Standing order 015 is the authority to preserve the records of the church.
See CPD Vol 2 - pages 285-6
What needs to be preserved?
Retention Schedules for Methodist Records (last updated April 2021)
Where should it go?
Church and Circuit records are usually deposited at local authority Archives and Record Offices. Record Offices also hold copies of Parish Records (Church of England), records from other non-conformist groups, wills, grants of probate, cemetery records and a range of other sources.
The current arrangements are that we go by where the "head' church of the Circuit is. This can sometimes mean that the Methodist records for a place are not in the same repository as the local government records, for example.
The records of Districts are usually deposited following a decision by Synod: wherever makes most sense.
Connexional records are currently deposited in the John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester, and the records of the Methodist Missionary Society are looked after by SOAS.
What happens if Circuits merge?
When Circuits merge you will need to tell the archivists in the repositories you are using, and they will close the series which contain the old circuit(s). Wherever you decide to deposit the records of the new Circuit, they will set up a new series.
In some cases, if all the old circuits were in the same local authority, you will continue to use the same record office. If the new circuit crosses local authority boundaries, and the different churches within it used to deposit their material in different places, the Circuit Meeting will have to make a decision. The current arrangements are that we go by where the "head' church of the Circuit is. That is usually the place named in the Circuit name. Fine if you are in the Loughborough Circuit, but less so if your circuit is Hants-Surrey Border, for example, or even Bede!
The important thing is that you deposit the records somewhere, and inform the Liaison Officer for Methodist Archives (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be happy to offer further guidance on the most sensible option.
Reproducing Baptismal, Marriage and Burial Registers
There is a great deal of interest among family historians in baptismal, marriage and burial records. As Record Offices quite rightly wish to preserve the actual documents, they may ask for permission to microfilm or digitise the registers.
Permission may be granted by the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes, and these requests should be forwarded to:
Methodist Church House
25 Marylebone Road
London NW1 5JR
020 7467 5214 [direct line]
What does the District or Circuit Archivist do?
Guidelines for Methodist Archivists (Word doc)
For more on archiving see www.methodistheritage.org.uk