Added on 12/02/2016
Registration of parishes and dioceses
As the deadline for the registration of charities in the Republic of Ireland approaches on 16 April 2016, the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) has asked the central Church to produce a list of all Church of Ireland bodies that will, in due course, be seeking registration under the Charities Act 2009.
The CRA wishes to work with the Church to enable the development of a simpler version of the current model for large charity registrations. This will mean changes for the approach used by the CRA and so the process of completing parish registration is being suspended temporarily, as requested by the CRA.
The listing being prepared by Church House in Dublin, with the help of the dioceses, will satisfy the CRA regarding meeting the deadline of 16 April.
Select Vestries and Incumbents, along with other trustee bodies, are currently conducting a review of parish assets to ensure that nothing is left off the list. The main part of this list consists of all the Select Vestries and Diocesan Councils along with the Representative Church Body. These are the trustee bodies that are established under the Church of Ireland Constitution and this list has already been developed with the assistance of Diocesan Secretaries.
However, a letter was written to parishes in the last fortnight, to ensure that any locally held assets under local trusteeship are also included in the list, or, that local trustees have already responded to invitations to register with the CRA. It is important that Select Vestries assure themselves that all assets are properly accounted for under the new legislation as any breach of duty may result in a challenge to the Select Vestry by the CRA or might leave local trustees responsible for the assets in a way that was never intended, including financial and insurance responsibilities.
Identifying parish assets
A number of queries have been received in Church House as to how these locally held assets can be identified. In general, anything not vested in the RCB that is regarded as a parish asset but is not reported through the parish accounts annually by the Select Vestry needs to be examined, identified and brought into a reporting structure, either by including it in the accounts or by separate registration.
Some examples that have come to light are as follows:
• Property or land held by local trustees under a deed of trust, or deed of conveyance, on behalf of the parish;
• Financial assets or shares left to the parish under a trust that is managed locally;
• Parish halls held by local trustees but leased to community groups and in receipt of Leader Fund grants from the EU;
• Local schemes set up under the 1885 Educational Endowment Scheme, which may or may not still be used for educational purposes under these schemes;
• Other successors of 19th century benevolent charities held locally.
Central Church is glad to assist Select Vestries with queries and has set up a helpline in Church House. If you have a query relating to any aspect of registration affecting the parish, please contact Ms Joanne Richards on 01 4125 660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org