Retention and Safeguarding of Records Policy

BA 70 Retention and Safeguarding of Records

BA 70 05 Records Management

  1. The normal operation of denominational organizations and institutions results in the production and the accumulation of a large volume of files and records of varying degrees of administrative and historical value. In order to preserve documents of permanent value and to avoid the unnecessary preservation of unneeded materials, each organization will find it advantageous to establish a records management program.
  2. Administrators of all organizations should evaluate the legal, financial, and cultural worth of various types of files and records produced in all offices. The political unrest through which the world is constantly passing seriously affect property rights, for example, and demand the proper preservation of denominational property records. Corporate papers and board minutes not only tell the history of an organization but may be called upon in cases of litigation. Many other documents and general files that seem to be of little value beyond their initial retention period grow rapidly in historical value as time passes and even serve future administrators in restudying issues and problems.

BA 70 10 Records Retention

  1. Each organization and institution shall establish a records center, that is, a storage place to protect documents from fire, deterioration and unauthorized access. This records center shall house those noncurrent documents or files designated for either short-term or permanent storage. The records center is not to be used for the storage of current files, that is, those that are consulted several times a year in the normal course of business.
  2. A records retention schedule, available from the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, shall be considered by the respective denominational organizations and institutions and, with revisions that may be indicated by local need or varying legal requirements, adopted by their governing boards or committees.
  3. Documents and files stored in the records center awaiting later destruction shall be boxed in such a way as to make clear the date of their destruction, under the provision of a records retention schedule approved by the organization’s executive committee or board.
  4. Documents and files to be preserved permanently may be kept in hard copy, microform, or digital form, at the discretion of the appropriate governing body. Hard copy and microform may be stored in the same storage facility with less permanent items but should be physically separated from them and clearly labeled. In the event of digital storage, copies of vital records, including executive officer correspondence and major committee minutes, should also be stored offsite.

BA 70 15 Vital Records

  1. All organizations and institutions shall give special attention to the permanent preservation and security of their own vital records, such as articles of incorporation, constitutions and bylaws, minutes of boards or governing committees, property records and other legal documents, and also church properties that are of an intellectual nature, such as trademarks and copyrights.
  2. The secretary of each division shall forward to the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research a true copy of the articles of incorporation of all legal bodies within the division, the division committee minutes, and the board minutes of division institutions.
  3. The treasurer/chief financial officer (or other designated officer) of each division shall index, identify, and file property records as follows:
    1. All deeds, mortgages, contracts, and other documents covering the acquisition and holding of real property by any Seventh-day Adventist organization or institution within the division’s territory, and documents of an intellectual nature relating to church properties, such as trademarks and copyrights. At the discretion of the division, documents relating to local churches, primary schools, and residences may instead be maintained by union or conference/mission/field organizations.
    2. A list or index of such documents, with a brief description of relevant information such as location, name of legal body holding title, original cost, date acquired, and summary of major improvements or additions shall be maintained, and a copy transmitted annually to the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.
  4. A designated officer of the Treasury of the General Conference shall forward to the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research copies and data relating to property holdings of the General Conference Corporation and of General Conference institutions as specified in paragraph 3. above.

BA 70 20 Ownership of Records

  1. When an organization records ideas and information on paper or other medium, it retains the ownership of that record. Both the information and medium on which it is recorded are a resource to be protected and preserved, or destroyed, according to approved records management principles.
  2. All records, files, and documents (including correspondence) created by the employee in the course of employment are the property of the employing organization and shall at all times continue in the ownership and control of the employing organization for its use, preservation, or destruction according to its records management policies.
    1. The term “records” includes, but is not limited to, information recorded on paper, film, electronic media or sound media, as well as charts, drawings, and maps.
    2. Excluded from this policy are materials closely related to an employee’s professional career or graduate education such as sermons and sermon files and graduate research materials.
  3. In addition to the informational value of organizational documents, files, and other records, some items have a literary value. Although this value also resides with the employer, it may, by written agreement, be vested in the employee or shared with the employee. (See BA 70 25, Literary and Other Intellectual Property Interests.)