Q. What if church closes?
A. Records of congregations that close or amalgamate should be directed to the Conference Archives.
Q. Who has overall responsibility for a congregations’ records?
A. The official governing body. In the traditional system of church government, the official board (comprised of both the session and the committee of stewards) has responsibility for matters affecting the pastoral charge that are not assigned to any other bodies within the church.
In a unified form of church government, these responsibilities would fall to the overall governing body of the church, either the church board or church council. This suggests the overall governing body may take responsibility for the records of various church committees that are not specifically directed to have their records reviewed by presbytery. This may include the United Church Women (UCW), Christian Education, Sunday school, choirs, men’s groups, ad hoc committees and so on.
Q. Are the minutes of a church’s governing body confidential to members of that body?
A. No, they are not confidential. The Manual does not address the issue of confidentiality per se, but it clearly states that records of a congregation’s governing body – minutes of meetings, congregational registers, and membership – should be reviewed annually. See The Manual, Section A5.5.
Q. What types of information should the minutes of a church’s governing body contain?
A. Minutes must contain a complete record of a meeting`s activities, that is, they must also contain all information that pertains to the changes in the church`s membership roll (additions by profession of faith confirmation, by reaffirmation of faith, by certificate of transfer, and by action of the churches governing body; removal by death, by certificate of transfer or by action of the church`s governing body) and the names of persons to be baptized.
Q. Is an action column acceptable for church minutes?
A. Yes. An action column indicates who is responsible for specific matters that arose out of a meeting. However, an action column should be included with the minutes only if the designation of who is to follow up on any action has also been clearly outlined within the body of the minutes. Designation within the minutes will ensure clarity should any questions arise.
Q. Our congregation has a unified governing structure (church board or church council). Does this make a difference as to how records are kept?
A. No. Some pastoral charges have combined their official board, sessions, and committee of stewards into one unified church board or council. The need to keep records that contain certain types of information remains unchanged. Functions formerly delegated to an official board, session, or committee of stewards must be picked up in whatever system of church government a pastoral charge adopts, including the function of recordkeeping.
Q. To who should committees assigned to review records report?
The Manual instructs records review committees to report their findings to their respective church courts and include those reports in the records of those courts. Presbyteries should also report to the Conference how they have responded to instructions arising out of the Conference`s previous annual review of its records.