Communities of Faith

Good management of records is outlined in section A.5 of The Manual. The Manual states that “church records have an historical and legal value,” which necessitates that they be “accurate and complete” and “[kept] … safe [and] secure.” It also states that ownership of the “records belong to the United Church.

Transferring Records to Archives

Records with permanent value should be deposited at the appropriate Regional Council Archives. The records of the Ontario Regional Councils should be deposited at the United Church of Canada Archives in Toronto. Records set for transfer to the Archives should be recommended by the official board, or equivalent body, prior to their transfer.  To make transferring of permanently valuable records to the Archives easier it is recommended that records be transferred at five year intervals whenever practical or when a particular book or register is full. Prior to the transfer, congregations should undertake the following steps to get their records ready:

  • Always consult the Regional Council Archivist before transferring records
  • Provide a list of records being deposited
  • Discard any duplicates
  • Label and date file folders, registers and other volumes and cartons
  • Ensure that the Communities of Faith Transfer Form (PDF, 356 KB) is completely filled out for each carton
  • Place one copy of the form in each carton and retain a copy of the form in the congregation’s files for future reference.
  • Do not mix the files of different committees, task forces, and officers.
  • Do not transfer hanging files, just the inside manila file folders

Transfer the records to the Archives in person. If records need to be shipped use a courier or registered mail please contact the Archives first.

Maintaining Records

Records have a life cycle moving from an active period through to an inactive period (the period when records are no longer being used). Congregations can do several things to help manage records throughout their lifecycle.

Congregations can form a small committee responsible for overseeing records management for the congregation. The committee should be responsible for

  • recommending policy on all matters related to the management of records
  • ensure that records are kept appropriately
  • develop a records schedule for the congregation and ensure that it is followed
  • oversee records disposition

The proper creation of records is also an important step in records management. The Regional Council Archivist has developed a Minutes Inspection Checklist to help congregations ensure that all the elements of the record are captured in minutes. In addition to the checklist, a Historic Roll Guideline Sheet and an Historic Roll Frequently Asked Questions Sheet is available for congregations. The following resources can also prove useful when creating records and developing a records schedule:

  • Financial Handbook for Congregations, 2005
  • Employment Guidelines for Lay Employees in Pastoral Charges and Other Church-Related Organizations, 2004
  • Faith Footsteps: Screening Procedures for Positions of Trust and Authority in The United Church of Canada, 2000

The development of a records schedule will help congregation staff and volunteers maintain control over records. Sample Records Schedule: Congregations can be found that can assist church staff and volunteers when it comes to determining what records need to be kept or destroyed.