Everyone seeks to be happy in this life. There are many different ways that one can find happiness, but for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is often misnamed the “Mormon Church”), true happiness comes from living as Jesus wants them to live. To be a faithful member of the LDS faith, one will decide to follow the commandments of God as well as following the example of Jesus Christ. This example includes receiving sacred and essential ordinances (sacred acts or ceremonies performed by authority of the Mormon priesthood) of being baptized, receiving the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and other important ordinances that show a deep commitment to and love for God. This deep love is the form of a covenant (or promise) made between the individual and God. Many of these ordinances are received in Mormon temples.
As members of the “Mormon Church” learn more about the Plan of Happiness (God’s plan for us), there is often a desire to share this message with others. There is also a strong desire to ensure that those who came before them have the opportunity to receive the blessings from this Plan of Happiness. In order to allow this happen, LDS Church leaders have been inspired through modern-day revelation the way in which those who have left this life can still receive all the necessary ordinances, or steps, to return to live with God and Jesus Christ again someday. These ordinances can only be received on this earth, so if a person died without being able to receive them, a person must stand in as a proxy and participate in behalf of the deceased person.
Searching out one’s ancestors is not necessarily something new, as people have always found interest in where they came from. That being said, the purpose of doing one’s genealogy as it is known in the LDS Church carries with it a very spiritual purpose. As family members are searched out and there is the confirmation that these important ordinances have not yet been performed, worthy members of the church have the opportunity to go to one of the beautiful Mormon temples and stand in as proxies for their ancestors to receive these sacred ordinances.
The purposes of temples are many. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to the temple to receive more instruction about where they came from, what their purpose is here in this life, and where they will go after this life. As they gain more knowledge, their personal testimony grows. As this happiness, they often talk about how happy they are and the peace that comes into their lives. It is this happiness and peace that they desire for their ancestors to have as well. Mormons believe that our spirits live on after we die. These spirits are very real and are the same spirits that our physical bodies possessed on earth. Thus, those spirits can make decisions, and many have a desire to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ as is taught by the LDS Church.
For those that struggle with this “work for the dead” as it is often referred to, more often than not it is because they have not taken the time to try and understand its full purpose. There are many misconceptions about it, and often the media has tried to paint a more skeptical picture of this very sacred work. The truth is, for members of the LDS Church, this work is one of the most important to be done, and there is often not enough time in the day to accomplish all they want to accomplish.
As one begins to work on one’s family history, that person will start feel a warmth in his or her heart. There is something special in learning about your ancestors. You begin to put together a more complete picture of your life, and it can often lead to amazing stories and profound respect for those who came before you. One of the positive things that happens when one finds interest in doing his or her family history is a realization that keeping one’s own personal history is very important. Many journals or personal diaries have been started and have had quite an impact on individuals and families as a direct result of learning about one’s genealogy.
For those not as familiar with how to search out their ancestors, the LDS Church has created free resources that have brought great benefits and blessings to those who have gotten involved. It can seem overwhelming, but these resources can quickly help you get started, and the key is just getting started. All LDS Church family history resources are free to the public, regardless of Church membership. In addition, LDS Church family history facilities are staffed by volunteers who can help individuals with their personal family history.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes firmly that because God is just, fair, loving, and merciful to all of His children, all of them should have the opportunity to receive the ordinances necessary to return to live with Him and Jesus again. It is this belief that drives the members of the “Mormon Church” to work hard to provide the blessings of the Plan of Happiness to all of God’s children. Without them doing this important work for those who have passed on, they would miss out on the eternal blessings that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings. Members of the LDS Church often share very personal spiritual experiences that have occurred in direct correlation to searching out their ancestors. These experiences help to strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ, and they feel the love that God has for them and for their loved ones who have passed on. Whether one has a misconception about this very sacred work or not is directly connected to their willingness to learn more.
There are more and more people who are not members of the LDS Church who are doing their family history. They are finding joy as they learn about their past. Maybe one of the greatest things that happens is the joy those ancestors experience as they see their loved ones learning about them and the experiences they had in life. For members of the “Mormon Church,” the peace that comes from knowing your loved one on the other side has accepted the gospel can bring a love that is often indescribable. According to leaders of the church, it is both a privilege and responsibility for members to give the gift of the gospel through performing these sacred ordinances for them.
It is important to understand that Latter-day Saints believe in the gift of agency, or the power of choice each individual has. If an individual’s temple ordinances have been completed, they have the choice of whether or not to accept them. No one is forcibly baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition, members can only take names to the temple of their direct ancestors. Names that are found in helping those not of the LDS faith in their own family history are not secretly taken to the temple. In addition, there has been a great deal of contention about extraction projects where people take it upon themselves to take names of celebrities, influential figures, or Holocaust victims to the temple. The Church of Jesus Christ has a strict policy against this, which is linked to below.
Mormon genealogy is an endeavor which brings peace and joy to those who participate in finding their ancestors and helping to give them the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
LDS News on Genealogy and Mormon Temples
Find a Family History Center near You