Why does the Mormon church focus on genealogy work?
Here are some excerpts from a great talk given by Kevin Owen at the BYU-Idaho Family History Conference on November 8, 2003. Owen is a member of the LDS church and helps at a local Family History Center. In his talk he answers some questions he receives from people not of his faith, “Why does your church do this?” “Why so much interest in discovering who your ancestors are – and all at no charge?”
"President Joseph F. Smith taught this significant doctrine:
'Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time. . . . That is his mission. We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission. The dead are not perfect without us, neither are we without them.' - Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 442"
"Story: Experience of Elder Wilford Woodruff in the Saint George Temple
'The spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we … remained true to it and were faithful to God.’ These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence [of the United States of America], and they waited on me for two days and two nights. … I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others' (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham , 160-61).
We learn from this event that many of our ancestors anxiously await to be discovered, documented and have their temple ordinances completed. Sometimes we wonder whether they really want to be found – but be assured that they do."
"Boyd K. Packer said the following in 1977: 'Why not select sites by the hundreds and commence to build those temples now? I answer by asking some questions. Should we commence to build those temples, what good would it do? How would we keep them open? What names would we use? What work would we do?' He goes on to say that we as a church need to do more in the are of temple work if this prophecy is to be fulfilled. Each of us has a responsibility to see that each of our ancestors that we can possibly identify has the opportunity to receive temple blessings."
"In a recent conference address Elder Russell M. Nelson said:
'This restoration was accompanied by what is sometimes called the Spirit of Elijah—a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family. Hence, people throughout the world, regardless of religious affiliation, are gathering records of deceased relatives at an ever-increasing rate.' – April 1998 Conference"
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