to great effect, basically doing with great initiative what the Church is now saying should be done by the new male Ward Temple and Family History Leader. These consultants are no longer leaders but are instead smothered by several layers of male leadership. Our stake family history leaders have recently all been women, specifically because the previous men were ineffective, and these women are accomplishing miraculous things. The men of the church all have so much responsibility already. Many women are ready and willing to do more to help. To say that we do not “have” or “hold” the priesthood is simply wrong. What we do not “have” or “hold” is specific priesthood office, and it makes no sense why such office would be needed for this calling. Women have been endowed with priesthood power in temples of God. We have as much right to priesthood power and priesthood authority in our callings and lives as anyone else. Let’s not put limits on God’s power to bless humankind! Can’t we have more than one leadership calling in the church that can be given either to a man or to a woman? Can’t we think outside the box a little bit! Family history organization in the wards has a been a mess since last fall, and it’s just getting messier… So many leaders, and so many people involved, and no one is going to know what they are supposed to do. This is particularly the case with the women involved, as evident from others’ comments.

    1. The Ward Temple and Family History Leader does not take the place of the ward or stake Temple and Family History Consultant – Lead. The ‘lead consultant’ still trains other consultants and works as a consultant. on the ward or stake level or both.

      1. In the past, many female Lead Consultants were essentially serving in the role of Ward Temple and Family History Leader. (For instance, in the past, I reported directly to the bishop and could access the ward Temple and Family History Report+interact with the ward council. Now, as a female consultant, I can no longer serve in the same way and am relegated to report up through 4 levels of priesthood oversight (WTFHL to EQ Counselor to EQ Pres to Bishopric Counselor to Bishop). Does this wing clipping (based solely on gender) limit the scope of my contribution and influence? Absolutely. As a professional genealogist+a business manager for 30 years I find it sad that I (and countless other women) can no longer serve in a true leadership role in family history in my ward.

      2. My wife serves as the ward Temple and Family History Consultant – Lead, I am now the Leader, and we are both called as co-directors of the Family History Center located in our ward building (this is a stake-run calling). We work as a team the same as when we were on our mission. She makes most of the decisions and works downward (with the ward consultants) and I work upward (in eccesitical hirearachy) with the EQ and RS counselor, the EQ president and the Bishop and ward council when I am invited in. I counsel with the Bishop from time to time to help him lead the ward council in its responsibilities. I am trying right now to help him get the ward plan formulated with his council. My wife is much better at the people issues and I serve as her ‘priesthood muscle” so to speak. I agree with the sentiments raised by ToryE and Virlene.

    2. I would just like to comment to you that while I substantially agree with the points you make supporting your position, there is one fatal flaw in your opening statement. You state that the previous system was working well. How do you define well? It seems to me that you are saying that 3-6% participation rates constitutes a job “well” done. I will say in support of your statement that time will tell if this new system works any better. I hope so. The fact remains however that there were problems with the old system. In my view, too much of the burden rested on the family history consultant. If you are in a ward like mine wherein I am the only person conducting family history period, it is too much. I see as a positive in the new system the requirement for a sharing of the load and a buy in from all of the ward council. Yes, of course, when you expand the layers of the org chart you can get buried in an avalanche of bureaucracy, especially if the bishop or the elder quorum leaders are not family history guys. If that is the case, you have two options, convert them or take them on about their duty. Whatever you do and do what I almost did, quit our of frustration. Take the new org chart as given and keep it in front of your leaders until they do their part. If you lose friends in the process so be it, you will make thousands more on the other side. Be assertive and consistent until it registers.

    3. I was released as HP Group Leader, immediately called as EQ 1st Counselor, and given the responsibility of Family History & Temple work. Not to boast, but this work is flourishing in our ward by all standards. I only credit myself with the records I’ve indexed, the names I’ve submitted for ordinance work, & the ordinances I’ve participated in. Otherwise, the credit goes to the individuals who are giving of their time & effort, regardless of their gender. Why do you have an issue with men in leadership positions?

    4. In our ward, as the Ward Temple and Family History leader, I am invited to attend Ward Council regularly, and I also receive assignments from the Elders Quorum President that are generated in Ward Council. It seems to work as well as it did when I was the High Priest Group Leader. Rather than a step back, this step forward involves all of our brothers and sisters in deeper ways (thus far). More training is being done in quorum and RS classes, and assignments are still being generated by the Ward Council, which I love.

  5. Does the Ward Temple and Family History Leader have to be a male or can a female be called to that position?

    1. The Ward Temple and Family History Leader is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. In a letter from the “Priesthood an Family Department” of the Church dated October 6, 2018, subject: Responsibilities of Elders Quorum and Relief Society Presidencies in Member Missionary and Temple and Family History Work says “the elders quorum counselor will act as the ward temple and family history leader or will supervise a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is called to that responsibility.” To verify any possible update, call the Bishop should call the “Priesthood and Family Department of the Church 801-240-2134

  6. The Ward Temple and Family History Leader is an Elder. The ‘Leader’ oversees coordination of temple and family history work in the ward with the help of a counselor in the Relief Society presidency. Consultants receive assignments from them, give reports to them, provide input to them, and are a vital tool in the hands of the ward leaders in accomplishing the work of salvation in the ward for both the living and the dead.
    To date, nothing has changed about the way the consultants are called and trained. There is still a so-called “Lead Consultant” in the stake and there can be a “Lead Consultant” in each ward who primarily trains other consultants. Where there are Family History Centers, the directors also train staff consultants on center policies and procedures.

    1. Is there one consultant who works directly with the priesthood FH leader in making plans for ward coordination meeting. How do you decide who that is? If there are several consultants, how do you implement a lot of ideas from these consultants and keep everyone together on the same page. What if your priesthood FH leader doesn’t “lead” and yet there are lots of ideas and hopes to get a good program going in your ward. How is that resolved? Basically–is there still one leader (“lead”) among the consultants to work with the priesthood FH leader?

      1. All consultants are in the meeting. And ideas from consultants should be welcome. Work with the RS counselor if that is best to suggest items to be included in the ward temple and family history plan. Once the plans are decided and approved, consultants will have roles to fill, assignments to fulfill. If your ward has a TFHconsultant-Lead, he or she should be training other consultants. The ‘leadership’ rests with the wardTFH Leader and RS Counselor. IF the ward does not plan and the Leader does not lead and the RS counselor does not use the consultants, their skills will be squandered -as elder Tenlund said-and they will be busy helping patrons who seek them out but will not be utilized as Elder Renlund’s talk laid-out. Hopefully your ward will make a plan and coordinate the consultants’ service as part of the greater whole.

        1. The Temple and Family History leader is to be a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. All Stake Presidents and Bishops received a letter from the Priesthood and Family Department of the Church dated October 6, 2018 stating, ” . . . the elders quorum counselor will act as the ward temple and family history leader OR will supervise a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is called to that responsibility.”

  7. An awesome plan..I have been waiting for any one of the past 6 Branch Presidents I’ve served with to implement a plan such as this, as it has been presented to us. I have been serving as the Stake Temple and Family History Center Director for the past two+ years..
    The bulk of our branch members are 55+ We have one Family of 5, 4 girls, 2 whom are active YW and their brother is an active YM..Another family (the Branch President’s) 6 grandchildren, all under age 11 are active, infact one 8 year old male was recently baptized;
    We have 1 family of 4 boys under 11, and are moving in June to another Stake. The Priesthood Leader is also our Elders Quorum President. A GREAT Loss to our Branch
    AND, this is the extent of our youth!!
    SO, WE ARE IN TROUBLE and this plan is not going to work, unless our Branch Presidency and Council FULLY and TOTALLY embrace this awesome plan!

  8. I would like to see the panel discussion with the Temple and Family History Executive Committee at Rootstech included here. It was very valuable training that provided even more clarification to Elder Renlund’s teaching. It was called Family History in the Home, led by Elder Foster.

  9. I really lovethe new callins my hubsand and I have to be Family History Consultaants & Missionary helpers. I am praying the calling in Family History will encourage my husband to do more of his work in locating his ancestors in Italy and Hunguary. To have a desire to find them. He does take their names to do Temple work when I find them for him. Thank all of you for making things eaiser for all of us.

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  11. We had a sister as the WArd Family History Lead Consultant who had access to reports but as of the 1st of June she now only appears as Ward Consultants… why the change?

  12. Thank you for the summary. I have been recently called as Ward Temple and Family History Leader and I’m a little bit overwhelmed and see there is tons of work to do. I have the blessing to work with some great and diverse consultants and they have more experience and vision than me in this area. It’s nice to put the plans together around their ideas. I’m also impressed with the dedication of the youth, RS and EQ. I’m glad I’m in a big enough ward that we can have the A plan, so it’s nice that EQ counselor can overview my work (well, actually all consultants and EQ and RS are looking at me :), and not necessarily to the Bishop all the time as I know that been a father, busy professional and with many other things to supervise he may not have so much time to review this important work.