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The Charles Russell Speechlys Religious Charities Update - Summer 2014

3 June 2014

June 2014

This Summer 2014 edition religious charities briefing note provides informative updates in an accessible form on legal issues affecting religious charities.

In this edition George Duncan comments on issues arising from the proposal to bring English Cathedrals under the wing of the Charity Commission, Mark Rowden explores the particular issues which Charity Trustees need to consider on disposing of land and Matthew Feather provides a brief overview of the Listed Places for Worship Grant Scheme.

Finally, we recently ran a very successful seminar where we discussed the relationship between Dioceses and their churches and the governance of the Church of England in times of financial strain.

You can read more about the event and key discussions below.

Churches: part of the problem, or part of the solution?

We held what was (judging by the responses from those attending) an extremely successful seminar on this theme on 19 May. The seminar was held under Chatham House rules, so we cannot report on what was said. We can however say that the talks stimulated a lively discussion.

The seminar set the rather bleak financial background against which churches are operating but presented some topical case studies on how, with courage and imagination, churches have shown that it is possible to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Our consultant Simon Wethered chaired this seminar.

There were four speakers. Hugh Homan is a former churchwarden in a tiny rural parish in Wiltshire, which has an aging and declining congregation and two 13th century churches to maintain. He set up an innovative scheme in his village under which the burden of the cost of upkeep of the two churches is spread more widely than the church community.

He is one of the founders of the Beckfords Group, which is concerned with governance and financial matters in the Church of England. Paul Perkin is the Vicar of St Mark’s Battersea Rise, where he has led a church plant since 1987 and has sent plants to regenerate two other churches. The Reverend Dr Sam Wells is the Vicar of St Martin in the Fields and also Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College London.

The Venerable Clive Mansell practised as a solicitor before becoming ordained and serving in Worcestershire and then in North Yorkshire before becoming Archdeacon of Tonbridge in the Rochester diocese.

The speakers thus brought a broad range of perspectives and experience to this timely seminar held at a time when, with the arrival of a former senior business executive as an Archbishop of Canterbury, there is a strong chance that the governance and finances of the Church of England are in for a shake up.

If this topic is of interest to you or you would like to get involved in future discussions, please contact George Duncan.

+44 (0)20 7203 5157