During the family history leadership session at RootsTech 2018, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged temple and family history consultants to reach out to children turning 12 as well as new members—whom he and other Church leaders have recently described as “new and tender in the gospel.”
He said that consultants should work closely not just with the bishop but with ward mission leaders, Primary and youth leaders, parents, and anyone else, for that matter, “who loves a child and wants to see him or her stay on the covenant path.”
What It Means to Be Gathered
Early in his talk, Elder Renlund taught that temple and family history consultants help gather God’s family. He then explained what the word “gather” in this context means—to help another person receive, in person or vicariously, baptism, confirmation, and the ordinances of the temple.
Why is being gathered so important? Because it protects members of the Church from the pressures of the world and the temptations of the adversary. Quoting from the book of Alma, Elder Renlund said that those who are gathered “shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; . . . yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them” (Alma 26:6).
Inviting All Youth and New Converts
“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,” Elder Renlund said.
According to Elder Renlund, even children younger than 12 can begin participating in family history work and preparing for a limited-use temple recommend. “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.”
These blessings include increased faith and strengthened resolve in the face of challenges. Elder Renlund shared research suggesting that new members are more likely to remain in the Church when they participate in family history work. The same can be said about children turning 12.
Elder Renlund reminded consultants that although gathering involves going to the temple on behalf of deceased ancestors, it involves other important activities as well, such as preserving family memories and recording important family information. These are tasks that can be worked on at home, at church, or some other location—good news, of course, for people who can’t visit the temple because of distance.
As Elder Renlund put it, “Involvement in family history helps these members feel close to the temple. . . . It’s not a matter of geography.” He emphasized that the distance between a 12-year-old or 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.”
A Blessing for Temple and Family History Consultants
In conclusion, Elder Renlund described the halo effect that blesses people who strive to involve new converts and new 12-year-olds in temple and family history work. “Faith in the Savior of the families and friends who help will increase,” he said. They will be blessed with greater capacity to help those they are serving.