Okay! Confession time!
If most bishops are anything like I was then members of the Mormon Church who no longer wish to be counted as a member may have to wait forever to receive confirmation of name removal!
As a bishop I hardly ever took the letters seriously. My ‘feelings’ were that the writers of the letters are obviously deceived by Satan & because name removal is such a drastic action I felt I knew best, in that it was better for them to stay as members in case they ever changed their minds & wanted to return to activity in the Church.
By omitting to process the resignation letters it also gave us as priesthood leaders more opportunity to try to rescue them.
I did intend to process the letters, just procrastinated actually doing so because it wasn’t important. So the letters languished in the bottom of a case or draw somewhere waiting for that final inspiration to action them as, and, when the members requesting name removal finally chased the letter up, if ever!
I realise that my feelings and actions went against Church policy, but I believed I had the best interests of the members at heart, so forwarding their letters was not a priority.
Do I regret it? Of course!
My opinion regarding the importance & urgency of this has completely flipped round 180°.
By the way, I have since spoken to one of my previous counsellors in the Bishopric who is now on the new Bishopric about those letters.
I said that my opinions regarding some things have changed dramatically & I now regret not processing them as requested.
I urged him counsel the new Bishop to follow Church policy as it was actually a legal requirement & the Church could be taken to court for not obeying the law.
Interestingly on one occasion I was actually told by the Stake President not to process a resignation letter, but to excommunicate the member instead. This goes completely against the Church Handbook of Instructions policy.
I didn’t hold a Church court, because I didn’t feel comfortable about it.
It’s funny looking back at how I used to think! 😉