Certificates helped preserve order

As the membership of the Church began to grow, it became essential for leaders to keep order by knowing who was a baptized member in good standing and who was not. The Lord accomplished this in a simple yet effective manner by having members carry a membership certificate signed by a known leader.

This practice, augmented later by ward lists, continued in the Church until the Presiding Bishopric began keeping a central file with individual membership records in 1941. Fifty years later, in 1991, all such Church records were fully computerized throughout the world.However, recommends of worthiness for priesthood holders, called Recommend to Perform an Ordinance, are still used when a priesthood holder from one ward is to perform an ordinance, such as baptism of a family member, in another ward.

Joseph Fielding Smith observed: "From the very beginning of time the Lord has taken pains to see that proper records have been kept. This was one of the first commandments to the Church in 1830. The jealous care pertaining to the word of the Lord and other publications and documents, is shown forth in a number of revelations. . . .

"All who were to go up to Zion from other parts of the Church, were required to carry certificates, showing that they were in full fellowship and worthy to obtain the blessings which, in Zion, awaited the obedient." (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:271.)

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