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We recently had an incident where some of our congregation member's email addresses were sent political party solicitation. In addition, the Bridge app, which many of you are using allows for the use of a directory. Given the number of times that we hear about online databases being hacked and personal information being stolen, we became very aware that we don't have a "privacy policy." The Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec have a sample privacy policy, but do we? Do any of you have one? If so, please share!


The text of our policy includes the following:


What personal  information is collected?

It is our policy to collect information that is relevant to the operation of our local church, our denomination, and information as is required by law (especially with regard to our charitable donation status).  In so doing, we collect information regarding:

• Significant dates, such as: birth, baptism,  marriage, profession of faith, death, Elder visitation, marital status, etc.

• Information as required by the Christian Reformed denomination as to membership status: professing (active/inactive, under 18), baptized (active/inactive).

• Contact information provided by you: address, phone (home and/or work), e-mail, occupation, etc.

• Financial donations made through the church.

• Information from the gift surveys.

• Summaries of family visit reports.

• Personal gifts and activities such as  participation in various church areas – past or present

What do we do with this information; with whom is it shared?

Information is gathered and retained to provide the church and its leaders with information to assist in pastoral care of its membership; to facilitate enlightening its membership about items of interest.  In so doing, we:

• Provide information to the church Council to assist in pastoral care.

• Provide records of our Council  and Consistory minutes to our denomination, to be archived in the Historical Archives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

• Provide family names and address information for publication in the Guelph Church Directory shared between xxxxx and xxxxxx (sister churches).

• Provide names and contact information of our  youth to local Christian Schools  and to our Reformed Colleges (Redeemer, TKUC, Trinity Christian, Dordt, Calvin, and Reformed Bible).  These institutions in turn safe-guard this information for strict use in  promoting the options for a Christian education.

• Provide birth dates for those over 65 for publication in the church bulletin.

• Provide year end tax receipts.

How do we protect Your  information?

We enable safeguards to protect your information.   Sensitive materials are:


• securely stored in safe areas:


♦locked rooms with restricted


♦locked safes

♦locked filing cabinets

♦computer stored information is
  password protected


• shredded when no longer needed.

• distributed via sealed envelopes.

What Privacy Rights Do You Have?

You have the right to request access to your personal information that we hold.  You may also question or challenge the accuracy and completeness of that information.

    Consent to share your information is implied.  This consent allows us to share your personal information, in the following  circumstances: sharing of information for the phone directory, publication of birthdays in our  bulletin, information sent to local Christian schools and/or Reformed colleges. You may opt out or withdraw your consent. To withdraw your consent, contact the Privacy Officer by any of  the means published on the back of this brochure.

We are committed to caring for your personal information and to use it only as it is necessary in the running of the local church, the denomination and its greater community.


This may be of help as you formulate your church policy.









You are correct in noting the importance of privacy for personal information.

The Bridge App, by design, supports this perspective. When a church signs up for The Bridge App, as your church has, they have the ability to utilize the directory function. This function not only allows the church office to keep up-to-date information for all its members, but allows members of that church that have downloaded the app and been "verified" by the church office, to have access to that information so that they can easily connect with these members. Whether it be by phone, or email, connecting can be done directly through the app. The location of members residences can quickly and easily be pulled up through the app as well.

Members also have the option of choosing to not have their information display on the app. The church office will still have that information available to them, it will simply not be reflected in the app.

The app developer has placed a strong emphasis on privacy. You can read their privacy policy here.

If you have further questions about The Bridge App, you can connect with me, Dorothy Vandersteen - Program Manager for The Bridge App at [email protected].

Phishing, spoofing, and bulk emails sent without hiding the email addresses pose some of the highest risks for the theft of a church email list.  Another high risk is a paper version of the directory or email list.  Those looking to steal email addresses usually hunt for a bulk of addresses.  If a political party sent a solicitation email, it was almost certainly the result of being made available by someone who was privy to that information -- not a hack or theft.

As for the directory function within The Bridge App, the admin manual contains a detailed description of the extensive security that is in place.  The Bridge App security is the same as that used by large corporations looking to protect highly sensitive information.

The directory on The Bridge is ONLY accessible to verified members of that particular congregation. Additionally, individuals can opt out of the directory, and the church admin can disable the directory.

So, perhaps the safest, most secure way for storing member information is to ONLY have it available on The Bridge, and not in any print or electronic means that can be easily hacked or shared.

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