News Story

Elder Ardern Encourages Australian Young Adults to Learn About and Serve Their Ancestors

Elder Ian S. Ardern, Pacific Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Paula A. Ardern, addressed young adult members of the Church across Australia in an online devotional on Sunday, 5th July 2020.


Sister Ardern spoke of her regret that she had begun her family history after her grandparents had passed away and had missed the opportunity to learn first hand about their lives. She encouraged the young adults to talk to their grandparents now and learn their stories.

She spoke of the miracle and tender mercies that lead her to find her great-great grandfather’s grave amongst the one million graves in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney.

“Was it coincidence?... No…The Lord wants us to find our ancestors, and He will help and guide us through the Holy Ghost."

Sister Ardern closed her remarks by quoting the 16th president of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, relating his words to family history work: “Kneel down to pray, step up to serve, reach [back] to rescue” your ancestors by preparing their names and performing their saving ordinances in the temple.

Elder Ardern then addressed the virtual audience, also speaking about the importance of family history research even though many temples are not yet fully functional due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We should work now so that when they reopen, the temples reach capacity with our family names.”

“When we do family history work… and each time we step through the temple doors, we can become saviours on Mt Zion.” We can be saviours for those who cannot do ordinances for themselves.

Elder Ardern spoke of Joseph Smith’s first public discourse on baptisms for the dead, delivered at the funeral service of Seymour Brunson. The Church members were so excited to hear the news, that they rushed to be baptised on behalf of their family members who had passed. He invited the young adults to be just as excited to rush to do their family history and temple work.

Elder Ardern also shared some of his own family history—learning about his courageous grandmother, a single mother who travelled with her son to New Zealand at the outset of World War I, and how her story was a “great example of someone who wanted to begin again.”

He quoted the words he wrote in his journal, the day he did the work for her son in the temple: “On this day, I feel as if in the temple, the doors to the heavens have been open and [he] has walked free.”

The invitation was left to the young adults to begin now to find the names of ten of their ancestors and once the temples reopen, to grab a friend and go to the temple together to perform those ordinances.

Elder Ardern left the young people with promised blessings of an increase of testimony, growth in their faith in Christ, an increase in their understanding of God’s plan of redemption, finding what it means to have joy, and a better understanding of the Atonement of Christ.

Daniel Green, a young Latter-day Saint from Beenleigh, Australia, spoke of his impressions from the night: “The Arderns made family history seem more simple and more realistic, and less of a daunting task. It is a cool way to do service during this COVID-19 pandemic time.”

Another young participant, Grace Field, from Brisbane, reflected on her thoughts from the evening: “I have done family history in the past and actually found someone who wasn’t already on our family tree. It was fun. This was a good reminder that it is simple and something we can do in our rooms on our laptops.”

Elder Ardern closed his remarks by asking, “Shall we go on in this great cause? Onward and forward we shall go.”

The Church’s Newsroom website states: “The doctrine of baptism for the dead is mentioned in the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 15:29), but the foundation of the doctrine comes from latter-day revelation through Joseph Smith. By standing in as proxy for someone who has died — often one of his or her own ancestors — a Church member may be baptized on behalf of that deceased person. In Latter-day Saint belief, a person who has died retains the right to make choices in the next life, and acceptance of the baptismal rite opens the way to continued progression. Baptisms for the dead are performed only in temples.

Watch a video about baptisms for the dead:


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