Discipline ¶233

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  ¶ 233. Permanent Records-The basic membership records in each local church shall consist of: a permanent church register and a card index, a loose-leaf book, or a membership record on an electronic information system (see ¶ 245).
1. The permanent church register shall be kept on either paper-based or electronic media. If it is on a paper medium, it shall be a volume of durable material prepared by The United Methodist Publishing House. The format and content of the record forms contained in it and the manner of its binding shall be as approved by the Committee on Official Forms and Records of the General Council on Finance and Administration (see ¶ 805.4c). If on a paper medium, the names shall be recorded chronologically as each person is received into the fellowship of that church and without reference to alphabetical order. The names shall be numbered in regular numerical order, and the number of each shall appear on the corresponding card, page, or record in the card index, loose-leaf book, or electronic information system membership record. If it is on an electronic medium, it will not be necessary to maintain a chronological number. The number that is assigned automatically by the computer system is sufficient for this purpose. However, the electronic medium shall meet the following criteria:
    a) It shall contain all of the information required by the General Council on Finance and Administration.
b) Conversion of the information from paper records to an electronic medium shall be followed by a complete audit to ensure the accuracy of the converted records.
c) Off-site storage and electronic backup shall be maintained.
  2. The card index, loose-leaf book, or electronic system membership record shall be kept on a form approved by the General Council on Finance and Administration or, in the case of electronically maintained records, shall contain the same information as required in the approved form with the exception of the sequential number. This record of membership shall be filed in alphabetical order and shall show the number appearing opposite each name on the permanent register. The pastor shall report annually to the annual conference the total professing membership of the local church as shown on the membership records.
3. When an electronic information system is used for record keeping, printout copies of the membership records and backup electronic media shall be retained in a secure off-site place (see ¶ 245).