Meeting with Charity Commission for N.I.

Six members of the Presbytery Education Board met with two representatives of the new Charity Commission on Thursday 26th November 2009. The new Charity Act 2008, which will shortly come into law, will bring a number of major changes for all our Churches and Schools.

A consultation period was allowed up to the end of November for charities and other interested bodies to make their views known.

Two main areas of concern were: 1. Would the ‘affordability and accessibility’ requirements of the ‘Public Benefit Test’, which all charities must undergo, affect our schools? 2. Would the requirements that charities do not engage in that which is ‘harmful’ and/or to the ‘detriment’ of society impact our Schools and Churches? It was felt that this law could be used against our Schools or Churches when they set forth the Biblical teaching on subjects such as: ‘hell’ or moral issues like ‘sodomy’.

While those present came away to a degree reassured by the comments made by the Charity Commission representative, it was felt that this rule on ‘harm’ and ‘detriment’ will one day be used against charities that stand for the principles of the Word of God.

A written submission was subsequently sent in outlining our views and concerns.

The Christian Institute has raised the added issue of the absence of any recognition that evangelism is an essential aspect of the work of any Christian Charity.

Please pray that these concerns will be taken on board and included in the final guidance that is issued by the Commission.

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