Monday, August 28, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 34 Joseph Smith Teaches About Baptism for the Dead



Post John 3:5 in big words on the board:

“Jesus answers, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”


Invite a youth who has done baptisms for the dead (or another ward member who has done a lot of temple work or family history work) to come in and speak to your class at the beginning about their experiences and what they have felt while performing this particular service in the temple!


After the visitor has left, pick one child and have them hold their hands behind their back. Then tell them to write their name on the board (obviously they can’t).
Pick another child and ask them to help. (have them go up to the board and write the other child’s name). Or come up with your own variation on this and pick something else for that first child to do, etc. One idea is to ask everyone who wants a Starburst candy, then pick one of the kids and say they can have it but they can't unwrap it, then ask for a volunteer to help and unwrap it for the child. (idea from

When has someone helped you by doing something that you couldn’t do for yourself?
How did you feel having someone help you?

Let’s read the scripture on the board.
What does that mean? Being baptized is one of the first steps toward returning to live with Jesus and Heavenly Father again / Say the 4th article of faith

Many many millions and billions of people have lived on the earth.
Have they all had the chance to be baptized?
Baptism by immersion by the true authority hasn’t always been available.
Or maybe they died before they could take that step.

So how will they be able to return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? Someone must be baptized for them

It makes sense that there would be a way, since Heavenly Father loves all of his children!

Today we’re going to learn about baptisms for those who have passed away.


We’re going to start with a video showing scenes from Joseph’s life relating to this topic!

This is a great Church movie that’s worth downloading to show scenes for future lessons too.

Scenes and time stamps to skip to:
12:16-15:22 - Alvin’s sickness, passing
31:52-33:07 - Kirtland Temple vision of the celestial kingdom/Alvin, Joseph telling his mother that hope isn’t lost for those who haven’t been baptized
50:26-52:40 - Discussion about seeing Alvin again with dying Joseph Smith Sr, discussion about binding on earth and in heaven (this section could also be shown the following week about the temple)

illustrate as much as possible to hold their attention

We're going to dive into the story about how church members learned about baptisms for the dead.

So do you guys remember Governor Boggs?
He was the new governor of Missouri? He didn’t help the Saints when they needed help with the mobs.
And he issued the Extermination Order telling them that they had to leave.
In 1842, he was shot and wounded!
He had a lot of enemies, so there were a lot of suspects.
Missouri government leaders accused Joseph Smith!

He knew he was innocent, of course, so he made a statement to a newspaper.

But two months later, he was arrested along with one of his bodyguards, Porter Rockwell.
Boggs accused Rockwell of firing the gun and he accused Joseph of telling Rockwell to do it!

The law said that they couldn’t be arrested, though, so they were released.
Joseph knew he was in danger, since there were all these lies and such, so he went into hiding.

During this time, he wrote letters to the Saints in Nauvoo.

These letters are D&C 127 and 128. They’re about baptisms for the dead!

Have them get out their scriptures and open to D&C 127 and 128 and have them take turns reading the heading...and possibly specifically D&C 127:5-12 and D&C 128:12-17.

Starting back in 1840, the saints were performing baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River, but soon they would have a temple in Nauvoo to do them...we'll learn about that next week!

As we saw in the video, when Joseph was younger, his brother Alvin had died.
This was before Joseph received the gold plates.
In the Kirtland Temple, Joseph had received a vision of future of the celestial kingdom and saw Alvin as a spirit.
He was surprised to see Alvin in the celestial kingdom because he hadn’t been baptized.
The Lord had told Joseph at that time that everyone who would have received the gospel, been baptized, and lived righteously if they’d been given the opportunity will be able to be in the celestial kingdom.

Joseph learned that baptisms for those who have died can be done “vicariously” using people on the earth as “proxies.”
What do those words mean? Write them on the board
Vicariously = a person does something in place of someone else
Proxy = the person who does the work is a proxy

In the temple, we are the proxies. We go down into the water and are baptized and it’s their name that is said.

So baptisms for the dead is service - we are doing what they can’t do for themselves.
This was actually done in Christ’s time too!


Download various photos of LDS temple fonts and discuss the symbolism of the 12 oxen, and why the fonts are usually below ground.
- Information in D&C 128:13
- And here:


Before this lesson, ask the parents to send you a photo of a family member their child is fond of. Perhaps someone who has passed away, or photos from a family reunion, etc.

Display a photo of your family and talk about who’s in the photo and how it felt to be together.

Pull up the photos the families sent you and have each kid talk about who is in the photo, how they feel being with that relative(s), etc.

We want all of our family to have the opportunity to be sealed to us for eternity.
The family members who aren’t part of the Church or who have died without knowing about the Church deserve to have a chance to learn about it and accept it.

That’s what temple work is about.


Pull up Family History - I Am Doing It (Children’s Songbook, 94) on a phone or laptop.
Have the words for them printed off to follow along as you sing!

Talk about the words - perhaps each child take a line and talk about what it means.

It’s a very catchy tune!


Tree Top fruit snacks with a note attached with the lyrics to the Family History song and the words “family tree” highlighted in green.

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