Governance and Gospel Yorkshire
Here’s a riddle: What’s the connection between a senior solicitor and the spread of the gospel in England’s largest county? Answer: FIEC Practical Services. How so? Peter Wood explains.
With a population of nearly 5.5 million people, Yorkshire is around the same size as Scotland. Yet, once rich in gospel churches, now fewer than one in a hundred attends church in the county and fewer than one in two hundred are evangelical Christians. That’s roughly the same figure as for Japan or Bangladesh.
Gospel Yorkshire is a partnership of gospel churches and individuals working together to plant churches in our county. Plants in Scarborough, Central Leeds and Cleckheaton in the Spen Valley are planned for the next twelve months. (You may remember that Batley, close to Cleckheaton, is where the dreadful murder of MP Jo Cox took place.)
So where does FIEC Practical Services come in?
Christians in the UK are not necessarily very good at taking advantage of the legal opportunities that our government affords. A CIO, or to give it its full name, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, is a relatively new form of legal entity for charities. This provides the benefits that previously were only available to limited companies which are registered with both Companies House and the Charity Commission.
A CIO is registered with the Charity Commission alone and includes benefits such as limited liability for trustees and members, as well as enabling cost effective giving. A CIO can be a great structure for FIEC churches. In our case, at Gospel Yorkshire, it’s been an ideal way to form a charitable structure, with its attendant benefits, not least the ability to claim Gift Aid on gifts from individual donors.
And here’s where FIEC Practical Services came in. They provided exactly the professional legal resources that we needed. These included preparation of draft documents for the CIO constitution, guiding us through the application process with the Charity Commission and making the final application on our behalf. The process was straightforward too and took less than three months from the initial draft to final registration with the Charity Commission.
Could FIEC Practical Services help your church? Every FIEC church has access to 30 minutes of free legal advice per issue each year. There are also a number of very helpful articles on the FIEC website. These include one which looks at whether becoming a CIO might be right for your church.
To find out more about Gospel Yorkshire and the details of our annual conference “Making it Happen” on Wednesday 5th October click here.