An early look at the 2023 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction reveals a bonus feature — a hands-on opportunity to be reminded of the purpose, participation and power of councils.
This year, the annual instruction broadcast — to be released online on Thursday, March 2 — is not a lecture on how to do the work. Instead, it’s a discussion among six members of the Temple and Family History Executive Council on how the Lord is doing His work and how Latter-day Saints can participate in that work, said Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Family History Department, who is one of the six executive council participants.
“It’s a rather unstructured conversation between friends that happen to sit on the same council together, where we share our ideas, our vision and our observation on how the Lord is inviting us to gather Israel on both sides of the veil.”
And to help facilitate local council participation with the broadcast, a discussion guide has been prepared for release a day or two before the broadcast is available online. A copy of the discussion guide is now available through the Church News for council preview and preparation (see more information below).
Council participants in the broadcast
The leadership broadcast will feature the six Church leaders participating in a council discussion, presided by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He is joined by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Twelve, Primary General President Susan H. Porter; Sister Kristen M. Yee, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department; and Elder Hamilton.
Also, area presidencies from across the world will participate in council discussions in a locally specific segment.
Council participants viewing the broadcast
The broadcast is geared toward — but not exclusive to — being viewed by councils, bishoprics and presidencies. Those invited to participate include stake and ward councils, bishoprics, branch presidencies, elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies, Young Women and Primary presidencies, ward mission leaders and missionaries, temple and family history leaders and consultants, and Young Women class and Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies.
Topics will include the blessings of participating in temple and family history service, being bound to the Savior through ordinances and covenants, and uniting families for eternity, as outlined in section 25 of the General Handbook, “Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake.”
Viewing, pausing, discussing
Leaders are encouraged to watch the prerecorded instructional broadcast as a group, pausing as prompted in the broadcast to counsel together.
The discussion guide can help councils prepare for and participate as they counsel while viewing the broadcast and pausing for discussion.
“This is different than just passively sitting and watching a 35-minute presentation,” Elder Hamilton said. “There will be some discussion on the video with the council, then a couple of inspired questions that will invite the local council to address and have their own discussion, then come back and watch the council discussion, then participate again at the local level.”
An interactive process led by the Spirit
Elder Hamilton described the process as “very interactive,” expanding and enhancing the local council’s discussion.
“The Holy Ghost is ultimately the teacher, and I think that’s where the real learning comes,” he said. “They’ll listen and hear, then they’ll counsel together, and they’ll be able to take away some inspired instruction from that — very tailored to their specific situations.
“With a global Church, we aren’t able to address every exact local problem or concern — but the Holy Ghost can. As people counsel together, discuss and listen to each other, the Holy Ghost will teach them what they need to do next.”
Added Steve Rockwood, managing director of the Family History Department: “They’re actually invited to watch and learn what a council looks like, and then go do a council.”
Viewers will watch and learn how to find ordinances through FamilySearch, he said, “and then you go do it yourself. It’s going to be extremely powerful.”
Elder Hamilton said the council of Church leaders also discusses how temple and family history work can help bind people together to the Savior through their covenants and by participating in temple work and seeking out ancestors. They will discuss 1 Nephi 5 and demonstrate how to use a FamilySearch tool called Ordinances Ready, he said.
Using the discussion guide
Local councils can use the questions on the single-page guide to prompt discussion or to adapt them to the local needs and circumstances.
Councils are encouraged to review “Principles of Effective Councils” section 4.4 of the General Handbook.
After viewing the broadcast’s first segment, “Bound to the Savior Through Covenants and Ordinances,” local councils can consider questions such as “How has being bound to the Savior through covenants and ordinances blessed your life?” and “What are some ways we can help members of our ward or stake bind themselves to the Savior through covenants and ordinances?”
Following the second segment, “Uniting Families for Eternity,” councils can discuss using one’s FamilySearch account — “your own brass plates” — and Ordinances Ready on FamilySearch.org to help ward and stake members have the same experience.
And following the message from the area presidency, the testimony of the six panel members and the witness of President Russell M. Nelson, local councils can discuss questions such as “What did the Spirit just teach you as you listened to this instruction?” and “What are our next steps as a council?”
When the discussion guide is published, it will be found under “Leadership Instruction” in the Temple & Family History section of Gospel Library, along with the instruction broadcast. The link for the broadcast is already available, ahead of its March 2 release: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/2023-temple-and-family-history-leadership-instruction.
How to view
On-demand viewing of the broadcast will be available March 2 in Gospel Library in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. Offerings in seven additional languages will be available later.
Also, past Temple and Family Leadership Instruction broadcasts are available in Gospel Library.