The Spirit of Elijah
As the BYU Genealogy and Family History Conference approaches for this summer, I thought I would post a link to one of the addresses given last summer in July 2005 by Elder Ronald T. Halverson. The talk is titled, "An Offering, Worthy of All Acceptation" D&C 128:24.
Elder Halverson explains a very significant event that the LDS church believes in regarding family history work and genealogy. Many members of other faiths do not know that the Spirit of Elijah is working with them to find their ancestors.
Elder Halverson says:
One of the most important events of this dispensation was the coming of Elijah to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple on the third of April, 1836. He brought the keys of His ministry, but many people have misunderstood what those keys were. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained it this way, “It is held by some that Elijah came with these keys because he held some particular position standing between the living and the dead due to the fact that he was translated. But when Elijah came to Joseph Smith it was with a resurrected body, for he was with Christ in His resurrection. It was not like Elijah held particular keys which applied to the dead that he was sent, but because, as explained by Joseph Smith the prophet, the ordinances of the gospel would not be valid unless there was on earth the sealing power which Elijah held to bind these ordinances in the heavens.” (The Way of Perfection, pg. 161)
Joseph Fielding Smith further said, “There is nothing in my judgment that has been revealed that is more apparent of its fulfillment than the coming of Elijah, for his spirit has gone forth into the world. It is not confined to the members of the Church, and I am sorry to say, it does not rest upon the members as fully as it ought to, but it is gone forth into the world so that there are thousands of those who do not belong to the Church, whose hearts have been turned to their fathers and who are seeking out the records of their dead and preparing them so that we, their children, that is, the children of the dead, may go into the temples of the Lord and perform the labors that will give unto those who had no opportunity when they were living, to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, to give them that liberty and privilege, that they, too, might be numbered in the house of Israel and receive the blessings of eternal life.” (Improvement Era, June 1960, pg. 402)
...To my knowledge prior to the coming of Elijah in 1836 there were no endeavors or any support to search the records of the dead, but what has happened since is miraculous. Laws have been passed in countries compelling the preservation of the records of the dead. In Norway where records were scattered and difficult to find, they have constructed a records vault near the city of Morirana similar to the Church’s vault. They are very proud of it. You can now find family history libraries or locations to find your records in almost every major city or county.