At the 2019 Temple and Family Leadership Instruction meeting, Elders David A. Bednar and Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited wards to create a ward temple and family history plan. A simple temple and family history plan can help members of the ward participate personally in the work of salvation and gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.
Below are some general guidelines to help leaders get started with a plan. These guidelines may also be helpful as leaders update their plan throughout the year.
What is a temple and family history plan, and who creates it?
Our Heavenly Father wants all of us to come home. That is the destination, or goal. A ward temple and family history plan is intended to help people take the covenant path back to their heavenly home to be with those they love.
Here is how you might be involved in creating your ward plan (also see section 126.96.36.199 of Handbook 2):
- Under the direction of the bishop, the ward council develops a ward temple and family history plan. The ward council then reviews and updates the plan regularly.
- The ward temple and family history leader or a member of the elders quorum presidency may lead the plan’s development and implementation.
- A member of the Relief Society presidency may assist.
Temple and family history consultants are key in helping a ward implement a temple and family history plan. As needed, various ward leaders and members may also help develop the plan.
If you are currently serving in a leadership role, you might consider having copies of your ward plan available during ward council and other coordination meetings. Texts, emails, and phone conversations can also be useful as you coordinate and implement the plan.
What does a ward temple and family history plan look like?
Ward temple and family history plans should be “brief, simple, and specific” (Handbook 2, 188.8.131.52). The plan lays out “specific goals for temple and family history work for the year without establishing quotas or reporting systems for temple ordinances.” As part of the plan, leaders also outline how they intend to accomplish these goals.
Counsel from Elder M. Russell Ballard might be helpful for leaders to keep in mind. He explained, “A goal is a destination or an end, while a plan is the route by which you get there” (“Return and Receive,” May 2017 general conference).
Leaders can start by considering the needs in their ward. What do ward members need to do to help them progress along the covenant path? How can temple and family history service help meet the needs of ward members?
In his instruction, Elder Renlund gave examples of what a plan might address:
- Involving the ward’s 10- and 11-year-old children in temple and family history service.
- Encouraging children and youth to qualify for and use a limited-use recommend at the appropriate age.
- Involving every new convert in temple and family history service.
- Encouraging new converts to obtain and use a limited-use recommend.
- Helping ward members enter the first four generations of their family into the FamilySearch Family Tree.
- Helping specific individuals prepare for the temple (as assigned by the bishop).
- Encouraging temple attendance without establishing quotas or reporting systems.
As you plan, consider the resources your ward has available that can help accomplish ward goals. Elder Renlund counseled ward leaders that “the effective use of ward temple and family history consultants is crucial.”
Not burdensome, not bureaucratic, not complicated
As Elder Bednar mentioned with a smile in his panel discussion, we “overprogram” too often in the Church. Referring to a ward temple and family history plan, he asked if it was possible to have a simple plan that doesn’t become “so burdensome, so bureaucratic, so complicated that it gets in the way.” Consider what you can do to keep the plan simple and not burdensome.
“Home-centered, Church-supported” is a phrase Elder Bednar used. This phrase is something we have heard before! While creating a plan, you can ask, as Elder Bednar did, “How do we support what should be happening in the home without supplanting and taking over?”
A home-centered, Church-supported plan makes participating in temple and family history service more family-centered. It brings families together and creates opportunities for family members to feel the Holy Ghost together.
Ready. Set. Plan!
With the Holy Ghost to guide and magnify your efforts, a ward temple and family history plan can be a powerful tool for helping others receive the blessings of temple and family history service.
If your ward does not have a ward temple and family history plan, it is not too late to get started. Speak with your bishop, and receive his guidance. Consider reading the simple direction in Handbook 2 on temple and family history plans and coordination meetings. You can also watch or read Elder Bednar’s and Elder Renlund’s remarks on these topics.
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