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Registering as a charity 

Many churches operate as unregistered charities as permitted by the Exception Order. The current Exception Order 2007 makes it clear that this includes partnerships of those Churches, including LEPs. However, those with a regular annual income over £100,000 are now required to register as charities.

The Churches, in collaboration with the Charity Commission, have responded by producing a standard Model Governing Document for Single Congregation LEPs. (The assumption is that other LEPs won't have this sort of income.) This allows the LEP to do whatever it is legally allowed to do and also looks to future possibilities. Because it is a standard form, it can be approved by the Churches (Diocese, District, Synod, Baptist Association etc) very quickly. It requires new thinking of LEPs since now all individuality and vision is no longer vested in the constitution but in the Ecumenical Vision Statement.

Do we need to do anything now?

The new Model Governing Document should be used for all new or revised constitutions, whether or not they need charity registration now. If you don't have plans to revise your constitution, simply wait until your next review or until you anticipate your regular income will reach £100,000. The Charity Commission intends to reduce this threshold at some stage, but we don't know when.

Your Model Governing Document (aka constitution) should be completed with the help of your Denominational Ecumenical Officer and the Intermediate Body. You are not allowed to vary it except where it asks you to make choices. When it is done, it must be approved by the partner Churches. That does not mean the parish or congregation or circuit, it means the District, Diocese, Synod or Baptist Association.

When that is done, you can apply to the Charity Commission for registration which can be done on-line through their website.

A fuller explanation and all the documentation you require is here.


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