by Katharyn Wheeler
What do you clean in the church office when Spring Cleaning comes around? Did you know that the ELCA has a policy on what to retain and when to discard for church documents?
A copy of the Congregation Records Retention Schedule can be found among Congregation resources on the ELCA Office of the Secretary resources page – www.elca.org/Resources/Office-of-the-Secretary (or jump to the pdf here). The schedule is broken into sections on: Parish Register, Legal and Vital Records, Financial Records, Congregation Statistics, Information on Persons, Pastoral Care Files, Correspondence, Programmatic Material, Sermons, and Resource Material.
All this may be daunting, so here are a few questions to ask before you begin:
- Where is the congregation’s archive; or are these items in more than one place?
- Who maintains the congregation’s archive?
- Does the congregation currently have the necessary room and requirements (e.g. fire-proof safes) for keeping these materials?
- How do we pass along the knowledge of what has been kept?
While going through your files please make sure to send a copy of your congregation’s most current Constitution & Bylaws to the synod office. We are working on tidying as well!