Temple attendance is greatly enriched when patrons do family history research and bring the names of their ancestors for proxy ordinances. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are finishers. Mormons are a fully invested bunch, serving fulltime missions, paying a full tithe and striving for the full and abundant life. But there’s one aspect of gospel living many Church members are doing only halfway.

“Temple and family history work is one work divided into two parts,” Elder Richard G. Scott said. “They are connected together like the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Attending the temple is great, but bringing the names of deceased family members to the temple allows Church members to fully participate in all the blessings of the temple. If you’re not sure how to go about preparing names for the temple, here’s how in five easy steps. (For more detailed instructions, see this resource from LDS.org.)


1. Identify your ancestors

First, identify the names of ancestors who have not yet received all their temple ordinances. Photo courtesy FamilySearch.org.
First, identify the names of ancestors who have not yet received all their temple ordinances. (Photo courtesy FamilySearch.org)

This is the first and most difficult part of the process. Genealogical research can be complicated and time-consuming, but resources like FamilySearch.org and Provo-based Ancestry.com can help.

But before you jump into piles of census records, check your existing family tree. Your family members may have already done the hard part for you. Many family trees have people identified who are waiting for someone to do the temple work.

Log on to FamilySearch.org using your LDS account, then click on “Family Tree.” As you add people to your family tree through your own research and browse through previously identified names, look for the green arrow pointing to the temple icon on FamilySearch.org’s Family Tree. This means the names are prepared for temple work.

(Note: You can also click “Temple” and check the “Opportunities” tab for names that are ready.)


2. Reserve temple ordinances

(Photo courtesy FamilySearch.org)

Click on the green arrow to open the “Reserve Temple Ordinances” page. Here you will be able to review what ordinances need to be done and whether there are any possible duplicates.

Work from this screen to resolve errors and duplicates before you proceed. Press “Continue” when you’re ready.

When you do, you will notice a statement of Church Policy. Review this page carefully before proceeding to ensure you are in compliance with Church guidelines. Church members are discouraged from submitting the names of people they aren’t related to, including the names of famous people, Jewish Holocaust victims or names gathered from unapproved extraction projects. If a person was born within the last 110 years, special permissions are required. When you are sure you are in compliance with Church policy, check the box indicating so and continue.


3. Choose cards you’d like to print

(Photo from FamilySearch.org)
(Photo from FamilySearch.org)

On the next page, choose which ordinances you’d like to reserve by checking the boxes next to them. By doing so, you are taking responsibility for their completion. Only choose as many ordinances as you can be sure to finish in a reasonable amount of time. Click “Print.”


4. Print Family Ordinance Request form

(Photo from FamilySearch.org)
(Photo by FamilySearch.org)

You will need Adobe Reader to print the request form. Choose ordinances you’d like to print and check to make sure they are included in the form that comes on the screen. When you’re sure you have all the ordinances listed, print the form.


5. Go to the temple

Bring the printed Family Ordinance Request form with you to the temple. Take the sheet to the Recorder’s office, where temple workers will print pink, blue or yellow ordinance cards for you to take as you stand proxy in the ordinances.

If you have a lot of cards, you can distribute these cards to family members or request that the temple distribute them to be completed by patrons.

As Church members bring their own names to the temple, they more fully participate in the blessings that come from temple worship.

“When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple,” said President Boyd K. Packer. “Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them. In doing so we store up treasures in heaven.”

13 Responses

  1. One thing I did not see in this article is verify, verify, verify! Just because information is in Family Tree or Ancestry.com does not make it correct. Even family records are not always correct. This is part of the reason there are so many errors in Family Tree because people assume the information is correct just because it is written down somewhere or they found a name thiat is the same or similiar to their ancestor. A good guideline is at least three sources that confirm the same information. Taking your ancestors names to the temple is a wonderful and rewarding experience when the research is done properly. It is extremely difficult to correct sealings and ordiance work that has not been research and done correctly. Example by Great Grandfather has some of his daughters sealed to him. Someone has sealed my Great Grandmother to her son-in-law!! Our ancestors will rejoice when their temple work is completed correctly.

    1. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for pointing out that ALL facts need to be verified before any temple ordinance can be done. All sorts of misinformation appears on the internet and is perpetuated by those who don’t bother to check. Just because it is available on Family Tree doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

    2. I am afraid statements like this tend to scare too many people off. Finding 3 sources that agree is a daunting task. I disagree with the statement, ” Taking your ancestors names to the temple is a wonderful and rewarding experience when the research is done properly.” I feel it is a rewarding statement regardless if the research is done properly or not because I am not normally aware that the research has been done improperly. I agree that we should be as accurate as possible, but by being so restrictive, I’m sure there is a lot of work that won’t be done and is in fact perfectly accurate.

      1. Three sources for one person too much? Not if you’re doing reliable work. In many cases, three sources is barely enough to ensure that you’re working on the right person.

        The key is education. Learn how to do research. Read research guides and the FamilySearch Wiki. Look at the locations where your ancestors lived, and find out what records exist at the city, county, and state levels.

        Don’t assume that genealogy is something you can do without bothering to learn how to do it. It’s a labor of love, and it is work, and it does require learning.

    3. I agree totally. Many of the family trees in Ancestry have incorrect information because people will copy and paste from others with incorrect information. When you do that without verifying you just add incorrect information over and over again.

  2. *****”If you have a lot of cards, you can distribute these cards to family members or request that the temple distribute them to be completed by patrons.”*****

    Rather than take as fact what the author states above, individuals might want to check first with their assigned temple before assuming that it will accept printed Family File cards for distribution to its patrons. Many temples will no longer allow this, saying that the distribution of already-printed Family File cards is the responsibility of the submitter, not the temple, and must be accomplished outside the temple.

    In my assigned temple, we have been told that it is inappropriate for temple patrons to approach other temple patrons within the temple for help with their Family File cards, and the ordinance workers watch for this behavior in strategic points within the temple. I also have personal experience in being chastened by the temple president after I had sought proxy help for some of my male Family File endowments in the temple parking lot, even though my actions were in compliance with that particular temple’s stated outside-the-temple-walls policy.

    To individuals who have more Family File names than they have family or ward members to help as proxies, Elder Richard G. Scott suggested (in the same General Conference talk that I believe the author referenced) that the submitting individual go back into their FamilyTree temple file and reassign those Family File names to the Temple File. THEN, the ordinances for your ancestor(s) will be “unbundled” and temples all over the world will accept the responsibility of completing each ordinance the submitter originally cleared.

    Be aware, however, that you may need to exercise faith and patience with this choice. I have reassigned some of my Family File names to Temple File and, after more than two years, the endowment ordinances have yet to be picked up by any temple. After almost four years, some friends of mine are still waiting for their Family-File-assigned-to-Temple-File endowments to be completed.

    The Gospel is true and the work is inspired … and, eventually, it will get accomplished :o)

  3. I totally agree with M. Wallis. We also need to know and to remember that anyone can go in Family Tree and change the information that we have entered. Someone has changed my lines so that I am sealed four generations back to a man who never had children. I corrected it, but it gets changed again and again. Even spelling of my names are changed. I verify, verify and verify and I feel bad to see that my correct information is not correct anymore. Unfortunately, Family Tree has a lot of mistakes. I do the research and we do the Temple Work while the data is correct and we enjoy it very much and the Spiritual Experiences are tremendous and we cannot forget them.

  4. One erroneous assertion in this article is that, if you have a lot of cards, you can request that the temple distribute them to be completed by patrons. This work should be handled by the patron’s ward with the high priests group leader helping to get ward members to attend the temple and complete the ordinances. The temple is not supposed to handle distribution of patrons’ cards to other patrons. It is unfortunate that the details outlined in the article were not checked prior to publication of the piece.

  5. Good article! As someone who does family history work every day for several hours, I DO understand that finding family can be difficult. But it is SO rewarding! Keep looking, ask for help, pray about each individual you are searching for.
    Yes, you can get lots of cards. I am probably one of those who gives a sigh of relief when I find an ancestors work HAS been done!
    Family history is a process, not a race to the end! The best advice I have received on this is THE LORD WILL NOT LEAVE ONE OF HIS CHILDREN BEHIND. Print off what you can reasonably handle in a given time. Ask your ward members and extended family and friends if they would help. Turn names over to the general temple system. It is more important that our ancestors be able to move ahead on their eternal progression, than that you personally do their work.
    Go forward with joy! You family on the other side will rejoice in your efforts.

  6. IMPORTANT CORRECTION TO ANYTHING SAID HERE: If you go into Family Tree and the name is already in there and you didn’t put it in yourself, there’s a very high chance that the temple work has already been done. Even if it shows that the temple work needs to be done, it could very well be a duplicate entry that someone entered by mistake.

    First learn how to use Family Tree and how to source and confirm identities and then think about printing out temple cards.

    Also, as the author said, make sure you read the eligibility requirements for doing temple work. Don’t lie that you have permission to do someone’s work if you don’t. That’s absurd, and very much opposed to the true spirit and meaning of temple work.

    1. I have a friend who is recently decease. We are not relayed and his family are not members. They have given me permission to get his work done but I don’t know how. Because he isn’t related to me it’s been hard to figure out. I’ve been told it can be done but nobody has been able to tell me how. Do you know how to prepare a name of a friend for the temple?

      1. To prepare a friend’s temple work find the family history consultant in your ward and ask them to help you. Explain that the family is approving that the temple ordinances be submitted and completed by you. If you don’t have help from your ward then go to your nearest family history center. You could also telephone family history support for assistance by telephoning 1-801-406-1830. Good luck! You are truly performing a wonderful work for your friend.

  7. Now, instead of printing a family ordinance request, you can print the ordinance cards at your own home (on white paper). It’s one more way we are able to move the work along.

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