This weekend's tip: No "DNC" on membership records

Discuss questions around local unit policies for membership (creating records, transferring records, etc.) This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
jbh001
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Postby jbh001 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:44 am

RussellHltn wrote:I know some members ask that we put "unlisted" for the phone number to remind those who have it to be careful about who they give it to. That's different.
And even that is a problem. As a well meaning, but naive new ward clerk, I cross-checked several membership records with the local phone book and supplied missing phone numbers and addresses. A few of those had been removed on purpose. Some were listed in MLS as "unlisted" even though they were published in the phone book. Looking back, I should have checked with someone before making the correction, but I was new and naive.

I like the new tip. I think it is spot on. I like the idea of restricting published membership lists to LUWS because of its greater control over what is displayed. I like the idea of creating special home teaching districts to manage special situations. Neither of them runs afoul of the published tip, IMO.

I have been tempted to suggest moving the phone number to the "secondary" position in MLS and leaving the "primary" phone number blank, and also moving the address to the "mail" address position and leaving the main address fields blank. Those have the benefit reducing (maybe only slightly) accidental unwanted contact. But I feel that even those suggestions or "work-arounds" are contrary to the intended counsel.

I can't help but wonder if the counsel regarding visiting members were followed more diligently (see page 166 of CHI book 2) if these "do not contact" situations would be greatly reduced.

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Postby RossEvans » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:00 am

jbh001 wrote:I like the new tip. I think it is spot on. I like the idea of restricting published membership lists to LUWS because of its greater control over what is displayed. I like the idea of creating special home teaching districts to manage special situations. Neither of them runs afoul of the published tip, IMO.


I don't see where the tip covers anything about restricting published membership lists to LUWS. MLS still provides for general ward directories. The tricky issue of when to suppress publication of information that members (even active members) have requested to be private is not handled well in MLS. It seems that further guidance -- and possibly some enhancement to the software -- would be helpful there.

But that is a different matter than the Do Not Contact situation. I agree that the tip here is spot on, and I also think that managing such situations with special home teaching assignments, either by district or companionship, does not contravene the published tip. The last time I looked, that is what our quorums have been doing.

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Postby jbh001 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:19 am

boomerbubba wrote:I don't see where the tip covers anything about restricting published membership lists to LUWS. MLS still provides for general ward directories. The tricky issue of when to suppress publication of information that members (even active members) have requested to be private is not handled well in MLS.
Correct, the tip does not. But as you pointed out LUWS has flexibility when needing to suppress information at a member's request. MLS does not, thus the membership record hacks. This is why I like the the idea of sending people to LUWS for a general ward list instead of using MLS.

I have a feeling all of this will start changing soon as the updated modules to LUWS currently under development get rolled out. I also expect that future enhancements to MLS are also in the works.

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Postby russellhltn » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:42 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:I would recommend that you review the original MLS message. It was addressed to "All Priesthood Leaders," not just to clerks.


Looking at the post and not the PDF, I missed that. In practical terms, I think this would require the clerk to print it off and hand it to the bishop - assuming a clerk as looked at the weekly "tip".

Is this is the first time this level of communication has been sent out via MLS messaging? This is fine as a secondary way to communicate, but I find it lacking if it's the primary one for this message.
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Postby russellhltn » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:54 pm

crislapi wrote:Yes, but this basically leaves the only option to them of contacting the local leader and requesting their names be removed from the church records. Is that really preferable?


In certain situations, the answer is yes. I know that if I were faced with someone angry at being contacted I would strongly consider letting them know about this option.

The handbook outlines the procedure and it needs to be something from the member in writing. So I'm not too concerned about it happening casually. I think we need to respect the agency of the person. If they no longer wish to be a member, we need to accept that and act accordingly.
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Postby lajackson » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:31 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Is this is the first time this level of communication has been sent out via MLS messaging? This is fine as a secondary way to communicate, but I find it lacking if it's the primary one for this message.


This is not the first time. And it may still come out in printed form through regular channels.

However, this particular message concerning Do Not Contacts is not new guidance or information, though it may seem new to a clerk who has been functioning under a bishop who wishes to hide a few paper membership records in his desk instead of in the official file box.

But, I have received instruction from many a general authority reminding that those who are baptized have agreed to be contacted periodically by the Church, and that there is no such thing as a Do Not Contact. The basis for this is actually scriptural (D&C 20).

And I am equally aware that few bishops even know what the Handbook tells them to tell the non-member parent(s) of a baby being blessed, and that fewer actually do it (see CHI p. 32).

Yet, I am still wary of messages that come through MLS. I think they are intended to be helpful, but a message sent a few months ago shows that they do not receive the same care, attention, and level of review as messages that come printed through formal channels.

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Postby lajackson » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:39 pm

RussellHltn wrote:I know that if I were faced with someone angry at being contacted I would strongly consider letting them know about this option [name removal].


I felt the same way as a young priest when we went to home teach a family where the father met us at the door and we were looking down the wrong end of a shotgun.

When I returned from my mission, the father thanked us for coming. He and his family had been sealed in the temple.

This is not the way it usually turns out, I realize, and I have personally had less fortunate results. But, I share this story anyway, as one of the highlights of my own home teaching experience.

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Postby jwtaber » Sat Sep 19, 2009 5:57 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Looking at the post and not the PDF, I missed that. In practical terms, I think this would require the clerk to print it off and hand it to the bishop - assuming a clerk as looked at the weekly "tip".


I've printed it off, and posted it on the bulletin board of the stake clerks' office. Sometime tomorrow I'm going to email the ward clerks that have something like that visible in their respective Directories of Members (some do several times), to please remove it posthaste. We shall see what their response will be to that. At one point there was at least one temple recommend holder in the stake whose membership record had "DNC" as part of the telephone number.

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Hmm...

Postby seanmcox-p40 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:53 pm

I also have some concerns about this message. I'm a little bit concerned about the fact that the message cites no authority. (There's a reason why many communications come from the first presidency.)

This thread speaks of the message as a "tip", but this does not seem accurate, as it is not worded as a "tip". It is worded as a directive or policy statement. (What is it then?)

Considerations of the importance of a "Do Not Contact" list seem far too shallow here. I, for one, agree with many who might feel that "Do Not Contact" lists have been abused. However, they can also be important. Some individuals can be violent (I see a shotgun mentioned above). Other individuals can have violent relatives. Among certain muslims, having members inadvertently make contact might mean the difference between life and death.

The last time I surrendered to the idea of putting somebody on a Do Not Contact list, it was due to a long history of hostile behavior perpetrated against home teachers. On my personal contact attempt, all went well the first time I visited (member in question wasn't home though, just a polite acquaintance), but on the second time around two apparently unstable individuals on the property called the police.

Now, this sort of thing has to be noted. We NEED a way of recording this information for the benefit of other members who might visit and for the benefit of the members who might be visited.

Really a Do Not Contact list gives the wrong idea. I agree with that. In my area, we were directed to follow up on Do Not Contacts (generally, individuals who had requested no contact) at least once a year. Now really that may not be good enough for some individuals in special circumstances, but it does serve an important need by helping the Bishop, Elders, etc. manage their stewardship. It helps decide who may not get the home teachers (we rarely have enough of them) in favor of those who might be better served by those resources.

Now, one interesting point is that the communication does not actually state that "Do Not Contact" lists are forbidden. It simply says that they can't be maintained by modifying the member's record. Hence, we can hack a list by creating a "Do Not Contact" HT zone/route. (Would that screw up our statistics?)

This would seem to suggest that the issue is with flagging the record in such a way that it might be misunderstood when transferred. That makes sense, but if that is so, it should have been made more clear. Such a hack would seem contrary to the poor doctrinal basis provided in the letter however.

Members who request no contact are usually not worried about privacy issues (which is the only concern addressed by the wiki). They generally have no notion of such matters as ward lists or websites. They are typically inactives who are simply irritated by monthly visits. (Possibly temporarily irritated, but irritated nonetheless.)

If "Do Not Contact" has become politically incorrect, (and it *is* too easy to misunderstand) can we use the annotation "Annual Contact Only", "Do Not Contact Until 2010", "Threat to Life if Contacted", "Violent Relative", or "Violent Tendencies"?

It is hard to know what we can do or ought to do when we are not really given a solid idea of what is really wrong.

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Postby aebrown » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:30 pm

seanmcox wrote: Now, one interesting point is that the communication does not actually state that "Do Not Contact" lists are forbidden. It simply says that they can't be maintained by modifying the member's record. Hence, we can hack a list by creating a "Do Not Contact" HT zone/route. (Would that screw up our statistics?)


It makes no difference to HT statistics how the households are arranged into districts. The base number for reporting HT is the total number of families in the ward. The top number is the number of families visited.

However, I would not use the term "hack" in this regard, and in the spirit of this weekend's message, I would drop the "Do Not Contact" term in any context. I would note that some wards do create a HT route or routes for people who don't currently wish to be contacted, and then assign it to the HP group leader or EQ president or a particularly creative, faithful home teaching companionship so that some contact can be made. It would probably not be a regular home teaching lesson, but there are often other ways to help people feel cared for.

seanmcox wrote: If "Do Not Contact" has become politically incorrect, (and it *is* too easy to misunderstand) can we use the annotation "Annual Contact Only", "Do Not Contact Until 2010", "Threat to Life if Contacted", "Violent Relative", or "Violent Tendencies"?


I don't see how it has anything to do with being "politically incorrect." It is a renewed emphasis on ministering to the one and not neglecting anyone. The way I read the directive, "Membership records should not be adjusted or coded in MLS using any method designed to show the record as DO NOT CONTACT," these are all just variations on the same theme and should not be connected to a membership record.

For records that have critical concerns where a bishop would need to talk to a new bishop if records are moved to another ward, there are approved mechanisms for placing a Move restriction on a record.

seanmcox wrote: It is hard to know what we can do or ought to do...


It seems pretty clear what you are to do: "Members that no longer wish to be contacted by the Church need to have their wants addressed with sensitivity and care. These cases should be reviewed on an individual basis by the local priesthood leader and a plan made without making adjustments to the member record."

There are no blanket statements, and no detailed guidance, because local priesthood leaders are supposed to make a plan on an individual basis.


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