Parish Records Management


Maintaining Parish/Congregation Records

For reasons of accountability, continuity, audit/legal requirements and the preservation of the historical record, it is vitally important for a parish or congregation to maintain complete and accurate records. In both instances, the clergy and churchwardens are responsible for ensuring that such records are properly kept. Records should be kept in a dry and secure location at the church and not by individual members of the parish or congregation.

Under Regulations to Canon 20.A.3, each parish and congregation must create and maintain the following records:

  • Minute book(s) for meetings of the Congregation, Vestry and Parish Council;

  • Such books of accounts as are necessary for the proper recording of all receipts and expenditures in the parish or congregation;

  • A service or vestry book in which shall be entered a record of all services;

  • A book or books for the registration of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials commonly known as parish registers.

Property records

Canon 22 on Church Property states that titles, deeds, mortgages, agreements or other documents relating to all parish properties should be sent to the Synod Office for safekeeping. Building inspection records and equipment service contracts are to be retained by the parish or congregation as long as the building or equipment is owned or in use.

Financial records

The retention of these records is largely dependent on Federal government legislation. Copies of the auditor?s report, balance sheet, and general ledger which form part of the annual parish submission to the Synod Office are to be kept permanently.

The following financial records are retained by the parish for a minimum period of seven (7) years:

  • Bank deposit slips

  • Bank statements

  • Cancelled cheques

  • Cheque book slips

  • Monthly financial statements

  • Offertory envelopes

  • Cash books

  • Receipts

  • Tax returns and other tax documents

  • Payroll records (T4?s, CPP and EI deductions, etc.).

Once the records above have served their full retention period, they may be destroyed with the approval of Vestry or Parish Council.

Any record relating to an ongoing investigation, court case or audit must not be destroyed, regardless of previously agreed records retention guidelines.


Archiving Parish/Congregation Records

Under Canon 17, the Diocese of Qu?Appelle Archives is mandated to acquire, preserve and make available for research purposes records of parishes and congregations. Under a written agreement with the Saskatchewan Archives Board, holdings of the Diocesan Archives are kept at the Regina office of the Saskatchewan Archives where they are preserved in secure and environmentally-controlled storage. Ownership of the records is retained by the Synod of the Diocese of Qu?Appelle.

What to Do with Completed Parish Registers

Baptisms, confirmations, marriage and burials are public acts. Parishes and dioceses maintain the records of such acts in trust for the participants and the whole Church and are therefore responsible for ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the records. Besides providing statistical information to the Diocese and the National Church, parish registers contain information which might be required in the future to prove the birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage or burial of an individual, or to trace family and, more recently, genetic history.

Under Regulations to Canon 20.A.3, completed parish registers should be forwarded to the Diocesan Archives. Under the terms of the agreement with the Saskatchewan Archives Board, all parish registers are restricted for reasons of privacy. Access to them may be gained through the Diocesan Archivist.

What Other Inactive Records should go to the Archives

Under authority of Canon 17 and accompanying Regulations, the Diocesan Archivist appraises and acquires non-current records created by the officers, staff, committees, and other bodies of the Synod of the Diocese of Qu?Appelle for purposes of preservation and research.

In addition to parish registers, the following records are acquired and preserved by the Archives:

  • Agendas, minutes and supporting documentation of meetings of the congregation, Vestry and Parish Council;

  • Records of parish committees and organizations, including minutes, reports, programs, newsletters, etc.;

  • Service registers (also called vestry books);

  • Service leaflets and bulletins (select samples and/or special events if space is limited);

  • Key financial records (auditor?s reports, general ledgers);

  • Correspondence, parish mailings and other documentation relating to major activities and initiatives in the life of the parish or congregation including consecration/de-consecration of church, ministry and outreach, liturgy and worship, stewardship, construction projects, dedication of memorials etc.;

  • Parish profiles (This record, compiled when seeking a new incumbent, provides an excellent ?snapshot? of the parish);

  • Architectural drawings or plans;

  • Historical information including parish or church histories, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, etc.;

  • Parish newsletters;

  • Photographs: identified as completely as possible by date, event and persons depicted;

  • Audio-visual materials;

  • Parish rolls or lists;

  • Cemetery records and plans.

Parishes and congregations wishing to turn over inactive records to the Diocesan Archives should submit a list of the records to Vestry or Parish Council for approval. Upon approval, please forward the records to The Synod Office, 1501 College Avenue, Regina S4P 1B8. The records should be marked or labeled as Archives. A letter should accompanying the records indicating the name of the parish, contact person and telephone number as well as the list of records approved for transfer by Vestry or Parish Council.


Contact: Trevor Powell Date: rev. 14mr2008 Archivist & Registrar

Diocese of Qu'Appelle

April 14, 2014 | Synod Office