It is my privilege to introduce this year's annual report of the Grace Baptist Trust Corporation. We acknowledge God's faithfulness and thank him for his goodness through another year, as we have endeavoured to support and encourage the work of the churches. During this past year we are sorry to have said "goodbye" to two members of the Board. Trevor Condy retired after serving faithfully since 1983 owing to increasing church and GBM responsibilities, and Malcolm MacGregor retired after serving since 2002 owing to the increased responsibilities arising from the success of the church plant in Shepherd Drive, Ipswich.
|Malcolm MacGregor||Trevor Condy|
During the year we have been able to support the work of churches in various ways. A number of grants and loans have been made from the many funds that are administered by us and this has enabled churches to maintain or improve their properties. In addition, grants have been made to provide assistance to individual members with particular needs. Eric Cousins and Lou van Zyl were able to answer a wide range of specific queries raised by church officers and we have continued to help churches register with the Charity Commission, as required under the Charities Act 2006, and this continues to be a very smooth process.
As a Trustee of charitable land and property, we have been able to give extensive advice to churches regarding the land and buildings for which they are responsible as well as legal advice relating to compliance with their chapel trust deeds. One church discovered that their, very sensible, practice relating to the conduct of important votes at church meetings was actually in contravention of the legal requirements of their chapel trust deed. We approached the Charity Commission about this who agreed that as the number of votes required by the trust deed was an administrative and not substantive matter, the trust deed could be altered in accordance with the practice of the church.
During the year we had an unusual request. We were approached about the graveyard of a former Strict Baptist chapel that was in a state of disrepair and causing some concern to the immediate neighbours. Whilst the Corporation had no responsibility for the graveyard, we were able to contact the sole remaining trustee about the situation. After consultation with him, it was agreed that another trust company was the appropriate organisation to be appointed as a trustee to care for the graveyard. We were pleased to be able to facilitate the resolution of this matter.
In recent years, Eric Cousins has been seconded to assist the trustees of the Strict Baptist Trust and Pension Fund and we have been considering ways of working together more effectively and efficiently. An approach was made to the Charity Commission and it was agreed that the assets of the Strict Baptist Trust and Pension Fund could be transferred to the Corporation to be administered as one of the Corporation’s Endowment Funds. The transfer was successfully concluded during the year and the ministry of the Strict Baptist Trust and Pension Fund is now an important part of the ministry of the Corporation, operating under the new name of “The Pastor’s Fund”.
At the end of 2009 we agreed to assist the trustees of the Grace Baptist Partnership with the legal and administrative aspects of establishing and running this new venture. The Partnership helps to support churches by providing training, practical experience, resources and materials to those who believe that the Lord would have them plant new Grace Baptist churches in their area.
Lou van Zyl, was given responsibility for this project and we are pleased to report that the charity was successfully registered with the Charity Commission and is now running particularly smoothly. If you want to know more about the Partnership contact Barry King on 020 3083 2112 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summarised financial information is given in our Annual Report (available from the office on request) and includes a Statement of Financial Activities, a Balance Sheet, and limited notes from the Corporation’s accounts together with certain details from the Common Investment Fund. The full accounts of the Corporation and the Common Investment Fund have been subject to audit and copies of these are also available on request. In our Annual Report, we have also included a summary of the transactions relating to the Trust Funds of which the Corporation is a Trustee. Separate accounts are maintained for each of the trusts and they have been subject to external scrutiny by Independent Examination, where appropriate. In addition, returns are made to the Charity Commission in respect of those trusts that are also registered charities.
A number of the trust funds we administer are very small indeed, with some having an annual income of only a few pounds, and we have therefore taken advantage of the provisions of section 75 of the Charities Act 1993 (as amended in 2006). Under this section we are permitted to convert the trust fund capital to income, and then spend that capital as though it were income, subject to the agreement of the Charity Commission. Once it has been spent, the trust fund is then closed. We intend to continue with this process during 2011. If you are responsible for administering small trust funds and would like assistance with passing Section 75 Resolutions please contact Eric Cousins.
As I draw to a conclusion, I would like to mention some of the grant making funds for which we are responsible, particularly the Pastors’ Fund, the Ministers’ Aid Fund and the Benevolent Fund. In the case of the Pastors’ Fund and Ministers’ Aid Fund, grants are paid to Strict Baptist pastors, whether currently serving or retired to relieve financial hardship. The Pastors’ Fund is used to pay regular allowances whereas the Ministers’ Aid Fund is used to make one-off grants to meet sudden cases of need that may arise. The Benevolent Fund is used to pay grants to the members of Strict Baptist Churches who are in financial need. The B A Warburton Memorial Fund is slightly different in that grants are made to male members of Strict Baptist Churches who are preparing for the Ministry to assist them with the costs of their training. Although the funds available are limited, we do encourage applications which will be dealt with in a sensitive manner.
Our achievements during the past year would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our Chief Executive, Eric Cousins, and his PA, Lou van Zyl, to whom we are most grateful. As to the year ahead, we continue to need God's help – please pray that we will be given guidance and wisdom as we serve God and seek to minister to the churches.