Records of all baptisms are kept by the local church.
The church maintains the record of the event. The baptismal record is what the local church will have on file. They will not have your baptismal certificate. The church gives a baptismal certificate to the person being baptized, of, if the person is a minor, to their family. You will want to check with your family or your older records if you are looking for your baptismal certificate.
The primary reason people tend to request baptismal certificates is because another church or an entity of the church needs a copy of the baptismal record. Some denominations require proof of baptism as a condition of marriage in their church or to enter the membership process. The baptismal record is the official record of the baptism. The certificate is a memento for the candidate or family. Others do not need a copy of the baptismal certificate itself.
In some instances, another entity may hold the baptismal records. If a local church has merged with another congregation, the records are transferred to the new church. If a church closes, the records are transferred to the annual conference archives - the regional depository for historical records.
The local church or archives office can help locate baptismal records.
This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.