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Computer Systems

by Darwin A. John

For many years THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints used mechanical punched-card systems for accounting and other administrative purposes. These were replaced by modern computers. In 1962 the Church's computer systems were expanded to help provide names for temple work. They also were applied to managing the large and rapidly expanding genealogical information base. Church computer resources now serve every level, from general Church administration to the individual member.

In Church temples, computer systems are used to record biographical information of individuals, living and dead, who have received temple ordinances. Family history computer systems maintain growing catalogs of worldwide genealogical records, a lineage-linked ancestral file, and an index of completed ordinances and other lists to help interested persons pursue family history work.

Computers also aid in the administration of various Church programs, including the international missionary program, where computers are used to track all missionaries and route individual requests for missionary visits. Financial contributions are recorded on computers by clerks at the ward level, making possible regular reports to contributors and to the Church. All central budgeting and financial transactions are managed by computer. The Church maintains detailed membership records which are created on computers in the wards and are regularly updated and forwarded to central computers at Church headquarters or region/area offices (see Record Keeping).

The Church uses computers to prepare, print, and distribute a wide range of materials through its distribution centers in various parts of the world. Scriptures, lesson manuals, handbooks, forms, and Church magazines are prepared with the use of computers. These materials are printed in as many as eighty-one languages, and computers are used extensively in the translation process.

Public communications uses computers to monitor public response to Church media. Computer systems also manage information in areas such as Church Welfare, historical records, physical facilities, magazine subscriptions, and purchasing. The seminaries and institutes track potential and enrolled students throughout the world by computer.

Large numbers of Latter-day Saints use personal computers in their homes to facilitate religious activities. Many use disk versions of the scriptures to enhance individual scripture research and study. Personal genealogical research has moved to a personal computer format that will allow exchanges of information with the large genealogical data bases in Salt Lake City.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Church Record Keeping home page)

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Computer Systems

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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