Question: What Church disciplinary options are available?

Table of Contents

Question: What Church disciplinary options are available?

1) Excommunication, 2) Disfellowshipment, 3) Formal probation and 4) Informal probation

Leaders of the Church have various options for discipline. Bishops or stake presidents impose Church discipline, and do so after discussing the matter with the member, hearing from other witnesses (if any), and after prayerful consideration.

From most to least severe, disciplinary options include:

  1. Excommunication - the person is no longer a member of the Church. They can participate in no ordinances, cannot speak or pray at meetings, cannot hold Church callings, may not attend the temple, may not wear LDS temple garments, and may not pay tithing. Excommunicated members may continue to attend worship services if they are not disruptive or dangerous.
  2. Disfellowshipment - the person remains a member of the Church, but cannot speak or pray at meetings, cannot hold Church callings, and may not attend the temple.
  3. Formal probation - the person remains a member of the Church, and is asked to comply with a set of conditions specified by the bishop. Formal probation can last no less than one year.
  4. Informal probation - the person remains a member of the Church, and is asked to comply with a set of conditions specified by the bishop. The length of informal probation is determined by the bishop, and can be less than one year.

The last two penalties may be imposed by a bishop privately upon a member. The first two penalties require a formal "Church disciplinary hearing," held by either the bishop and his two councilors, or by the stake presidency and stake high council.

The goal in every case of Church discipline is to have the member's altered status be temporary; the goal is to encourage them to reform and return to full activity and participation in the life of the Church.

Church discipline cannot impose any financial or legal penalties (see DC 134:10-12).

Notes