Mormon ordinances for the dead
Since the Latter-Day Saints believe that no one can enter Heaven without the necessary ordinances, the question arises as to what happens to people who have not or will not have a chance to receive the ordinances. LDS doctrine teaches that everyone will hear the Gospel and have a chance to accept or reject it. Missionary work in this life gives many people a chance to learn about the church. For those who will not get a chance to hear the gospel, or for those who have died throughout history, having never heard about Christ or the church, there will still be an opportunity.
The church teaches that anyone who dies without having a chance to accept the gospel will have a chance in the next life, prior to the final judgment. Mormons believe that missionary work will continue in the next life. If people accept the gospel in the next life, they will need to have the ordinances performed in order to live with God. At that point, however, people will only exist in spirit form, and will not be able to receive the necessary ordinances. The church has an answer to that dilemma
Shortly after the church was organized, the doctrine of ordinance work for the dead was introduced. Mormons have, and still do, perform the ordinances on behalf their deceased relatives. Priesthood members perform the ordinances on volunteer members, sometimes they are family members, of the deceased. The ordinance is almost exactly like the ordinance performed on the living. The difference is, when doing work for the dead, the man performing the ceremony mentions that the work is being done on someone's behalf. The name of the deceased is mentioned prior to the ordinance to signify that it is being done for them.
There is one important thing to mention concerning ordinance work for the dead - when the ordinances are performed for a relative, it does not make them become Mormons. This misunderstanding has caused problems in the past because non-members are under the impression Mormons are forcing people to convert posthumously. The church teaches that people will need to accept the gospel in the next life, before the ordinances will take effect.
To record who needs and who has received the ordinances, extensive genealogical record keeping is performed. Even today, the church is known for its massive database of genealogical records. To ensure that all ordinances have been performed for relatives, Latter-Day Saints search through historical records to find the names of all of their ancestors. Once the names are located, they are submitted to the church, and the ordinances will be performed.
All of the ordinance work for the dead takes place in temples. All of the saving ordinances, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and endowment, are performed. There are members of the church who work in the temples, on a volunteer basis, and help perform the ceremonies. Any member of the church in good standing can also participate in the ordinance work. (see Temples)
‘Magic’ Underwear (Garments)
Ordinance Work for the Dead
Heaven and the Afterlife
Nature of God and the Godhead
Modern Day Prophets
Local Church Leadership