Turning our Hearts to our Fathers- Why Mormons Perform Family History

Whenever my extended family has the opportunity to be in one place at one time, we take the chance to share cherished stories and experiences, to recommend new foods and books, to strengthen one another, and to teach lessons. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strive to remember all our family, even our loved and distant progenitors who have passed away from this mortality. It is because of our love and appreciation for their lives that we so diligently seek to perform the work of family history.

It can be fun to trace an ancestral line, discovering when and where an ancestor lived, but it is of even greater fulfillment to seek out their life stories. The church provides many opportunities and resources for this research. We believe that the family is an eternal unit, and although we have not had the opportunity to meet and know all of our ancestors in this life, our kinship will extend into eternity. As we participate in family history work, our hearts are filled with love and admiration for those people who made it possible for us to be born.

Aside from learning about our ancestors, members of the church also perform genealogical research for a sacred purpose. We count it as a blessing to have been born at a time when the fullness of God’s gospel is upon the earth with His priesthood authority making it possible for us to receive the ordinances of salvation as God commands (such as baptism and eternal marriage). However, God knows that there are those people who have lived upon the earth at times and in places where the knowledge of the gospel and the opportunity to partake of His ordinances were not available. With an eternal perspective, God has commanded through His prophets that those living followers of Christ are to seek out their ancestors and perform vicarious ordinances for them within the temple. This sacred work guarantees that the blessings of eternity, which can be secured only through the path which God has shown, are extended to those souls throughout history who have not been taught of that path. This is a testimony of God’s equity and love for all of His children. When members of the church are baptized and given other sacred ordinances in behalf of a deceased ancestor, that ancestor is given the choice to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ after death, making salvation available to them. This vicarious work also brings great joy to the living members at having helped a beloved soul enter into the rest of God. I have been earnestly seeking out my ancestors who have died in the hopes that the joy of Christ’s gospel which I have known in my mortal life may be tasted by them also, and I have faith that we will share our joy in eternity. I testify that this is a sacred and divinely commissioned work, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


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