“33. Records and Reports,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“33. Records and Reports,” General Handbook.
Records and Reports
The procedures in this chapter apply generally to units that use the Church’s online record-keeping tools, including Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR), Member Tools, and Ward Directory and Map. Units that do not have access to these tools should work with the Global Services Department or the area office.
Record keeping has always been important in the Lord’s Church. For example:
Adam kept “a book of remembrance” (Moses 6:5).
Moroni taught that the names of those who were baptized into the Church of Christ were recorded so “they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4).
Joseph Smith instructed that a recorder should be called in every ward to “make a record of a truth before the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:2). He also emphasized the importance of diligent record keeping when he wrote, “Whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:8; see also verses 2–9).
Overview of Church Records
Church records are sacred. The information in them is sensitive and should be safeguarded. Church record systems authorize access to membership information based on callings. Only those who are authorized should be given access. They should use this information only for purposes specific to their callings (see 33.8).
Records can help leaders:
Identify who may need special care.
Identify which ordinances of salvation a person has received or may need.
The following types of records are kept in Church units:
Member participation reports (see 33.5)
Membership records (see 33.6)
Historical records (see 33.7)
Financial records (see chapter 34)
General Instructions for Clerks
All clerks should have unquestionable integrity and follow the Lord’s commandments. They should:
Have a current temple recommend.
Be careful record keepers.
Be capable teachers and administrators.
Clerks carefully follow current policies to safeguard Church funds and ensure that Church records are accurate. Clerks immediately notify priesthood leaders of any improprieties. If difficulties arise in resolving improprieties, clerks should contact the Confidential Records Office at Church headquarters. Contact information is shown below:
Telephone: 1-801-240-2053 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-2053
Toll free (GSD phone): 855-537-4357
The duration of clerks’ service should be sufficient for them to learn their duties and preserve continuity in their work (see 30.5). 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.
Stake Records and Reports
The stake president oversees stake record keeping. He may delegate much of this work to his counselors and clerks. He ensures that they follow current Church policies and procedures.
Every stake should have a qualified, functioning stake clerk. He is called and set apart by a member of the stake presidency. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and have a current temple recommend. He is a member of the stake council. He attends stake meetings as indicated in 29.3.
The stake clerk is instructed by the stake presidency and works under their direction. Assistant stake clerks may be called to help (see 33.3.3).
The stake clerk, or an assigned assistant clerk, has the following responsibilities:
Provide administrative support to the stake presidency.
Keep a record of assignments and decisions made in stake leadership meetings.
Follow up with assignments.
Ensure that records and reports are accurate and timely.
The stake clerk should become familiar with Church record-keeping tools (see 33.0). He uses these tools to help leaders identify:
The needs of members and organizations.
The availability of resources, including finances.
Stake trends, strengths, and weaknesses.
Areas of concern.
Other record-keeping duties may include:
Ensuring that Melchizedek Priesthood ordinations are properly and promptly recorded.
Activating temple recommends.
Adding medical information to missionary applications.
Preparing the Officers Sustained form and Stake Conference Report for stake conference.
Overseeing the transfer of ward records when a new ward is created or discontinued, or boundaries are changed.
Recording information for stake membership councils (see 32.9.6).
Maintaining financial records (see 34.1.2).
Review of Ward Records and Reports
The stake clerk meets with each new ward clerk soon after he is called. He meets with ward clerks as often as needed, but at least twice a year. These meetings are held to ensure that:
Tithing and other financial records are properly recorded (see 34.1.2 and 34.2.2).
Membership records are updated promptly and accurately.
Ward clerks are familiar with Church record-keeping tools.
Certificates of blessing, baptism and confirmation, and priesthood ordination are given to ward members.
The annual membership record audit is conducted and all audit exceptions are promptly corrected (see 33.6.19).
The ward’s annual history is submitted to the stake at the end of each year (see 33.7).
Stake Historical Records
Assistant Stake Clerks
The stake president or an assigned counselor may call and set apart one or more assistant stake clerks as needed. These brethren should be Melchizedek Priesthood holders who have a current temple recommend. They work under the guidance of the stake presidency and the stake clerk.
If needed, one assistant clerk may be called to each of the following positions:
Ward Records and Reports
The bishop oversees ward record keeping. He may delegate much of this work to his counselors and clerks. He ensures that they follow current Church policies and procedures.
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 or an assigned high councilor. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and have a current temple recommend. He is a member of the ward council. He attends ward meetings as indicated in 29.2.
The ward clerk is instructed by the bishopric and by stake clerks. He works under the direction of the bishopric. Assistant ward clerks may be called to help (see 33.4.3).
The ward clerk, or an assigned assistant clerk, has the following responsibilities:
Provide administrative support to the bishopric.
Keep a record of assignments and decisions made in ward leadership meetings.
Follow up with assignments.
Ensure that records and reports are accurate and timely.
Identify ordinances that require ratification (see 38.2.6 and 18.10.3).
The ward clerk should become familiar with Church record-keeping tools (see 33.0). He uses these tools to help leaders identify:
The needs of members and organizations.
The availability of resources, including finances.
Ward trends, strengths, and weaknesses.
Areas of concern.
When compiling reports on member participation, the clerk works with secretaries to resolve minor problems. He discusses serious problems with the bishop.
The ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk shows members how to view their membership information in the Member Tools app. He may also provide them with a printed copy if requested. Ward clerks encourage members to report any errors in their membership information.
Other record-keeping duties may include:
Ensuring that 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 financial records (see 34.2.2).
Instructing Clerks and Secretaries
The ward clerk instructs assistant ward clerks and quorum and organization secretaries. He helps them understand how information from Church record-keeping tools can help leaders.
This instruction is especially important when:
Assistant ward clerks and quorum and organization secretaries are newly called.
A Church record-keeping tool is introduced or updated.
Records are not completed properly.
Ward Historical Records
Assistant Ward Clerks
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 hold the Melchizedek or Aaronic Priesthood. They should also have a current temple recommend. If an assistant ward clerk is assigned to finances, he should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Assistant ward clerks work under the guidance of the bishopric and the ward clerk.
If needed, one assistant clerk may be called to each of the following positions:
Priesthood and Organization Leaders
Quorum and organization leaders oversee record keeping in their organizations. They may assign secretaries to do much of this work. They work with secretaries to ensure that records and reports are accurate and timely.
Reports on Member Participation
Reports on member participation help leaders focus on the progress and needs of members. When possible, these reports should be reviewed electronically rather than printed. When printed reports are necessary, they should be carefully managed to respect members’ privacy and to comply with local data protection laws.
Types of Reports
Attendance at sacrament meetings and Sunday priesthood and organization meetings is recorded electronically using LCR or Member Tools.
Sacrament Meeting. Attendance at sacrament meeting is recorded each week by the ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk. The count is the number attending the meeting in-person or by streaming, including visitors. Ward members who are not present because they have another assignment or are attending another ward are counted in the ward they attend.
Sunday Quorum and Organization Meetings. Attendance is recorded each week by quorum and organization secretaries and advisers. Youth leaders may also assist in recording attendance. The count is the number attending the meeting in-person or by streaming, including visitors. Members who are serving in the Primary or as youth leaders within the ward are also included as attending. Members who are attending another ward are counted in the ward they attend.
The ward clerk can record attendance on behalf of any organization.
Ministering Interview Reports
Every number in a report represents an actual person who has unique needs (see Helaman 15:13). Leaders seek direction from the Lord as they consider who may need their help.
The Quarterly Report contains useful information that can provide leaders with insights as they seek inspiration about their ministering efforts. The report is available in Member Tools or LCR.
Stake and ward leaders refer to the Quarterly Report regularly to review progress of individuals. The report includes information about:
The temple recommend status of endowed members and of youth.
Males ages 18–25 who are serving or have served a mission.
The status of ministering interviews (see 21.3).
Prospective elders who need support in preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Sunday meeting attendance for children, youth, young single adults, and adults (see 188.8.131.52).
The progress of new members who were baptized and confirmed within the past 12 months.
All attendance and ministering interviews are recorded in Member Tools or LCR. This information automatically completes the corresponding portions of the Quarterly Report.
Every ward completes and submits a Quarterly Report to Church headquarters. The clerk reviews the report with the bishop and submits it before the 15th of the month following the end of each quarter.
The stake presidency may review the Quarterly Report submitted by each ward. This will help them monitor progress and know where support and instruction are needed. Stake council members may also view each Quarterly Report.
Church record-keeping tools provide leaders with access to membership lists. These lists can help leaders identify:
Which members have not yet received ordinances for which they are eligible.
Which young men and young women are eligible to serve a mission.
Which youth do not have a current temple recommend.
Which youth need to be scheduled for meetings with a member of the bishopric.
Quorum and organization leaders should have access to lists of those who belong to their quorum or organization.
Membership records include members’ names, contact information, ordinance details, and other vital information. The ward should have a membership record for each member living within its boundaries.
Membership records should be kept in the ward where the member lives. Exceptions, which should be rare, require the consent of the bishops and stake presidents involved. To request an exception, the stake president uses LCR to submit the request to the Office of the First Presidency.
Membership records are the only means of recording ordinances and other official actions in the permanent records of the Church. Therefore, the bishop ensures that clerks keep accurate records. He also ensures that clerks update information using LCR. It is vital to do the following promptly:
Record ordinance information.
Move records of members who move into or out of the ward.
Create records for new members and new children of member parents.
Record a member’s death. (A member’s death must be recorded before temple ordinances can be performed on his or her behalf. See 28.1.)
Record marriage and household information.
The bishop or stake president ensures that a membership record is in the appropriate ward before a member is interviewed to receive:
A Church calling.
A temple recommend.
The Melchizedek Priesthood or to be ordained to an office in that priesthood.
He also ensures that the record does not include any of the following:
A comment about a sealing or ordinance restriction
Formal membership restrictions
Sometimes a member has not lived in the same ward continuously for at least one year. In that case, the bishop or an assigned counselor contacts the prior bishop before conducting an interview to issue a temple recommend or to recommend ordination to a Melchizedek Priesthood office. The purpose of this contact is to ask if there are any worthiness matters to be considered. If a counselor learns that there is confidential information, he ends the conversation. He informs his bishop to contact the prior bishop before conducting the interview.
Under no circumstances may membership records be given or shown to anyone other than the bishop or a clerk.
Members may view membership information for themselves and for any dependent children living at home on the Member Tools app. They may also request printed copies of their Individual Ordinance Summaries from the clerk. If errors are found, a clerk ensures that they are corrected on the membership records.
Instructions on how to create a membership record are available in LCR. Instructions on how to record a marriage or death are also available.
For situations not addressed in this section, leaders should contact the Global Services Department or the area office.
Names Used in Church Records
A person’s full legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be used in membership records and on ordinance certificates.
Members of Record
The following individuals are members of record and 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 age 9 when both of the following apply:
At least one parent or one grandparent is a member of the Church.
Both parents give permission for a record to be created. (If only one parent has legal custody of the child, the permission of that parent is sufficient.)
A person age 9 or older who has a membership record but has not been baptized and confirmed is not 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, the bishop cancels the membership record. The stake president’s permission is required.
Records are not canceled for those who have not been baptized because of an intellectual disability unless requested by the person or a legal guardian, including a parent.
Records of New Ward Members
The ward clerk or an assistant ward clerk contacts 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 184.108.40.206.
Records of Members Who Move or Are Temporarily Away from Home
Ward leaders, ministering brothers and sisters, and clerks obtain the new addresses of members as soon as they become aware that members intend to move out of the ward. The clerk moves the records to the new ward when the members actually move. Clerks may also request the records of members moving into their ward when the records have not been sent by the previous ward.
If a clerk cannot find out where members have moved, the record is moved to the Finding Lost Members list in LCR. Elders quorum and Relief Society leaders review this report regularly and use available resources to locate these members. Other ward council members or missionaries may assist.
If the member’s location is found, the clerk moves the record accordingly. If the member’s location is not found after using all finding resources, the clerk receives the bishop’s approval to return the record to Church headquarters.
Records in the Finding Lost Members list are still assigned to the ward, but they do not appear in member lists and reports, and they are not included in ward statistics.
When a person moves from a ward for more than three months, a clerk moves the membership record to the new ward unless the member intends to return after leaving for temporary or seasonal employment or schooling 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 ward.
When leaders are unsure how long a person will be away, they keep the record in the ward that can best meet the member’s needs.
Out-of-Unit Member Records
A person’s membership record may be kept in only one ward at a time. Only the bishop of that ward may oversee updating the membership record, performing ordinances, and conducting interviews for the member.
Some circumstances require that a member’s name and contact information be recorded in a secondary ward (see 33.6.11 and 33.6.13 for examples). In these cases, the clerk of the secondary ward creates an out-of-unit member record. He uses LCR to create this record.
Members with an out-of-unit record may receive a calling in that ward. They are also included on ward directories and rolls.
Records of Members Serving outside Their Geographic Ward
Records of Members with Other Church Assignments
If members have Church assignments outside of their geographic ward, their membership and financial records are kept in the geographic ward. If assignments require members to move from their geographic ward for three months or more and if their children accompany them, their membership records are moved to the new ward. (See 33.6.4.)
Records of Full-Time Missionaries
Records of Young Single Adults
Young single adults between the ages of 18 and 30 may choose to be members of either their geographic ward or a YSA ward if one is established in their area. If they choose a YSA ward, they attend the ward assigned to the boundaries in which they live. They also inform the bishop of their geographic ward for his awareness. The membership record is kept in the ward they attend.
These principles also apply to single adults between the ages of 31 and 45 who choose to be members of a single adult ward.
Records of Members Who Live in Hospitals or Care Facilities
The records of members who live in hospitals or care facilities should be in the ward that can best serve them. In most cases, that is the ward where the hospital or facility is located.
Records of Members in Military Service
When a member enters military service for training, the membership record is kept in the geographic ward until he or she is assigned to a more long-term duty station. At that time the member should contact the geographic ward and provide the name and address of the new ward.
Records of Members Who Have Intellectual Disabilities
A person age 8 or older who has an intellectual disability, his or her parents (where applicable), and the bishop counsel together to determine whether the person is accountable. If the person is determined not to be accountable, the bishop or a clerk indicates “Not Accountable” in the baptism section of the person’s membership record in LCR. The record is not canceled. Ordinances are not necessary for a person whose record indicates that he or she is not accountable.
Sometimes an individual, his or her parents, and the bishop later counsel together and determine that a person is accountable after the record has been noted as “Not Accountable.” In that case, the bishop or a clerk (with the bishop’s approval) can remove the “Not Accountable” indication. For more information, see 38.2.4.
Records of Members Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Members who use sign language, and their immediate family members or legal guardians, may choose to have their Church membership records in any of the following places:
Their geographic ward
A ward for members who are deaf and hard of hearing who live within its boundaries
A ward that hosts a group for members who are deaf and hard of hearing who live within a geographic area specified by the stake president or Area President
In this situation, an individual or family’s records may be in one unit, and they may be out-of-unit members in another. For example, part of a family may have their records in a unit for the deaf and hard of hearing, and they may be out-of-unit members in their geographic unit. For more information, see 33.6.5.
Members who are deaf or hard of hearing may virtually attend wards or groups organized for those who are deaf or hard of hearing outside of the members’ geographic area. They may do so even if their records are not in that unit. Before attending virtually, they should contact the bishop of the ward and inform him of their desire to attend.
Records of Adopted Children
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.
Records of Children of Divorced Parents
All membership records use the legal name of a person, as defined by local law or custom. This includes children of parents who are divorced. The legal name on the membership record should also be recorded on certificates of blessings and priesthood ordinances.
Children with divorced parents often attend Church meetings in both parents’ wards. While only one unit may keep and update a child’s official membership record, an out-of-unit member record may be created in the other ward he or she attends (see 33.6.5). This allows the child’s name and contact information to be included on ward lists and class rolls.
Children with an out-of-unit member record may receive a calling in that unit. This helps ensure that they are included and can fully participate wherever they attend.
Records with Annotations
Move Restrictions on Membership Records
If a member moves while formal membership restrictions or another serious concern is pending, the bishop or an authorized clerk may place a move restriction on the membership record. He uses LCR to do this.
A record that has a move restriction is not moved to a new unit until the priesthood leader who placed the restriction authorizes it to be removed.
Records from the “Address Unknown” File
A member is sometimes located after his or her record has been in the “address unknown file” at Church headquarters. In this situation, the ward clerk requests the record using LCR. The record will include a message encouraging the bishopric, quorum, and organization 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.
Recording and Correcting Ordinance Information
See chapter 18.
Recording and Correcting Civil Information
Audits of Membership Records
Each year the stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk ensures that an audit of membership records is conducted in each ward using LCR. 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.
Ward and Stake Histories
The Lord has commanded that “a history of all the important” matters concerning His Church be written and kept (Doctrine and Covenants 69:3; see also verse 5; Alma 37:2).
Each unit in the Church is to document all the important matters concerning the unit. These matters include historical accounts from unit leaders. Identifying important matters 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.
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.
The stake clerk or an assistant stake clerk prepares the stake’s history. The stake presidency may also call a history specialist to help. 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
Confidentiality of Records
The records of the Church are confidential, whether they exist on paper or digitally. These include:
Notes from meetings.
Official forms and documents (including records of membership councils).
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:
Limited to what the Church requires.
Used only for approved Church purposes.
Given only to those who are authorized to use it.
Information that is stored electronically must be kept secure and protected appropriately (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 (see 38.8.37).
Leaders and members must follow the guidelines in 38.8.13 to protect stake and ward directories.
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 this section.
All Church records, reports, and data should be protected against unauthorized access, change, destruction, or disclosure. This information should be kept in a safe place. Highly sensitive records, including computer printouts, should be kept in a locked drawer or cabinet in the leader’s office when they are not being used.
Where possible, electronic copies of records, reports, and data should be encrypted and password protected. Lost or stolen Church-owned devices or storage media should be reported promptly at incidents.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Misuse of Church information should also be reported.
Usernames and Passwords
Stake presidents, bishops, and other leaders should never share their Church username and password with counselors, clerks, executive secretaries, or others. They should also not store them on devices that others can see or access.
Passwords should be 12 characters or longer and should not be easily guessed. Leaders are strongly encouraged to enable two-step verification (also known as multifactor authentication) on their Church account whenever possible.
Shared Computers and Data Storage
Leaders and clerks should not store membership or financial information on shared computers that can be accessed by others who are not authorized to have this information.
Many countries have enacted data protection laws that regulate the processing of personal data. This includes the information in membership records and other Church records that identify individuals. Leaders who have questions about the application of data protection laws to the local management of Church records may contact the Church data privacy office at DataPrivacyOfficer@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Records should be kept only as long as they are needed for administrative, legal, and historical purposes. Financial records should be retained for at least three years plus the current year. Leaders who have questions about how long to keep records should contact the Global Services Department 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 digital membership or financial information, the leader must ensure that it cannot be recovered through any reasonable means.
Records that have potential historical value should not be discarded, destroyed, or placed in the ward resource center (library). Questions about the historical value of records may be addressed to the Church History Library (see contact information in 33.7.2).
Stake and Ward Technology Specialists
The stake presidency calls one or more stake members to serve as stake technology specialists. The bishopric may call one or more ward members to serve as ward technology specialists. Men, women, and youth may fill these callings.
Stake technology specialists serve under the guidance of the stake clerk. Ward technology specialists serve under the guidance of the ward clerk or executive secretary, as determined by the bishop. Their responsibilities can include the following:
Assist stake or ward leaders with technical needs.
Teach members how to access and use Church media, apps, and other technology tools, including FamilySearch.org.
Support leaders and teachers who use technology tools to fulfill their callings.
Manage streaming of meetings and classes for those who cannot attend (see 29.7).
In addition, the stake technology specialist has the following responsibilities for managing Church computers in the stake, including those in family history centers:
Implement direction from the stake presidency about placing, sharing, reassigning, and scheduling all stake computers.
Maintain a current inventory of all computer hardware in the stake, with serial numbers, models, capacities, and physical locations.
Ensure that (1) computers, software, and confidential information are secure and (2) data files are backed up regularly.
Be familiar with the general policies for Church computers (see 38.8.10).
Be familiar with guidelines for obtaining and managing Church computers.
As needed, stake technology specialists coordinate the work of ward technology specialists. They also provide instruction.