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 belongs to the United Church. They may not be taken or kept by any member, minister or other person…” Moreover, congregations have a responsibility to deposit records no longer in use to the appropriate Conference Archives.
In addition to the requirements set out for proper recordkeeping in The Manual, the records of the United Church often become a resource for the study of society and contain information not recorded elsewhere. Some examples of who the records can be used by society include:
- the senior citizen needing her baptismal record to prove her age in order to qualify for a pension
- the presbytery secretary seeking proof that property was sold and when
- the editors of Voices United wishing to verify that copyrights for a particular hymn were properly acquired
- the academic historian writing a book on the church’s involvement in residential schools
- the film producer needing photos of missionaries for a documentary on Christian missions in Japan
- the genealogist overjoyed to find her Methodist great-grandmother’s marriage record
Therefore, the proper management of records is not only important for the continued support and accountability of the United Church of Canada’s business activities, but also for society as a whole.