You create and maintain the records of your congregation in order to have the information you need when you need it; in the format from which you can most easily retrieve it; and in such a way that partners working in your congregation, today and in the future, can readily find the information. As you set about preserving information for future reference, plan for the entire life cycle of the records you are creating. If you do this, you should never need to spend time purging files going through old material to determine the potential administrative or historical value.
Maintaining Parish Records
The Parish Register
Retention The Model Constitution for Congregations stipulates that the pastor of a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials, communicants, members received, members dismissed, or members excluded from the congregation; shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod . . .” (*C9.12.a. and b.). These guidelines are prepared to assist pastors and other congregational leaders in their task of keeping a parish register. […]
Records Retention Schedule for Congregations
Your records have a life cycle!
Most of the records retained by a congregation for its daily operation, legal protection, financial security, and responsibility to history fit into one of the following categories. For the well-being of the congregation, each type of record has a specific life cycle and needs appropriate care. […]
Disposition of Records
Preserve your history! Advice for Disbanding Congregations of the ELCA
Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are the sole owners of their records and, therefore, the preservation of these records must be addressed properly when a congregation ceases to exist. It is presumed that any ELCA congregation formed by merger or consolidation will receive ownership of the records of each of its predecessor congregations and will be responsible for maintaining them. […]