St Andrew's

Psalter Lane


Records Retention Policy

St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church

Records Retention Policy


The main purpose of managing records is to ensure that: “the right information is with the right people at the right time”. If there are too many records then the important information can get buried; but if you can’t find the information when you need it there is little point in keeping it in the first place. On the other hand, if records are destroyed before they need to be, then the church may not have the information which is required to deal with issues that arise.

Many areas of church activity are subject to external regulation; for example in areas of child protection, finance, and the preservation and maintenance of our historic buildings; which makes it essential to maintain proper records. Good record keeping, particularly in these areas, demonstrates the Church’s wider accountability to Society in relation to its activities and reflect the true complexity and diversity of the Church’s activities. The Church also has theological reasons for managing its records as a testimony of its various activities as part of its continuing witness to Christians, those of other faiths and those of none.

This guidance about the retention or otherwise of records is based on ‘Keep or bin…? The care of your Parish Records’( ), which is quite dated, especially regarding Data Protection (now GDPR) and electronic records, and therefore this draft policy is likely to require extensive re-working. It is to be especially noted that the policy will need adapting for use by an LEP, as it refers almost exclusively to Anglican regulations etc. This policy was updated June 2022 with reference to


For ease of reference records have been grouped into separate subject categories, and within each category the listed records are classed into one of three sections:

‘The church must keep’ This section contains the records which the church is legally required to maintain whilst the records are in use and then to transfer to the Local Authority Record Offices when the records have ceased to be of use in the church. Where records are kept on portable devices, e.g. USB sticks, these should be backed up on the Church Office Computer.

‘The church may keep’ This section contains the records, which churches may keep or may not; churches are advised to consider keeping these records that may be of permanent interest, however the Local Authority Record Offices may not be able to accept deposits of such records.

‘The church should dispose of’ This section relates to records, which may be safely disposed of at the end of their administrative life.



  1. Church Services


The church must keep

· Registers of baptisms - Permanent (deposit at the Local Authority Record Offices)

· Registers of banns, confirmations and services - Permanent (deposit at the Local Authority Record Offices)

The church may keep:

· Registers of marriage blessings

· Registers of funerals/interments

· An archive copy of any service sheets for special services or any surveys of church attendance.

· Photographs of special services, church events, clergy and congregation


The church should dispose of

· Baptism certificate counterfoils, marriage certificate counterfoils, copies of burial and cremation certificates, copies of banns certificates and applications for banns, baptisms and marriage services


Note – Marriage registers are no longer kept on the premises, since all administration for marriage services is done by the Register Office. Any enquiries about weddings held at St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church should be directed to the local Register Office.



2. Church Buildings and Property

[Churchwardens are required by the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991 (which came into force on 1st March 1993) to compile and maintain (in the form recommended by the Council for the Care of Churches) a terrier and inventory and a logbook giving details of alterations, additions and repairs to, and other events affecting the church or the articles or land belonging to it, and with a note of the location of any other relevant documents. The churchwardens must send a copy of the inventory to the person designated by the bishop as soon as practicable after it has been compiled, and it would be wise also to send a copy to the Diocesan Registrar if they are not the designated recipient. They must notify the designated recipient of any alterations at intervals laid down by the bishop. The terrier and inventory and the logbook must be presented by the churchwardens to the ecumenical church council at the beginning of each year, together with a signed statement to the effect that the contents are accurate. Mention should be made of new items, losses or disposals.]


The church must keep

· Former terriers, inventories and logbooks - Permanent (deposit)

· Faculties, and accompanying papers, photographs, plans and drawings - Permanent (deposit)

· Plans, correspondence, accounts and photographs relating to major repairs or alterations - Permanent (deposit)

· Reports by Council for the Care of Churches, English Heritage and other conservation organisations - Permanent (deposit)


The church may keep

· A logbook or scrapbook recording parish events



3. General Church Administration

The core documents are the minutes of the Ecumenical Church Council (ECC) and its committees.


The church must keep

· The signed copies of the ECC minutes and its committees and any accompanying papers and reports - Permanent (deposit)


The church may keep

· Letters and reports relating to major developments in the church if they contain important information

· An archive copy of questionnaire returns

· Any statement as to the conditions, needs and traditions of the parish (a ‘parish profile’) produced by the Ecumenical Church Council under the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 on a vacancy in the benefice, as well as other documents held for or on behalf of the Ecumenical Church Council or churchwardens in relation to the vacancy and the appointment of the new incumbent

· Maps of the parish specially prepared for church purposes

· Church electoral rolls and parish audits

· An archive copy of all printed items, such as booklets, produced by the church

· An archive set, preferably bound, of all church magazines

· An archive set of the weekly notice sheets if the church does not produce a church magazine or if the weekly notice sheets contain information of long-term interest

· All these documents should be dated.


The church should dispose of

· Correspondence and other records relating to routine church administration



4. Church Finance

Most churches generate a considerable quantity of financial records, but not all of these need be kept permanently.


The church must keep

·  The annual accounts of all parochial Ecumenical Church Council – Permanent (deposit)


The church should dispose of

· Other supporting documents, including cash books, bank statements, wages records, vouchers and routine correspondence (more than 7 years old)

· Planned giving and gift aid records (more than 7 years old). However, where Gift Aid Declarations are open-ended in the form ‘all my past and future donations’, these need to be kept for as long as they are still valid, plus 6 years. Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs have the right to audit them whilst tax claims are still being made and for 6 years thereafter.



5. Pastoral Care, Safeguarding and Health and Safety


The church must keep securely

· A file for each lay member of staff and volunteer

· Church agreement with the diocese on obtaining DBS Disclosures

· Letters and other correspondence pertaining to Disclosures should be kept for as long as those volunteers and employees are in the particular role for which Disclosure was obtained. CRB certificates must never be duplicated and must be destroyed within 6 months of a recruitment decision being made.

· A dated register of those who have been DBS cleared, for administrative purposes (such as ensuring renewals, or to provide a quick reference). However, any copies of actual DBS disclosures should be kept for no longer than 6 months.

· Any communication from third parties, e.g. complainants on any matter, the police or Social Services and a factual record of the actions taken.



6. Legal Documents


The church must keep

· Title Deeds

· Local Ecumenical Partnership Agreements

· Pastoral Schemes

· Orders in Council for the closure of a churchyard

· Charity Schemes



7. Other Church Records

In most cases the church records fall clearly into a category in which they either have to be retained or may be destroyed after they cease to be current. However, there are a small number of records where historical value is limited but the bulk is considerable. In such cases it is permissible to retain a representative sample of records to be determined by the parish in consultation with the Local Authority Record Offices.


The church may keep

· Public notices

· Rota duty lists

· Routine correspondence

Some of these are records which have been outlined for destruction in the advice given above. If it is decided to sample these records then the basis for the sample must be determined at the outset and rigidly adhered to. A good basis for sampling is to keep all records in the sample categories for a fixed period, e.g. one month in every year, or one year in every ten. Where doubt exists your Local Authority Record Offices will be able to advise. It may be appropriate to transfer the whole series to the Local Authority Record Offices in order to allow the archivist to take an appropriate sample.



8. Church Organisations

Where separate organisations in the church maintain their own records they should manage their records against the guidelines outlined in 1-4 above. Where ‘personnel’ files are kept on volunteers or employees they will be in principle entitled to see personal data on their file (subject to making a written request and paying a fee of up to £10) but there are various statutory exceptions and also particular rules relating to third party communications. If you have concerns about whether information should be disclosed in a particular case, advice should be sought from the diocesan Registrar, District Archivist, Liaison Officer for Methodist Archives or Local Authority Record Offices.



9. Publications

The service books used by a church form part of its liturgical history and consideration should be given to keeping a representative sample in the parish. Publications produced by the church such as church magazines and church guides for visitors and church histories should be kept and copies offered to the Local Authority Record Offices and to the appropriate local reference library.

· A copy of all printed service books, communion booklets, Bibles etc. as they are replaced by new versions

· Finely bound altar and desk editions of the Book of Common Prayer and of the Bible

· One copy of hymn and prayer books and psalters, service sheets and communion booklets (these are of value for the study of liturgy in the church)

· A copy of each edition of the church guide

· One copy of a church history




The Records Retention Policy will be reviewed annually. The next review is due in July 2024.


 This version agreed and accepted by the Property and Finance Committee, 12 July 2023.

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