Roots and Branches
The leadership of the Church has issued a clarion call to the rising generation to lead the way in the use of technology to experience the spirit of Elijah, to search out their ancestors, and to perform temple ordinances for them.26 [See First Presidency letter, Oct. 8, 2012; see also David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 24–27; R. Scott Lloyd, “‘Find Our Cousins’: Apostle [Neil L. Andersen] Counsels LDS Youth at RootsTech Conference,” Church News, Feb. 16, 2014, 8–9.] Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by you young people.27 [One recent study indicated that a major emphasis for this generation is living a meaningful life where they “give to others, and orient themselves to a larger purpose” (Emily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer L. Aaker, “Millennial Searchers,” New York Times Sunday Review, Dec. 1, 2013, 6).]
If the youth in each ward will not only go to the temple and do baptisms for their dead but also work with their families and other ward members to provide the family names for the ordinance work they perform, both they and the Church will be greatly blessed. Don’t underestimate the influence of the deceased in assisting your efforts and the joy of ultimately meeting those you serve. The eternally significant blessing of uniting our own families is almost beyond comprehension.28 [See Howard W. Hunter, “A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 2–5; Liahona, May 1995, 2–7.]
In the worldwide membership of the Church, fifty-one percent of adults currently do not have both parents in the Family Tree section of the Church’s FamilySearch Internet site. Sixty-five percent of adults do not have all four grandparents listed.29 [Statistics provided by Family History Department.] Remember, we without our roots and branches cannot be saved. Church members need to obtain and input this vital information.
We finally have the doctrine, the temples, and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation. I suggest one way this might be done. Families could hold a “Family Tree Gathering.” This should be a recurring effort. Everyone would bring existing family histories, stories, and photos, including cherished possessions of grandparents and parents. Our young people are excited to learn about the lives of family members—where they came from and how they lived. Many have had their hearts turned to the fathers. They love the stories and photos, and they have the technological expertise to scan and upload these stories and photos to Family Tree and connect source documents with ancestors to preserve these for all time. Of course, the main objective is to determine what ordinances still need to be done and make assignments for the essential temple work. The My Family booklet can be utilized to help record family information, stories, and photos that can then be uploaded to Family Tree.
Family commitments and expectations should be at the top of our priorities to protect our divine destiny. For those who are looking for more fruitful use of the Sabbath day for the family as a whole, the hastening of this work is fertile ground. One mother glowingly tells how her 17-year-old son gets on the computer after church on Sunday to do family history work and her 10-year-old son loves to hear the stories and see pictures of his ancestors. This has blessed their entire family to experience the spirit of Elijah. Our precious roots and branches must be nourished.
Jesus Christ gave His life as a vicarious atonement. He resolved the ultimate question raised by Job. He overcame death for all mankind, which we could not do for ourselves. We can, however, perform vicarious ordinances and truly become saviors on Mount Zion30 [See for our own families in order that we, with them, might be exalted as well as saved.
I bear witness of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and the certainty of the Father’s plan for us and our families. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.