Guide to Archiving Conference Records

The Guide to Archiving Presbytery Records was developed in 2018 by the Archives Staff Circle as a result of United Church of Canada’s move to a three-court structure.

The guide can also be downloaded for user convenience.

Guide to Archiving Conference Records (PDF, 168 KB)


As of December 31, 2018, Conferences will formally close. The records they created and used are considered final. They should not be altered, edited or amended.

This guide was prepared to assist Conferences in managing their hardcopy and electronic records as they wind down their operations. Please contact your Regional Council Archivist if you have questions or require additional information.

Conference records in hardcopy form should be reviewed to determine if they should be sent to the Conference Archives for permanent retention, sent to the incoming regional council for reference with respect to ongoing business, or securely destroyed.

Some Conference records exist in electronic format only (e.g., word processed documents, PowerPoint presentations). The Records Centre (RC) Transition Portal has been created for securely storing electronic Conference records which may need to be referenced by regional councils. All records uploaded to the Transition Portal should be considered a reference copy only (read-only, unaltered) to be used by regional councils for ongoing work. More information on electronic records is found below.

Where to Start

The following steps are recommended in preparing hardcopy Conference records to be sent to the appropriate Conference Archives:

  1. Ask your Conference Archives for a listing of Conference holdings already deposited in the archives.
  2. Determine where non-archived Conference records are currently held, and gather them in a central location to review and prepare for transfer to the archives.
  3. Consult the recommended list of records to be archived.
  4. Remove and destroy any duplicates, according to best practices.
  5. Ensure that all file folders or binders are labelled correctly.
  6. Prepare a listing (by box) of the records to be transferred to the Archives. Records may be arranged by grouping (e.g., minutes, reports, correspondence files).
  7. Once lists are completed, get your Conference Executive Secretary to approve the transfer of the records.
  8. Consult your Conference Archives to arrange transfer of records.

Records which are not Archival

Not all documents created or collected within a Conference environment are “records” of the Conference. That is, they do not serve to document functions, policies, decisions, procedures or operations or other activities of the Conference. These records include:

  • Blank forms
  • Annual Reports from outside agencies
  • Notices or memos on upcoming social events
  • Memos or routine administration details (not related to program functions) like room bookings
  • Past event completed permission forms for attendees

Electronic Records

In some cases, the records identified as “archival” will have been created electronically, as word-processed document files, digital photos, audio or video files, or databases. At the present time, the Conference Archives cannot accept digital versions of Conference minutes, reports, correspondence, membership, financial, property, legal, or other official records. Please ensure that all necessary documents have been printed and filed, in accordance with United Church guidelines.

Certain digital records—including photos, audio and video files—present special challenges for archives, whether they are transferred in their original electronic form, printed on paper, or carried on disks, cassette tapes, or other containers. If you have records like these, please consult with the Conference Archivist at the earliest opportunity to ensure the appropriate preservation measures can be taken.

Records Centre (RC) Transition Portal

Records to upload to the Portal include:

  • Minutes and related reports that are pending approval and need approval by regional councils. This includes all presbytery/Conference meetings, Executive, standing, sub and ad-hoc committees, groups/associations.
  • Electronic versions of minutes (2 years only). Note: These minutes should be for reference only, the originals are to be printed and sent to Conference Archives.
  • Substantive correspondence files relating to unresolved or ongoing matters.
  • Files for ongoing projects
  • Files regarding ongoing property issues
  • Final Financial Ledgers (only in .pdf, word or excel formats). Hard-copy of these ledgers should also be sent to Conference Archives.

Do not upload the following, but discuss these items with your Conference archivist:

  • Confidential or personal information (e.g. ministry personnel or human resource files)
  • Routine correspondence
  • Publications
  • Media such as photographs and videos
  • Database files which have not been converted to .pdf, word or excel format.

Best Practices for Record Destruction

Not all records are archival and do not need to kept permanently. Certain records can be destroyed after holding them for a particular time period, as indicated in the recommended retention period shown above. In addition, drafts and duplicate copies of documents do not need to be kept.

Once these records no longer need to be retained, they must be carefully disposed of under controlled conditions. Any paper records containing personal or confidential information (including duplicate copies) should be shredded or destroyed by other permanent means. Such records should not be simply recycled, as the information could be identified and distributed to other places and/or sources. Electronic records designated for destruction should also be deleted from all computer drives and other portable devices.

What Should be Transferred to the Archives?

The following chart was developed to assist Conferences in identifying which records are archival and which are not. The chart also provides direction on how long to retain non-archival records before they can be destroyed. If there are any documents or items that are not on this list and you are not sure what to do with them, please contact your Conference Archivist.


Annual reports

  • Retention Period: Archival


  • Retention Period: Retain until results are confirmed, then destroy

Bylaws, constitution

  • Retention Period: Archival

Retain all historical versions

Organization charts

  • Retention Period: Archival

Retain all historical versions

Correspondence and memoranda: general

General: for routine matters, e.g., requests for basic information, referrals to other sources

  • Retention Period: Destroy after 3 years


Correspondence and memoranda: substantive

Substantive: dealing with legal or other important matters, potential value for historical research on policy or issues, etc.

  • Retention Period: Archival

Legal documents

  • Retention Period: Archival

Minutes and proceedings of Conference and Conference Executive meetings

  • Retention Period: Archival

Includes appendixes and attachment to the minutes (i.e. correspondence, reports, etc. tabled at the presbytery minutes); ensure the minutes have been signed and reviewed.

Planning documents

  • Retention Period: Archival

Policy statements and procedure manuals

  • Retention Period: Archival

Conference standing committee and ad hoc committee records

  • Retention Period: Archival

Case files or correspondence files

  • Retention Period: Archival


  • Retention Period: Archival


According to the Income Tax Act certain records must be retained for a specified period of time (usually seven years). Ensure these records are securely stored and accessible by regional council staff.


Please consult the Conference Personnel Minister or the Conference Archivist for guidance.