Preserving Your Church's Documents, Records, & Photographs

Your congregation’s local church historian is the person in charge of preserving your church’s historic material.

The basic responsibilities of the local church historian are described in ¶247.5a of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.  Work with your pastor and church staff, the congregation’s Committee on Records and History (if one exists), and lay leadership to design procedures that will help you fulfill your duties as described in the Book of Discipline.

As historian, you have the following responsibilities:

  • Establish an archives if one does not already exist
  • Encourage church officers to keep accurate church records
  • Provide for the preservation of all records and historical materials no longer in current use
  • Promote interest in the history and heritage of The United Methodist Church and of your own congregation
  • Assist the pastor and others in the annual observance of Heritage Sunday and in the celebration of significant anniversaries
  • Serve as a member of the Committee on Records and History, if one exists in your congregation
  • Serve on the church council and/or other committees to which the local church historian is assigned
  • Help those who wish to do research in your church‘s records

Every local church should have a records retention schedule. To create one, you should consult the Guidelines for Managing Records of the Annual Conference & the Local Church. This document will guide the local church in what should be kept and for how long.

Natural disasters bring to mind how quickly precious material can be lost. Since disasters (fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, etc.) can strike without warning, it is important to preserve documents, records, and photographs in a secure location.

A variety of methods exist for preserving as well as reproducing original material.  Contact the Conference Archives at Centenary College of Louisiana for more information.