Updating membership records (MLS)

MLS membership

"Whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven" D&C 128:8.

Updating membership records using MLS can only be done at the ward/branch level. Stake clerks can only review records, they cannot make changes.

The Church-produced training lesson Updating Membership Records  sets out the specific requirements to change membership record information. Correcting Membership Records  is a related lesson that provides information about identifying and correcting errors on membership records.

Responsibilities for updating membership records

Clerks and members have a sacred and important responsibility to make sure ordinances and other information are accurately recorded on the permanent records of the Church.

Even though an ordinance has been approved by those with the proper keys and performed by the proper authority, it is not valid unless it is properly recorded.

A membership record must be accurate and complete if it is to be of the greatest value to priesthood leaders.

All members, including clerks, home teachers, and ward leaders, have responsibilities to help make sure records are correct.

Members Members should notify the clerk of the following:
  • Change of residential address
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
Home Teachers Home teachers should notify the clerk of the following for families they are assigned:
  • Change of residential address
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
Clerks Clerks are responsible to:
  • Seek out information.
  • Update Church records.
Ward Leaders Ward leaders should make sure the clerk receives copies of:
  • Child blessing records.
  • Baptism and confirmation records.
  • Priesthood ordination records.

Recording changes

Updates to membership records are recorded locally in MLS, and then transmitted to the administrative office.

Ordinances for which there is no valid record

Occasionally a new clerk will find that previous clerks have not recorded or incorrectly recorded the changes to membership records that should have been made. Priesthood ordinations, births and deaths, baptisms of children of record, marriages, and other changes can build up over time, and information vital to recording these events properly can be lost, if the event wasn't recorded soon after it occurred, when the memories of those present are fresh.

In the case of ordinations to the priesthood, the failure to record the ordinance correctly can have a ripple effect, as uncertainty about if and when the ordination happened leads to uncertainty about ordinances performed by that priesthood holder.

If a member's ordinance information is not recorded on his records or appears to be recorded incorrectly, the Handbook is quite specific about what to do. If proper witnesses can be found, the ordinance can be recorded. But if a member can't prove that an ordinance occurred, it must be performed again. If the member has received other ordinances after this invalid ordinance, they must be ratified by the First Presidency.[1]

Researching unrecorded or incorrectly recorded events

  • In the case of "life events"--births, marriages and deaths, a legal record should exist in every case, making the task simply getting access to the official record of the event. Normally the member or a family member will have a copy of the legal certificate.
  • If the ordinance occurred before 1984, a clerk can submit a Request for Ordinance Information form. This form will be sent to the Member and Statistical Records Division at Church headquarters which will do research to see if the ordinance was recorded in Church paper records. This form can be ordered through the Online Store and is item #32388000.
  • Ask each member individually what the event was and what he remembers about it: who performed the ordinance, when it occurred, exactly what was done.
  • Ask previous leaders or others who were or should have been present what happened. Verify that they were present before accepting their information as definitive. Two witnesses are required, and they must write and sign a statement. Specific instructions about who can be a witness are found in Handbook 1.[2]
  • In some cases, the record may have been recorded on a duplicate record, perhaps one with a different name (possible if the member had a name change).
  • If a disciplinary council has been held in the case of a member, ordinances the member knows happened may not appear on their records because the disciplinary action hasn't been cleared up.

Processing membership transmissions

All financial and membership transmissions sent to Church headquarters are collected and processed in batches every four hours. Most membership transactions can be processed and returned to the unit within eight hours. However, the unit must use Send/Receive Changes again to receive the changes.

Special requests

Some corrections to membership records cannot be made in MLS but must be reported to the administrative office. See special requests for examples of these issues and the procedure for correcting them.

Tracking changes

It may be helpful to keep track of the changes requested and who requested the changes. Sample change request forms are listed below. These forms can be used by leaders or members at large. They can also be kept on file for membership audits according to the unit's record retention policies.

See also


  1. Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 16.1.10.
  2. Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 16.1.10.
This page was last modified on 20 May 2012, at 16:03.

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