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Keeping Secrets

Your church must be careful with the confidential information it controls.

Keeping Secrets

Some documents and records that churches maintain are private. Examples of confidential information include:

  • Members' contributions records.
  • Counseling notes taken by a pastor or church counselor.
  • References you obtain when screening youth workers.
  • Minutes of board meetings at which sensitive issues are discussed.

A church faces possible legal liability if it permits disclosure of any of these kinds of confidential records. As a result, it is important for church board members to take steps to insure that confidential information is not leaked or inadvertently disclosed. There are a number of ways this can be done, and to a great degree it is simply a matter of recognizing the problem and using common sense.

Precautions for keeping confidential information:

  1. Keep confidential information in a locked, fireproof file, and give the keys to a designated person such as the treasurer or senior pastor, depending on the nature of the records involved.

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • March 1, 2013

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