Thursday, 20 May 2010

charity begins ......

I'm writing this after watching the video that Andy posted on the church we long for. I would have laughed but I was too afflicted by the truth of it....

Still, I digress. We have money issues at our place. We don't have enough of it. Well, apart from the £230,000 we have sat in the bank that we cant bring ourselves to spend. That means we don't have enough money for current staffing levels whilst at the same time we are knocked back for any grant applications because they point out that we have £230,000 in our account. It's a reasonable point and a weird place to be.

In all this I have started to feel a might uncomfortable with our status as a charity and have come to the conclusion that I don't know enough about the charity commission and do not like the fact that we are in bed with them.

Now let me point out before we go any further, I think the charity commission is a good thing. They are not to my knowledge a bad body and I don't think they are asking us to do evil things.I just don't really understand why a church would benefit from affiliation with them.

I know at this point you're thinking, 'the woman's not been listening at the AGMs', either that or, 'they have a rubbish treasurer who hasn't picked up on the enormous financial kickbacks we could tap into'. Not so, I am aware that around £16,000 of our income will come as a result of our relationship with the tax man via our charitable status this year. And that seems to be it. Well, at least no other reason has yet been offered as to why we have adopted a constitution which is in line with the Charity Commissions needs. We cut a tax break.

Again in and of itself I am all for people giving us money, it's just that in opting for a constitution which will allow us this benefit we have agreed to make the Deacons the trustees of the church and they are accountable for the decisions and running of the church. At this point I become uncomfortable with the fact that my Baptist theology states that the members of the community will collectively make decisions and be responsible after having searched for the mind of Christ. When I have queried this discrepancy (I confess I have been late on the uptake of what was happening) the two responses that have come back seem to be a) I'll grow out of this opinion, b)£16,000 means it's worth it.

I am not sure it is. The community of Christ is a counter-cultural body, looking for different ways to live and spend and be in line with God's values. I'm not sure I want to strive then for another body's set of rules if they are not grounded in the seeking of Christ and the aims of the community to which I belong. I want all of us who have covenanted together to be responsible for good and for bad.

I am uncomfortable with changing church structure in order to get cash back and am a little alarmed by how out of kilter I am with others because of this. I have been in lots of meetings where the Baptist notion of the gathered body has been argued for and brought out to passionately defend (not least in our desire to keep excluding women ministers). It seems though that this theology may have a price and the tax man can set the tariff.