Mormon doctrine teaches that families can be together forever if they are sealed together by sacred ordinances in the temple. This means that after individuals die in this life, they can be reunited in heaven and can be together forever. This doctrine is unique to Mormons.
Mormon temples are sacred places where eternal ordinances can be performed. However, all ordinances must be performed on earth. When one is deceased, it is impossible for a spirit to receive these ordinances in heaven. This is why Mormons do family history work and then temple work. Each individual performs sacred ordinances in the temple only one time for him- or herself. Each time an individual returns to the temple after receiving his or her own ordinances, these ordinances are then performed by proxy for (or on behalf of) a person who is now dead who did not have the opportunity to receive these ordinances during his or her lifetime.
Mormons are encouraged to do their family history work so they can take their own family names to the temple and perform these ordinances for their immediate ancestors. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the people who came before you.
The Mormon Church (officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has an unparalleled database for anyone searching for their deceased family members. The Church has made copies of countless records from across the world, and anyone searching for their family may have access to these in local family history libraries, free of charge. In addition, many congregations have a family history specialist trained in using the Mormon Church’s database, to provide aid to any who need it.
The website new.familysearch.org is an invaluable tool which is combining a lot of the Mormon Church’s resources, previously available separately. It has been a long process to correct wrong information, combine double entries, and so forth, but this resource has already helped tens of thousands of people to find their ancestors.
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is open, free of charge, to anyone who wishes to use its services. It is the largest library of its kind in the world. Some of its resources include:
- More than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals; 3,725 electronic resources.
- The Ancestral File database contains more than 36 million names that are linked into families.
- The International Genealogical Index database contains approximately 600 million names of deceased individuals.
- Records available are from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
In addition to these amazing records, approximately 200 cameras are currently digitizing records in more than 45 countries. A staff of more than 100 full- and part-time workers is available to the public, along with about 700 trained volunteers.
Mormons believe in the Spirit of Elijah, which is discussed in Malachi 4:6, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” To Mormons, this means that each of us is essential to the salvation of our family members, and we must be sealed together, by the ordinances of the temple, in order to be together forever. Family history work is essential to find those of our family members who died without having the chance to perform these ordinances for themselves. When we find them in our research, we can do their temple work for them and create an eternal, unbroken ring of family members.