How to Organize Temple Ordinance Cards

By Kerry Smith

Everything in the temple is so organized and orderly that it can feel especially out of place when we attend with a fistful of ancestral ordinance cards in no particular order.

Our service is very much appreciated no matter how we arrive, of course. But if we each have a simple system for our printed cards, it allows us to feel more calm and saves time for temple workers and other patrons as we have our cards ready for the ordinance in which we’ll be participating.

Being Prepared for a Reverent Temple Experience

I remember once when a senior couple arrived at a proxy sealing. I didn’t know them but admired the amount of time and effort they’d spent to research a vast amount of ancestors. He literally had fistfuls of pink, blue, and white papers.

There were a few couples in the room, and we were about to start. But we patiently waited while the new participants sorted through their papers. I could tell they both felt frustrated as everyone else waited. Undoubtedly, they also felt pressured to hurry, which caused even more anxiousness for them.

Right then, I decided I wanted to bring more ancestral ordinance cards to the temple, and I wanted to be organized about it.

Fortunately, I thought of a simple, inexpensive way to accomplish my goal, and I’d like to share it with you.

How to Organize Temple Ordinance Cards

I purchased an inexpensive coupon folder with 12 dividers. I simply labeled each divider with a system that made sense to me. Perhaps you’ll determine other categories, but this is what I use:

  • Baptism, Male
  • Baptism, Female
  • Initiatory, Male
  • Initiatory, Female
  • Endowment, Male
  • Endowment, Female
  • Sealing, Male
  • Sealing, Female
  • Sealing Couple
  • Completed, Male
  • Completed, Female
  • Completed Couples

Why It’s Important to Organize Temple Ordinance Cards

At a glance, I can easily see which ordinances I have and where I need more names from I can also easily share with family who may be joining me at the temple and find it very rewarding to do so.

The information is online at FamilySearch, of course, but I’m visual and can’t “see” what needs to be done unless it’s in my hand. As I plan temple trips, I want to know how I can maximize my time and efforts. 

There’s also another reason now why it’s important to be organized. Upon completing an ordinance, the temple no longer returns cards to proxy members. In fact, when you visit your computer again to reprint if there are still ordinances to complete for an individual, the website will indicate you have already printed that particular card. Fortunately, FamilySearch also sends you a completed ordinance notification. 

For me, a file system like the one I use is invaluable to help me organize the second prints and keep track of what I’ve done. I can easily jot down notes and store them with the cards, if needed.

As for the cards I completed years ago, I still like to keep them; they’re a visual reminder that I’ve helped many individuals do something they cannot do for themselves.

How to Print Temple Ordinance Cards

If you’re wondering how to print temple ordinance cards from home, you can learn here. It’s super convenient and easy to do. You don’t need any special kind or color of paper. Just use your standard white copy paper. Please cut the cards as outlined.

If you’re fortunate to have many ancestral ordinance opportunities, it’s wise to print what you know you can do within a reasonable amount of time. The ordinance cards expire after two years, giving someone else the opportunity to do the work. 

More Than a Name

I love that my file folder of reserved names stays in my temple bag. I never have to search for it, and it’s always ready to go. 

I also love that the names are more to me than just names. They represent real individuals, ancestors who have gone before me. 

It’s been years since I’ve attended the temple on behalf of a “stranger.” Although a wonderful extended family member was an accredited genealogist and did so much of our family’s history work, there are still opportunities for me to participate. 

With all the online advances, family history work is at my fingertips, an advantage she never had. I’m grateful that I can easily spot ancestors who need temple work done on their behalf. I often feel their urgency and am ever grateful for their patience with me.

More than mere names on paper, these beloved family members paved the way for the life I now enjoy. I’m grateful to have their names right at my fingertips, organized and ready for the temple ordinances that await them. 

Kerry Griffin Smith enjoys uplifting those around her. She is a former writer and editor for Church Magazines. You can find her sharing impactful, clean books at

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