From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Bateson, Jeffrey C.
Almost since the Church was organized in 1830, clerks have been divinely charged with the sacred responsibility of record keeping. Although stake presidents and bishops have overall responsibility for the records kept in their stakes and wards, clerks are charged with the stewardship of creating and maintaining membership, historical, and financial records. Clerks are lay members of the Church called by stake presidents to serve on a volunteer basis between three and ten hours a week in a stake or ward. Most serve for two to three years, but some have served for as many as thirty years in different clerk roles.
LDS scriptures speak of the calling of clerks and the importance of making a record of ordinances and other significant events in the Church and in the lives of members: It is the duty of the Lord's clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop; and also their manner of life, their faith, and works [D&C 85:1-2].
Clerks record ordinances performed for both the living and the dead, tithes and offerings given, minutes of Church meetings, and historical events. They are encouraged to be accurate and thorough in gathering information and reporting details. They must keep strict confidence and guard the privacy rights of Church members because they keep personal and sensitive information about them.
The stake clerk and assistant stake clerks perform record-keeping activities at the stake level and often are invited to supervise the training and work of ward clerks. The ward clerk and his assistant clerks have responsibility for gathering most statistical data about members that enable the Church to function properly.
To ensure accurate and complete Church records, clerks coordinate the gathering of information, train assistant clerks, supervise record keeping, and make certain that proper financial controls and procedures are followed. They also ensure compliance with audit findings and oversee the use and support of computer information systems. Clerks keep the financial records, recording the expenditure of funds to support Church programs and making it possible for bishops to provide members with information regarding their personal tithes and offerings.
Clerks maintain membership records that include demographic information and ordinance information for each member. They record the participation of members in some Church services. Stake and ward priesthood leaders use this information to help members prepare to receive the ordinances and covenants of the gospel. Modern technology has simplified record keeping in the Church. Most stake and ward clerks in the United States and Canada use computer systems that enable them to produce information quickly for stake presidents and bishops and to send information to Church headquarters. JEFFREY C. BATESON