General Council

The various documents generated and received by the United Church of Canada “constitute the organization’s memory and therefore provide valuable resource for operational continuity, and a legal record of operational decisions.” As such, records must be managed from creation to their final disposition to ensure that records that need to be accessible in the long-term are available as they provide continued support and accountability of The United Church of Canada’s business activities, but are also valuable source of information for society as a whole.

These records, which can exist in any media format including but not limited to hardcopy documents, drawings, photographs, films, video tapes, digital information, emails, voice records, and instant messages regardless of format, are subject to good recordkeeping practices.

Maintaining Records

All records generated during an employee’s employment with The United Church of Canada belong to the Church and, therefore, all records created by employees must be treated in accordance with the Records Management Program. These records can include:

  • All records identified in the Classification and Retention Schedule
  • Records that record the final decisions or advice
  • Records that reflect the operations of The United Church of Canada (e.g. monthly reports, meeting minutes)
  • Records that initiate, authorize or complete a transaction
  • Drafts where retention is necessary as evidence of approval of the significant evolution of decisions contained in the document
  • Copies containing significant annotations and amendments to original records.

Records fall into three major categories: Official, transitory, and non-record.

Official Records

Official records are records which are created, received or accumulated in the course of official operations of The United Church of Canada. Official records support the memory of each unit and The Church as a whole and serve as a historic record of the United Church’s activities.

The following are guidelines for determining whether a record is official:

  • If the originator of the record or the unit is responsible for the functions the records support, the unit or employee will create an Official Record.
  • If there are multiple copies of a document available, the designated “Responsible Unit” set out in the Records Retention Schedule is responsible for retaining the official records. If you are not the “Responsible Unit” and you hold a copy of the document available, this means the document you hold has already been captured as an official record and your copy is a convenience copy. The copy can be disposed of once it has served its purpose.
  • If it is determined that only part of the record is a duplicate, a new Official Record of the entire content should be created.

Transitory Records

Transitory records are not required to meet legal, fiscal or operation needs. This type of record is only required for a limited time for the completion of routine tasks or for the preparation of the Official Record.

Transitory records do not need to be saved for the long term and should be disposed of in an appropriate manner once they are no longer needed. If paper and electronic copies of the transitory record exist both versions need to be deleted or securely destroyed. For more information on the proper disposition of records visit the Records and Privacy portion of the website.

Some examples of transitory records include:

  • Temporary working papers such as rough notes or drafts which do not have any value in the documentation of the evolution of the organization policies or decisions.
  • Duplicate copies of materials retained solely for convenient reference i.e. multiple copies of reports, memos or electronic spreadsheets.
  • Multiple copies of broadly distributed material used to communicate policies and practices for internal administration i.e. manuals, directives, bulletins and guidelines.
  • Multiple copies of project or committee materials i.e. minutes, agendas and reports sent to various committee members and staff.
  • Temporary working papers such as rough notes or informal drafts that do not document significant stages in the development of policy, programs or in the evolution of the final document. These drafts were not reviewed by other persons, and do not contain important research or background data.


Non-records are created or received that do not serve to document the functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of The United Church of Canada. These records should not be saved.

Non-records may include, but are not limited to:

  • Junk mail/spam.
  • Personal correspondence.
  • Annual Reports from outside agencies.
  • Magazines or magazine articles, Trade Journals.
  • Newspapers.
  • Blank Forms.
  • Personal diaries or journals not prepared for carrying out The United Church of Canada operations.
  • Privately purchased books and publications that do not relate to The United Church of Canada operations.
  • Records related to private, personal matters kept at the office for convenience.
  • Presentations or Papers of a professional nature not representing The United Church of Canada opinion or policy.
  • Unsolicited advertising materials such as brochures, flyers, posters, menus, price lists, invitations, sales letters. Catalogues, such as those for office supplies, equipment or literature should be destroyed when they are superseded.
  • Miscellaneous notices or memos such as all staff emails, messages on upcoming special or social events i.e. pizza lunches, memos on routine administration details not related to program functions such as “please book the board room for our meeting tomorrow” or “please retrieve file X: and personal messages such as “let’s meet for lunch”. These notices or memos should be destroyed as soon as the activity, task or event to which they relate is completed.