New family file procedures implemented in temples

New family file procedures now being implemented in temples are giving individuals more responsibilities for vicarious ordinances performed for ancestors whose names they have researched and submitted for temple work, said Temple Department leaders.

Elder David E. Sorensen of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department spoke with the Church News about the new family file procedures and their impact upon the completion of ordinances. Paul E. Koeliker, managing director of the Temple Department, joined Elder Sorensen for the interview.Following are questions and answers pertaining to the new procedures.

Q. What are the new procedures?

A. The temples will no longer keep family files. The name slips from each file will be given to those who submitted the names. Along with the name slips will be a Family Names Tracking List to help the individual keep track of the name slips and ordinances performed. The individual then does the work or seeks the help of family members, friends, or ward members to do the work.

Q. Why have these new procedures been implemented?

A. First, they will give families responsibility for their family files. Second, ordinances can be performed at different temples, making it easier for families to participate. Third, some temples have run out of space to store the rapidly growing family name file. Fourth, there will be fewer errors as families monitor their own files. Under the old system, someone at the temple had to record the ordinances and refile the cards every day; the large number of cards increases the possibility of cards being misfiled. Fifth, more work can be accomplished by fewer volunteers and temple staff.

Q. Have the family file procedures been implemented in all the temples?

A. They have been implemented in all temples in the United States, Canada and England. They will be implemented in new temples as they are dedicated. We hope to implement these procedures in the remaining temples during 1999.

Q. In the past, individuals submitted names to the temple and had a certain period of time - about two years - in which to do the work for their ancestors. After that time, it became the responsibility of the temple to place the names in the temple file so the work could be done by other temple patrons. Whose responsibility is it now to assure that temple work is completed?

A. The work will be guided by the families, not by the temple as was done in the past. This means that more responsibility is being placed upon the families.

Q. What happens if someone receives the name slips from the temple and that person is then taken seriously ill and the name slips are forgotten? Suppose the individual who has the name slips dies, and he is the only member of the Church in his family and the name slips are discarded? Will the temple work for his deceased ancestors never be completed?

A. When the name slips are printed, the data on those slips is retained in a central file at Church headquarters. There will be a procedure to scan the files and pick up names for which the work has not been done. After the passage of many years, those names can be placed in the temple file for work to be completed by temple patrons.

Q. What if a member lives several thousand miles from a temple and cannot go to the temple to do work for his deceased ancestors and has no relatives who can help?

A. Individuals may still submit names to the temple file for other patrons to perform the ordinances.

Q. What is one of the major advantages of the new procedures?

A. Individuals have the flexibility of performing various ordinances for an ancestor in any temple where the new procedures have been implemented. Prior to this, when names were submitted to one temple, all ordinances generally were performed in that same temple. If a patron wanted to have some ordinances performed in one temple and other ordinances performed in another, a cumbersome process was required to transfer names from one temple to the other. With the new family names procedures, patrons may choose to have certain family members perform baptisms in temples near their homes. Other family members may then take the names to other temples for the remaining ordinances. In this way, more family members can have an active role in completing vicarious work for their ancestors.

Q. How can individuals be sure that all ordinances are completed?

A. One person is in control of the name slips - usually the individual who researched the names and prepared them for temple work. That individual may give or mail the name slips to relatives, friends or ward members who will then take those name slips to the temples nearest them to do the work assigned.

At the time an ordinance is performed, the name slips are date-stamped in the temple and handed back to the patron, who then returns it to the individual who handed it out, usually the person who did the research and submitted the record for temple work.

Q. What happens if someone misplaces or loses a name slip?

A. Each ordinance is recorded by the temple when that ordinance is completed and the ordinance record is sent to the central Church file. If a person were to lose or misplace a name slip, he or she can request a reprint that will contain the dates and temples of all completed ordinances. Although there are provisions for reprinting the name slips, the patron generally will need to notify the temple in advance, especially if he or she is traveling from a great distance, as the reprints are done at Church headquarters and not at the temples.

Q. How are names prepared for temple work?

A. This is a multi-step process and is essentially unchanged:

You may create a record of your family information on a computer program, such as the Personal Ancestral File (PAF), which is available in Family History Centers or may be purchased from the Church Distribution Center. Ward family history consultants can give assistance with PAF. Records on paper are also acceptable.

From your records select the names of deceased family members for whom you would like to have temple work done.

Prepare the names for temple ordinances, using the same guidelines as before.

Make sure all individuals on the records have appropriate names.

Make dates and places as complete and accurate as possible to help avoid duplication of the ordinances.

Proofread carefully to verify that all information is correct and accurate.

Limit your request to those names for which you have a family relationship.

Take this information (on a diskette if possible) to a Family History Center and use the TempleReady software. The TempleReady program does a simple check for ordinance duplication. However, it is a good idea to manually check all names against the International Genealogical Index before you submit them. TempleReady will prepare a diskette with the family names that are cleared for temple work. It's a good idea to make two diskettes, one for you to take to the temple and a copy to keep at home.

Take the diskette to the temple. The temple will print your family names on slips of paper and give those slips to you to keep. The data from the diskette also goes into a central file, so the Church has a record of your submission.

Temple work for one's immediate family, such as one's deceased parents, brothers and sisters, spouse, or children, may be done by taking a family group record to the temple.

Q. What do the name slips look like?

A. They are actually card-size, measuring 3-by-5 inches. They are color coded: pink for female ordinances, blue for males, and buff for sealings.

Q. What if a patron has no access to members who can assist with the ordinances?

A. In those cases, the temple has the resources necessary to assist the patron by having other temple patrons complete ordinances. Or, if the patron prefers, the names can be released to the temple file so that all remaining ordinances will be completed by other patrons.

Q. Is there anything else members should be aware of as they take those family name slips to the temple to do the ordinances or give them to others to assist him?

A. There are two things members may wish to consider:

Keep an accurate record on their tracking lists of who has each card at any given time and what ordinances have been completed.

The ordinances are to be done in proper sequence. For example, you would not usually seal a couple before their individual ordinances are completed - their baptisms and endowments - and you would not usually seal children to their parents until the parents are sealed. The temple workers will watch for sequence problems as patrons do the ordinances, but patrons usually take the responsibility where these sealings are concerned.

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