REL 261 Syllabus

Note: This course code has changed from FDREL 261 to REL 261. You may occasionally see references to the old course code or title.

Course Overview


This course introduces the student to the doctrine behind family history and temple work. Students will develop skills associated with gathering, preserving, researching, and sharing family records, as well as doing temple work for ancestors.


Students will:

  1. Describe and teach doctrines related to family history and temple work.
  2. Gather, organize, add to, and share information about themselves and their extended families.
  3. Demonstrate how to use their local Family History Center and other resources.
  4. Demonstrate how to use family history websites for research and service.
  5. Demonstrate and explain various forms of family history service.
  6. Explain and demonstrate the family history research process.
  7. Demonstrate leadership skills to help increase family history participation in wards and other community settings.
  8. Demonstrate a commitment to life-long family history and temple service.
  9. Identify and demonstrate knowledge of ancestors and their historical settings.

Textbooks/Required Materials

Course Outline

Lesson Doctrine Lab
Lesson 01: Introduction Understanding the Course Understanding the Doctrine
Lesson 02 Personal Revelation and Family History Family History Centers
Lesson 03 Interviewing and Finding Help Gathering and Organizing
Lesson 04 The Plan of Salvation Indexing
Lesson 05 The Abrahamic Covenant FamilySearch Introduction
Lesson 06 Pitching Tents Toward the Temple Personal Histories
Lesson 07 Intro to Research Research and Sourcing
Lesson 08 The Spirit of Elijah FamilySearch
Lesson 09 Leadership in the Church Finding Ancestors Who Need Ordinances Part 1
Lesson 10 Immigrant Ancestors Finding Ancestors Who Need Ordinances Part 2
Lesson 11 Sacred Ordinances and Temple Worship Ancestry
Lesson 12 Being Part of a Miracle Helping Others
Lesson 13 Lifetime Commitment to the Work Temple Submission
Lesson 14:Course Conclusion

For more details, refer to the individual lesson Overview pages.

Course Structure

Time Commitment

We hope you will approach this class with a different perspective than is required in most other classes. We require a set amount of your time rather than a specific amount of work.

You may be accustomed to trying to get through a set amount of material as quickly as possible and will be frustrated if you maintain that perspective with this class. Does it seem unfair for a slow reader to spend twice as long as a fast reader processing the same material, and do you agree that just requiring the reading to be done leads to speed reading?

Our philosophy is that everyone will progress from where they are to where they can go in the time that we can reasonably expect of them. Since there is enough work for EVERYONE to keep busy, we want the same sacrifice of time from all students with the expectation that they will use that time as effectively as possible. Each student will invest 6 hours each week to grow and produce as much as they are personally able to within that time. Some may make more progress than others. Those who read slowly or struggle to master skills will not be penalized or required to sacrifice more time than others to succeed. Once you make this paradigm shift, you will come to appreciate some of the principles that support it. In this course, the 6 hour sacrifice of time is the same for all and progress differs based on personal ability.

It may be that you will come to understand a concept in twenty minutes and then be asked to work on it for two more hours. Get comfortable shifting from learning to practicing during your homework time. There are many forms of service that you will be learning where you can literally spend hundreds of hours performing the work for your various ancestors. For example, you can learn how to attach Record Hints in 15-30 minutes, but then will have thousands that need to be attached. Enjoy being given time to actually do work rather than just learning about it. At the beginning of each assignment, survey the things you will be doing and make sure that you complete the essential things first -you don't want to spend all of your time practicing a skill and fail to participate in a discussion board and complete a report. If you complete all the work for a given assignment and still have time remaining, perform tasks from the following list to fill your time (You may not be able to do all of these skills at the beginning of the semester, but will learn all of them through the semester):

1. Write in your journal.

2. Find ancestors who need ordinances, prepare them to go to the temple by correcting and completing their information, adding family members, adding and using sources, and checking for duplicates, and then request the ordinances and perform them. Find ancestors who need more information before they can go to the temple, find the information and take them to the temple.

3. Collect family documents, photos, etc.

4. Add to your personal history- your story about yourself.

5. Digitize family pictures and documents. Add pertinent documents as sources on the Person Page of the people on the document.

6. Interview relatives, organize the information you get and share it with others.

7. Write a story from your life or the life of your ancestors. For example, write about how you met your spouse or how your parents met. Consider asking relatives for conversion stories/spiritual experiences and asking them if they will post them on FamilySearch.

8. Give back to the family history community by indexing records.

9. Share what you are learning in a family home evening lesson.

10. Host a family party and make a recording of stories.

11. Practice a skill from a previous assignment.

12. Interview an aging relative and produce audio files to post on FamilySearch.

13. Try to create a life sketch and put it on the Person Page of your near ancestors.

14. Follow through with goals you have set on the ?To Do? list on the Home Page.

15. Peruse the Person Page for each of your direct line ancestors found on the fan chart on FamilySearch with you as the root person. Strive to have all of the vital information be correct, complete, properly formatted, and proven by sources. Ensure that there are no duplicates in the Family Members section and that no data problems exist. After adding appropriate Record Hints or sources from partner sites and checking for duplicates, check the watch box of each ancestor so that you will be notified if anyone makes changes to this core section of your family.

16. Research the history surrounding a location or time where your ancestors lived. Perhaps you will want to find local histories of the time. The history you study does not have to specifically talk about your family?it will set the context for their lives. Eventually this information will aid you in research efforts. Immediately it will inspire you and motivate you to continue to learn about your ancestors.

17. Read biographies of your ancestors. Get to know a living relative better.

18. Memorize your family lines.

19. Plan and organize a family reunion.

20. Help relatives and friends load and use the FamilySearch apps (Family Tree and Memories). Help relatives and friends sign on to FamilySearch, fill their tree and sign up for partner sites.

The online class policy is that for every credit hour, you should expect to spend 3 hours of work per week. Therefore, in this 2-credit course, you should plan on spending 6 hours per week.As you can see, each student can stay busy doing productive and enjoyable things throughout the semester. The three hours you spend for each class could be viewed as a way of protecting you from spending more time than is reasonable considering your other obligations.


Each week's lessons (with the exception of Lessons 01 and 14) have been divided into two sections: Doctrine and Lab. The assignments in each section contain readings, videos, discussion boards, activities, etc. For the Doctrine section, all of the assignments are due by Due Date #01. If a Doctrine section includes a discussion board, the initial post will be due on Wednesday. The reply post will be due by Due Date #02. For the Lab section, all of the assignments are due by Due Date #02. At the end of each lesson, you will complete a quiz to report the amount of time you spent on that lesson. Thank you for abiding by the Honor Code as you complete each quiz.

Where discussion boards are used, they will deepen your understanding by allowing you to teach concepts you have learned to other students and to reflect upon their thoughts and perspective. You must come to the discussion board prepared. Each discussion post should demonstrate depth of analysis of the subject material. You will need to read at least 4-6 of your peer's posts and make at least 1 meaningful reply. Each post should give meaningful insight to the discussion.


Your grade will be determined by the number of points you earn throughout the semester.  You will see your assignments grouped by lesson in the User Progress / Grades area of I-Learn. Smaller assignments will be worth about 4-6 points each, the section quizzes in which you report the time you spent are worth 8 points each, and discussions are worth about 10 points each. There are a few larger assignments that are worth 15 points each (in Lessons 03, 04, and 06). The total points possible in the course is about 755 points.

Practice good study habits and be honest as you complete your assignments. Take full advantage of the learning available to you in this course.

Late Work

Late assignments will not be accepted. Discussions or quizzes, for example, are not reopened once missed.

Grading Scale

100-93 A 86.9-83 B 76.9-73 C 66.9-63 D
92.2-90 A- 82.9-80 B- 72.9-70 C- 62.9-60 D-
89.9-87 B+ 79.9-77 C+ 69.9-67 D+ less than 60% F


There are several resources you can use to obtain needed help. You can contact a classmate, your instructor, or the Online Support Center.

Instructions for how to contact the Online Support Center are located in the Help document in the Welcome or Resources folder and are available during the entire semester. (Note: If your question relates to a personal matter or to your grade, please contact your instructor for assistance.)


Materials on BYU-I I-Learn and related sites may be protected by US Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). These materials are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.