My understanding is that if a church congregation is not currently a charity and does not wish to become one, it should ensure that its governing document or constitution includes objects that are definitely not charitable. The Advancement of Religion for the Public Benefit, Charity trustee meetings: 15 questions you should ask, The Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2015/09/04/churches-as-charities-some-basics/, Law and religion round-up – 24th July | Law & Religion UK, PCCs and charitable status | Law & Religion UK, Law & Religion 2016 and 2017: retrospect and prospect | Law & Religion UK, More answers to readers’ queries and comments – February | Law & Religion UK. Nor could it possibly apply in the case of the Church in Wales: see the Welsh Church Act 1914. Established in 1906. Case law has provided that charity trustees are permitted to declare written ‘trusts’ over funds and assets held in such circumstances, but in doing so they cannot alter or extend the original purposes of the charity. Public awareness that leads to informed understanding, giving, involvement, and prayer. But what happens to a church that has a structure determined by its members (a governing document for example) that is not accepted by the Charity Commission as suitable for being a charity? The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into SPAC Nation's church Claims emerged pastors had told worshipppers to take out loans to pay them A senior leader Mariam Mbula … But perhaps just as big an issue is this: excepted status was not intended to be permanent and is currently due to terminate in 2021; but to bring it to a sudden end would cause a major administrative headache for the Charity Commission, which simply does not have the resources to cope with a sudden flood of new registrations. The Charity Commission does intend to remove the income qualification at some point which will mean … falls to be subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction with respect to charities”. Your email address will not be published. It is of course moot whether the Church was a charity during this period, because if it was not (and was merely a private members’ benefit organisation) we would have had no jurisdiction over it, and could offer no further comment and take no further action. The only question is for how long and on what terms. The role played within the charity, rather than the label applied by the governing document, identifies who are the charity trustees; • It is possible for a charity to arise (and to be recognised for regulatory purposes) where there is no formal written governing document in place e.g. Currently only those churches with a gross income over £100,000 a year are required to register. The underlined wording indicates that a charity may be established and operated under a variety of legal governance structures and statuses, and not only under a ‘declaration of trust’ (e.g. Your comment will have to be approved by a site administrator before it is shown on the site so please be patient. Yes, certainly. Churches that have been unwilling to change their set up to comply with the CC requirements have simply been told that they can’t register as a charity (and therefore can’t benefit from the status and financial benefits this would bring). During Dame Suzi Leather’s time as Chair, the Charity Commission published a sectoral guide on the issue. COVID-19: Stewardship is operating as usual and we are aiming to provide as close to normal service as we can. But it also raises the more general issue of what I tend to think of as “sweetheart charities”: where the Government, in a desire to get a non-departmental public body off the Civil Service books, hives off all or part of it as a charity. I don’t know what the express objects are of the new slimmed down English Heritage but the National Trust holds most of its land on the statutory basis that it can not be alienated without Parliamentary approval. The Charity Commission has ordered the Christ Church Governing Body and Dean to enter into a mediation … A further issue is the fact that s 2(1) the 2011 Act states that, in order to be charitable, the activities of a trust must fall within the descriptions of purposes in s 3(1), and be “for the public benefit”. Luckily, there’s a charity for that! The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi said this as he assured that churches … It is only a charity if it has a governing document that makes it subject to the High Courts charity jurisdiction and operates for the public benefit. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. The situation I was thinking of was where the trustees of a charity whose purpose is to preserve land or buildings for the benefit of the public conclude that, because of economic constraints, some part of its property portfolio has to go in order to preserve the rest. In England and Wales all Methodist churches… This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Charity Commission letter: further reports. Charity Commission Registration Anglican churches have historically enjoyed excepted status as charities. Provided that trustees operate within this framework the Commission is precluded for intervening in the administration of a charity (s20(2) Charities Act 2011). I am proceeding on the basis that there was in fact a charity operating in the period from 2012 to the creation and registration of the CIO. If that wasn’t clear enough, my apologies – but I don’t see how I could have made it much more explicit. The Charity Commission are trying to rightly protect the status that comes with charity status in only allowing correctly (in terms of the requirements of the act) structured churches to benefit from charitable status. Registered office: 1 Lamb's Passage, London EC1Y 8AB, Churches – Ending of exception from registration with the Charity Commission, Association Of Christian Financial Advisers (ACFA), Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers, Baptist (within section 2 of the Baptist and Congregational Trusts Act 1951), Calvinistic Methodist or Presbyterian Church of Wales. The Commission has worked in partnership with key bodies to address this issue (and to promote compliance with the duty of registration), but it has not been viewed as a ‘high risk’ regulatory matter to which priority should be applied; My PCC’s income was over £100,000 last year, but it is normally much less than that. In 2013 we posted about the decision of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liège to selling St Anthony’s Private Hospital in Sutton to a private company and the demand of the then local MP, Paul Burstow, that the Vatican intervene in the case. Witness to Jesus Christ by life, deed, … It should also be emphasised that charitable status is just that – a status. But once trustees start ignoring good practice the result can be a disaster. In summary, the confused position relating to exception has contributed to many churches failing to comply with the duty to register with the Commission at the point at which they were liable to do so. I will be surprised if they do so at all, let alone with clarity! Just calling yourself “a church” doesn’t make you a charity. In brief, not if it is a trust of which the objects are purely charitable. What follows is taken from a Charity Commission response to an enquiry as to whether a given church which had claimed gift aid and created a corporate contract of employment yet had no one willing to admit to being legally responsible for financial governance was a charity and if so who were it’s trustees. (b) falls to be subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction with respect to charities”. The Church Building Commission became the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1836. In principle, it is a matter for the trustees’ judgment as to what is in the charity’s best interests and for no-one else. Can it “opt out” of being a charity, legally? You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. It is emphatically not a legal form: the forms of governance of individual charities are extremely various. The Commission’s regulatory role: This site uses cookies. Would we need to amend our constitution? To advance the Christian religion and education and to relieve poverty, hardship and distress across Oxfordshire and in many other parts of the world. There is a particular problem when a local authority wishes (no doubt for reasons that its elected members regard as entirely reasonable and proper) to exercise some measure of control over a charity, as the following example demonstrates.