Effective immediately, family history consultants will be called temple and family history consultants. This is one of the changes to the Family History Department’s organization and callings that have been approved by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The changes were announced at a special leadership session held in conjunction with the 2017 RootsTech conference on February 9, 2017, and those changes have been sent to local Church leadership in the form of a priesthood notice.
No general release of individuals currently serving in family history will be issued, according to the notice.
These calling name changes reemphasize the close relationship between family history work and temple service. The changes also modify the organization of family history assignments at the area, stake, and ward levels.
Additionally, some temple and family history consultants at the stake and ward levels may be assigned as lead stake and ward temple and family history consultants, the statement said.
The stake lead consultants will assist the high councilor assigned to family history and may provide training for other stake and ward consultants. The ward lead consultants will assist the high priest group leader with family history and may also provide training to ward consultants when necessary.
Some stake temple and family history consultants may also have the assignment to lead stake indexing efforts or stake family history center operations. These new assignments supersede the callings of the former stake indexing director and the former stake family history center director.
Rachel Matheus, senior product manager at FamilySearch, said these changes stress the consultant’s primary responsibility to focus on the temple–family history connection. “Family history and temple work go hand-in-glove and should never be separated,” Matheus said.
Church members may not always see the connection between family history and temple work. They attend the temple and do the work for a name that has been provided by the temple. The members’ spiritual experiences, however, are greatly enhanced if they perform temple work for names from their own families, she said.
“Any temple service is good service, but an increased blessing comes when you are going for your own family. Our Heavenly Father has told us that without our kindred dead we cannot be made whole,” Matheus said.
With the announcement of the changes, more information and training resources have been made available at LDS.org. This information is intended to train and guide the temple and family history consultants to deliver one-on-one personalized experiences in family history and to answer frequently asked questions.
Helping People Love Family History
Mike Sandberg, senior product manager of FamilySearch, who works on solutions for family history helpers, said a critical factor to anyone being successful with family history is having a good helper.
During the past several years, the Family History Department has conducted research by interviewing members and consultants about their experiences with family history. This research found that members came across reoccurring obstacles to when doing family history work. They also found the factors that are essential for success. The result was the development of six principles designed to guide consultants. The principles aim to help others have a heart-turning experience and develop a love of family history.
The principles are:
- Prepare spiritually
- Discover their goals
- Get access to their tree
- Prepare a personalized lesson
- Point them to the temple
- Find others to teach
Descriptions of the principles can be found at https://www.lds.org/topics/family-history/my-calling/helping-others.
Sandberg compared doing family history work to serving a mission. A missionary who is open to the Spirit prays for guidance, prepares, and then starts by teaching basic gospel principles and expanding upon those principles as the person being taught gains understanding.
“Spiritually prepared consultants will pray to be led to people who Heavenly Father has prepared for this work. They will pray for those they are helping. As they work in the Family Tree, they will pray to be led to deceased ancestors who are anxious to receive the ordinances of salvation,” Sandberg said.
Before meeting with a patron, the consultant best prepares by discovering the patron’s goals and getting access to the patron’s Family Tree to become familiar with its contents, he said.
With the advanced work, the consultant can prepare a personalized lesson that accomplishes the patron’s goals and allows him or her to feel the Spirit. Ideally, this happens within 30 to 45 minutes, Sandberg said.
“It’s so important to give family history beginners success at their own pace based on what they are ready to learn,” he said.
Also during the lesson, the consultant should ask the patron who else might benefit from a consultant’s help so they might have similar family history experiences, he said.
The consultant should then point the patron to the temple and invite him or her to involve other family members, if possible, he said.
With the completed research resulting in names ready for temple ordinances, it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to have a long list of names without completing the temple work. “Doing the research is only half of the blessing. The other half comes as we take those names to the temple, which we’ve consistently observed often results in enhanced, beautiful experiences in the temple,” Sandberg said.