Warning: If you live with people who are members (parents, a spouse, siblings or a roommate), they will almost certainly find out about your resignation. If family members live in the same ward or stake that you do, they will probably hear about your resignation.
On this site you will find a sample resignation letter. When you resign, you can use that letter exactly as it is, you can edit it to fit your own tastes, or you can simply write your own letter. The first paragraph of the sample letter is the most important paragraph. It's important that you RESIGN from the church, not 'ask for name removal'.
BEFORE you send your letter, be sure to read ALL of these instructions and the section called THE PROCESS.
If more than one person in your family is resigning, you can include all the names on one letter or you can write a separate letter for each person. If a child is a minor, at least one parent has to sign the letter. In cases of divorce, a custodial parent must sign the letter of a minor child. If the child is old enough, he or she should also sign the letter.
If you're having your children sign the letter, you might want to skip having it notarized since taking everyone to see a notary might be a hassle you don't want to deal with. Be sure to include in the letter the full name and birth date of everyone who is resigning. It is recommended you include the names and birthdates of any un-baptized children because it's likely that they are listed as 'members of record'.
You will need to put your current address on the letter. Don't worry about where your records are; if they are somewhere else, Member Records will send them to the local ward. (It's all computerized now, so they just print out a page or two about you and send it.) It doesn't matter if you haven't had anything to do with the church in 30 years, even if you've moved ten times since you last attended. Just send your letter with your birth date and your current address to member records.
It is recommend that you have the letter notarized if that's possible. In the U.S. you can usually find a notary at your bank or credit union and they usually provide the service at no charge for people who have accounts there.
We recommend that you send the letter to Member Records in Salt Lake City, using a service that will provide you with proof you mailed the letter and proof that the church got it. NOTE: In the U.S. we HIGHLY recommend that you use Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation, a service available at the Post Office. With this service, in just a few days you will be able to look up the Delivery Confirmation number on the internet and you can print out proof that it was delivered. It has been discovered that they are more likely to return your letter to you if you DON'T use priority mail. You can also email or fax your letter as those are also verifiable receipt methods.
The post office has free large red and white Priority Mail envelopes that you can use, which will make your letter really stand out from the rest. It’s been reported that Certified Mail often gets delivered without being handled properly (it arrives in a tray of mail, appears to be a regular letter, and postal employees deliver it without getting a signature). Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation currently costs around $5, actually a little less than Certified Mail with Return Receipt.
Mail, Email, or Fax to:
Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310
You can, of course, just mail your letter via regular first class mail or you can mail it via UPS, Fed Ex, Airborne or any other service you happen to prefer. You don't HAVE to have the letter notarized, but someone (probably the local bishop) will probably believe they have to call you or visit you to verify that you wrote the letter. There hasn’t been enough feedback about using other services to tell you how it will go. They might return your letter to you and say you have to get it to the bishop yourself, but it might go just fine.
In most cases the church will handle your letter just fine without all of the precautions, but occasionally people run into delays or hassles and 1) they're glad they have proof they mailed the letter and that the church got it and 2) they're glad that Member Records is involved because Member Records will call the bishop or Stake President and get them to handle the letter appropriately.
Not in the United States?
If you are outside the U.S., you can either send your letter to a local or regional office of the church (a mission or other church headquarters) or you can send it to Salt Lake. If you send it to Salt Lake, we recommend you send it via registered mail. Salt Lake will forward the letter to people in your area. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a LOT of experience helping people outside the U.S. resign from the church.
If you've said in your letter that it is your formal resignation from the church and that it is effective immediately, you become a non-member the minute they receive your letter. All the rest is just them jumping through their own hoops. You don't have to go to any interviews or invite anyone into your house, nor do you need to have a telephone conversation with anyone about your resignation. YOU get to choose whether you talk to them if they call or appear at your house.
SAMPLE RESIGNATION LETTER
Use this letter exactly as it is, edit it any way you like, or just write your own letter. The letter can be type-written or hand-written; it doesn't matter, as long as it's legible.
Your date of birth
Your current address
Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310
This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs and 'discipline'. As I am no longer a member, I want my name permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.
I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand what you consider the 'seriousness' and the 'consequences' of my actions. I am aware that the church handbook says that my resignation "cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings" I also understand that I will be "readmitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview". (Quotes from the current Church Handbook of Instructions.)
My resignation should be processed immediately, without any 'waiting periods'. I am not going to be dissuaded and I am not going to change my mind.
I expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect and with full confidentiality.
After today, the only contact I want from the church is a single letter of confirmation to let me know that I am no longer listed as a member of the church.
(you can add any comments or reasons here)
Your name, printed
What to Expect
TIME. The church could choose to handle resignations quickly and with little hassle. There was a time when they did that, sometimes completing the process in about a week. For the past decade, though, they have made resigning (they call it 'name removal') a lengthy and time-consuming process, one that takes two to three months or even longer, and one that causes local leaders a lot of extra work. Keep this in mind: they are wasting their own time and efforts.
BEFORE you mail a resignation letter, be sure to read all of this section and also read the INSTRUCTIONS.
Here's what usually happens.
You mail your letter. You get proof that they received it. You become a non-member the minute they receive your letter, but then THEY start THEIR lengthy process of handling your resignation.
YOU WILL HEAR FROM THEM: If you used the sample letter on this site, you've stated clearly that you expect them to only contact you once; to confirm that you are no longer listed as a member of their church. They will almost certainly ignore what you wrote and they will probably contact you at least three more times.
Warning: If you live with people who are members of the church, they will almost certainly be told about your resignation. That is true whether the person you live with is a spouse, a parent, a sibling or even if they are just a roommate. If a relative lives in the same ward, branch or stake that you do, they will probably be told about your resignation.
FIRST: If you mailed your letter to Member Records in Salt Lake, and if you mailed it Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, they will probably send you a form letter telling you that 'this is a local ecclesiastical matter that needs to be handled by local priesthood leaders'. They will tell you they have forwarded your resignation letter to the local Stake President or Bishop or Branch President. With their letter to you, Member Records will probably include a one-page pamphlet called 'An Invitation' - which is a form letter from the 'First Presidency'. Sometimes that 'Invitation' is upsetting to people, sometimes people just laugh it off as ridiculous. The letter is an attempt to get you to change your mind about leaving the church. SAVE the letter from Member Records. It is evidence that they received your resignation. You can keep the 'Invitation' or you can throw it away.
NOTE: If you mailed your letter via certified mail or if you used some other service, they might return your letter to you with a claim that you have to find the local bishop or branch president and give your resignation to that person.
You do NOT have to do what they say. Legally you can submit your resignation to any representative of the church and Member Records is the obvious best place to send it. If they returned your letter to you, you probably received a letter from them plus a stamped and dated copy of your original letter of resignation. Both of those items are proof that they received your letter of resignation. The stamped photocopy of your letter is legal proof that you stopped being a member of the church on that date (that's true IF you said that the letter was your formal resignation and that it was effective immediately).
Remember, you are no longer a member and they no longer have any kind of authority or power over you. Please be assertive about this.
Keep copies of both of the items they sent you. You can make photocopies of them and send the copies back to Member Records, if you want. Send them back to member records with a note restating your resignation. As an example:
“As you know, I stopped being a member of your church on the day you received my letter. It is clear that someone in your office thinks I don't know what my rights are.
I do NOT have to contact anyone else regarding my resignation. As a non-member I am no longer subject to your rules and regulations or policies. I DO have a right to get a letter of confirmation from you that states that my name has been removed from the membership rosters of the church.
Please stop wasting time and effort and handle my resignation appropriately. If you don't handle this appropriately, I may involve a lawyer or the press.”
SECOND: The local bishop or branch president will probably contact you within a few weeks. In most cases nowadays this is just a letter that tells you he has received your letter of resignation, that he has filled out the proper forms and that he is sending it all to the Stake President. In the letter he will probably tell you that you now have 30 days to change your mind.
POSSIBLE, BUT NOT TOO LIKELY: The bishop or branch president might call you or drop by your house unannounced, even if your letter states clearly that you don't want any visits or phone calls. They might say they have to 'meet' with you or 'interview' you. They might have someone else drop by, maybe the 'visiting teachers' or the 'home teachers'. This doesn't happen often nowadays, but sometimes it does happen. You should prepare yourself for any such visits or calls and be prepared to respond to them the way YOU want. You don't have to invite them in, you definitely don't have to go to any 'interviews' or 'meetings' and you don't even have to be polite. The bishop or branch president has a copy of your letter, he has supposedly read it, so he knows you've asked for no contact.
NEXT: The Stake President will probably sit on your letter for 30 days, then he will send all of the paperwork in to Member Records. Two to three weeks later you will get a letter of confirmation (it's another form letter; two short sentences) from Member Records. Member Records is apparently quite busy with all the resignations they are receiving, so try to be patient and just go on with your life. If too much time seems to have passed, at any point in this process, give them a call or send them a fax. Call or fax them as often as you like. The phone number for Member Records is 1-800-453-3860 ext 22053.
If Someone Threatens You With Excommunication
In 2004 some local leaders made attempts to 'excommunicate' people who'd formally resigned . . . and the folks at member records failed to do anything about it despite faxes and phone calls to them. You may need to involve an attorney, and that can resolve the problem quickly, even in a single day. In August 2004 a woman in Ogden, Utah, got a letter 'inviting' her to a 'court' the next day. The next morning she called her attorney, who sent a fax to member records and called the local bishop. Within hours the bishop notified the woman that they had canceled the court and would be sending the paperwork to member records.
There was, however, one case in early 2004 when the guys in member records were unable to convince the bishop and stake president to cancel the church court and they went ahead and 'excommunicated' a guy who had resigned. That guy didn't involve a lawyer either before or after the church court.
If they hold a court and 'excommunicate' you AFTER they receive a resignation from you, you can sue them, but that can be expensive. If you're capable of acting as your own attorney and filing the suit yourself, it won't be expensive at all. You may try reaching out to the ex-Mormon community for legal advice in this matter; many have come before you and are more than willing to help you in your efforts.
IF YOU MAIL, EMAIL OR HAND YOUR RESIGNATION TO A BISHOP: The church claims, in it's "Handbook of Instructions" that you must give your letter to a bishop. It is recommend you mail it to Member Records, but it's really YOUR choice who you give it to or who you mail it to. The local bishop might be a good guy and maybe he'll treat you with respect and handle the resignation promptly and without hassles. Remember, you don't have to meet with him or accept phone calls from him. It's YOUR choice. If the bishop starts making demands or says he's going to hold a church court, you can fax a copy of your letter to Member Records at 801-240-1565. Then you can call them and discuss the problem.
Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310
801-240-2053 - Phone
801-240-1565 - Fax
1-800-453-3860 ext 22053 - Toll Free
Additional excellent information continuously updated at Richard Packham's site:
Visit http://packham.n4m.org/leaving.htm to get the directions on having your name removed from the Mormon church. See also Mormon217 for some updated thinking (Dec. 2009) - resign instead of name removal.