The church counts on tithing but there is a major factor that is less known. Depending on the level of professions, a "healthy" ward might have 10-12 families whose combined tithing will equal or greater than 20 other people's contributions. Some were monthly tithing donors and others would contribute a yearly check.
So back to the "high rollers" or the big time money donors. They would be privately contacted to help out for a particular need of the ward. Ex. Sister White is a single mom whose son Bob is serving a church mission might need help to pay the monthly supplemental payment.
And bishoprics and stake presidencies keep close tabs on members who can be called upon to make a donation to the church's needs. And usually, these donors receive a thank you payback in terms of callings and special recognition at ward events.
One lady had a paper route which involved delivering papers on a worn out 10 speed bicycle to make ends meet with her truck driver hubby. After he passed away due to mesothelioma. She received a nice wrongful death settlement and became the ward's newest RS leader. She was never called as the ten speed lady, but she looked grand serving the ward driving a brand new beamer. Big donations get favorable results.
Today most tithing is paid online. When I was a clerk it all came through the clerk’s office. We would process everything from a few cents to sometimes very large checks. It was data entry and going to the bank. I had no idea if the amount people paid had any effect on their calling. I didn’t deal with those considerations. We just wanted to get it done and get home for dinner.
A ward clerk is part of the bishopric and we are expected to keep things confidential. What you see is who needs help. We use the fast offerings to help people. You also see who’s going to counseling if the ward is paying some of the costs. The bishops I clerked for were very good at only telling me what I needed to do my job. There was no gossiping and we were professional.
I was assistant ward clerk, ward clerk and executive secretary. I found the church to be very honest at the ward level. We got audited twice a year. We kept very good records. If we couldn’t use money that was donated for a specific purpose we were expected to give it back to the person who donated it.
Tithing was always opened and processed with a counselor in the bishopric and a clerk and both went to the bank together. All money was deposited into the church’s general account and all check’s were written from that account. All checks needed to have proof of what they were for (receipts, leases, invoices ect) and the expenses needed to be approved by the bishop.
A financial clerk is a stake calling. An auditor can’t be from the ward being audited. One stake counselor is over ward finances and he answers to the Presiding Bishopric. Everything has multiple checks and balances so it’s a secure system. If you get caught stealing the church will excommunicate you and prosecute you to the fullest penalty under the law.
That was made very clear to me. You could bang an underage girl in the church and get a slap on the hand and have it covered up. Steal from the church and you get the boot and prosecuted. The church loves it’s money more than the members.
When I served as ward financial clerk I considered it the best ward calling I ever had. The duties are very specific and the system works well. Nearly all the work can be done on Sunday. No worrying about preparing a lesson or visiting members, etc.
I knew a man whose job was as a Church auditor and he was proud of how many bishops and others he caught with their hands in the till.
The church is really good at motivating the members to snoop on each other and rat them out. It’s like an authoritarian regime in that sense. The church is creepy. I learned bishops are just cannon fodder in the church. One bishop told me he knew Jesus loved him even if the church didn’t. He got flagged for breaking financial protocol and they came down hard on him. He was sloppy. Not dishonest but when money is concerned the church is a ball breaker.
I have been a ward clerk, and one duty is to takes notes at a ward disciplinary council. Even after such a meeting is over, and after everyone else leaves, the clerk stays behind with the bishop to help type up the report(based on the clerk’s notes) that is electronically submitted. The notes are then destroyed. I hated that part of the job.
I served as WC so I didn't regularly handle the money, but I was familiar enough with the "dire straits" of the financial side.
There was an online program that was a church scripted checklist or protocol that had to be followed to the tee. IIRC, the transaction would have several parts. Tithing had checks and cash/coins- dumb church had 8 year olds and their penny payments!
There were donations, fast offerings, missionary fund, BoM fund and BYU had a donation to deal with as well.
You would enter each amount, the verification had to be counted 3 times and you would have to print it and sign each form.
Screech, buzz, screech--- remember old school dial up. If it didn't work, the church had an emergency financial number to dial (it was not an 800 #) so the call came out of the ward budget. You had to call if you couldn't send the financial deposit slip electronically.
There was also a Sunday deadline of 5pm where the monies had to be dropped in the local bank's deposit drop-off box.
I think we had a ward conference that tied up the bishop, another counselor was out of town and the financial clerk was working out of town.
Well, the internet wasn't connecting and I couldn't get through on the phone. We advised the bishop, who went though the roof. The monies were not deposited. They were held in a locked drawer in the office.
The church freaked out. A stake entourage began making phone calls on Monday morning. They found out that I was at work at a retail store. Four men in suits made an impression on my boss who agreed to release me 2 hours early.
I was "followed" to the chapel and the other member of the bishopric was there. They made us do the entire process all over again. It took about 2 hours with them watching. We were then interviewed and had to call the top dog in SLC who monitored monetary deposits for the church.
I can't recall how many times the word "sacred" was used, but it was a lot. We were then told how egregious it was to delay the transaction.
We were both put on probation for our lack of due diligence (fine by me, I hated doing the FIS work). The bishop was quite sore with me as well.
***One other time***
We almost didn't make the 5pm deadline to drop off the money bag. The chapel backs up against the train tracks. I heard a train passing by and figured that it would be stopping in town. I told him to take the overpass which was longer, but avoided a train stopped in the middle of town. We made it with 2 minutes to spare.
I was asked how I knew about the train and I told him that the 4:30 was always on time on Sundays :)
How would SL know if you missed the 5:00 deadline?
were U required to send a confirmation via phone or email or ? afterwards?
IF ONLY ChurchCo was accountable / responsible to the members / donors about the use(s) of the donations as they hold accountable the clerks who donate their time to collect & account / transmit - deposit them, 'eh?
Transparency might embarrass ChurchCo for a while, but hopefully transparency would result in better applications / uses of the 'sacred funds'...
sure, they'd do that (NOT)
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/2021 01:18PM by GNPE.
Yup. You see the real side of the church when you handle the money. I never got thanked for all the work I did for them. They are like the gestapo if something goes wrong. Usually that’s out of the clerk’s control. It’s usually because a counselor or bishop are not available. Those guys are so tied up with endless meetings and interviews it’s ridiculous.
The bank had a scheduled Sunday pick up with an armored transport company. They arrived sharp at 5pm to pick up the weekend deposits. While they were at the bank, the drop off chute would be locked. It would remain locked as it was only for weekend deposits. There was a big red sign with white lettering reminding bank patrons about the Sunday 5pm cut-off.
Every Monday afternoon, the stake clerk received a monetary report with confirmation numbers. The donation totals had to match precisely what SLC had received. If not, then the stake had to initiate an investigation as to why the money was not transacted within the prescribed timeline.
Remember, the bishop's word that the money was secure was not good enough for the church. They had to find THEIR money, hence the church posse hunted me down.
what a PIA it was to require that two ppl make the deposit...
OTOH, before Washington switched to mail-in voting, (I lived in a rural area) two people had to accompany the ballots to a collection point miles away from Carnation-Duvall area; we should have been allowed to combine with other precincts, but that never happened...
Also, we had farmers whose property spanned two counties, that was another mess to contend with; their voting was determined by which county issued them a building permit for the residence.
It was a PIA, and the financial clerk would usually come to the church several evenings during the week to "square up" the church's accounts. He was always preparing for the twice yearly audit.
As WC, I worked more on the member records and I had to come in during the week because my local database had to be reconciled with the SLC database.
***I got lotsa letters***
I would receive a weekly deluge of "this record does not match" from Bob of SLC membership records/archives.
And I would get the "please contact your local stake clerk for more training". You have attempted an illegal action in your database and will need to reconcile your database at once.
I would often have to coordinate when I could use the church computer because there was only computer. Most of my computer functions with membership records were "offline" on Sundays. The church only wanted their money transactions to be handled on Sundays.
You learn the church doesn’t trust it’s bishops at all. The guy is good enough to for the members to trust with very personal and confidential information but they sure don’t trust these judges in Israel with money. In a strange way bishops are kind of hated by the upper church leadership. They like to piss on bishops.
I was a finance clerk under three bishopricks and was never released so I guess I might still be one, who knows? This was back in the day of dialup internet. I got to see how much everyone donated and all of it went straight to the bank the same day we tallied the donations for the week.
I was also a stake auditor over finances for about a year. The auditor form I had to use had about 50 questions that I was supposed to ask and look to see if they had followed proper procedures. Of these questions there were a few that I had no idea of what they meant so I skipped over them. I finally sent a letter to the stake president and asked to be released because I didn't know what I was doing. He resisted until I told him I was skipping the questions I didn't understand, then I was replaced with great haste.
I was a ward clerk for about three years. It was my job to count how many were in attendance during sacrament meeting. At first I had to walk up and down the isles visually counting each and every person. Later the bishop said that was too distracting so he instructed me to count used water cups after the meeting, and then add about 30 to that number for those who didn't partake.
I liked being a clerk because that exempted me from any leadership or teaching jobs.
I place the church supply audit on par with a root canal without local anesthetics. Ouch!
It happened the 2nd week after being called to WC. The finance clerk attempted to warn me. We moved some of our clerk supplies to the library.
You wanted to look frugal and thrifty when it came to buying and using supplies purchased with church funds. Break out the 20 pak cheap-o BIC pens and hide the 3 dollar pens :D Apologies to BIC pen fans, but those pens always wrote horribly, yet that's what the church wanted.
Some of the questions:
Are you honest?
What would you do if you needed office supplies for your personal use?
What would you do if you saw a member deliberately take church property?
How do you value your calling? Do you treat it sacredly?
-The question that got me in trouble (and it was reported to my bishop- Oh my!!!)
How often do you change the typewriter ribbon?
Apparently the handbook stated that 3 passes was the church expectation. Often if the bishop would order me to retype a church certificate if the ink was too light.
Prior to my calling as WC, the same guy made a big stink about an extra box of staples in a drawer. Yes, silly staples.
It’s nice to go into the clerk’s office after Sacrament meeting and miss the other two meetings. It’s probably the best calling if you do good on the audits. A sloppy bishop can be frustrating. After a few years you get tired of it though.
Always the Ward Clerk here. Let's see what tales I could tell.
I converted to the Church in college (lap 1). I was a member for ~30 years. I have been out of the Church for ~10 years so what knowledge I have may have lapsed.
When the stake where I was living learned that I was capable with data processing and generally reliable I became a clerk and always a clerk. The calling followed me everywhere because finding a reliable clerk is one of the most valuable people any bishop can have. Otherwise, your bishop can be in a crisis trying to balance the ward chequebook.
During my first Stake audit the Stake Clerk was so pleased that everything was orderly. The previous ward clerk had gone less active without telling anybody for ~6 months. Needless to say, the ward finances were in a total shambles. The auditor said they grew so impatient searching for a 5 cent error that he tosses a nickel on the carpet and "found" the missing money.
I learned where the Church priorities lie when we didn't make the weekly deposit when snowbound one Sunday. The Church Accounting Department called me personally at home wanting to know where the money was.
"Snow" was my excuse. They said ! was expected to travel into the Church to submit the report. "If the roads were passible we would have gone to Church." They suggested I walk the ~12 miles across town. "Not happening."
Others can do or not do their callings in a ward without anybody noticing. When clerks aren't performing, very highly placed people take notice.
One Sunday a member submitted a receipt from an activity. I informed him that I wasn't preparing a cheque for $3.05. He looked really put out.
A member of the bishopric wisked the member into the clerk's office for an impromptu interview. He reminded this person that if he pressed me too much that Brother Idleswell could quit and then he would never get his money.
I could have my personal beliefs without much interference from the Church leadership. Once upon a time, a stake wanted to advance me into the elder's presidency. Our ward had a tradition that at the end of each quorum lesson a member of the presidency would bear testimony to the lesson topic. I said frankly that there were topics that they didn't want me preaching to the other elders about. They decided that Brother Idleswell should stay as the clerk.
My attitude also kept me away from becoming a high priest or a bishop's counselor or stake anything. I may be the envy of you all.
I used to blow off Sacrament meeting all the time. I was horrible on temple attendance and home teaching. I was a very good clerk. The clerk’s office was spotless and neatly organized. We did well on our audits. I was always available if the bishop needed something. There I stayed and I never got any flack for my other shortcomings.
Some people wonder what the clerk's "know." Depending on the bishop we may know nothing or we may know *everything*.
I had bishops who prepared all their confidential correspondence personally. I had bishops who were functionally illiterate. When we received packages from Salt Lake, a bishop would ask me to read the instructions and tell him what to do. Responses were dictated to me to edit the language and send to HQ.
I had a bishop who couldn't handle confessions from members. He would come to me and tell me all that Sister X had said. I sensed that he couldn't keep it to himself. If he needed to tell someone, it might as well be me and I could file (forget) it.
A clerk is also on the inside of ward drama. A member of the bishopric was adamant that his brother's wife should not be called as Young Women's President. His daughters would know this sister's past included prostitution. He did not want them to realize that there could be any restoration from sin.
I had frustrated bishops come in just to vent. They were good about not telling me what they shouldn’t. I’m a good joke teller. After a few jokes they would feel better and usually head back into their office or home.
I give bishops a lot of slack. I’m amazed more don’t have a breakdown. It’s a crap calling. Probably the worst calling in the church.
We had a break in at the clerk's office. Nothing valuable was taken. But we discovered that 6 months of financial records disappeared. The burglar seemed to know where everything was and broken into only that cabinet. No locks on the main doors or the clerks' offices were damaged.
Weird? we thought. Looks like an inside job?
Then next Sunday a member comes to us to challenge his tithing report. He is convinced that some of his deposits don't appear on the report. He was known to always pay in cash.
This member was employed by the Church as a property manager. He would have keys to everywhere in every building in the Stake. His employment required that he must have a temple recommend. Therefore, he must be a full tithe payer. When the Church pays your salary, they know *exactly* what a full tithe would be.
Could we check his records? Strangely, the months that he wants us to verify are among those stolen records.
Hmmm, the Stake Clerk and I say while pondering the possibilities.
We both suspect subterfuge, but without any evidence our only option is to accept this member as a full tithe payer. We said we couldn't credit him for tax purposes because then the ward accounts and bank deposits wouldn't balance.
A sister in a ward would always pay tithing on the produce in her garden as part of her "increase." But she would always pay tithing in kind. So this sister arrives with 2 lettuce one week, a bag of green beans the next. What to do with donations the Church clearly does not want? "Brother Idleswell could you 'dispose of' these cucumbers?"
To be honest. Being a clerk is what kept me in the church. My wife wasn’t ready to leave and I didn’t want to mess our marriage up. Oddly enough the best place to almost be inactive was to be a clerk in the bishopric. I blew the rest of the church stuff off. But for whatever reason I enjoyed being a clerk. I got members reimbursements to them quick, if a bishop needed to cut a fast offering check, I was there. Our records were always kept immaculate. I think I liked the fast offering part best. It actually helped people and you saw how generous some of the members were. It was always nice to hand someone a check and see the relief the wolf was off their back for another month.
My observation as a ward clerk. One Bishop encouraged me to be generous with the attendance count, the other two just took the numbers I gave. Cool bishop didn't have a problem with me adding 20 to 25 to the normal count. The ward budgets are so small, and the extra numbers mean't more money. Tithing settlement was for the average members. The wealthy members didn't have to attend, and they didn't pay there alms at the ward level. My impression was that they would donate stock, or cut a check at the end of the year. These were the royalty (ie, Doctors, mayor, judges, dentists, financial guys, etc,). Ward clerk wasn't a bad gig. Just too many stupid meetings. I served under three bishops. One was a great guy, the other was OK, and the third was a douche. Tithing settlement didn't affect me, but the financial clerk hated it.
I was Executive Secretary for six months then the new bishop replaced me. I became ward clerk with the new bishop. The financial clerk wasn’t very good so some Mr. Spock type guy replaced me as ward clerk and I became financial clerk because I had done it before. It was great. I missed all the dumb meetings executive secretary’s and ward clerks have to attend. If you can pass the audits, financial clerk is the best calling in the church. The church is basically busy work, drama, record keeping, paying bills, making deposits, having audits and a tiny bit of actually helping someone.
One time after I was no longer the finance clerk in our ward I played a prank on the new clerk. I paid my tithing which came out to be a few dollars and .30 cents. I cut a dime in half and included it with a quarter. The finance clerk has to account for every cent and this messed with their counting. Yeah, it was fun. I got a phone call later in the day to ask if they could change the .30 cents to .25 cents.
We had a running gag in our office. We had an empty Folgers coffee can for office coffee fund. We kicked in coins for kids who had trouble counting.
Very few people knew about it for good reason. Also, we had a very nice ruler from the Anheuser-Busch company. I picked it up at DI for 10 cents. The financial clerk swore that it was the best ruler that he had ever worked with.
Of course, we had these items well hid and away from nosy members. We used the membership clerk to act as gatekeeper to keep most people out of the office. It was a relatively small closet to begin with.
I did the numbers several years ago when I was in a bishopric. When all is said and done about 10% of the tithes and offerings come back to the wards in the form of the ward budget and all the other costs to keep the buildings maintained and the lights on. This is when 2-3 wards share the same building. As one of the other posters pointed out about 10-12 families in a typical ward make up most of the tithes and offerings as well as fill in most of the leadership positions. This held true for the wards I was in all outside of Mordor in three different states. (man, been years since I’ve posted. I may be remembered by some under the name Mannaz).
I used to look at church budgets for mainline Protestant churches, which are often posted online. Generally the amount sent to the church's governing body was about 5-10% of offerings. In the case of the Mormon church, it's what you might call top-heavy to get ~90% of offerings. I guess that's how the church got to its 100 billion dollar investment fund.
Yup. The thing is I used to live by some apostles when I lived in Salt Lake years ago. They weren’t living a rich lifestyle. I don’t think it’s a Joel Olsteen type of deal. Mormons really are organizational loyal. The leadership are just obsessed with making the church itself powerful. That really is their trip.
The church (SLC) had no interest in Sunday School attendance. Yet, the church called a SS secretary to pester the SS teachers to pass around a sign in sheet for gospel doctrine, investigator-gospel basics, jr SS and the genealogy classes.
The church had the same sister who gathered all these handwritten signatures and correlated a big Sunday School attendance. She was an older sister and it was probably the highlight of her week.
When I was called as WC, the finance clerk pulled me aside and warned me that she would dutifully turn in a weekly report that SLC nor the stake nor the bishopric needed for data collection. It was a busy body calling that served no value. It was easier to collect it from her, flip through it and give a compliment with a smile (something that very few church leaders ever did).
I would file them in our special 86 file cabinet. They would be shredded at the end of the year.
One month, it all came to an end. We had someone from the stake in the clerks office. I attempted to receive the sister in the hallway. The stake clerk intercepted and fully disclosed that there were no SS reports to be turned into the office. She went away with report in hand. She stopped attending and passed away within a month or two.
It's a boring, boring job, just counting money in and money out. The accountants among us loved it. I had no patience. I always played dumb so that they would help me.
I was once a membership clerk; they fired me for not doing much. What makes membership clerk so interesting is how you have your hands on paper copies of everyone's membership, which reveals A LOT! One guy always had the story that he was released from his mission after only a couple of months because he had a problem with one of his legs. But on the form you could follow his life from mission, to release, to immediate marriage, and a baby born 6 months later. Stuff like that.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2021 08:55PM by cludgie.