“33. Records and Reports,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“33. Records and Reports,” General Handbook.
Accurate records help Church leaders know members and identify their needs. For example, records can help leaders identify who may need special care to become more active in the Church or to become worthy of temple blessings. Accurate records also help leaders evaluate progress and make plans for improvement.
Another important purpose of Church records is to identify which saving ordinances a person has received.
The following types of records are kept in Church units:
Reports on member participation include information about meeting attendance, ministering interviews, activity and priesthood office of new members, and temple recommend status of endowed members (see 33.5).
Membership records include members’ names and addresses, as well as ordinance information and other vital information (see 33.6).
Historical records include information about accomplishments, challenges, faith-building experiences, and other notable events in the unit (see 33.7).
Financial records include information about tithes and other offerings and costs for activities and supplies (see chapter 34).
All clerks should have unquestionable integrity and demonstrate a willingness to follow the Lord’s commandments. They should be honest and careful record keepers. They should also be capable teachers and administrators. The clerk who is assigned to finances should be qualified to handle financial matters. Calling clerks who meet these qualifications will help ensure that they have the Spirit of the Lord with them as they work with Church finances and records.
Clerks should carefully follow current policies and procedures to safeguard Church funds and to ensure that Church records are current and accurate. Clerks should immediately notify priesthood leaders of any improprieties affecting Church funds or records.
The duration of clerks’ service should be sufficient for them to learn their duties, magnify their callings, and preserve continuity in their work. Because they are not members of the stake presidency or bishopric, they do not need to be released when a stake presidency or bishopric is reorganized.
The stake president oversees stake record keeping. He may assign his counselors and clerks to do much of this work under his direction. He ensures that they follow Church policies and procedures in fulfilling their responsibilities.
Every stake should have a qualified, functioning stake clerk. He is called and set apart by the stake president. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and be worthy to have a temple recommend. He is a member of the stake council and attends high council meetings. He is not a member of the high priests quorum.
The stake clerk is trained by the stake presidency and works under their direction. The stake president may assign him responsibilities such as those outlined in this section. Assistant stake clerks may be called to help (see 33.3.3).
The stake clerk provides administrative support to the stake presidency. He keeps a record of assignments and decisions in stake leadership meetings. He also reminds the stake presidency of items that need follow-up or further consideration.
The stake clerk (and assistant stake clerks as assigned) prepares stake records and reports. These include financial records (see chapter 34), reports on member participation (see 33.5), membership information (see 33.6), and historical records (see 33.7). The stake clerk ensures that records and reports are accurate, complete, and on time.
The stake clerk (and assistant stake clerks as assigned) meets with the stake president to review records and reports. The clerk provides information from these materials to help leaders identify (1) the needs of members and organizations, (2) the availability of resources, such as finances and priesthood strength, and (3) trends, strengths, and weaknesses.
The stake clerk should become familiar with the record-keeping programs on Church computers where they are available.
Other record-keeping duties the stake presidency may give the stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk include:
Ensuring that certificates for Melchizedek Priesthood ordination are prepared and distributed and that the ordinations are properly and promptly recorded.
Recording temple recommend information.
Preparing the Officers Sustained form for stake conference.
Designing and printing boundary models to use in proposing realignment of stake and ward boundaries.
Overseeing the transfer of ward records, correspondence, and accounts when a new ward is created, a ward is discontinued, or a bishop is released.
Recording information for stake membership councils (see 32.9.6).
Maintaining and updating the stake’s website if the stake has a Church-approved site (see 38.8.24).
The stake clerk (and assistant stake clerks as assigned) reviews ward records and reports to ensure that they are accurate and complete. He resolves record-keeping problems before giving reports to the stake president. He works directly with ward clerks and assistant ward clerks to resolve minor problems. He discusses serious problems with the stake president or, at his request, the bishop.
The stake clerk meets with each ward clerk twice each year. The stake clerk or assistant stake clerks may also meet with assistant ward clerks as needed. These meetings are held to ensure that:
Membership records are updated promptly and accurately to include all baptisms and confirmations, priesthood ordinations, endowments, marriages, and deaths.
Certificates of blessing, baptism and confirmation, and priesthood ordination are given to ward members.
The ward’s annual history is kept current and is submitted to the stake at the end of each year (see 33.7).
As requested by the stake president or a bishop, the stake clerk instructs assistant stake clerks, ward clerks, and assistant ward clerks to ensure that they receive all the training they need to accomplish their record-keeping responsibilities.
Instruction on record keeping is especially important when clerks are newly called, when a Church record-keeping program is introduced or updated, and when records are not completed properly. New assistant stake clerks, ward clerks, and assistant ward clerks should be instructed within 30 days after they are called.
The stake clerk should be knowledgeable of audit procedures and reports. Assistant stake clerks should also be knowledgeable of audit procedures and reports for their area of responsibility. For information about audits of membership records, see 33.6.24. For information about audits of Church finances, see 34.9.
The stake president or an assigned counselor may call and set apart assistant stake clerks as needed. Assistant stake clerks should be Melchizedek Priesthood holders who are worthy to have a temple recommend. They work under the direction of the stake presidency and the stake clerk.
If needed, one assistant stake clerk may be called to each of the following positions:
Stake assistant clerk
Stake assistant clerk—finance (see chapter 34)
The stake presidency may also assign an assistant stake clerk to gather historical records (see 33.7).
The stake presidency may assign an assistant stake clerk to become familiar with Church resource materials and know how to order them from Church Distribution Services. This clerk coordinates efforts to help stake members be informed about these materials and know how to obtain them.
The stake presidency may assign an assistant stake clerk to be the stake technology specialist. The stake clerk could be given this assignment if necessary. The stake technology specialist has the following responsibilities for managing Church computers in the stake, including those in family history centers:
He takes direction from the stake presidency about placing, sharing, reassigning, and scheduling all stake computers.
He serves as the primary contact for technology services and electronic devices in all Church meetinghouses in the stake. As requested, he provides support for all who use computers in Church meetinghouses.
He maintains a current inventory of all computer hardware, with serial numbers, models, capacities, and physical locations.
He should be familiar with the general policies for Church computers in 38.8.12. He should also be familiar with guidelines for obtaining and managing Church computers. These guidelines are available from Church headquarters or the area office. They provide information about matters such as hardware and software, donated computers, internet connections, repairs, disposal of computers, stolen or damaged computers, security, and use by members.
To assist the stake technology specialist, the stake presidency may assign worthy youth and adults (brethren or sisters) to serve as assistant technology specialists. These individuals may be organized by building, ward, or other criteria determined by the stake presidency. They are referred to as assistant technology specialists, not assistant stake technology specialists.
The stake technology specialist oversees and coordinates the work of assistant technology specialists. If the stake does not have a stake technology specialist, the stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk oversees the assistant technology specialists and communicates assignments from the stake presidency.
The stake president or an assigned counselor calls and sets apart a stake executive secretary. The executive secretary should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and be worthy to have a temple recommend.
The executive secretary is an administrative assistant to the stake presidency. He meets with them and prepares agendas as assigned. He is also a member of the stake council and attends high council meetings. As directed by the stake presidency, he follows up on assignments made in these meetings. He is not a member of the high priests quorum.
He coordinates stake business between the stake presidency, high council, and other stake leaders. He also schedules appointments for the stake presidency. He distributes copies of Church publications and correspondence promptly.
If assigned by the stake presidency, he encourages and assists ward executive secretaries with Church magazine subscription efforts.
He may help the stake presidency encourage and monitor the participation of eligible stake members in Church Educational System programs (see chapter 15).
He advises the stake presidency of members who are entering the military or are already in military service. Under the direction of the stake presidency, he may help coordinate Church orientation for stake members who are entering the military (see 38.10.1 and 38.10.3).
He orients new ward executive secretaries as soon as reasonable after they are called. He provides ongoing instruction to them as needed.
The bishop oversees ward record keeping. He may assign his counselors and clerks to do much of this work under his direction. He ensures that ward clerks and quorum and organization leaders are taught their record-keeping responsibilities. He also ensures that they follow Church policies and procedures in fulfilling these responsibilities.
Every ward should have a qualified, functioning ward clerk. He is recommended by the bishopric and called and set apart by a member of the stake presidency. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and be worthy to have a temple recommend.
The ward clerk is trained by the bishopric and by stake clerks. He works under the direction of the bishopric. The bishop may assign him responsibilities such as those outlined in this section. Assistant ward clerks may be called to help (see 33.4.3).
For additional responsibilities of the ward clerk, see 7.6.4.
The ward clerk provides administrative support to the bishopric. He keeps a record of assignments and decisions made in ward leadership meetings. He also reminds the bishopric of items that need follow-up or further consideration.
The ward clerk (and assistant ward clerks as assigned) prepares ward records and reports. These include financial records (see chapter 34), reports on member participation (see 33.5), membership records (see 33.6), and historical records (see 33.7). The ward clerk ensures that records and reports are accurate, complete, and on time.
The ward clerk (and assistant ward clerks as assigned) meets regularly with the bishop to review records and reports. The clerk provides information from these materials to help leaders identify (1) the needs of members and organizations, (2) the availability of resources, such as finances and priesthood strength, and (3) trends, strengths, and weaknesses.
When compiling reports on member participation, the clerk reviews information submitted by ward organizations to ensure that it is accurate and complete. He resolves record-keeping problems before giving the report to the bishop. He works directly with secretaries to resolve minor problems. He discusses serious problems with the bishop or, at his request, the organization leader.
The ward clerk should become familiar with the record-keeping programs on Church computers where they are available. He or an assistant ward clerk provides membership directories, lists, and rolls to the bishopric, to other priesthood leaders, and to leaders of ward organizations.
As requested, the ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk provides members copies of their Individual Ordinance Summary for their personal records and for help in accessing family history and other Church services. He prints these summaries using Church record-keeping software. In areas that do not have this software, he may request copies from the area office.
Other record-keeping duties the bishopric may give the ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk include:
Ensuring that certificates for blessing, baptism and confirmation, and priesthood ordination are given to ward members and that these ordinances are properly and promptly recorded.
Preparing the Officers Sustained form for ward conference.
Recording information for ward membership councils (see 32.9.6).
Maintaining and updating the ward’s website if the ward has a Church-approved site (see 38.8.24).
The ward clerk coordinates record-keeping instruction for assistant clerks and for quorum and organization secretaries. He makes sure they receive instruction when they are newly called, when a Church record-keeping program is introduced or updated, and when records are not completed properly.
When instructing assistant clerks or secretaries, the ward clerk helps them understand how information from records and reports can help leaders.
Assistant ward clerks may be called as needed. They are recommended by the bishopric and called and set apart by a member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor. These brethren should be priesthood holders who are worthy to have a temple recommend. If an assistant ward clerk is assigned to finances, he should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Assistant ward clerks work under the direction of the bishopric and the ward clerk.
If needed, one assistant ward clerk may be called to each of the following positions:
Ward assistant clerk
Ward assistant clerk—finance (see chapter 34)
The bishopric may also assign an assistant ward clerk to gather historical records (see 33.7) and become familiar with Church resource materials and know how to order them from Church Distribution Services. This clerk coordinates efforts to help ward members be informed about these materials and know how to obtain them.
The ward executive secretary is recommended by the bishopric and called and set apart by a member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and be worthy to have a temple recommend.
The executive secretary is an administrative assistant to the bishopric. He meets with the bishopric and prepares agendas as assigned. He is also a member of the ward council. As directed by the bishopric, he follows up on assignments made in these meetings (see 7.6.5).
He coordinates ward business between the bishopric and other leaders.
He schedules appointments for the bishopric. He also distributes Church publications and correspondence promptly.
If assigned by the bishop, he coordinates the ward’s Church magazine subscription efforts, helping members receive the blessings of having Church magazines in their homes. He may be assisted by the ward magazine representative and others appointed by the bishopric.
He may help the bishopric with seminary and institute matters, such as registration for classes (see chapter 15).
He keeps a current list of the names and addresses of ward members who are in the military and circulates this list to the ward council. He also informs the stake executive secretary when members plan to enter the military.
Priesthood and organization leaders oversee record keeping in their organizations. They may assign secretaries to do much of this work under their direction. They meet regularly with secretaries to ensure that records are accurate, complete, and on time.
Reports on member participation consist of weekly, monthly, and quarterly information that helps leaders focus on the progress and needs of members. All members of record (as defined in 33.6.2) are included in these reports.
Sacrament Meeting. Attendance at sacrament meeting is recorded by the ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk. The attendance count is the number physically present in the meeting, even if they are not members of the ward. Ward members who are not present because they have another assignment or are attending another ward are not counted.
Sunday Priesthood and Organization Meetings. Attendance at elders quorum and Relief Society meetings is recorded by the quorum or Relief Society secretary. Attendance at Young Women classes is recorded by class secretaries and compiled by the Young Women secretary. Attendance at Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings is recorded by quorum secretaries and compiled by an Aaronic Priesthood quorum specialist or the ward clerk (see 10.4.2). Attendance at Primary is recorded by the teachers and compiled by the Primary secretary.
The Quarterly Report generally includes information for only the last month of each quarter. An exception is the report of ministering interviews, which are reported for the entire quarter. The stake president or bishop may request some information monthly.
The ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk prepares the report under the direction of the bishop. By the 10th of the month following the end of each quarter, quorum and organization leaders or secretaries give attendance information for the previous month to the clerk so he can include it in the report. The elders quorum and Relief Society give ministering interview reports for the quarter. The bishop reviews the report for accuracy and makes sure the clerk submits it on time.
Units That Use Church Record-Keeping Software. A clerk from each ward prepares the report on the computer and transmits it electronically to Church headquarters according to instructions on the report. Clerks print, distribute, and retain copies as needed.
Units That Do Not Use Church Record-Keeping Software. Each ward receives a paper copy of the Quarterly Report from the area office at the end of each quarter. This copy has membership and enrollment numbers preprinted on it. A clerk from each ward fills in the blank spaces and sends the completed report to the stake according to the instructions on the report. Clerks distribute and retain copies as needed.
The stake also receives a paper copy of the Quarterly Report from the area office. This copy has membership and enrollment numbers preprinted on it for each ward in the stake. After receiving reports from the wards, the stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk completes the stake report, reviews it with the stake president, and sends it to the area office within 30 days of the end of the quarter.
Membership lists are produced by ward computers or by the area office. These lists provide important supplemental information to reports on member participation. They help leaders identify which members are of age for ordinances, which young men are of missionary age, which men hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, which members are endowed, and which youth need to be scheduled for bishopric interviews. Quorum and organization leaders should have access to lists of those who belong to their quorum or organization.
Every number and statistic in a report represents an individual member who has unique needs. Leaders should seek direction from the Lord as they consider who may need their help and what help to provide.
Information from these reports is especially important for the bishopric and ward council to use in tracking the progress of ward members and deciding how to bless and strengthen them. For example, these reports can help leaders determine which adult converts did not attend priesthood or Relief Society meetings during the month.
Percentages in participation reports may be used to show trends, such as whether activity is increasing or decreasing. However, percentages should not be used to compare one ward with another, one quorum with another, or one person with another. Ward and individual circumstances are unique.
Membership records include members’ names and addresses, as well as ordinance and other vital information. The ward should have a membership record for each member living within the ward boundaries.
Membership records are to be kept in the ward where the member lives. Exceptions, which should be few, require the consent of the bishops and stake president(s) involved and the approval of the Office of the First Presidency. To request an exception, the stake president(s) sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency for approval.
Membership records are the only means of recording ordinances and other official actions in the permanent records of the Church. Therefore, the bishop makes sure that clerks keep accurate records and send updated information promptly to Church headquarters or the area office. It is especially important to record ordinance information, promptly request records of members who move into the ward, and promptly transfer records of members who move from the ward.
Before a member is interviewed for a Church calling, ordination to a Melchizedek Priesthood office, or a temple recommend, the bishop ensures that the membership record does not include an annotation, a comment about a sealing or ordinance restriction, or formal membership restrictions.
Official Church membership records should not be shown or given to members. Nor may they be copied for members. Under no circumstances may membership records be given to anyone other than the bishop or a clerk.
Members are encouraged to have copies of the Individual Ordinance Summary for themselves and for any dependent children living at home. Each year, clerks or bishopric members review these summaries with members in accordance with the data privacy policies in 33.8 and 33.9. This review could be done as part of the annual tithing settlement. If errors are found, a clerk ensures that they are corrected on the membership records.
In units that use Church record-keeping software, clerks can print each member’s Individual Ordinance Summary. In other units, leaders or clerks may request copies of these summaries from the area office.
See Create Record in Leader and Clerk Resources for instructions on how to create a membership record.
A person’s full legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be used on membership records and ordinance certificates.
For statistical and reporting purposes, the following individuals are members of record. Each of them should have a membership record:
Those who have been baptized and confirmed.
Those under age 9 who have been blessed but not baptized.
Those who are not accountable because of intellectual disabilities, regardless of age.
Unblessed children under 8 when (1) at least one parent or one grandparent is a member of the Church and (2) both parents give permission for a record to be created. This includes children of converts. (If one parent does not have legal custody of the child, the permission of the parent who has custody is sufficient.)
A person age 9 or older who has a membership record but has not been baptized and confirmed is not considered a member of record. However, the ward in which the person lives retains 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, cancels the membership record. However, records of unbaptized members who are considered not accountable because of intellectual disabilities are not canceled.
The ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk meets with new ward members soon after their membership records arrive to review the Individual Ordinance Summary for accuracy.
For instructions about introducing new members after their records are received or after they are baptized and confirmed, see 126.96.36.199.
Ward leaders, ministering brothers, ministering sisters, or clerks obtain the forwarding addresses of members as soon as they become aware that members intend to move. Leaders of the new ward should contact members as soon as possible after they move in.
If, after sufficient effort, a clerk cannot find out where members have moved, he obtains the bishop’s approval to send the membership records to Church headquarters or the area office, where efforts to locate the members will continue.
When a person moves from a ward for more than three months, a clerk moves the membership record to the new ward. As an exception, the record is not moved if the member intends to return after leaving for temporary or seasonal employment purposes that may last longer than three months.
When a person moves from the ward for less than three months and plans to return, the membership record is kept in the home ward. The home ward also maintains the member’s financial records.
If leaders are uncertain about where a membership record should be (such as for a member in prison), they make sure it is kept in the ward that can best meet the person’s needs.
The membership records of a mission president and his wife are kept in their home ward unless their children accompany them in the assignment. If children accompany them, the records of the mission president, his wife, and his children are moved to the ward where they live during their mission.
The membership records of a temple president and his wife should stay in their home ward.
If members have Church assignments outside of their home ward, their membership and financial records are kept in the home ward. If assignments require members to move from their home ward for three months or more and if their children accompany them, their membership records are moved to the new ward.
The records of members who live in hospitals or homes for the aged and infirm should be in the ward that can best serve them. In most cases this is the ward where the hospital or home is located. Ward leaders make sure these members receive the full program of the Church to the extent possible.
When a member enters military service for training, the membership record is kept in the home ward until the member is assigned to a more long-term duty station. At that time the member should contact the home ward and provide the name and address of the new ward so a clerk can move the membership record.
If a member is at sea for an extended time, is deployed in a war zone, or is not within the boundaries of a stake or mission, the record is usually kept in the ward that supports the duty station.
Members who travel extensively and do not have a permanent address should consult with the bishop at their place of primary residence and designate a home ward. That ward keeps the membership records, and ward leaders should maintain contact with the members. Financial contributions and tithing declarations are made to that ward.
If the bishop determines that a person who is at least 8 years old is not accountable, he instructs a clerk to indicate “Not Accountable” in the baptism section of the person’s membership record (see 188.8.131.52). The clerk sends the update to Church headquarters or the area office. The membership record should not be canceled.
Members who use sign language, and their families, may choose to have their Church membership records in one of the following places: (1) their home ward, (2) a ward that is designated to host a group for the deaf or hearing impaired within a specified geographic area, or (3) a ward or branch that is organized for members who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Records of adopted children may be created or updated only after an adoption is final. The name on the record should conform to the decree of adoption. Records of adoptive parents may be updated only after an adoption is final.
If a child’s parents are divorced, his or her legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be recorded on the membership record and on certificates of priesthood ordinances and blessings.
These records no longer exist.
These records no longer exist.
If a member moves while formal membership restrictions or another serious concern is pending, the bishop, or the ward clerk with the bishop’s authorization, may contact Church headquarters or the area office and ask for a move restriction on the membership record. A move restriction may also be requested in cases of welfare abuse.
A record that has a move restriction will not be moved to a new unit until the priesthood leader who requested the restriction authorizes it to be removed.
When a member is located after his or her record has been in the “address unknown” file, the membership record is sent to the ward with a message encouraging the bishopric and quorum leaders to visit the person as soon as possible and to provide fellowshipping. Full-time missionaries may also be asked to visit and fellowship these members.
See chapter 18.
Priesthood leaders ensure that clerks prepare and distribute ordinance and blessing certificates as soon as possible after the blessing of a child, a baptism and confirmation, and a priesthood ordination. Leaders encourage members to safeguard these certificates, explaining that they may be irreplaceable if they are lost or destroyed.
Membership records include a person’s civil information (name; parents’ names; date of birth; marriage information; date of divorce, if applicable; and places where these events occurred). If members see that this information is incorrect on their Individual Ordinance Summary, they may ask the clerk to have it corrected on their membership records. If official documents are available, a bishop may want to review them to verify the accuracy of a requested correction.
For special situations that are not addressed in this section, such as records for common-law marriages, leaders should see membership records instructions or contact Church headquarters or the area office.
Each year the stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk ensures that an audit of membership records in each ward is conducted. The stake president may assign this task to the stake clerk, an assistant stake clerk, the ward clerk, an assistant ward clerk, or a combination of these brethren, depending on the circumstances in his stake. The stake president may call others who are experienced in membership record keeping to assist with these audits. Audits should be completed by June 30 of each year.
In addition to these audits, the bishop assigns one or more clerks in the ward to conduct an annual review of the Individual Ordinance Summary with members as explained in 33.6. If errors are found, a clerk ensures that they are corrected on the membership records.
Each unit in the Church is to document all the important things concerning the unit, including accounts from unit leaders (see Doctrine and Covenants 69:3, 5). Identifying important things is best accomplished by:
Reflecting on efforts to help individuals and families.
Recognizing meaningful experiences that show God’s influence in the lives of His children.
Recording these experiences and the lessons learned.
Keeping a history is a spiritual work that will strengthen the faith of those who write and read it. Documenting stories throughout the year will improve the quality of the history. It will also allow them to be shared quickly with unit members through ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The stake presidency directs the stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk in preparing the stake’s history. The stake presidency may also call a history specialist to help the assigned clerk prepare it. The bishopric follows a similar approach for the ward. Instructions are available at Stake, District, and Mission Annual Histories on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The Church History Department selectively collects historical records, including personal records, art, and artifacts “for the good of the church, and for the rising generations” (Doctrine and Covenants 69:8). Questions about the historical value of records may be addressed to:
Church History Library
15 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-1600
The records of the Church are confidential, whether they exist on paper, in computers, or in other electronic media. These include membership records, financial records, notes of meetings, official forms and documents (including records of membership councils), and notes made from private interviews.
Leaders and clerks are to safeguard Church records by handling, storing, and disposing of them in a way that protects the privacy of individuals. Leaders ensure that information that is gathered from members is (1) limited to what the Church requires and (2) used only for approved Church purposes.
Information from Church records and reports may be given only to those who are authorized to use it.
Information that is stored electronically must be kept secure and protected by a password (see 33.9.1). Leaders ensure that such data is not used for personal, political, or commercial purposes. Information from Church records, including historical information, may not be given to individuals or agencies conducting research or surveys.
Stake and ward directories that are distributed to members must follow the guidelines in 38.8.16. Membership lists that have more information, such as age and membership status, may be given only to authorized stake and ward leaders.
Stake and ward leaders should make effective records management a part of their record-keeping procedures. Three important areas of records management are outlined in the following paragraphs.
All information should be protected against unauthorized access, change, destruction, or disclosure. Church records, reports, and backup copies of computer software programs and data should be kept in a safe place. Highly sensitive records, including computer printouts and electronic storage media, should be kept in a locked drawer or cabinet in the leader’s office when they are not being used.
To protect confidential information on computers, leaders and clerks should use the password features of Church record-keeping systems. Passwords should be written down and kept in locked files away from the computer. They should be changed periodically, and they should always be changed when leaders or clerks are released. If members use stake and ward computers for family history work, they should not have access to membership or financial information.
Many countries have enacted data protection laws that regulate the processing of personal data, such as the information that is contained in membership records and other records that identify individuals. To determine the extent to which such laws govern local management of Church records or to obtain direction in specific instances, leaders may contact the Church data privacy officer at dataprivacyofficer@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Records should be kept only as long as they are needed for administrative, legal, and historical purposes. Leaders who have questions about how long to keep records should consult record-keeping instructions or contact Church headquarters or the area office.
Records that are outdated or no longer needed should be destroyed in such a way that the information cannot be retrieved or reconstructed. When deleting membership or financial information that is stored on a hard drive or another electronic storage device, a person must ensure that it cannot be recovered through any technical means.
Records that have potential historical value should not be discarded, destroyed, or placed in the resource center. Questions about the historical value of records may be addressed to the Church History Library (see contact information in 33.7.2).