Locating who performed baptism

Discuss basic duties of stake and ward clerks, including where to begin.
kimballmiles
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Locating who performed baptism

Postby kimballmiles » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:52 am

I am the ward clerk in a YSA ward, on the individual records it shows when the member was baptized and confirmed, but does not show by who. Is there a way to locate that information? If so how do we get the records change?

eblood66
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Postby eblood66 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:40 am

kimballmiles wrote:I am the ward clerk in a YSA ward, on the individual records it shows when the member was baptized and confirmed, but does not show by who. Is there a way to locate that information? If so how do we get the records change?


I'm pretty sure that HQ does not keep that information. My son was baptized just two months ago and I know my membership clerk entered who performed the baptism but that information doesn't show up online in the Leader portal. That information is just stored in the local MLS database temporarily so that the certificate can be printed. Only priesthood ordinances keep the 'ordained by' information (so that the priesthood line of authority is maintained).

If you do really need to know who baptized or confirmed a member, you're best bet is probably the member themselves or family who may have records or the original certificate. But even if you get the information there is no reason to enter it into MLS.

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Postby hooson » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:48 am

eblood66 wrote:If you do really need to know who baptized or confirmed a member, you're best bet is probably the member themselves or family who may have records or the original certificate. But even if you get the information there is no reason to enter it into MLS.


If the member doesn't know, nor their family, there's usually no other way whatsoever of finding out who performed the baptism.
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famaxwell
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Postby famaxwell » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:55 am

In my opinion, if MLS is not storing the names of the priesthood holders who perform baptisms & confirmations, then this is a deficiency in the system. If the information is important enough to be included on a printed certificate, then it should be important enough to store electronically. And if the info were stored electronically, it would be much, much easier to print replacement ordinance certificates when needed. No research would be required.

The problem with having to do research is that the original baptismal paperwork may have been destroyed. For instance, I received info from my stake technology clerk, instructing that the original paperwork for ordinances done during the prior fiscal year should be destroyed after the annual Membership Record Audit. I was very surprised to see that, since I think it's unwise to destroy original documents. Especially if there is no other copy of the document. However, if other units have followed that directive, it may be very very difficult to successfully research an old ordinance.

Which is all the more reason why MLS should be modified to retain the names & MRNs of those performing all ordinances which could generate certificates.

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Postby aebrown » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:46 am

famaxwell wrote:In my opinion, if MLS is not storing the names of the priesthood holders who perform baptisms & confirmations, then this is a deficiency in the system. If the information is important enough to be included on a printed certificate, then it should be important enough to store electronically. And if the info were stored electronically, it would be much, much easier to print replacement ordinance certificates when needed. No research would be required.


I guess the question is why a replacement ordinance certificates is required. The ordinance was already recorded, with all the information CHQ considers to be important. A certificate isn't the official document; the electronically recorded information is. The certificate is a secondary document.

famaxwell wrote:The problem with having to do research is that the original baptismal paperwork may have been destroyed. For instance, I received info from my stake technology clerk, instructing that the original paperwork for ordinances done during the prior fiscal year should be destroyed after the annual Membership Record Audit. I was very surprised to see that, since I think it's unwise to destroy original documents. Especially if there is no other copy of the document. However, if other units have followed that directive, it may be very very difficult to successfully research an old ordinance.


Why do you need to research an old ordinance? Was the information not properly recorded on the membership record? Clearly no original documents should be destroyed before it has been verified that the membership record has been properly updated. But once that has occurred, what does the original paperwork provide?

There was a time that the Church unwisely stopped recording who performed MP ordinations, and they later regretted that and asked for documents on who had performed these ordinations so that the line of authority could be constructed. But other than that, keeping paperwork just becomes a huge archiving headache.
famaxwell wrote:Which is all the more reason why MLS should be modified to retain the names & MRNs of those performing all ordinances which could generate certificates.


There's a difference between MLS storing information and the main membership database at CHQ storing information. There are cases where MLS stores information, but it doesn't get transmitted to CHQ (because a decision has been made not to store that information on the official membership record). An example of this is those who perform ordinances.

It's my understanding that CHQ has decided to store information about who performs priesthood ordinations, because that is part of a person's priesthood line of authority, which the Church considers to be important information to maintain. But it doesn't record who performed a variety of other ordinances on the membership record, because the Church has decided that it's important to know the date (and thus document that the ordinance did happen), but it's not essential to know who performed the ordinance. This would include baptism, temple ordinances including sealings, and baby blessings.
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Postby famaxwell » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:38 am

Well, maybe a replacement certificate is necessary when a member asks for one. Maybe the original was lost in a fire, or a theft, or a move. Maybe the original was never even printed -- I know that's happened in my ward (before my tenure). Maybe some members are still trying to do Books of Remembrance. So it may not be necessary for the church, but it might be necessary for a member or their family.

But certificates can't be replaced if you don't have accurate information. And in many instances, MLS does not contain the information necessary to replace a certificate. Which is why reviewing original documentation may be necessary. Which is why I think the alleged instruction to destroy original documentation interferes with the process of creating replacement certificates. If we are allowed to create replacement ordinance certificates (which I believe we are), then the information necessary to do should be available.

And certificates can be important. For example, a new move-in to our ward is a high priest. But according to his membership record, he's an elder. If he has a high priest ordination certificate, then I have the evidence I need to correct his record. But if he doesn't, I will have to contact his prior stake, and they will have to go through their files to find evidence that he was indeed ordained a high priest, and when it occurred, and who ordained him.

I do understand that currently membership records don't show the names of who baptized/confirmed the members. Hopefully, that info is recorded on a person's cumulative membership record at CHQ (just as one's prior marriages and divorces are recorded). As to why this isn't included on the membership record at the local level, I wonder. Was this decision based on software or hardware limitations when MLS was first designed? If so, then the decision could be changed. An extra 20 to 40 characters per membership record is not that big a deal. I just know that my job as a clerk would be easier if that information stayed on members' records even after records are sent to another ward.

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Postby eblood66 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:57 am

famaxwell wrote:I do understand that currently membership records don't show the names of who baptized/confirmed the members. Hopefully, that info is recorded on a person's cumulative membership record at CHQ (just as one's prior marriages and divorces are recorded). As to why this isn't included on the membership record at the local level, I wonder. Was this decision based on software or hardware limitations when MLS was first designed? If so, then the decision could be changed. An extra 20 to 40 characters per membership record is not that big a deal. I just know that my job as a clerk would be easier if that information stayed on the member's records even after they change wards.


That information is not maintained at CHQ. If you look at section 13.6.12 of Handbook 1 it says that the certificate is the only Church source of information about who performed the ordinance and as such members should be informed that it should be safeguarded. It also indicates that it may be impossible to replace the certificate if it is lost or destroyed.

So the Church is aware of the situation and must consider it acceptable.

Personally, I think replacement certificates are problematic even when all the information is known. The certificate is supposed to be signed by the Bishop but if there is a new Bishop there is a question of who, if anyone, has authority to sign the certificate. If current bishop signs then the certificate is not really a replacement (plus he doesn't have personal knowledge of the additional information that isn't on the membership record). But the previous bishop may not be available and, even if he is, he no longer has that calling so he is really no longer authorized to sign certificates. Personally, I've seen nothing that says we can issue replacement certificates (but I haven't seen anything that explicitly says we can't either).

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:22 pm

famaxwell wrote:I do understand that currently membership records don't show the names of who baptized/confirmed the members. Hopefully, that info is recorded on a person's cumulative membership record at CHQ (just as one's prior marriages and divorces are recorded). As to why this isn't included on the membership record at the local level, I wonder. Was this decision based on software or hardware limitations when MLS was first designed?


At one time the information was recorded. They even recorded who was the proxy for temple work for the dead. But in a high-level review of chuch processes, it was dropped in a reduce & simplify move back in th 80s (iirc). It isn't critical information for the functioning of the Church. The cost is more then the storage of
information, it also includes the need to develop ways to display and update.

Bottom line, the decision was made well above the pay grade of anyone here. It's not up to the developers.
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Postby famaxwell » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:58 pm

Well, the reason I assume that replacement certificates are okay is because there are other threads in this forum which discuss how to generate replacement certificates. Though I agree the signature issue is a problem.

eblood66 wrote:That information is not maintained at CHQ. If you look at section 13.6.12 of Handbook 1 it says that the certificate is the only Church source of information about who performed the ordinance and as such members should be informed that it should be safeguarded. It also indicates that it may be impossible to replace the certificate if it is lost or destroyed.

So the Church is aware of the situation and must consider it acceptable.


I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. Just because this is our current recordkeeping practice doesn't mean it's optimal. For instance, as aebrown pointed out, several years ago MLS stopped recording the names of the people who performed Melchizedek Priesthood ordinations. Then after some time went by, it was realized that was a mistake, and that decision was reversed.

Before membership records were consolidated at CHQ in the 1950s, I believe the records maintained by the wards included the names of the priesthood holders who performed the ordinances. So now, comparatively, we have less information available on the local membership records than they had 60 years ago.

So I think the statement from the Handbook reflects the technical reality that existed when that paragraph was first written. But if we now have the technical capability to include more ordinance information (such as who performed the ordinance) on membership records, then I think we should do it. That's why I think that old decision should be reconsidered. The reason it hasn't been reconsidered yet is probably because folks are working on other issues. That's understandable. But I'd like this issue to be on the Ponder & To-Do lists, too.

I'm not disagreeing that people should take care of their certificates. But like govt. Vital Statistics offices, I think it'd also important for the church to be able to replace certificates when needed.

Also, from a historical point-of-view, it's probably not a good idea to, simultaneously, limit what's stored electronically and destroy original paper documents.

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Postby jdlessley » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:09 pm

What paper records are destroyed is determined by the need for the information. Perhaps you should counsel with your stake clerk to discuss the issues you have presented here regarding the need to preserve information. The Church is not directing you to destroy the documents you feel need to be retained. It is your local leadership who are directing this procedure.
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