Look at this picture: what does it say to you? Consider the commentary below.
Click on the image to enlarge.
What a photo reveals
What might the photographer who snapped the 1958 Norwood United Church (Winnipeg) Session and Board of Stewards think today about this picture? They might be surprised to recall the size of the group, nearly 50 people meeting every month to oversee the life of the congregation. Perhaps the formality would be noted: suits and ties were not just for special occasions (even if this was one). And thinking about the suits, it is impossible to miss the absence of any women. Ney, not a one! This one picture alone can reveal a lot about the church and the Canadian culture. Put this photo in your mind while you consider the sense of loss that older church members feel when they see the size of congregations today. Imagine this scene as you consider the rise of the women’s movement in the 1960s and the sometimes blasé attitude today about protecting the rights of women. What do you make of the “uniform” look: are we more diverse as a church community now because we wear a greater variety of clothing? “They are all white” is a comment that could be made about the majority of United Church boards today.
Keeping good records helps us to understand better who are are today.
The Keeper of the Archives is available to provide information and direction in order to assist congregations, community ministries, presbyteries and other church bodies. The Archives is open part-time and it may take a few weeks for the Keeper to reply to your request.
There are two rolls congregations are mandated to keep: the current roll and the historic roll.
A person’s membership is in the congregation. Where there is more than one congregation in a pastoral charge, there is a separate membership roll for each congregation. Members’ names are added to the membership roll when they are received into membership. How and when they were received is recorded with their names. When the member is removed from the membership of the congregation, information on how and when is recorded.
An historic roll is a list of all the people who have ever been members of the congregation at any time since its beginning. As the historic roll is intended to be used for many years, it is hand written in a bound book which is much more likely to endure than a sheaf of papers or a computer file. Even if there is an historic roll kept on a computer, it is essential that there be a hand-written one in a bound book.
Current Membership Roll
To have a roll that reflects the current situation congregations produce a current membership roll. It is a list of all the members on the historic roll who have not been removed. It is a snapshot of the membership at a specific time. The current roll may be kept in a bound book, or by another means such as a computer.
Resources for Maintaining Historic Rolls
The United Church Membership Roll, a document prepared by John Peach of Selkirk Presbytery on behalf of the Archives Committee (2014)
Maintaining Church Membership Rolls by Doug Flanders
Record Management Guides and Resources
These resources have been produced by the Network of United Church Archives
Making Room for Women Resources for an Oral History kit. Making Room for Women is a project of the United Church Archives Network, including this Archives.
(see the page on Depositing Records for more information)