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Temple work - vital link in gospel chain

The vital importance of temple work for the living and the dead - efforts that eventually are to culminate in sealing together the entire family of man - can hardly be overstated, new temple presidents were told Aug. 15 at their annual seminar.

At the seminar, Church leaders called for an increase in ordinance work to match a recent increase in family history research. Temple leaders also were counseled to resist being swallowed up by administrative matters, focusing instead upon the spirit of temple work.The 13 new temple presidents and their wives, who are temple matrons, met in the chapel of the Salt Lake Temple for the opening sessions of the Temple Presidents Seminar, held Aug. 15-17.

The new leaders will head temples from Samoa to South Africa, and came from lands as far away as Argentina. Representing a wealth of experience, they are mostly former stake and mission leaders, and represent a lifetime of service.

On the opening day of the seminar, the temple presidents were instructed by President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, first and second counselors in the First Presidency, respectively; and President Howard W. Hunter and Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve, who is chairman of the Temple and Family History Executive Council. (President Ezra Taft Benson did not attend because of conflicting appointments.) Additional General Authorities were to address later sessions of the seminar.

Attending the three-day seminar were many members of the Council of the Twelve, the Presidency of the Seventy, and members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy.

In his address, President Hinckley called temple work "a marvelous work and a wonder." Temples, he said, "stand as testimonies and witnesses and expressions of the absolute conviction of the immortality of the soul."

He noted that each temple today is constructed through sacrifices of the members, as were temples of the past.

"And so it has been across the world. The very presence of each of these buildings represents something unique. Some are small while others are large, but each is beautiful and is constructed of the best materials around . . . out of the consecration of the people."

Temples are built and members achieve their great destiny as they live worthy of it, he said.

Vicarious work is done for those who are referred to as dead, but they are yet living, affirmed President Hinckley. They have "being and purpose and self and soul and identity."

He called vicarious temple work "a most unselfish work . . . it is a work that more nearly approaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior than any other work we know. I marvel at it as I see them temple patronsT come in a constant procession."

He said that while details of temple administration need attention, "there are things much more important. Stand back and marvel and wonder at the place where you will serve, and the work you will do."

President Monson spoke of the necessity of the work, both in research and in performance of ordinances.

And, as they preside over a temple, leaders should develop in themselves and among others the spirit of temple work. "It is the Spirit that counts," he said. "The Spirit takes precedence over any other aspect of your lives."

And, as they preside over a temple, leaders should develop in themselves and among others the spirit of temple work. "It is the Spirit that counts," he said. "The Spirit takes precedence over any other aspect of your lives."

President Monson remarked that he'd observed various General Authorities who had been called as temple presidents. After their service, they seemed to have a new spirit and a new heart. "Every one of them said temple work is different from any other work they had ever done," he recalled.

He encouraged leaders to particularly cultivate the spirit of love among their temple presidencies, workers and patrons. "When that spirit fills the temple of God, it fills the heart of every patron who comes into the House of the Lord," he declared.

The spirit of kindness should also be cultivated, he suggested. As patrons enter the temple for the first time, "they are so overwhelmed by the Spirit, and the beauty, and the grandeur, they sometimes have to be taken by the hand." At such times, first-time patrons should be helped in such a way that their experience will be what they hoped and dreamed it would be.

"With all my heart and soul, I pray you will have the spirit of temple work. Through you, the lives of His children in your temple district will be abundantly blessed."

President Hunter challenged temple leaders and area presidencies to give renewed attention to ordinance work.

"Recently, we have seen a marvelous increase in family history work. All the significant indicators tell us that there has been a renewed dedication on the part of the saints in preparing names for temple ordinances. . . .

"What is happening is an indication that the Lord is hastening His work."

Submitting names and performing ordinance work for kindred dead is "a refining influence in the lives of those members," he assured the temple presidents. "We are concerned that the pace of ordinance work is not at present keeping pace with family history work. We hope to see a similar upsurge in temple work."

Elder Packer also underscored the importance of temple work in his address.

"I could not possibly put into words the profound testimony I have of this work of the redemption of the dead," he said. "It is the consummate work of this generation."

It is a work that mortal man could not have designed, and a work that, by its success, measures all other Church work.

Having a testimony of eternal ordinances for the living and dead "is not only your right, but your obligation." He quoted Brigham Young, who said "I am satisfied that in this respect, we live far below our privileges."

Temple leaders should study doctrines associated with redemption for the dead and gain spiritual insights. For example, he noted, the scriptural phrase "the course of the Lord is one eternal round," is repeated six times in holy writ. That phrase particularly describes temple work, he said. "We look into the past to find evidence of their lives, and into the future for a glorious reunion."

Beyond the steel and stone of the building is a second, spiritual temple, Elder Packer said. He encouraged presidents and matrons to teach reverence for this unseen temple.

"Reverence should be a hallmark of your work."

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