The December 2014 issue of the ORTHODOX OBSERVER had an informative article about the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Registry.
DEPARTMENT OF REGISTRY
The Archdiocese Department of Registry maintains a variety of records pertaining to the life and activities of the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
These records are often used to issue transcripts for the faithful who have lost original certificates (which are now required for legal or ecclesiastical purposes). The department also issues ecclesiastical licenses to marry, divorce decrees (following a Spiritual Court hearing), baptismal and chrismation certificates (for use by priests), and forms for reporting deaths and funerals. Below is an overview of how some of these responsibilities are handled.
All records of baptisms, chrismations, weddings, divorces and funerals are maintained in the Parish Registry Books. The local parish priest detailing the information recorded in his parish's Registry Books issues transcripts upon receiving a request from the individual involved. The priest who prepares them signs these transcripts. His hierarch then validates the authenticity of the priest's signature. These transcripts can be used as needed and serve the same function as those original certificates issued at the time of the Sacrament. In the case of a Church Divorce Decree, however, duplicate copies are not issued. The original, as issued, must be submitted when applying for an ecclesiastical marriage license.
As of Sept. 1, 1979, each metropolis established a Registry Department, which processes marriage license requests, issues ecclesiastical licenses to marry, and maintains copies of the records for baptisms chrismations, marriages and funerals, as the parish priests submit them.
The Metropolis Registry Departments also maintain the petitions for divorces, the minutes of the Spiritual Court hearings and pertain to divorce petitions and copies of the divorce decrees issued. The Metropolis Registry Departments also issue to the priests certificates signed by the Metropolitan for baptisms, and chrismations. (Prior to Sept. 1, 1979, the Archdiocesan Department of Registry did all of this for all parishes of the Archdiocese. Since then, this is only done for the parishes within the Direct Archdiocesan District).
The Archdiocese Department of Registry maintains the records of weddings and divorces from 1923 until Aug. 31, 1979, that took place throughout the Archdiocese. Since Sept. 1, 1979, only those records that pertain to the parishes of the District Archdiocesan District are kept at the Archdiocese Records Department. Records of baptisms, chrismations and funerals as the parish priests submitted them are also archived at the Archdiocese.
The department also coordinates the tabulation of the statistics from throughout the Archdiocese. This information is published annually in the Yearbook of the Archdiocese.
The Department of Registry will be seeking to use the latest technology to address the enormous task of sorting, indexing and cataloguing the paper records archived as well as to investigate the possibility of processing certificates and documents electronically, in order to:
- Make it feasible to access the documents that the faithful request in a timely manner.
- Provide multiple copies of the archiving media for storage and safekeeping at secure locations across the country.
- Provide the parish priests the ability to process affidavits and certificates in a more timely fashion, and, enable the Archdiocese and each metropolis to have close to real-time statistics of sacraments being celebrated across the country and in each Metropolis.
Accurate documentation and the ability to provide such documentation will become even more critical in the years ahead. The Department of Registry is committed to using the resources at its disposal to ensure, as much as possible, that the faithful of the Archdiocese have access to the information and documentation that they require.
To read the article online - Orthodox Observer, Dec. 2014 - pages 10 and 22
Department of Registry Contact Information - http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/registry