Local Church Records Archiving

Definitions and Guidelines

2008 Book of Discipline

  1. Every local church “shall accurately maintain a membership record for each baptized or professing member.” (¶230
  1. There shall be an “annual membership report and audit.” (¶231
  1. Every local church shall maintain permanent membership records. This includes “baptism, membership, marriage, and funeral records…” Theses records “are the property of the local church and cannot be sold. If the church is discontinued, these records are placed in care of the Conference Commission on Archives and History.” (¶233)
  1. Every local church is to be organized so that, among other things, adequate provision is made for “the proper   creation, maintenance, and disposition of documentary record material of the local church” (¶243)
  1. The charge conference recording secretary shall keep an accurate recording of the proceedings and shall be the custodian of all records and reports, and with the presiding officer, shall sign the minutes. A copy of the minutes shall be provided for the district superintendent, and a permanent copy shall be retained for church  files. (¶247.4)
  1. It is recommended that each local church elect a church historian. (¶247.5 a) There may also be a “local church  committee on records and history, chaired by the church historian…” (¶247.5 b)
  1. Records and historical materials include “all documents, minutes, journals, diaries, reports, letters, pamphlets, papers, manuscripts, maps, photographs, books, audiovisuals, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, or any  other documentary material, regardless of form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to any provisions of the Discipline in connection with the transaction of church business by any local church of the United Methodist Church or any of its constituent predecessors.” (¶247.5 a)
  1. Among other things, the responsibilities of the local church historian are: “to keep the historical records up to date;… provide an annual report on the care of church records and historical materials to the charge conference; and also provide, with the pastor and the committee on records and history, if any, for the preservation of all local churc  records and historical materials no longer in current use.” (¶247.5 a)
  1. “Each local church, as it creates or maintains computerized information and data, is strongly encouraged to confer with its annual conference for recommendations and guidelines as it relates to information technology.” (¶245)
  1. The “Responsibilities and Duties of Elders and Licensed Pastors” (¶340) include administering “the temporal  affairs of the church in their appointment. This specifically encompasses: “To care for all church records and local church financial obligations, and certify the accuracy of all financial, membership, and any other reports submitted  by the local church to the annual conference…” (¶340 2. c) (2) (f).

There is also information regarding general record retention at http://www.gcah.org. Use the search box and record retention to see a booklet of information including a local church records schedule.


Anything not being kept but with personal information and/or social security numbers on it should be shredded (preferably with a cross-cut shredder.)


If you have any questions regarding what needs to be kept you can contact Jenny at Baker University Archives which is where both Kansas East and Kansas West store most archived records. Call Jenny at 785-594-8380 or e-mail her at jmccollough@bakeru.edu.