What are records and archives?

All local churches, circuits and districts hold records, such as letters, reports, minutes, registers and financial statements.

Our Methodist records are evidence or an account of the past.

Local churches, circuits and districts have a duty of care for their records; not only are they are a valuable historic, financial, missional and social resource, but often contain the personal data of individuals who also expect the Church to protect their data efficiently.

The final step in record management for records that are to be retained for the long term should be archiving.

Archives are collections of information. These are records that future generations may wish to access and should be stored and managed appropriately.

Is there guidance on records and archiving?

Yes there is.

As a “connexion” of local churches, circuits and districts the legal framework of the Methodist Church is known as Constitutional Practice and Discipline (CPD) and provides governance on records. Standing Order 015 of CPD  is the authority to preserve the records of the church.

All minute books, account books, and baptismal, burial and marriage registers, and any other records relating to district, circuit and local church affairs which are deemed worthy of permanent preservation by the district archivist and recipient archivists, when no longer needed for current reference in the conduct of business, shall be deposited on permanent loan with a public authority having appropriate repository facilities.

Additionally,  you will  find  more detailed and  current guidance in the Retention Schedules for Methodist Records (last updated January 2024), which is an extremely useful document for local churches, circuits and districts.

Who is responsible for maintaining records and archiving?

The office holder, e.g. the treasurer, church council secretary, the senior church steward etc. and/or the church or circuit administrator will be responsible for the day to day management of specific records

For example:

  • Church council minutes are the responsibility of the church council secretary
  • Circuit Minutes are the responsibility of the circuit meeting secretary
  • Pastoral administration is the responsibility of the pastoral coordinator

Record management means that documents at local churches, circuits and districts need to be appropriately and securely retained for specified time periods and then either destroyed or archived.

Volunteer circuit archivists support churches in their circuit and their circuit team to manage, retain and prepare their records for archiving and will then take responsibility for depositing these documents at the Local Archives Office.

How to find your Circuit and District Archivist

In most cases,  you can contact your Circuit Archivist via your Circuit Administrator and your District Archivist via your district office.

You can find details of districts here. Each district provides a list of its circuits.

If you do not have a Circuit Archivist in your circuit,  contact your District Archivist.

It would be very helpful if you could update us about any vacant volunteer circuit and district posts at : heritage@methodistchurch.org.uk

Recruitment of Circuit and District Archivists

Recruitment of volunteer Circuit and District Archivists must follow Safer Recruitment processes.

The District Archivist role is detailed in Standing Order 473 of CPD

Archivist’s Newsletter

The latest edition of the Archivist’s Newsletter is available here.

Here to help

If you have any queries about Methodist records or archiving please contact us at: heritage@methodistchurch.org.uk

What to do with Personal & Family Papers?

The Religious Archives Group have produced some excellent guidance linked here for those who believe that, after retirement, their records should be preserved for the future, and for the families of those who inherit such material.

Advice on what guidance should be given to the Methodist Church is contained in A guide to donating personal or family papers to a record office.

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:

Liz Millard
Senior Administrator
The Mission and Advocacy Cluster
Methodist Church House
25 Marylebone Road
London NW1 5JR
020 7467 5214 [direct line]