Record Retention Guidelines

Each RCA assembly should adopt and implement records management and retention policies that reflect its unique circumstances. For this reason, we cannot recommend a single “one size fits all” records management and retention policy for all RCA assemblies. We can, however, make suggestions about which types of records you should retain. Keep these guidelines in mind as you consider what to cover in your own policy.

Permanent Records for Retention in the Archives

Active Personnel Files

Permanent
Records relating to staff personnel may include applications, resumes, job descriptions, personnel actions, salary, and other related material. Incorporate into inactive personnel files upon resignation, retirement, or termination.

Anniversary and other Special Events

Permanent
Retain substantive items (directories, commemorative bulletins/booklets, planning documents, memorabilia, etc.)

Annual Synod Minutes

Permanent
Printed official copy of synod minutes as the official record of the annual meeting.

Appeals

See Disciplinary Actions.

Articles of Incorporation

Permanent

Legal documents should be filed with the state and a copy retained in the safe deposit box.

Audit Reports

Permanent

Annual audit reports of the church.

Bank Records - Canceled Checks for Important payments

Permanent

Payments for taxes, purchases of property, special contracts, etc., if it is the only record of satisfaction for an obligation.

Bequests Estate Papers, and Trust Funds

Permanent

Records concerning the receipt and administration of trusts, wills, codicils, legacies, estates, and bequests. May include correspondence, reports, accounting information, and other related documents.

Bulletins

Permanent

Worship bulletins for Sunday worship and special events if bulletins function as a newsletter for the congregation retain permanently. Otherwise retain periodic samples of regular worship bulletins, e.g. when worship changes, and retain all special event bulletins.

Bylaws

Permanent

Calls Accepted

Permanent

Agreement between pastor and congregation as approved by classis. Accepted calls should be filed with the classis stated clerk and a copy kept in the congregation office.

Complaints

Permanent

Records relating to formal complaints brought before consistory.

Consistory Minutes

Permanent

Records and agenda documents of the consistory. Includes reports, correspondence, and other matters referred to in the minutes. Retain permanently. May be deposited in the RCA Archives five years after the volume is completed.

Consistory Reports

Permanent

Periodic reports of the consistory to the congregation, classes, and other assemblies.Retain permanently with consistory minutes.

Constitutions/Bylaws

Permanent

The approved constitution and bylaws of the congregation including all revised documents. Retain permanently.

Contracts: Construction (New, Improvements, etc.)

Permanent

Written contracts with vendors, workers, etc. Must be retained while still in effect. Retain for seven years after satisfactory completion of contract if no litigation is involved. Contracts relating to hazardous materials or coming under federal or state compliance laws should be retained permanently.

Disciplinary Actions

Permanent

Correspondence, appeals, notices, etc. relating to discipline issues of members.

Electronic Records

Follow retention guidelines for all records, either electronic or paper.

Backup copies of master files, databases, spreadsheets, and other electronic documents and backup copies of programs or instructions necessary to retrieve information. Retain until replaced or superseded.

Enabling Documents

See Articles of Incorporation; Constitutions/By-laws.

Financial Support - Balance Sheets, annual

Permanent

Routine reports by treasurer to consistory.

General Fund File

Permanent

Records concerning administration of the general fund may include budgetary information, reports, accounting records, correspondence and other related material.

Insurance Policies, Personal Liability

Permanent

Policies and maintenance contracts issued for personal liability for clergy, staff, and/or members of the congregation. It is essential to preserve records of payments to & from insurance companies in the event of future litigation.

Insurance Records

Permanent

Keep a file/record of all insurance policy documentation in the event of future claims. These records should include name/address of carrier, policy number, and coverage information.

Judicial Business

Permanent

See Disciplinary Actions.

Ledger, General

Permanent

Legacies

Permanent

Legal Opinions

Permanent

Litigation File

Permanent

Records involving litigation in which the assembly, agency, or congregation is a party. May include legal opinions, briefs, correspondence, affadavits, photographs, reports, appeals, and other court documents. Retain for five years and transfer to the archives.

Minutes (all groups)

Permanent

Minutes of groups, e.g. women’s group, sunday school teachers, men’s club, etc. Records should include agenda documents, reports, correspondence, etc. that are referred to in the minutes.

Mortgages

Permanent

Payment schedules, contracts, and legal documents relating to the mortgage. Mortgage burning ceremonies should involve the burning of copies only.

Newsletters

Permanent

Publications relating the life and ministry of the assembly, agency, or congregation.

Ordination

Permanent

Records relating to ordination of individuals include credentials, transcripts, etc.

Personnel File

Permanent

Records concerning all personnel and may include applications, resumes, job descriptions, personnel actions, performance reviews, and other related papers.

Personnel Records - Professional Development Reports

Permanent

Reports upon conclusion of professional development opportunities.

Personnel Records - Sabbatical Reports

Permanent

Records relating to follow-up report for staff sabbaticals.

Photographs

Permanent

Pictures taken of events.

Policies and Procedures File

Permanent

Reference file of all current and past policies and procedures.

Property Records: Surveys/Plot Plans

Permanent

Deeds, titles, transfer documents, title insurance documents, appraisals, blueprints, building permits, environmental impact studies and approvals, easements, construction and structural alterations, permits.

Register: Baptism

Permanent

Register of members baptized includes date of baptism, date of birth, name, parents, and witnesses (if any). Permanent. May be transferred to archives for preservation.

Register: Death

Permanent

Register book of funerals and deceased members. May be combined with member register.

Register: Marriage

Permanent

Register of marriages includes names of bridegroom and bride, date of marriage, and witnesses.

Register: Membership

Permanent

Record of all individuals formally joining the congregation either by affirmation of faith, transfer, or baptism.

Reports

Permanent

Reports to the consistory from various committees and groups.

Sunday School Records: Reports

Permanent

Reports of teachers, superintendents, etc.

Videos/Audiotapes/Photographs

Permanent

Photos, Slides, Videotapes, Audiotapes. May include tapes of sermons, programs, discussions, interviews, multi-media record of events, people, facilities, and activities. Used for promotional or instructional purposes, or to document events, etc.