2024 Temple and Family History Efforts to Help Those New to Temple Attendance (2024)

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By Scott Taylor, Church News

The 2024 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction is now available online, with this year’s version of the annual training broadcast focused on how to help new members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a positive experience in the temple.

“One of the things that I have felt is that you are always moving in the gospel — either you are moving step by step forward or you are moving away,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this year’s instruction video, adding that an initial temple experience brings a new dimension to a new convert’s personal conversion and connection with the Lord.

“They are probably not fully converted at that point, but they are believing — and suddenly, they have another spiritual experience, another connection. What a wonderful way to take them line upon line, step by step.”

Featuring the general authorities and general officers who comprise the Church’s Temple and Family History Executive Council, the 28-minute video broadcast discusses how to help first-time temple attendees — including new converts, 11-year-old youth and less-active members returning to activity — have positive, spiritual experiences and find strength in the house of the Lord.

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In addition to modeling a council discussion for viewers, the instruction session also introduces a new tool to help leaders assist these new temple attendees in finding a name to take to the temple for proxy ordinance work.

While the annual instruction is for members who serve in leadership and callings related to family history work, all Latter-day Saints are invited to watch it online.

Participating with Elder Andersen in the instruction session are:

  • Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
  • Primary General President Susan H. Porter
  • Sister Kristin M. Yee, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
  • Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy, chairman of the board for FamilySearch International and executive director of the Family History Department
  • Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department

President Porter offered the perspective of a new member and the opportunity to do proxy baptisms. “You come in by yourself, or in the least you feel like you’re starting a new life, and you don’t know anything and then have the opportunity to go to the temple and participate in such an important ordinance in the house of the Lord,” she said.

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“You can imagine how He would help you feel a part of the great work of the Church, even though you are young in the gospel.”

Added Elder Duncan of the Lord and the temple: “This is His house, where they will make sacred covenants with Him, and He is entrusting us to do everything we can to help their first-time experience be the very best it can be.”

Covenant Belonging

Elder Gong spoke of “covenant belonging,” explaining that “we belong to the Lord by covenant, we belong to each other by covenant, and as leaders we have a very special opportunity to help people who are preparing to go for the first time” so they feel comfortable and familiar from the start.

He added: “We can help them with their recommends, we can help them with all the things they need to do so they have a wonderful experience connecting with the Lord, connecting with their family and connecting with their ward family.”

Elder Hamilton said the Church has found most new converts look forward to performing proxy baptisms for deceased family members, often doing so for a grandparent. “I don’t think we need to make this a big genealogical research problem,” he said. “We just need to help them take that name to the temple to perform a temple ordinance.”

Sister Yee said making a temple experience a personal one helps keep it simple. “If we have a grandmother in mind, if we have people helping us make it personal versus a technical process, it becomes simpler in our hearts and minds,” she said.

Sister Yee added that God hopes for Latter-day Saints to feel closer to Him through the covenant belonging from performing ordinances in the temple. “It is His house, we are His children, and we feel that connection there.”

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Elder Duncan pointed out that everyone is blessed by doing any part of the work, including helping others. “It’s not just to help them; the Lord always immediately returns blessings to us as well.”

Elder Hamilton then introduced an easier way to help first-time temple attendees find names to take to the temple for ordinance work, using a new tool called Family Name Assist, which is found in Leader and Clerk Resources. A bishop, Relief Society president or elders quorum president — all who have access to the new tool — can ask “Who would you like to perform a temple ordinance for?” and with that name and a little bit of information can help create a family name card, create a FamilySearch account, and help submit the name to the temple and reserve it for the ordinance.

Elder Gong reminded listeners to not focus on just the procedures. “The key is the opportunity to go be with the Lord and through the ordinances to make covenants with him,” he said. “As leaders, as friends, as members, we simplify that process as much as we can. For those who are going for the first time, we make it easy for them.”

Added Elder Gong about new members doing proxy baptisms for deceased family members: “It is such a deep, emotional and spiritual feeling to know that, in some cases, we are not the only member of the Church, that there are other family members who are now — with our help — being baptized and receiving the ordinances. And to feel like we are connected in that deep, spiritual way.”

Elder Andersen spoke about how his wife, Kathy, helped make arrangements for their children to each go to the temple within a week of their 12th birthday — and sometimes even on the birthday (12 was the minimum age for temple attendance then). That was despite residing in Florida, with the nearest house of the Lord — the Atlanta Georgia Temple — being nine hours away.

Now, many of his grandchildren are living in Utah, with a temple sometimes just a few miles away.

He suggested Church leaders look on the new converts like a good parent looks on a child, taking those becoming of age to go to the temple as soon as possible. “It is something that an 11-year-old has been prepared for — they never forget, and a new member never forgets.”

Video: A Recent Convert’s First Temple Experience

The instruction included a three-minute video of a bishop and a recent convert talking about the latter’s conversion and first temple experience. The bishop explained the simple process of helping the new sister take a name to the temple, with the recent convert explaining how going to the house of the Lord was a time of comfort and connection with God for her.

For President Porter, the video underscored a “covenant belonging with the Savior. … I thought that just created in her this feeling of security and safety in the Lord’s Church and in His house.”

Promise and Apostolic Blessing

After inviting the other council members to share a concluding thought and testimony, Elder Andersen underscored the Lord’s work being a one-by-one effort of helping each other ascend together to God’s celestial kingdom, especially one who is going to the temple for the first


“Every effort to help him or her to find their way into the house of the Lord will not only bless that person, I promise it will bless you. It will bless the members of your ward,” he said.

“Your faith in Jesus Christ will increase and your understanding and love for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will lift as you experience these temporal blessings with our new members of the Church. We know you are doing this, but I give you my special promise and this apostolic blessing that you can have even greater faith in the Savior as we reach out and help our new brothers and sisters.”

Who Is to Watch — and Where and How?

Those with callings and responsibilities to assist with temple and family history efforts and those who attend temple and family history coordination meetings are invited to view the session. They include:

  • Area temple and family history advisers
  • Stake, mission, and district presidencies
  • Members of stake, ward, district and branch councils and their presidencies
  • Ward and branch mission leaders and missionaries
  • Ward and branch temple and family history leaders
  • Stake, district, ward and branch temple and family history consultants
  • Young Women class presidencies
  • Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies

Viewing together as councils is encouraged, helping to facilitate discussions and shared insights about opportunities and needs of members within their own unit.

To help counseling together, a discussion guide is provided with the recording on the Gospel Library app and online at ChurchofJesusChrist.org; the guide is available in 23 languages: Cambodian, Cantonese, Dutch, English, Fijian, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Mongolian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tongan, and Vietnamese.

The instruction session is also available on rootstech.org.

Copyright 2023 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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