At RootsTech 2018, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided counsel for temple and family history consultants, priesthood leaders, and ward council members. They discussed how to teach and strengthen people through family history.
Read a transcript of Elder Dale G. Renlund’s leadership session below or read a summary of Elder Renlund’s leadership session here. Watch the video on LDS.org.
Message from Elder Dale G. Renlund
Families are the basic organizational unit of the eternal realms. Because He loves us with the love of a perfect Father, God wants us to progress and advance and become like Him. He ordained a plan by which we would come to earth, in families, and have experiences that would prepare us to return to Him and live as He lives.
Our Heavenly Father is anxious to gather and bless all of His family. While He knows that not all of them will choose to be gathered, His plan gives each of His children the opportunity to accept or reject His invitation. And families are at the heart of this plan. You and I accepted this plan. In fact, we rejoice in it.
The prophet Malachi said that in a coming day, God would send Elijah to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." At ever-increasing rates, people seem drawn to their ancestry with more than just casual curiosity. To gather and unite God’s family requires more than just warm feelings. It requires sacred covenants made in connection with priesthood ordinances.
Many of your ancestors did not receive those ordinances. But in the providence of God, you did. And God knew that you would feel drawn to your ancestors in love and that you would have the technology necessary to identify them.
He also knew that you would live in a time when access to holy temples, where the ordinances can be performed, would be greater than ever in history. And He knew that He could trust you to accomplish this work in behalf of your ancestors.
Now, we do not know what marvels God will inspire people to create to help in His work of gathering His family. But whatever the marvelous inventions may be that come, their use will require the Spirit working in people like you and me.
The work of gathering Heavenly Father’s family is not just for young people. It is not just for grandparents. It is for everyone.
We are all gatherers. This is the work of our generation, what the Apostle Paul called "the dispensation of the fulness of times," when he said God would "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him."
I testify that God the Father wants His children home again, in families and in glory. The Savior lives. He directs and blesses this work, and He watches over and guides us. He thanks you for your faithful service in gathering His Father’s family. And I promise you the inspired help that you seek and need.
To be gathered, each of God’s children needs to receive, in person or vicariously, baptism and confirmation. Once they are gathered by baptism and confirmation, they are to receive, in person or vicariously, the ordinances of the temple.
Receiving the ordinances of the temple is something the Book of Mormon refers to as being gathered into garners. This second gathering provides these protections: "Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them."
These protections occur because those gathered are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are His. And He will raise them up at the last day.
On January 16, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson encouraged Church members to keep on the covenant path and to begin with the end in mind. We encourage everyone to get on the covenant path as soon as possible–even and especially when they are new and tender in the gospel–and then stay focused on the blessings of the temple.
This encouragement is because the data are incontrovertible. Young men who participate in temple and family history work have a higher rate of being ordained elders and going on missions. New converts who participate in temple and family history work are retained at a higher rate. Those who are new and tender in the gospel include 12-year-old youth and new converts.
As they are focused on temple and family history work, more will remain active. More will be protected when storms and fierce winds strike. We invite all new converts and new 12-year-olds to discover and gather their families and become active participants in the plan of salvation.
We desire to involve 11-year-old children and even younger children in family history work and encourage them to qualify for a limited-use temple recommend when they turn 12 years old. We desire to involve every new convert who is 12 years old and older in family history work and obtain a limited-use recommend.
These invitations are universal and not geographically restricted. In other words, the distance between a 12-year-old and a new convert and the temple does not affect his or her ability to participate in family history work or to be worthy of and obtain a limited-use recommend.
Involvement in family history helps these members feel close to the temple, regardless of where the temple is located. It’s not a matter of geography.
With a limited-use recommend, we encourage new 12-year-old members and new converts to perform proxy baptisms and confirmations in the temple whenever and wherever possible. We recognize that this will not be possible for all because geography is a factor for this invitation.
Efforts to fulfill these invitations–to involve new 12-year-olds and younger children and new converts–will have a halo effect on all who help. Faith in the Savior of the families and friends who help will increase. But how can we accomplish this? Ward temple and family history consultants provide the answer.
At RootsTech in 2017, President Russell M. Nelson remarked, "If I were a missionary today, my two best friends would be the ward mission leader and the ward temple and family history consultant." They can be our best friends, too.
We can apply President Nelson’s thought to our challenge tonight to invite new converts and new 12-year-olds in temple and family history work:
"If I were a bishop, Primary leader, youth leader, parent, or anyone else who loves a child and wants to see him or her stay on the covenant path [with the end in mind], one of my best friends would be the ward temple and family history consultant.
"[Similarly,] if I were a bishop and wanted to help new converts stay on [that] covenant path, my best friends would include the ward mission leader and the [ward] temple and family history consultant."
For the next hour, we’ll learn more about our new best friends: the ward temple and family history consultants. We’ll also learn how the Primary can help and how the ward missionary efforts are blessed by these invitations.
Tonight we’ll also view several videos that will help our understanding. And I might add, if these videos do not tug at your heartstrings–well, then I don’t know how your blood is circulating.
I testify that this is the Lord’s work, that He lives, and that He’s hastening His work on both sides of the veil. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.