What's Kept On Your Records?

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intothelight
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What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by intothelight » 22 Jun 2014, 23:58

I've always been sort of bothered by the idea of the records that might be kept on members by the church. How much do they "spy" on you? Can a bishop/SP pull up a file that shows your HT Record, Temple Attendance, etc., for the past 10 years? Do they make a note of whether or not you took a calling, or skipped out on priesthood for a while? Do they know where you served on your mission? I mean, I guess if I affiliate with them, there is nothing saying that can't take notes on me and what happens, I am just genuinely curious.

Is there really a reason why they push so hard to get somebody's "records" transferred in? I used to think one's records were more or less a bunch of ordinance dates and phone numbers, but I'm not so sure any more.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 Jun 2014, 04:15

The only things that are noted on records are disciplinary actions - and there is a very good reason for that, especially given the Catholic Church's experience with hiding such things with abusive priests. Fully repentant or not, I don't want a child rapist teaching Primary - as much for that person's sake as for the children's.
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nibbler
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by nibbler » 23 Jun 2014, 04:24

It's an interesting question. I don't believe that they keep track of many of the things you listed but they easily could. Your TR is scanned upon entry to the temple, HT is entered per companionship, tithing is kept track of on an individual basis. There's no reason there easily couldn't be a membership file that kept track of these things... unless the church is really behind in the information age.

Currently I don't know of any means of recording whether you rejected a calling.

As far as I know they don't do anything with priesthood attendance other than report a monthly number. Think: priesthood meeting had an average attendance of 20 people this month, not these specific 20 people attended priesthood this month. Sure individual attendance is taken but it stays local. I.e. it's something that your EQP or BP would look at to see who they need to focus on.

If such a file exists I don't think a BP or SP can pull it to get someone's history. The process is still very low tech. If a person with issues (for lack of a better descriptor) transfers their records from one unit to the next the BP in the unit of origin will call the BP in the destination unit to relate the info they feel like they have to relate. A BP in a destination unit may call a person's former BP to get info as well. NOTE: I sincerely believe that this is done with the best of intentions. The BP just wants to make sure that a person with needs does not fall through the cracks when they move.
intothelight wrote:Is there really a reason why they push so hard to get somebody's "records" transferred in? I used to think one's records were more or less a bunch of ordinance dates and phone numbers, but I'm not so sure any more.
Pretty much what I said, the primary concern is to make sure people don't fall through the cracks.
  • A new member moves and they want to make sure the other ward knows about them so they don't become lost for forever.
  • Ditto for when an inactive person moves.
  • I also hear a lot about this in the context of parents making sure that their children are ministered to when they move out of the house.
  • etc.
I don't believe it has anything to do with getting the dirt on people, the records that are transferred from unit to unit are fairly benign. Just something that includes ordinance dates, membership record numbers, etc. If a new BP wants more info they'll have to pick up a phone.

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SilentDawning
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Jun 2014, 05:54

When I was a Stake Exec Sec, I had to clean out the filing cabinet. There were old files there on past disciplinary councils that gave the details of who, what, when and the outcome. The SP also kept letters written to him by members that were contrarion -- in the filing system as well.

So, although I think Ray is correct -- the church does annotate members' records with the results of disciplinary actions, and I agree this is a good idea to protect children.

On the other hand, I believe they also annotate records for disfellowshipment and excommunication for adultery, which follows you wherever you go. And of course, Spencer W. Kimball indicated that people who receive discipline are often excluded from being selected as leaders like Bishops and SP's.

We had a situation a while ago when our Bishop moved on. There was a willing, capable man who would have been a very good Bishop, and everyone was confused why he wasn't called. His wife indicated it was because of a mistake he made in his early twenties, which got him disfellowshipped. That always bothered me because we learn that the Savior "remembers our sins no more", yet the church remembers even these kinds of mistakes and holds them against the member until they die. In this case of this particular man, he'd been married for 30 years since the mistake he made as a single guy, held a TR all that time, with good kids raised, fully active in the church. It seems wrong to keep records on people for this length of time, particularly given the sacrifice of the Savior and the promise that our sins aren't held against us after we repent, as this man apparently had done.

It seems to me we are a church constantly wanting to unleash our corporate ID with tight controls and organizational egocentricity ("id", as in the Freudian "id"), but realizing we can't because we are a church, and have the Sunday talks and glorious doctrine to stay consistent with. Darn!!! (think the leaders at times).

My experience cleaning out the filing cabinet makes me think certain Stake Presidents and perhaps even Bishops might keep more detailed records of communications they receive from the members, and the detailed notes of disciplinary councils. Whether this is mandated or not, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure they dont' keep records on whether you refused callings.

At one time, HPGL's would pass around lists asking people to report if they'd been to the temple. I think this was primarily local and to help the HPGL judge the temple-needs of the members. Also, at one time in the Toronto Temple, after you left the celestial room, you would swipe your TR through a bar code reader which would record your attendance. However, that reader was later taken out. I asked a temple worker why, and they responded "because part of living the gospel involves returning and reporting".

My experience has been that after you move to a different stake, and you do NOT have any discipline on your record, it's like a fresh start. If you've had any run-ins with the leadership, or done anything that hurts your local reputation, you can start over again with a fresh slate -- again provided your membership record is not annotated.

For example, I was less-active for 7 years (semi-active) and then moved to a different stake. Got called into the Bishopric almost immediately in spite of my lack of full activity and contrarionism all those years. Everyone was also trying to figure out how committed we were with all their questions (where have you served, did you serve a mission, are you married in the temple, etcetera) and it was up to us to define what kind of family we were.
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SamBee
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by SamBee » 23 Jun 2014, 06:57

I used to do the tally for priesthood attendance, and it was always a number... just that. I did tick boxes, but there are so many people that come and go from this ward, and who I recognize but do not know the name of, that the number was more meaningful than the names.
So, although I think Ray is correct -- the church does annotate members' records with the results of disciplinary actions, and I agree this is a good idea to protect children.
Not just children, what about people who have been violent to adults, or who have stolen things?
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Gerald
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by Gerald » 23 Jun 2014, 07:03

I don't believe it has anything to do with getting the dirt on people, the records that are transferred from unit to unit are fairly benign. Just something that includes ordinance dates, membership record numbers, etc. If a new BP wants more info they'll have to pick up a phone.
Having been the ward membership clerk not too long ago, I can tell you that this is true. Disciplinary actions will be recorded but your activity (or lack thereof) will not. Whether or not you have a current temple recommend is known but, as far as I know, there was never any reports on temple attendance. The membership database shows what ordinances have been performed and info about your family (parents, children, spouse). There is no place to record whether you turned down a calling. In fact, there's no place to see what callings you've had in the past (none that I could find anyway). Your membership record (if printed out) won't even show what calling you currently have. Records regarding attendance at meetings is generally reported as whole numbers not member by member. (One interesting aspect of the system: when a spouse dies, you have to go in and "terminate" the marriage. I always thought that was interesting given our doctrine of eternal marriage.)

What's kept in the files is very much a reflection of previous bishops and clerks. When I was called we had some paper records going back to the early 1990s and late 1980s! I imagine some ward files are immaculately kept and many are just a hodgepodge of randomly labeled files. Remember that these are all volunteer positions and clerks are not necessarily selected for their organization capabilities.

If you wonder what's there, just ask your membership clerk to print out your personal record. They can and should if you request it.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
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SilentDawning
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Jun 2014, 07:18

SamBee wrote:Not just children, what about people who have been violent to adults, or who have stolen things?
I agree. There are a lot of situations when you need to protect adults. However, the across the board record keeping, such as the case of the person I described earlier, bothers me as it lacks mercy and allowance for those situations where people have fully reprented.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 23 Jun 2014, 07:46

An individual's membership record is stored at CHQ, but a copy is held by the ward where the person resides. For statistical and reporting purposes, the following persons are members of record and should have a membership record:

Those who have been baptized and confirmed.
Those under age nine who have been blessed but not baptized.
Those who are not accountable because of intellectual disabilities, regardless of age.
Unblessed children under age eight when:
Two member parents request you create a record.
One member parent requests you create a record and the nonmember parent gives permission.
A person who is nine years or older who has a membership record but has not been baptized and confirmed is not considered a member of record. However, the bishop keeps the membership record until the person is 18. At that time if the person chooses not to be baptized despite being given every opportunity, the bishop, with written permission from the stake president, may cancel the membership record. He should not, however, cancel membership records of persons not considered accountable because of mental disabilities.

MLS can be used to make changes to the membership record, which are then transmitted to CHQ. Additional information, such as callings or custom fields, may be associated with a membership record in a local unit's MLS, but is not part of the actual membership record.

Contents [hide]
1 Component items
2 Confidentiality
3 Not accountable
4 Temporary records
5 Membership-related reports
5.1 Standard reports
5.2 Custom reports
6 Uses with third-party applications
7 Problems and issues (troubleshooting)
8 Record management
9 See also
10 Resources
11 References
Component items

Name and other information
Head of household
Ordinances
Baby Blessings (information no longer available after move from original unit)
Baptism and Confirmation
Endowments
Sealings
Non-ordinance events
Births
Born in the covenant (BIC)
Civil and Common Law Marriages
Deaths
Priesthood ordinations
Information visible only by printing (or previewing):
Prior Ward/Stake
Annotations
Disfellowshipment status
Confidentiality

Main article: Confidentiality
Membership Records are to be viewed only by the bishop and appropriate clerks. Printouts of membership records from MLS contain the notation "For Bishop and Membership Clerk Use Only." Beginning with version 2.9, when you attempt to print or preview a membership record, you are asked if you are printing the record for a Bishop or Clerk; if you answer No, an Individual Ordinance Summary is printed instead.

The Individual Ordinance Summary is designed specifically to be given to members so that they can review the information and make any corrections, and also so that they will have a personal copy of their membership information for themselves and their dependent children.

Church policy allows some membership information to be given over the telephone to stake presidents, stake clerks, and bishops. See the Church Policy on Requests for Membership Information by telephone.

Not accountable

If a member with mental or physical limitations is not able to knowingly repent, the member is considered not accountable and is not baptized. Only the bishop can make this determination. Not accountable status cannot be used for members who have already been baptized and cannot be put on a membership record until a person is age eight or over.

Temporary records

Main article: Temporary membership record
There are three kinds of temporary membership records:

Out of Unit Records
Nonmember Records
Temporary Records
Membership-related reports

Standard reports

Members Without Callings
Endowed Members Without Current Recommend
Action and Interview List
Directory of Members
Callings by Organization
New Move-ins
Temple recommend Activation
Custom reports

The following reports can be created using the custom reports feature of MLS.

Part-Member Families or Households
Uses with third-party applications

Geographical mapping for various uses (see Maps and boundaries for more details)
Problems and issues (troubleshooting)

Duplicate membership records
Phone numbers for individuals of a Household
Membership download problems
No contact requests.
Name changes.
Cleaning up when changes were not recorded.
Special requests
Record management

Main article: Record management tips
Managing membership records is the responsibility of the ward clerk, who may be assisted by a membership clerk. Newly called clerks may find membership changes not recorded. Whatever the reason, when these problems build up over time, clerks can face a big job fixing the problem.

See also

Membership record number
Updating membership records
Individual Ordinance Summary
Locating members
Resources

The first place to turn for useful information is Record-Keeping and Auditing Training.

The following lessons focus specifically on membership records:

Receiving and Using Membership Records
Updating Membership Records
Correcting Membership Records
References
To quote from Handbook 1 for Stake Presidents and Bishops under section 13.6 “Official Church membership records should not be shown or given to members. Under no circumstances may membership records be given to anyone other than the bishop or a clerk.”

GBSmith
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by GBSmith » 23 Jun 2014, 08:38

I've been a clerk multiple times and was just released as branch clerk in a YSA branch. Annotations about disfellowshipments are removed when a member's status is reinstated and I've not seen comments regarding reasons for past discipline. When a record is sent out a note can be attached that the prior bishop or bp be contacted. Leaders will often keep copies or previous actions to refer to when future councils are held but that's less common now since Salt Lake will send all paperwork requested from previous actions. Regarding Ray's comments I've not seen anything about prior abuse concerns though those almost always result in excommunications so if there's a reinstatement all the records from SL would review that. The only abuse of the system I've ever seen was when BYU falsely accused a relative of mine of fraud and annotated his record without any ecclesiastical proceedings. He found out about it when he went to his bishop for a recommend renewal. The upshot is that the church's auditors reviewed it and cleared him and then hired a private attorney to let him know that his record had been expunged and everyone was real sorry.

intothelight
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Re: What's Kept On Your Records?

Post by intothelight » 23 Jun 2014, 19:26

Great information. Thanks All. I completely agree - there should be things on a record that protect others. I sort of wondered though if a boring ward council meeting might cause the people there to skim who had ever had a period where they hadn't gone to church - and try to 'help' them. Or any of the other stuff. But I guess the answer is no.

Again, thank-you.

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