Software hastens ordinance clearance

An eagerly awaited computer program that makes it possible for Church members to clear ancestral names for temple work almost immediately is now widely available.

The program, called TempleReady, was announced to general and local Church officers in a letter from the First Presidency, dated Nov. 8. The letter stated the program is an addition to the Church's FamilySearch software and is being shipped to all Church units that have computers equipped with FamilySearch.Also announced in the letter was a new booklet, A Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, which replaces Come Unto Christ through Temple Ordinances and Covenants.

"The guide briefly describes the doctrines related to temple and family history work, how members can receive the ordinances of the temple, and how they can provide these ordinances for those who did not receive them in this life," according to the letter.

The TempleReady software, described as early as October 1990 by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Council of the Twelve at general conference, has been tested in as many as 200 stakes since 1990.

"Using TempleReady, members will be able to verify whether temple ordinances have been completed for their

ancestors," the First Presidency wrote in the letter. "They can send directly to the temple a floppy disk containing the names of ancestors needing ordinances. After June 1, 1995, members will process all names for temple ordinance work locally and will no longer submit names to the Family History Department."

TempleReady greatly streamlines the effort to clear names for temple ordinances once they have been researched. It contrasts with the previous process of sending the names to Church headquarters for clearance, which took weeks to accomplish.

Demonstrating the software for the Church News, Paul Starkey, project manager in the Family History Department, said it accomplishes three things:

It helps determine which ordinances can be performed for ancestors that have been researched.

It determines if ordinances have already been completed by checking names against the International Genealogical Index, a computer database of temple records.

It copies information onto a computer diskette (sometimes called a "floppy disk") that can be sent to a temple in preparation for proxy ordinances to be performed.

"TempleReady is designed for all members; no particular expertise in family history work is required," Brother Starkey said. "There is an expectation that the user be familiar with diskettes, with computer files, that kind of terminology."

As the program has been tested, it has been found that ward family history consultants can be very helpful, he said. "In a typical ward, stake or family history center, there will be people who say: `You've never used it? Let me look over your shoulder, and I will walk you through it.' "

The program works most efficiently with Personal Ancestral File, the Church's family history software for home computers. It also works with most other home computer genealogy programs.

Using Personal Ancestral File a user records ancestral information on a diskette. TempleReady then reads the information from the diskette to clear it for temple ordinance work. Built-in functions ensure that certain rules are followed for submitting names; for example, baptisms need not be performed for persons who died under age 8.

The program prints out a hard-copy report of the information being recorded on the diskette. That is for the purpose of double checking the accuracy of the information. Completed diskettes should be labeled and submitted to the temple several days in advance of the time one expects to have the ordinances performed.

Testing of TempleReady has shown that typical Church members are both able and willing to learn and use the new program, Brother Starkey said. "People who have not had it available to them yet are literally clamoring for it; we have received hundreds of calls."

The new booklet, 20 pages long, gives a brief overview of the doctrines relating to temple and family history work, describes members' responsibilities in this work, and explains how members can provide temple ordinances for their ancestors. It includes information about using TempleReady and other FamilySearch components. Designed to build the confidence of persons new to family history research, it identifies a three-step process: identify your ancestors, find out which ancestors need temple ordinances and make certain that the ordinances are performed.

It does not give detailed research methods and techniques. Those desiring further information are encouraged to avail themselves of their ward family history consultant.

In wards where a Sunday School class in family history is conducted, the member's guide will be the text.

The First Presidency directed that each family in the ward or branch should receive a copy of the new guide.

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