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Elder Quentin L. Cook: 'Roots and branches'

Published: Saturday, April 5 2014 4:05 p.m. MDT

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.

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In the Saturday afternoon session of general conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that hastening family history and temple work is essential for the salvation and exaltation of families. "Our Father's plan is about families," said Elder Cook. "Several of our most poignant scriptures use the concept of the tree with its roots and branches as an analogy."

Malachi was the last prophet to hold the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood before the time of Jesus Christ, said Elder Cook. Elijah returned to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, and declared that he was fulfilling Malachi's promise.

"The Savior was emphatic about the necessity of baptism," said Elder Cook. "What about the deceased who have not been baptized?"

To answer this question, Elder Cook read from a letter written by Vilate Kimball in 1840 to her husband Heber C. Kimball, who was serving a mission in Great Britain, about a recent general conference. The letter said, "We had the largest and most interesting conference that ever has been since the Church was organized. …President [Joseph] Smith has opened a new glorious subject….That is being baptized for the dead. …I want to be baptized for my mother. … Is not this a glorious doctrine?"

"The essential doctrine of uniting families came forth line upon line and precept upon precept," said Elder Cook. "Vicarious ordinances are at the heart of welding together eternal families, connecting roots to branches."

He further said that a person's doctrinal obligation is to ancestors. This is because the celestial organization of heaven is based on families.

"What a great time to be alive," said Elder Cook. "This is the last dispensation, and we can feel the hastening of the work of salvation in every area where a saving ordinance is involved. We now have temples across much of the world to provide these saving ordinances. Attending the temple for spiritual renewal, peace, safety and direction in our lives is also a great blessing."

Elder Cook also mentioned that Family history technology has advanced dramatically. Our family history centers of the Church are now in members' homes.

"We finally have the doctrine, the temples and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation, said Elder Cook.

He went on to suggest one way the work of salvation might be done in a person's home. Families can hold a "FamilyTree Gathering," he said. Everyone brings existing family histories, stories, photos and cherished possessions of grandparents and parents together to learn more about their ancestors. Photos and stories can be preserved for all time by uploading them to FamilyTree. The main objective is to determine what ordinances still need to be done and make assignments for the essential temple work.

"Jesus Christ gave His life as a vicarious atonement," said Elder Cook. "We can … perform vicarious ordinances and truly become saviors on Mount Zion for our own families in order that we with them might be exalted as well as saved."