Monday, December 15, 2014

Local variations of church policy

Much has been said about how policies are dictated from Salt Lake City and that the level of obedience expected in the Church is abnormal. I'm not interested in a discussion on obedience. It was never my strong suit anyway. Local leaders are often given considerable latitude when it comes to making policies. Sometimes this manifests as a case study in righteousness one-up-man-ship that anyone who served a mission will recognize. Other times it manifests as a creative way to get members to understand and live a sometimes-neglected aspect of the gospel. Perhaps what makes a policy change manifest into one or the other depends on how each ward chooses to respond.

Sunday, December 7th, 2014, our Bishop read this over the pulpit. It was described as coming from the Nashville area coordinating council, which is made up of several stake leaders in and around Nashville. It is led by Elder Meredith of the Seventy, whose name was also on the letter. The text below came after the words "To be read:"

The Nashville Temple Presidency and the stakes in the temple district have a goal to work toward having all ordinances in the Nashville Temple be performed using family file cards.
Members are encouraged [to] seek the information needed and then use family-file cards to perform the saving ordinances for their ancestors. Each ward should have a Family History Consultant who can assist in this effort.

If you don’t have family-file cards, you are strongly encouraged to help other members of your ward or stake complete the temple ordinances for their ancestors. Their family-file cards may be available directly from ward members or they may be obtained in the top-left-hand drawer in the cabinet just inside the waiting area of the Nashville Temple.

Each ward has an envelope arranged by stake in the referenced drawer where members from most wards have placed family-file cards to be available for others to help them complete the needed ordinance. If your ward envelope is empty or does not have a card or cards for the ordinance you are planning to perform, then please take a family-file card or cards from one of the envelopes for another ward from your stake.

In order to make it more convenient for patrons to select a family-file card or cards, the temple presidency has ordered a new cabinet that will be located in the foyer where patrons will pass it as they go to the dressing rooms. This cabinet is designed specifically to hold family-file cards and should be available early next year.

The scriptures make it clear that we cannot be saved without our kindred dead for as we read in D&C 128:15 – “For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers – that they without us cannot be made perfect – neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” We and our ancestors will be blessed as we do this work.

How would you respond if this was your temple district? Is this already being tried in other areas of the church, or are we the first? Is it working elsewhere, and if so what has made it work?


Last Lemming said...

We've received similar encouragement in the DC temple district. I don't have a problem with it as long it doesn't send the message that you shouldn't attend the temple unless you bring your own names. There are a lot of members (myself included) who cannot find names in their trees that haven't already been done. But we also have enough members of relatively recent vintage to generate enough names to keep our ward busy. The trick is getting those people to process the names and make them available, then remind the other members to check the stake file before every session they attend.

BruceCrow said...

The gossip is that the St George temple is already doing this.

Sheri said...

We don't have a file box especially for our ward/stake yet. But we've been encouraged to bring our own names. But we have had "challenges" given over the pulpit where people were encouraged to put names in the temple so people could come to the temple and say I'm from such and such stake and they would have names for you to do. We are in the Draper temple district. But in no way are they encouraging members to not go. I asked them about this the last time I went to the Jordan River temple, since it is the busiest temple in the world. They gave an example from the Samoa temple. They said members there are so faithful at going to the temple that they literally were running out names for them to do! So they have been encouraging members to do family history so they could bring names to the temple. I hope that makes sense! :)

Amy T said...

"Each ward should have a Family History Consultant"? Sigh. The Church has a very good program, and that's not it.

If implemented as directed, the program from FamilySearch can be very successful, as my ward is experiencing. The most important part of the program is having a HPGL who's on board and willing to set up hands-on workshops during Sunday School and at members' homes.

Yes, the DC Temple has a cabinet for ward and stake names, and it's been very helpful for people who need assistance to get ordinances done. Perhaps I should send some cards down with someone, since thanks to the new "Descendancy" feature, I now have work to do.

You should try it, LL. Go back five or six generations and then work your way back down the Descendancy chart, sourcing and assembling related families that would have been missed when temple work was done in the 1870s-1930s since some of them were still alive, and then missed again by genealogists in the 1980s-present, since most people do direct-line research.

BruceCrow said...

I was just called as a Family History Consultant. So far it has been such a mixed bag of "I want to get started but I don't know how" to "I tried a couple years back but my sister told me to stop because I was messing stuff up" With such widely divergent needs, we have started just one-on-one appointments during Sunday School. The goal is to build up a catalog of names needing work just a little faster than we can do them.