“What’s it like when you do family history and temple work for your ancestors?” asked Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president, March 23 at a presentation during the final day of the RootsTech 2013 Family History and Technology Conference in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
The topic of his presentation was encouraging youth and young single adults to use their own family names to do temple work. Brother Beck began his presentation by inviting a young woman from the audience to share her personal experience. Christie McPhie explained that when she turned 12, she was able to go to the temple and be baptized for her great-grandmother who was not a member of the Church. “I felt very happy to be able to do it for her. I felt the Spirit a whole bunch. It made me feel joyful to be able to that for her.”
Emphasizing the need to realize that temple names represent real people, Brother Beck shared a personal experience of doing temple sealings one night after a long day at work. The group he was with was present and participating in the sealings but the power of the work could have been stronger. He then said a family came into the room and joined them. They had several of their own ancestors’ names. The group worked together to complete the names. “It was an unbelievable experience,” said Brother Beck. “We were sort of coasting and when that family came in the Spirit lifted all of us. It was emotional. We didn’t even know each other, but we were getting emotional with them. They explained to us who was getting sealed and the family relationship. It was such a powerful, powerful experience. It was one I will never forget.”
Sometimes many think of family history work and the youth of the Church as oil and water, said Brother Beck. These are two things that are difficult to bring together. When the youth have experiences doing family history work their desire increases to participate in the works of salvation. They will no longer need to be prodded. The youth will want to do it on their own. “If they can taste the fruit, the motivation is intrinsic,” he said.
A woman from Seattle who was attending the presentation shared an experience about her youngest daughter who did a confirmation for her great-grandmother. Her daughter kept describing the experience as “awesome.” She was so excited to go to the temple and do work for her ancestors it was like Christmas Eve and she couldn’t sleep.
“The power of the Atonement is fully manifested in the temple ordinances,” said Brother Beck. “The power of godliness is manifested in the temple. If you want to teach the Atonement, go to the temple.” There is power in this work and there are tender feelings that well up when you start to do family history work, he said.
At the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia, there were many tents set up to help Scouts earn merit badges, Brother Beck said. The most popular merit badge at the national jamboree was genealogy and family life. There were so many Scouts there. “It was a witness of the spirit of Elijah that was resting on the boys,” he said. “They kept coming back and revisiting the tent because of the Spirit that was felt. It was palpable.”
At the RootsTech Conference, Angela Page, a stake Young Women leader, was invited to share her thoughts at the training session. She said, “I realize as a leader that I need to keep talking about the joy that is in family history work. How will our youth know of the joy that is there unless we talk about it? Whether it is to the youth or youth leaders, we need to continually speak about the joy of the fruit that comes through the work of salvation.”
Reciting the theme of the new youth curriculum, “Come Follow Me,” Brother Beck explained that the theme invites youth to follow the Savior but it also applies to youth leaders who invite the youth to follow them. For that to happen with family history and temple work, youth leaders need to have personal experience. They need to speak with power and authority because they are living it. The Savior had power and authority because He lived it.
The process of moving a generation and their feelings and thoughts about a specific doctrine is captured in a concept from the Duty to God program, said Brother Beck. Driving home the point, Brother Beck had the audience repeat out loud three times the words: learn, act and share.
“We learn the doctrine, we act on the doctrine and then we share with others our experience,” said Brother Beck. “That’s how a generation can be moved.”
In closing, Brother Beck counseled youth leaders not to challenge youth to do temple work without inspiring them first. “Don’t guilt them into this work,” he said. “Show them a vision. Have people share testimony. Inspire them to do that great work.”
He also reemphasized the need to let the youth act and use their agency. “Inspire them and invite them,” he said. “Help them exercise their agency. Invite them and let them come up with activities. When they use faith they will be blessed.”