The Development of Temple Doctrine

Speaker: Jennifer Mackley



Before we start I'd like to pass these cards around and if all of you can write down a question, and if it's not answered when I'm speaking, I would love to take a little time at the end to go over your questions. Not that I will know the answers, but I'm happy to look them up and email the answers to you if there's historical or other questions that you'd like answered. Before you start writing, my research and expertise, so to speak, is on Wilford Woodruff and the development of temple doctrine. So if you can focus your questions on that, that would be great because I don't know very much about Brigham Young or John Taylor and those other amazing prophets. 

The first question that I'm usually asked is why I chose to study Wilford Woodruff. I am not a Wilford Woodruff descendant, and I'm sure that my parents would have appreciated the study of my own ancestors. But it was my mother who shared with me the story of Wilford Woodruff’s experience in the St. George Temple with the Founding Fathers that led me to, out of curiosity, want to know more.

When I learned that there were a hundred men and 68 women that he directed the work for, I was fascinated to know about the women. There's been a book written about the men and a lot of research on the Founding Fathers, of course. But I started to read about these women and their lives and their poetry or their art and the things that they'd been involved in, in their lives. So after hearing or learning about this vision and researching the women, I had been reading their works and what articles or information were written by other people. And I thought, why don't I go to the source if I want to learn about this, I should learn what Wilford Woodruff said about it.

And what I learned was the understanding that these men had chosen him to ask that their work be done, was actually the other way around. Wilford Woodruff had researched and chosen them. He had made a list of eminent women and men after the Founding Fathers appeared to him and so those 168 people were those that he'd focused on.

So then my question changed to, instead of why they chose him, to why he had started this whole process. And I began reading his journals, 7,000 pages of his journals is what he recorded between his baptism and his death. And then letters, he wrote over 11,000 letters and received almost that many. And his discourses, which he gave about 3,500 speeches or talks during his ministry as both a member and an apostle.

So I got to know him as an individual and as a father and then as a prophet, and I was fascinated by the process of his life and his role in the development of temple doctrine. His role was, not just because he outlived Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, but because he took an active part in that development and was a catalyst in the things that happened. And, the most important part of that was the faith that it required to not just ask the questions, but to act on what they knew and then go back for more information. A process that we all take part in, hopefully, and that is open to all of us.

So it's not just about the development of temple doctrine, but about whatever we want to learn about, whatever we want to know, and whatever Heavenly Father is trying to help us take part in and contribute to. So when Brother Kopecki and Brother Irish talked to me about giving a fireside here, I asked Brother Irish, “What do you want me to focus on? Do you want me to talk about Wilford Woodruff as an individual or Wilford Woodruff as a prophet or ,the temples?” And he said, “I have a question, which is, why did it take so long? If the mission of Elijah was introduced in 1823? Why did it take until Wilford Woodruff was prophet in 1894 for sealings of families and generations to occur?”

I mean, we look back on that time period in hindsight and it looks like everything went in order step by step, outlined perfectly in a straight path. And yet the experiences that they had were much different and it wasn't like Moses with the Ten Commandments. It didn't come written in great one, two, three, four, five order and it wasn't perfectly written down. They had to, in a way, discover it and develop it based on what they knew and the process of revelation that they were involved in. So I think it's not only perspective, but a desire to know and to move forward. 

Wilford Woodruff was introduced to the gospel when he was 26 years old. At that time it was a church of about 3,000 people and it was led by a 28 year old who had announced to the world that he had been chosen to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ and had revelation, and not just one, but many to share, and a new book of scripture. 

When Wilford Woodruff was introduced to the gospel, it was by a man named Zera Pulsifer and his neighbor, Elijah Cheney. Zera got up one morning and felt called to head north, and they walked about 60 miles. The first place they stopped was Wilford Woodruff’s brother’s house and felt like that was where they were supposed to teach. So when Wilford Woodruff heard them speak that night, he and his brother had been searching and waiting for exactly what the missionaries had come to say.

He read the Book of Mormon that night and asked to be baptized the next day and his commitment was complete and immediate. The next month, Parley P. Pratt and others were in that area asking for individuals to join Zion's Camp, to gather with the Saints in Kirtland and then protect those in Missouri and Wilford Woodruff said “Yes.”

He went to Kirtland and then went on to Missouri, got to know the prophet Joseph Smith at that point, and never looked back. He consecrated himself and all his belongings, which were a trunk of books, a gun, a sword, and even the debts that he hadn't been able to collect before he left New York.

So starting from that point, what he knew and what was introduced, I'd like to go from there and walk you through the next 60 years of church history in about 10 minutes. So stay with me. The question that Brother Irish asked is, “If Elijah's mission was revealed in 1823, and the understanding of how important that was, is part of the first divine instruction that Joseph Smith received after his First Vision, but he didn't begin sealing couples for 20 years, why it wasn't until 1894, 71 years later, that Wilford Woodruff announced in General Conference that now we're finally able to do what the Lord had in mind when he taught us about the mission of Elijah?” So 71 years, that's a long time and that was one of my questions too. That's why I did my research and that's why I ended up writing it down in a book because I couldn't find it anywhere else.

But it's amazing to me, the process that they went through full of faith and a desire to know more. And each time they asked, the Lord answered, and what Wilford Woodruff said was, “All not revealed at once, but the Lord showed the prophet a principle and the people acted upon it, according to the light which they had. All the perfection and glory of it was not revealed at first, but as fast as it was revealed to people endeavored to obey afterwards, we obtained more light upon the subject. They showed the order in which those ordinances should be administered, and it shows us that we are in a school where we shall be constantly learning.”

And I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful that they continued to ask, and we have the result of that and the process continues. So as I studied his life in the context of church history, I recognized the usual milestones. And along with the First Vision and the restoration of the priesthood, the publication of the Book of Mormon, there were also things that I saw as gaps. That baptism for the dead was introduced in 1840, but it was stopped in 1846 and was not restarted until 1867. And these are things that didn't make sense to me because I assumed, you know, we had this amazing beginning and why couldn't it continue? But also there were new elements that were introduced, things like priesthood adoption and rebaptism, and those, again, raised questions for me.

So when Elijah's mission was introduced to Joseph Smith in 1823, the scripture in Malachi is known as “binding the hearts of the children to the fathers or turning the hearts of the children to the fathers”. And we can look back and think, of course that means sealing generational families. But the question for me was when did they understand that? At what point in this process of revelation, did they understand truly the significance of Elijah's mission and the sealing power? I think every meeting we hold, every ordinance that we participate in now, is looking forward to the temple, is directing us to that and the ultimate goal of sealing of families, of couples, of children to parents and grandparents on both sides of the veil.

So the first thing to talk about is how the concept of sealing evolved and how all of this came together. So imagine putting together a puzzle when you don't have the box. You don't even know what the picture is and you're only given one piece at a time. For me, I don't know about you, but I always do the outside of the puzzle, all the straight pieces because those are easy to figure out. But I couldn't do that without knowing what the picture looked like. And for them they didn't have that. They didn't have a box. They didn't have a picture and they didn't even have all the puzzle pieces. So they had to put them together one at a time. And just for clarity sake, in my powerpoint I color coded these - blue is Church history and red are the things that for me were the significant parts in putting together these pieces of sealing and understanding Elijah's mission.

If we start with the idea that we understand now - sealing generations - and that's the only puzzle piece that they had in 1823, to say, this is the idea that we're going to connect fathers with children, parents, with children and grandchildren and the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To understand these amazing concepts in world history and religious history, the first thing that needed to happen was the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood.

 So start back a little bit. The First Vision was in New York and the church was organized there. And then the Saints were commanded to move to Ohio. The whole purpose of moving to Ohio, this is the commandment they were given, was to build a house of the Lord so that He could reveal to them the law and that they could be endowed with power from on high.

So that was a word that rang a bell with me, the endowment, but the experience that they had in Kirtland was different than what we understand today. And again, it was the beginning of the process. So after the Saints moved to Kirtland, they knew this was the idea. Two years later, the Lord chastened them because they hadn't built the temple yet and again, reminded them of that, of the promised endowment from on high. So the introduction of the ordinances and the sealing keys where they were, what took place in Kirtland, and the most significant of those, of course, in this discussion of sealing, was the restoration of the sealing keys themselves as promised from the prophet Elijah.

To prepare for this moment. God had commanded that a School of the Prophets be started, that the teaching of the significance of what was to come afterwards could be explained, and they could be prepared for that endowment. And the first ordinances introduced in the School of the Prophets were washings and anointings, and these were patterned after those in the Old Testament. Patterned exactly after those, down to the ointments and the fragrances that were included with the oil, and following the same pattern of administration. The other ordinance introduced was the washing of the feet and that was a New Testament ordinance. And, once again, were consistent with scripture, but considered radical at the time, not engaged in by other churches.

The concept of sealing was introduced with sealing of those ordinances. So it wasn't sealing of individuals or sealing of generations, but simply like, as we do now to seal an ordinance or seal an anointing. It wasn't really a generic term, but the generic term of “sealing” means to secure or establish something with legitimacy and with the priesthood it meant to seal with the legitimacy of God's authority. So that was the significance of Elijah's appearance in Kirtland was to say that those ordinances, those covenants that we were making either to each other in marriage, or any oath that we were saying, would not only be something that would last on earth, but would last forever, that God would recognize it beyond death.

 So the endowment at that time, another word that's familiar to us now but has a different meaning than it did then, was focused on the missionaries. The idea was that they would go out into the world with that “endowment of power,” that strength of an experience, a spiritual experience, where they would witness the power of the spirit, the gifts of the spirit, those of speaking in tongues or receiving blessings. 

Joseph Smith had seen God, he had spoken with God, and he wanted others to have that same experience: to have such a strong spirit that they could have that ultimate earthly blessing of beholding the face of God. So the endowment at that time was to go to the temple and to stay there for days, to fast and to pray, and to share that spirit, to have such an intense experience that you would be ready to see God. You had been prepared through the schooling, the learning in the School of the Prophets, that you would prepare yourself personally, that you would be clean, you'd be washed and anointed and blessed, and that you would then be able to be in God's presence. So it was literal. It was to have that now, to have that blessing at that moment. 

And on March 30th, Joseph Smith had introduced these ordinances. After they had had these experiences he said, “You have all that you need. These are all the ordinances that we need to establish the church and to move forward with the work that we've been called to do.“ And he could say that because that's the only puzzle pieces that he had at that point. He didn't know what would happen the next week. He didn't know what God had in store and there's a reason for that. I think it's the same reason that we don't know what our future is going to be. It would be overwhelming to us to understand what we might be subject to or what trials we might have to endure. And so I think the Lord gives us one piece at a time, one glimpse at a time so that we can take one step at a time with that faith and trusting that He will help us to the next one. 

But at that point, Joseph had the understanding of 1823 that the scripture says, “I will reveal unto you the priesthood by the hand of Elijah.” And yet he's saying we have everything we need? He had priesthood, the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood had been restored, but not through Elijah. So one week later, April 3rd, 1836, Elijah did make his appearance along with Moses and Elias and then the Savior himself.

So the conferred priesthood that they had received was God's power. Elijah declared the time has fully come that the keys of the priesthood, the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times are committed into your hands. And the keys that Elijah was speaking of was what is referred to in Matthew as the keys of the kingdom, which is the power to seal on earth and in heaven.

These three keys also match what I believe Spencer W. Kimball introduced as the three-fold mission of the church, which was to preach the gospel, to gather Israel, to perfect the Saints - to understand that the Abrahamic covenant that we inherit - and to redeem the dead - to seal on earth and in heaven. So at that point the picture changes and the conferral of priesthood keys was not the end of this process, but the beginning of what they needed to actually build the kingdom.

So understanding that the puzzle pieces are increasing, the knowledge is increasing, the questions are increasing. What needs to come next? The introduction of baptism for the dead was in 1840. And this was the first ordinance that again, was based on New Testament scripture, but a radical shift from not only what the rest of the world was doing, but also what the church itself had been doing.

Wilford Woodruff was on his mission with many of the other apostles in England when Joseph Smith first taught this, and he actually heard about it from his wife through a letter. She said it was “strong meat.” This was an enormous change, but Wilford Woodruff said that it proved to him that God was reasonable, that He was wise and just, and possessed both the best of attributes and good sense and knowledge consistent with love, mercy, justice and judgment. He said it was like a shaft of light from the throne of God. 

His mother had died before he was two years old. And the first thought for him was that he could now save her, that he could bring her into the kingdom of God. Because baptism is an adoption into the kingdom of God, into the house of Israel,  in that way they felt that this was the sealing, that this was how you bring people together. And when Joseph Smith taught in September of 1842, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 128, he said there has to be a “welding link” between the generations. That welding link, at that point, from what he understood was baptism for the dead.

So with the pieces they had ,with the understanding that they had, that was how you bring families together because being adopted into the house of Israel and becoming brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God within that family, that's forever. That ordinance plus with confirmation as a member of the Church means you're together in the gospel. And adoption into the house of Israel through baptism was what Wilford Woodruff was referring to when he said that being baptized by proxy for his mother, he could bring his father and mother together to “seal” them into the family of God. 

Then when the endowment was introduced in Nauvoo in 1842, it incorporated the initial ordinances that had been introduced in Kirtland and added a narrative. The covenants in the endowment had been revealed in Kirtland, but had not been part of the experience at that time. And Nauvoo was to accomplish figuratively, symbolically, what they had tried to do literally in Kirtland. So rather than having one intense experience, one spiritual experience where all that you're fasting and praying for and hoping for in that time is to behold the face of God, it was a path that you can follow every day. Covenants and promises that you can keep that will lead you every day back to God and to His presence, to dwell with Him forever, not just behold His face once. And to learn the covenants, the actions that we need to take, the covenants that we need to make, was what the endowment was to teach and symbolically to bring the Saints into the presence of God. A daily personal experience that would continue moving them forward in that path. 

So the sealing ordinances were introduced in 1843. First we had the introduction of the priesthood that allowed the introduction of the ordinances with the right keys. So you have those who received that priesthood, received baptism, received the endowment, and now can receive the sealing. In his journal Wilford Woodruff was the first one to actually record the change from sealing a covenant or sealing an ordinance to sealing individuals to each other.  The understanding of sealing changed too. It's not just this covenant is recognized or legitimized by God's power, but we're actually bound together.

For Joseph Smith, it was 1844 when he finally recorded or verbalized his understanding of the sealing. On March 10th, he was explaining the meaning of the spirit of Elijah and he said it is that we “redeem our dead and connect ourselves with our fathers in heaven and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection.” He referred to the Saints as Saviors on Mount Zion, a phrase that comes from Obadiah. But it was not that we would just be beneficiaries of this amazing power and be able to bind our families together, but that we would be participants, that God's work and glory was to bring his family home. And He needed us to participate in doing that.

So Joseph instructed the Saints on March 10th, 1844 to go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers and eternal glory. That's the first time that our understanding of multi-generational seaings, the first time that he spoke of that as the full understanding of what they could look forward to.

 This was 1844, and as you know Joseph Smith did not live long enough to administer that ordinance. He had been able to seal couples, but not children to their parents. 

Today in Primary, I taught my class about Passover and we spoke of some of the Jewish traditions, including Elijah at the Passover Seder meal. Yesterday was the Jewish Shabbat haGadol. It is the Sabbath before the Passover when they read, it's a special lengthy service, and they read Malachi, “Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful . . . (in the Jewish translation, dreadful is translated as awesome, which I like a lot better) . . . the great and awesome day of the Lord.” 

And, for me, we can kindof compare Joseph Smith to Moses. Just like Moses, Joseph was able to understand these principles. He was able to receive these revelations, but he wasn't able to administer these ordinances, just like Moses was not able to enter the promised land. And three months after he spoke in March 1844, he was killed.

But earlier, when Joseph had introduced the endowment to the apostles, he had said to Brigham Young, “This isn't arranged quite right.” (Because they were administering the ordinances in the Red Brick Store and obviously the temple wasn't finished yet.) And he said, “When you can work in the temple, then you can make it better, make it the way it's supposed to be.” The apostles followed Joseph's instruction, but again, it was new territory. They had never administered these ordinances to groups of people. It had been two or three at a time and now they had to deal with thousands. 

The temple that they'd worked on building for years, they were only able to work in for six weeks. During that time they were able to endow over 5,000 and seal hundreds. Yet, in all that, only 71 children were sealed to their parents. The focus had to be these ordinances for individuals, because you can't seal to parents, unless you have parents who have received those ordinances already. The endowment, the proxy endowment, the endowment for the dead was not administered in Nauvoo. So for those who, maybe they were the only ones who joined the church in their family, maybe they had joined with their spouse and their spouse had left the church or was no longer participating, or their parents had disowned them when they joined the church and they had no one to be sealed to. 

So it had to be someone living and it had to be someone who was there in the temple which was a very, very small number. So the introduction of the ordinances through this time period in Nauvoo, the temple work was done in December of 1845 and January of 1846. There were approximately 60 men and women who had received the ordinances through Joseph Smith and Emma Smith and they were the ones who officiated in the temple to then administer those ordinances for others. So the new puzzle piece was those who could officiate, men and women who could administer these priesthood ordinances to others.

 The ability to do this was limited again, with only 60 who were able to receive that before and the idea that there was kind of a parallel between the ordinances. So those who were being sealed to their parents, many didn't have that option. And there were two ways to understand what was possible, one to your parents if they were in the Church and the other way was the adoption into priesthood lineage. 

When you think of the restoration of the priesthood and the gap of the apostasy, the blessings of Abraham, the covenants that were passed through that lineage and promised to all the house of Israel. First, you had to be baptized into the house of Israel. You had to be adopted into the family of God, and you had to have that priesthood line, that connection to the covenants and the promises made to the fathers. To do that, Joseph Smith was the key. So when he was ordained by Peter, James, and John that bridged the gap created by the apostasy and loss of priesthood lineage. So the idea that the priesthood from that point on in this dispensation would be connected to Joseph Smith. 

It wasn't just that everybody had to be sealed to Joseph Smith, but the idea was that you’re sealed to whoever was alive (a member of the Church on the earth) and you go as far as you can. There were some people that had parents in the Church, so they could be sealed, and then you seal the final person to Joseph Smith. If you are one of those women that doesn't have a husband who can take you to the temple to be sealed, then you are sealed to the priesthood lineage of a righteous man. And of course, many women chose Joseph Smith, others chose Heber C. Kimball or Brigham Young. There's a great article on the that explains the information on plural marriage and these issues. One of the issues that was covered is this priesthood lineage adoption so that everyone could either, if they could be sealed to those within their family, or the parallel ordinance of priesthood adoption. So both things were taking place. There were women that remained with their husbands in mortality but were sealed to Joseph eternally. And in that way, were saving their entire family because their husband and their children were then part of that sealing ordinance. 

As they worked through these ordinances, everyone had to receive all those same ordinances. When the apostles were taught that by Joseph Smith, they said, “Are you sure that there's no other way to do this? Because I mean, we've got enough living people here. How are we possibly going to go through all of these ordinances for everybody else who's not here, who's already passed on, who hasn't accepted the gospel here, who aren't in this area to be at the temple?” And he said, “Every single person needs every single ordinance the same as we received them. 

Again, imagine in 1830 when the first dozen or so people gathered to organize the Church and that's what they're told? Had they seen that part of the puzzle at that point, I don't know how overwhelming that would be, but I imagine it would have been a daunting task. I mean, it is now, and we have millions of people working on it. So the process, as it went, one step at a time, was to first have the Church itself, to have the priesthood authority, to gather Israel, to gather those who could administer these ordinances, and participate in them first so that then they could act as proxies for others.

 And then they had to leave. So the Nauvoo Temple was left behind after six weeks. Then years of working through what is a difficult period of establishing cities and gathering Saints from all over the world. And Brigham Young excelled at this. But Wilford would have kept saying, “But can we do some more baptisms? Can we work on this as we're doing these other things?” He was the only one that performed baptisms as they came across the Plains and when they got to Utah. 

This was the period when some of these things had to be paused. They didn't have a baptismal font. They didn't have a temple and they worked in other buildings and in other ways to administer some ordinances for three decades. So the principles that Joseph Smith had shared were ingrained, but the application of those, the administration of those, had to wait and the Council House was used in the 1850s. The Endowment House was built in 1854 and then used for 20 years until they could finish the St. George Temple. 

During all this time, they were still working on the Salt Lake Temple, but Brigham Young felt an urgency to complete something before he died. And in the early 1870s, knowing that his health was declining and that those who had received these incredible blessings in Nauvoo were also dying, that generation was not able to pass this information along because there was no place to do it. So he decided to start the building of the St. George Temple. They completed it in a very short time. 

In the meantime, there were no adoptions into priesthood lineage and there were no sealings of children to parents. So for 30 years, those things had to wait until the St. George Temple was completed. So in the St. George Temple, we now have the complete ordinances, the ability to not only share these with the living, but also by proxy. And this is the first proxy ordinations to the priesthood, the first endowments for the dead and a resumption of priesthood adoption and sealing of children to parents.

For the first time, this is the temple Wilford Woodruff presided over the ordinances, all of the ordinances. The temple was partially dedicated in January of 1877 and then fully dedicated in April and Brigham Young died in August. So the torch passed to John Taylor as far as the prophet, but Wilford Woodruff remained in charge of the temple. That experience, that was unique to him, and has not been something that any other prophet has had the opportunity to do: to live in the temple and to work there, sometimes seven days a week. And to have that experience of writing down all these ordinances under Brigham Young's direction. Working every day in the temple and then going to Brigham’s home at night to discuss, to talk about how to do it better, how to accommodate more people, how to make it possible for individuals to participate who didn't have family, or had not been able to do genealogy research. 

But sealing was still not the focus. There were 13,000 adoptions into priesthood lineage during this time and the ability to seal generations depended on everybody receiving those ordinances, including those by proxy. So the proxy work began and then another generation who'd received the ordinances could now be the recipients of those blessings and do the work for others. So it was a new location, a different layout, the same principles, but different administration.

 Now we have enough officiators, we have all of the ordinances and now we have generations that can participate. So then more temples are built. And when Wilford Woodruff is prophet they now have four temples and he gathers those temple presidents together and explains what they learned in St. George and how to apply it over multiple locations. Multiple trainers basically came from St. George to help others in these new temples begin. It was the same process, the same experiences, but for the first time in multiple locations.

This was when ,in Conference of April 1894, that Wilford Woodruff received the revelation on ending the law of adoption, because now they had the ability to seal multi-generations and he said, “You have acted upon all the light and knowledge that you have had, but you have now something more to do than you have done. We have not fully carried out those principles in sealing the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. There was more to be revealed upon the subject in order to satisfy our Heavenly Father, satisfy our dead and ourselves concerning sealing than under the law of adoption.“

So exactly 50 years after Joseph Smith explained the mission of Elijah “to go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself and yourself unto your fathers in heaven,” Wilford Woodruff echoed his words. But this time with the understanding of the intervening 50 years, and he said, ”The Latter-day Saints need to trace their genealogies as far as they can and be sealed to their fathers and mothers, have children sealed to their parents and run this chain through as far as you can get it. This is the will of the Lord to his people.”

So for us to look back and see their experience, to know what they had to understand, one step into the darkness at a time, is what we see now. All the puzzle pieces in place makes perfect sense and we can do that because we have their faith to rely on. 

One of the concerns that many of the Saints had was how do we honor our fathers and mothers? HCw do we connect to those, like I said, who may have disowned them when they joined the church or refused to participate when the temples were built. Wilford Woodruff addressed their concerns by saying “It's their choice, but we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and we do the work and then they make the decision” and he says, “This is the great and mighty work that rests upon our shoulders and the God of Heaven requires it at our hand.”

It was no longer those who were “worthy” in a sense, because that's not our position to judge. It was “you trace your genealogy as far as you can, and you do the work for everyone that you can find and we'll let them decide, and it will be up to the Lord.” So we are part of the process. We are the instruments in the Lord's hands to bring to pass the eternal life of man.

When I spoke to my Primary class today, there's a scripture in Exodus 14:15, and talking about the Passover, that God's outstretched hand was what saved them, but he used Moses to do it. And the same applies to us. I have a testimony that the temple is the preparation that we need, even preparing to enter it is the preparation that we need. And then the covenants that we receive there, the blessings that we receive there are what helps us continue on that path. And the idea that all of us can not only do that for ourselves but for others, is what God had in mind. And that each time we go, we get closer to what Joseph Smith was trying to accomplish with those in Kirtland: to behold the face of God.

And I can echo the testimony of Wilford Woodruff because he said, “What greater calling can we have on the face of the earth than to hold in our hands the power and authority to go forth and administer and the ordinances of salvation.” I know that it blesses our lives and the lives of those that we serve. And I know that the process that they went through of faith to ask, to receive, to act on what they received and to continue forward. When asking again for clarification and for further instruction and further light, that He will not deny us that. And that each of us, as we go to the temple and seek further light, that that's what we're blessed with. And I leave that testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

if any of you were kind enough to write down a question, if you can bring it forward. And if not, I will make some up. Just kidding. How about if we just ask the question out loud? Okay. Do you have a question?

Question: I do have one comment. And one question. The first comment is when you said it's not like the Ten Commandments, which were given all set out and everything. My first impression when you said that was the Ten Commandments were, there was quite a bit of trial and error getting the Ten Commandments and at least one major revision. Right? So, if you look in the scriptures, there's really lots of similar cases where there's, like the brother of Jared being asked what to do and the Lord asking him to give his own idea of what to do. And just a lot of that trial and error and revision going on in the scriptures. That's my comment. 

My question was, you said, or your theme is that it's now complete. And the problem is you never know if it's complete, right? You always think it's complete when they thought that baptism was the final linking mechanism for the dead. Do you see any areas where maybe there's more development than more learning that should happen or would happen? Do you see? I mean, does it really look complete in your mind? Are there any areas where it, maybe there could be more thought?

Answer: I have worked in a few temples. I was trained in the Washington, D.C .Temple and worked in the Provo Temple and the Salt Lake Temple and the Seattle Temple and the Chicago Temple. I sympathize with Wilford Woodruff when he was working with four different temple presidents to try to make sure that everything was consistent and that all the same words were used in the same process, because it's the principles that matter. In my lifetime, the administration of those principles has changed and Wilford Woodruff talked a lot about “we're constantly learning.” That all was not revealed to Brigham Young. He carried out what the Lord would have him do. And then John Taylor did the same. But Wilford Woodruff was the first to say that what he had, what was given to him, wasn't the end either. So I am sure that things are going to change. And because we believe in continuing revelation, what that will mean as far as the administration of the temple ordinances I don't know. But I'm looking forward to whatever we get in the future. 

Anyone else? Yes.

Question: When were temple garments introduced?

Answer: Introduced in Nauvoo and they also have quite a history. So like everything else Joseph Smith taught the basics, and then individuals began making garments. When they started using a variety of fabrics or colors, Brigham Young had everybody bring the materials and everything back into the temple, when it was finished, and they actually began making them there. So the garments were consistent and that, I wouldn't use the word controlled, but that the same pattern was used and there weren't any variations. At that point there were different colors, it wasn't just white, and different materials. But he tried to make it so that it was one material and one pattern. Then things changed from there, as far as the Church manufacturing garments versus individuals making them, and other things have changed throughout our lifetime. But the pattern was set with Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo Temple.

Question: You were talking about the oil. I thought about the oil and how we do it now, just a very little bit of water, and how they used to pour oil over people.

Answer: The washings and anointings that were introduced in the Kirtland Temple were again following Exodus 29 and 30. And then in Nauvoo the washings and anointings were the entire body, the idea was that you were clean from head to toe. The fragrances that they used, the oils had herbs or other things in them, so that they had, again, just like Exodus, the description in Exodus. And so there was, it was more literal and less symbolic than it is now, more literal and more personal than it is now. The principles haven't changed. The covenants haven't changed the idea of what we're trying to communicate hasn't changed, but the administration has changed and taken kind of a step back each generation. So...

Sister McMullin.

Question: Yes. Oh yes. Amongst them, in my mother's genealogy. I found a card that showed some of my ancestors sealed to Joseph Smith, and I always wondered about that and could never find anybody to explain it. So I'm really glad to hear that. But ultimately, what does that mean? Is there, is that so the 13,000 adoptions that were performed when the revelation came that now we can seal to families?

Answer: Now we can seal to grandparents and great-grandparents, and not only the living, but also those who had passed on. That same question was posed to Wilford Woodruff, what does that mean? Do we need to redo all these sealings? And the answer is no, the priesthood lineage is still the priesthood lineage. And the sealings don't need to be canceled. They're just “added to” basically, that was the idea. 

 So I'll use Wilford Woodruff, as an example, he held out for a very long time because he wanted to honor his father. He said, “I want to be sealed to my father and my grandfather.” He loved Joseph Smith, honored him, respected him, but he just, well, adoption was something that he struggled with. And so he waited until 1892 to, after he'd done all the work that he could in the St. George Temple, to seal to Joseph Smith. But then when this revelation was received, then he continued just like everybody else with the genealogy work that he'd done. So to understand that the priesthood lineage, to bridge that gap of the apostasy to take that priesthood back, that's still something that he didn't feel like needed to be changed or cancelled. So those sealings weren't redone because they just added to the seaing to the parents and there are thousands. So there are many people who get to that issue in their genealogy. 

This is also a question that I was asked before. A man had a story in his family history where they had gone to, and George Q. Cannon had met them in, the Logan Temple and they were adopted or sealed to George Q. Cannon, but they didn’t have their own children sealed to them. And he said, “Why would that be?” Because it was pre-1894. So after 1894, then they went back to the temple and sealed the children to them and the children to what would have been their children’s grandparents. 

Question: Will you tell the story about the Founding Fathers? 

Answer: Sure. When Wilford Woodruff was president of the St. George Temple again, he worked and lived in the temple. He and Brigham Young arrived in November. They got the temple ready for dedication in January where they dedicated one sealing room and a place to do the endowment and then they finished the temple by April. That was the only time that General Cconference was held “off site.” Basically they held General Conference in St. George, so they could dedicate the temple in April and everybody would be there anyway. 

So then Brigham Young left right after Conference, and he [Wilford] was in charge of the temple and he, again, he lived there on and off and he worked in the temple. They had each day set aside for different ordinances. Mondays, they didn't do ordinances, Tuesdays they did baptisms, then they did endowments and seaings. Because the St George Temple was designed like the Nauvoo Temple, it was just an open floor plan, there weren't individual rooms, except the sealing rooms and they were on the fourth and fifth floor. 

So when Wilford was working there, he said that the Founding Fathers came to him in August - that would have been like 18th, 19th, 20th - over the course of three days. I think he says two days and two nights. And so Sunday night he writes in his journal that he made a list of all those [who appeared], the Founding Fathers, and then about 50 other eminent men and 68 eminent women. And he said, “We took the names to the temple.” He had his counselors, who at the time were John D. T. McAllister and David H. Cannon, and his secretary L. John Nuttal, so they acted as proxies. They baptized him for some of the men and he baptized them for the others. And then Lucy Bigelow Young, one of Brigham Young's wives was the matron of the temple (because Wilford Woodruff’s family didn't come down to St. George with him). So Lucy organized the women's work and they did all the baptisms and then they started to do the endowments. Two days after that was when Brigham Young fell ill, they stopped all work in the temple, and just basically prayed in the temple until they heard that he had died. Then they {Wilford Wooruff, Lucy Bigelow Young, and her daughters] left to go to Salt Lake for the funeral. 

So the temple work that was done was for individuals, all of them on Wilford’s list. Well everybody knows who the Founding Fathers were, but the others on his list were from books that Wilford Woodruff had read, and he chose those within those books along with three generations of George Washington's family. And eventually by the spring of the next year, 1878, they had completed all of the endowments, ordinations, baptisms, and some sealings. But the rest of the sealings were done when Ezra Taft Benson was prophet and again on the 1976 anniversary. So they finished the remaining proxy ordinances, after they did all the genealogy work for all those families, and finished sealing all the children and parents. 

Question: I don't think a lot of people know the story about why they came to Wilford Woodruff instead of the Prophet, how they appeared to him and they asked him, “Why  haven't you done the work for us?” 

Answer: Right. And that was something that I wondered because Brigham Young was the prophet. He was still alive. So why would they come to Wilford Woodruff? And that's where all my research began, my question was “Why Wilford Woodruff?” And what I just talked to you about for 45 minutes was to explain why Wilford Woodruff. He was the temple guy. He was the one that was focused on this. This is my opinion, of course, but if you’re going to come to somebody, it's going to be somebody who's in the temple, who can do that work for you. There were ordinances done in the Endowment House, which was basically a temporary temple in Salt Lake, and so some of these people had been baptized - most of the Founding Fathers - so Wilford Woodruff continued that work. (But rebaptism is a topic for another day.) But started over so, even if they'd been baptized before, he started with baptisms and did baptisms and confirmations, and then this was the first time where any of the men could be ordained to the priesthood by proxy. Some of them were ordained to be elders, some as high priests, and then they could do the sealings. So even if some baptisms had been done before, this was the place and the time for those who'd waited for a hundred years, to come and say, “Will you do this work?”

Question: I guess in keeping with the theme of the principles remain unchanged, but the administration changes over time. It's my understanding that the endowment initially was a pretty lengthy exercise in Nauvoo. That it could be even an all-day event at times. When was that shift made where we went from, I guess, personal and literal to more symbolic where we maybe streamlined the process a little bit more?

Answer: So in Nauvoo they actually worked in the attic because the rest of the temple hadn't been completed. So they had areas for the washings and anointings for men and women separated. And then they would gather for the endowment, and they had sealing rooms as well as offices upstairs. But it was an all-day event because everything went a lot slower. Some would take four hours, some would take six hours. It depended on if there were 50 people or 150 people. Then they would eat, they would bring out the violins and dance. So it was an event. It was a celebration. Yes. And sometimes Brigham Young thought it got out a little out of hand, and said, “You know, maybe this time we won't have the dance afterwards.” 

Then in February 1846 on the last day of temple work before the exodus from Nauvoo, Brigham Young actually stood on the temple steps and said, “We have to go, you know, we can't do this anymore.” And there were hundreds of people standing there who basically said, “I'm not heading across the Plains until I know that I'm safe for eternity.” So they did a lot more work than they thought they would. They did a thousand ordinances in a day sometimes. And at one point they did run out of oil in the end of December, because they were using a lot, when we now use a drop. So, there were things like that that made a difference.

 And in St. George--a new location, new layout, that's when they used partitions, and then they made rooms, to get the flow, and some temples still move you through the session versus sitting in one room and watching a movie. (It was actually President Hinckley who came home from his mission, he was the one that set up the multi-language endowments, and they actually started doing the movies so that they could reach more people or reach multiple languages in the same session.) But it was St. George where they tried to figure out how to do the endowment. Then they remodeled the St. George Temple [so it was like the Logan and Manti and Salt Lake Temples]. So St. George was the last one that was the open floor plan. So, with this new understanding of how things would work, they built the Manti and the Logan Temples differently, and the Salt Lake Temple. So they were set up where you have a room dedicated for each part of the endowment, an area set aside for each portion of everything that's needed. But it wasn’t until the 1880s when that was something that they could use to organize the endowment sessions, And things have been streamlined since for various different reasons.

 But again, the sealing covenants that were revealed in 1841, the actual endowment covenants were revealed in 1836, and yet not put into practice for 10 years. So those things [related to washings and anointings] have changed, and I miss some of the ways things used to be. But I think we have to make it accessible to more people. Maybe. I don't know. I don't know what the process is, but the pattern for administering the endowment was developed in the 1870s. 

Question: When does Wilford Woodruff have his endowment and then also was he one of the ones that was a worker in the Nauvoo Temple during that six weeks?

Answer: Wilford received his endowment with the other apostles when they returned from their mission in Great Britain and was sealed to his wife in 1843. So the first endowment was administered May of 1842. And then as the apostles trickled back to Nauvoo, they received it. So there were a core group of about 60 before Joseph Smith died in 1844. Then Wilford Woodruff was sent on another mission, so he was not in Nauvoo when the ordinances were administered. He came back in April of 1846 in time to find Brigham out on the Plains of Iowa. And so he came back from his mission, gathered his family, and then crossed - sold his house and headed out. So he administered ordinances in the Endowment House and in the Council House between 1850 and 1876 and then got up to speed when he got to St. George. 

Question: The process of changing from sealing to a priesthood holder to sealing to your own genealogy, that gives me an idea that maybe our understanding of this whole sealing hasn’t been complete. One of the things that comes to my mind is when we talked about sealings, you always talk about multi-generational sealings, But I kind of wonder, we have children who are married, of course, we never talked about being sealed to their spouses, but, we have Rebecca's here. She's our daughter, we're sealed with her. She ‘s sealed to Bart, but we never say “I'm sealed to Bart. I'm the father-in-law, I'm sealed to Bart.” And just give me your general thoughts on the limited vertical view that we have of sealing. What strikes me is woefully incomplete.

Answer: Well when the idea was introduced it quickly changed to more of a spider web sealing versus a line, which is what we think of it, like you're saying. And so I think it's more of a spider web because there's no straight line, everything branches out. And so to bring it back to that point, Wilford Woodruff’s explanation through all of this was not to exclude that. And for them, it was even more complicated than for us because they had multiple wives, and hundreds of descendants versus a dozen. The concept of sealing was truly to be in the family of God and that no one would be excluded in that sense. And that's how you bring them in and that's why these “extra sealings” weren't a problem in their minds, because it was truly that we're just all part of a big, happy family. 

When they crossed the Plains, they actually used that priesthood lineage, that priesthood adoption, to organize families. So those who had been sealed to them in this adoption, the priesthood adoption, that's how they organized the groups that went West. The captains of fifties and hundreds that we've heard of were their larger “family.” They looked at it as a way to maintain order. But also they called each other father and brother through this priesthood adoption, and that was a serious commitment. So it was the same  way that you would treat anyone who was in your family, not considered outside of the group. That was really hard for some people because it was not biological or it was not even through marriage, but just through these eternal sealings. But it worked. And so, I don't know if that's something that was temporary for that time, because that's what was needed, or if that's something that will work later. But for Wilford Woodruff, it was much better that way because there was such an extended group. Even the day he was baptized that's what he was concerned about: that his family had missed out. And you don't have to worry about that if through adoption you're all just in one big happy family.