Who should be running a Baptist church?

Should a Baptist church choose to incorporate as an association[1], it is required to have a committee. The Act under which it will incorporate[2] says that this committee, ‘has the management of the association’.

If, as is likely, the church wants to be faithful to the beliefs and practices traditionally practised by Baptists, then it will have two ‘offices’: ‘pastor’ (elder) and ‘deacon’[3].

If they don’t want to have two separate churches, one Biblical and one secular[4], the question then becomes: how do they marry what they should do as Baptists with what they should do as an incorporated association?

As an incorporated association, the church should be managed by the committee. Some may think that ‘management’ is meant in the sense of ‘administration’. But the Model Rules, the rules that apply if an association doesn’t make up its own, make it clear that the powers of the committee extend well beyond administration:

With the Model Rules requiring only one general meeting in a year (the Annual General Meeting), the leadership of the association clearly rests with the committee.

So, to match that in the church, they would be looking for those who, Biblically, are to lead. And of the two offices required, elders and deacons, that is clearly the elders:

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching [1 Timothy 5:17, NIV].

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. [Titus 1:5-9, NIV].

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;[1 Peter 5:1-2][5] (emphasis mine).

Therefore, the committee should be composed of elders. And because deacons have a quite different role in the church, freeing the elders to do their ‘job’[6], that is, lead, there should be only elders on the committee.

That’s the theory, but what about the practice? As a test I looked at the constitutions of the Baptist churches incorporated in the ACT.

Belconnen Baptist Church Inc (Mosaic Baptist Church)

Their committee is called ‘the Church Board’[7]. It consists of the Senior Pastor (ex-officio) plus ‘at least 5 other church members who are: (i) at least 18 years of age; and (ii) have been an active member of the Church for at least the preceding six months.[8] No Biblical qualifications are required.

They do have (an unspecified number of) elders, but they have only an advisory role.

Brindabella Baptist Church Incorporated

The committee has to have ‘at least 3 church members[9]. To be eligible, the person must be at least 18, and ‘have been an active participant in the life of the church for at least 12 months.’[10] No Biblical qualifications are required.

Elders are not mentioned.

Canberra Korean Baptist Church Incorporated

Their committee is the one that’s in the Model Rules: four ‘office-bearers’ (president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary[11]), and ‘at least three ordinary committee members’, except that two people have to hold more than one office[12]. The Bible is not mentioned.

Emmanuel Independent Baptist Church

The Committee shall consist of a. the officers of the Association; and b. other members…’ [Article 25]. The ‘officers’ are ‘a Chairman who shall be the Pastor of the church’, Deputy Chairman, and a ‘Treasurer-Secretary’ [Article 24]. The Bible is not mentioned.

Northpointe Baptist Church Incorporated[13]

Article 5, ‘Officers’, discusses elders, pastors, ‘deacons (deaconesses)’, and Treasurer. The committee is mentioned just once. The use of the term ‘Leadership Team, again just once[14], and the use of the statutory term ‘officers’ strongly suggests that all these people serve on the committee.

Elders must satisfy the requirements in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. ‘Pastors are Elders with a special pastoral calling or gift[15] [Article 5, page 4]. For deacons/deaconesses, the reference to Acts 6:1- 7 when explaining their role, implies that the qualification for role is that they ‘are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom’.

Tuggeranong Baptist Church Incorporated

‘We believe that the church should be headed by a male Pastor who will be assisted in church government by qualified men and/or women called Elders whom we empower to exercise Godly leadership over us[16].

A subsequent clause links this belief with the association requirement for a committee:

The committee of the association shall consist of, at a minimum, the senior pastor and three elders[17].

There is no age or length of attendance requirement; both are subsumed in the Biblical qualification required:

All Elders must be chosen and accepted on the basis of the Scriptural qualifications laid down in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9, and must have been members for sufficient time to have demonstrated their gifts and character[18].

There is a requirement for deacons[19], but although they ‘serve for a Term with the Elders’[20], the fact that their responsibilities are ‘delegated to them by the Eldership’[21] , and that their nomination ‘must be confirmed by the Eldership’[22] is against any interpretation that they serve on the committee with the elders.

Valley Baptist Church

The committee consists of ‘the pastor and deacons’[23]. The pastor must meet the requirements of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and the deacons the requirements of 1 Timothy 3:8-13 plus the ‘Teacher’s and Officer’s Covenant’ (which is included in the constitution)[24].

Conclusion

Based on this sample, Baptist churches, at least in the legal expression of how they govern, show little adherence to the Biblical injunction that it is elders who should lead the church.

 

 

  1. It is far from automatic that if it does, it should choose an association rather than a company –
  2. In the Australian Capital Territory, the ASSOCIATIONS INCORPORATION ACT 1991 – SECT 60
  3. See for instance, here.
  4. As Valley Baptist Church Incorporated seems to be trying to implement with this provision under ‘Qualifications of Officers’: ‘Trustee/Committee members: these officers are solely for the purpose of incorporation of the church. The Pastor shall act as the Public Officer of the church along with two appointed committee members.’ [Section 2, their constitution].
  5. There is even Biblical support for the elders to lead in money matters too: ‘The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul’ (emphasis mine) [Acts 11:29-30].
  6. 1 Timothy 3:8–13
  7. Clause 2.2
  8. Clause 10
  9. Clause 7.2.1
  10. Clause 7.2.2
  11. There is no requirement under the Act to have any particular offices, e.g. President, Treasurer etc [Associations Incorporation Act 1991 – Notes, Dictionary.
  12. Clause 17
  13. My wife and I attend this church. We are not members of the Association.
  14. Article 5, page 3.
  15. Article 5, page 4.
  16. Clause 3)b). This clause goes on to say that ‘The Elders and the Fellowship are served by qualified men or women called Deacons.
  17. Clause 6)a)
  18. Clause 7)b)i)
  19. Clause 8
  20. Clause 8)a)
  21. Clause 8)b)
  22. Clause 8)c)
  23. Article IV, Section 2
  24. Article VIII, Section 2

Westminster Presbyterian Church Presbytery of Western Australia: a charity review

A charity review of Westminster Presbyterian Church Presbytery of Western Australia Inc (WPCWA) an organisation that appears to be the one that is listed as a member of Missions Interlink[1].

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review. They….did not respond.

Is WPCWA registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • WPCWA is a Western Australian incorporated association (A1014600W)[2].
  • If its website is wpc.org.au[3], then it is using the names WPC Australia and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Australia. It holds no business names.
  • WPCWA operates – according to the ACNC Register – in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Western Australia, plus overseas in Vanuatu.
    • It does not have the required registration (an ARBN) to carry on business outside Western Australia.
    • There is no indication that it does any fundraising, so the question of state fundraising licences does not arise.

What does it do?

  • The Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017 says that
    • We support local churches in various ministries. We screen new ministers and churches. We seek to develop new churches. We are supporting a couple of overseas missionaries.
    • ‘Local’ is not Western Australia: the first of the ‘Presbytery’s Objects in the constitution is
      • to assist congregations affiliated with the Westminster Presbyterian Church in all States and Territories except Queensland to…

Do they share the Gospel?[4]

  • No.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • No Financial Report 2017 has been lodged (see below), and it is not possible to estimate ‘administration’ from the four expenses disclosed in the AIS 2017.

Do they pay their board members?

  • Such payments are not prohibited by the constitution.
  • Insufficient financial information is provided to check.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • NA

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes.
    • Despite an AGM that was held in August, the AIS was not lodged for another five months, a week before the deadline, and a month later than last year.
    • If you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now over seven months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: Almost – no outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2017: Yes
    • Because of their size, they don’t have to lodge one.
    • However, their Associate membership of Missions Interlink requires them to “have available for [their] members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor.” No such statement has been made public.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • From the AIS 2017:
    • A surplus of $6K on revenue of $246K.
    • ‘Employee expenses’ were 93% of the total.
    • Liabilities are 87% of assets.

What did the auditor say about the financial statements?

  • If there was an audit, it is not available to the public without charge.

If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete?

  • Almost – ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank. (So is ‘Website’, but that’s not compulsory.)

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • NA

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • Presumably the $245K ‘Donations and requests’ (AIS 2017) came from affiliated churches.
  • There is no disclosure of where the $5K of ‘Grants and donations…’ went.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Per the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
    • John MacRae
    • Simon Van Bruchem
    • Ray Wilson
  • The committee is responsible to the members of the association. The number of members is not disclosed.

To whom are WPCWA accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • As an association, to the Western Australian regulator of incorporated associations.
  • If they are indeed the member referred to as Westminster Presbyterian Church of WA’, then WPCWA is accountable to Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. The membership is listed as being in the name ‘Westminster Presbyterian Church of WA’. The link though is to a Presbyterian church at Bull Creek. That church has asked Missions Interlink to remove that link (email from them).
  2. Not to be confused with Westminster Presbyterian Church, another Western Australian incorporated association (A08200735). (But with no ABN.)
  3. Despite WPCWA’s name, it operates in two other states.
  4. “Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.

Westminster Presbyterian Church Bullcreek Inc: mini-charity review

Mini charity review of Westminster Presbyterian Church Bullcreek Inc (WPCB).

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • If sent them a draft of this review. They did not answer when I asked them whether they intended to suggest corrections and submit comments.

Is WPCB registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • WPCB is a Western Australian incorporated association (A0770077W).
  • Registered for GST.
  • No business names are held. It should therefore not be trading under the names WPC Bull Creek or Bull Creek WPC.
  • It likely does no fundraising, so the lack of fundraising licences is to be expected.

What does WPCB do?

  • The things that you would expect of an institutional ‘church’. See www.wpcbc.net.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • If the impact they are seeking is what’s expressed in ‘Article III – Object’ in the constitution, the expenses are not classified to allow the calculation of a figure for ‘administration’.

Do they pay their board members?

  • This is not prohibited by their constitution.
  • The expenses are not disclosed sufficiently to check for such payments.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • NA

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • General giving “Tithes & Offerings”
  • Missions & Apprenticeship Programme’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (in a relatively short time after their year-end, two months; but ten days later than last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: No
    • Three of the figures in the ‘Comprehensive Income Statement summary’ do not match those in the financial statements.
    • No outcomes are reported.
    • ‘WA incorporated association number is blank.
  • Financial Report 2017: No
    • With a professional staff of 13 and earning $1.22m in revenue, special purpose financial statements are not appropriate.
      • The elders do not explain why they made this decision.
    • The ‘Statement by Session’ does not meet ACNC requirements.
    • No ‘Other comprehensive income’ is disclosed.
    • There are several significant items under ‘Expenditure’ that are not explained.
    • All the cash did not come from ‘customers’.
    • The valuation basis of the non-current assets is not disclosed.
    • The distinction between ‘Land’ and ‘Church property’ is not explained.
    • Many of the liabilities, at least based on their name, do not meet the definition of a liability.
    • ‘Prepayments’ are an asset, not a liability.
    • The source of the ‘Borrowings’ is not disclosed.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • The deficit as a percentage of revenue was still negative, but declined from 1% to 1/2%.
  • Employee expenses were 48% of expenses.
  • Current assets as a multiple of current liabilities declined from 2 to 1.7.
  • Holding property ensures that the long term financial structure is sound.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Geoffrey Carslake, for Shreeve & Carslake, issued a ‘clean’ opinion.
  • Before you conclude on how much comfort you should take from this opinion, please
    • read on the meaning of ‘clean’ here and here, and
    • re-read the section ‘Financial Report 2017’. (To do the audit, Geoffrey had to be comfortable with the elders’ decision to not produce general purpose financial statements.)

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete/correct?

  • Not quite – ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • The AIS 2017 shows that ‘Grants and donations made for use in Australia’ totalled $120K, and that the similar figure for overseas was $89K.
    • The combined figure is $53K short of ‘Missions’ in the expenses.
  • The destination of this money is not disclosed.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website, but here there are from the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
  • All these people are elders of WPCB, and form the ‘session’ [Constitution, Article VI).

To whom is WPCB accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • As an association, to the Western Australian regulator of incorporated associations.

On the trail of how a church with its own law works

One of the pieces of information that the legislators made compulsory for the ACNC Register was ‘the entity’s governing rules’. Almost always a constitution, rules or trust deed.

I need this document to complete a review of a charity.

For the Presbyterian Church of Australia Aust Presbyterian World Mission Committee – yes, that’s its name – the Register showed me this:

Not the usual title of a governing document: first, they are not usually made especially for the ACNC, and second, it is usually a single document not ‘documents’ plural.

The ‘Description’ here is because the charity is a particular type of religious charity. So twice special.

Presbyterian Church of Australia Aust Presbyterian World Mission Committee is a charity whose ‘governing documents are a reference to the legislation that creates [its] organization, or to church or canon law.’ In this case, the ACNC says that they only need to provide a link to the laws, not a copy of them.

So that’s what’s in the .pdf document above:

The link leads, not to the documents, but to the website of Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales:

So one searches for the documents. (At least this charity has a search function; too many don’t). Don’t make the mistake that I made, though, quickly read the .pdf and search for ‘The Code’. The result is a discouragement to go further:

Luckily I rolled below the fold and found something much closer to what the ACNC want you to find:

A search on ‘Constituting Documents’ takes you straight there.

‘Constituting Documents of the PCNSW’ has been put in one document for you:

You might ask, then, why couldn’t this document be lodged on the Register? Was it in the mind of the legislators that sometimes the user will be sent on an internet trail in order to get basic information about how the charity works? Ignoring that, if there is a good reason why the document can’t be lodged on the Register, how about giving a link to it instead?

Now to the task of finding what I want in the 481 pages.

New Heart Baptist Church: mini-charity review

Mini-charity review of New Heart Baptist Church (NH), an Associate member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?[1]

  • I sent them a a draft of this review. Like last year, they…did not respond.

Is NH registered?

  • As a charity, yes. But in the name Rochedale Baptist Church, with the addition of t/as New Heart Baptist Church.
    • One can only presume that this is the old name of the church. (The current constitution, for New Heart Baptist Church, was written in 2014.)
  • The name they now use, New Heart Baptist Church, is not registered. (The registration is shown on ASIC’s register as ‘Cancelled’.)
  • The ABN registration is still in the old name.
  • NH is an unincorporated entity.

What do they do?

  • Per the Annual Information Statement 2016 (AIS 2016):
    • Conducted regular church services and other religious activities including acts of kindness and mercy in the community as part of those religious activities.
  • For more detail, see the main menu items on the website.

Does they share the Gospel?[2]

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • As they are not required to lodge any financial information, even in the AIS (see below), and they have chosen not to lodge this information voluntarily nor publish anything on their website, we cannot make this calculation.

Do they pay their board members?

  • Such payments are not prohibited by the constitution.
  • There are no financial statements to check.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • Online giving is not offered.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • None

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (three and a half months after year end, two months earlier than last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • Their name is incorrect.
    • There are no outcomes.
  • Financial Report 2016: NA
    • Because they have a revenue of at least $25oK their size is Medium. Ordinarily this would mean that they have to lodge accounts (which have been at least reviewed). However, because they are a ‘basic religious charity’, they are exempt from reporting.
    • But their Associate membership of Missions Interlink requires them to “have available for [their] members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor.” So just ask.
    • They could have lodged this voluntarily, but they chose not to.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • NA

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • If there is an audit report, it is not made public (or even offered).

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete?

  • Yes

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • There are no financial statements to check.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

To whom is NH accountable?

 

 

 

  1. I agree with Randy Alcorn [Money, Possessions, & Eternity, Tyndale, 2003] when he says that ‘Any Christian leaders who resist financial accountability make themselves suspect.’ [page 425]
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.
  3. For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

Wesleyan World Missions: mini charity review

Mini charity review of Wesleyan World Missions (WWM), an entity that seeks donations online, and is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?

I sent them a draft of this review on 30 August 2017. Like last year, they…did not respond.

Is WWM registered?

  • WWM is not registered as a charity.
  • It is not incorporated.
  • It is not even the holder of an ABN (that is, registered as a ‘business’ in its own right).
  • A Google search on the name leads to a website for WWM. In smaller print under the top gallery of pictures we learn that WWM is The Missions Arm of the (sic) Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia (WMCA).
  • WMCA are registered as a charity.
  • Both WMCA and WWM are still not licensed to fundraise in any of the seven states that have a licensing regime. The ACNC Register for WMCA says that they don’t operate in Tasmania, so presumably that applies to WWM too. No licence is required any longer for a charity (WMCA) in the Australian Capital Territory, and WMCA may argue that it is exempt in in Queensland because they are a ‘religious order’, and in Victoria because they can marry people. But the other states? And what effect the fact that they have an internet invitation to give?

What do WWM do?

  • There is no description on the website.
  • From the main menu, we know that they have a training centre in the Solomon Islands and that Australian Wesleyans serve overseas. (The Updates appear to be about more than just Australian activities.)
  • WMCA operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, only in Solomon Islands. But donations are also sought by WWM for two projects in Papua New Guinea.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • None of the five projects on the giving page include this.

What impact are they having?

  • There is still no indication that they are assessing their impact. (I searched for ‘outcomes’ too.)

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, administration?

  • No financial statements for WWM are available.
    • Nor are the financial statements of WMCA available on the ACNC Register. This is because, as a ‘Basic Religious Charity’, they are exempt.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • On the website: ‘Gifts are administered by the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia and are not tax deductible.’

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • From the website:
    • ‘Support David Collins’
    • ‘Soto PNG Sponsorship’
    • ‘Support Noro Building Project’
    • ‘Support the Floyds’
    • ‘General Gift’
    • Are the three individuals/families here employees?

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • They are not registered anywhere, so NA.
  • The organisation of which they are an ‘arm’, WMCA, submitted its AIS 2016 six and a half months after its year-end (three weeks earlier than last year). (No Financial Report 2016 was required.)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • No regulator, so NA.
  • And the organisation of which they are an ‘arm’ doesn’t report.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • No Report, so NA.
  • No financial statements are available on the website.
  • And the organisation of which they are an ‘arm’ doesn’t report.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • No audit, so NA.
  • And the organisation of which they are an ‘arm’ doesn’t report.

If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete?

  • Not a registered charity, so NA.
  • WMCA? Except for a minor omission, the trading name, yes.
    • ‘Phone’, ‘Email’, and ‘Website’ are blank, but they are not compulsory.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • No information on the WWM website.
  • As they are an ‘arm’ of WMCA, presumably it is the people listed as responsible persons of WMCA on the ACNC Register.
    • Jeffrey Adams
    • Peter Dobson (National Assistant Superintendent)
    • Rosemary Richardson (National Treasurer)
    • Rex Rigby (National Superintendent)
    • Douglas Ring (National Secretary)
    • This board is unchanged from last year.
    • There are 21 directorships on the ACNC Register in the name ‘Jeffrey Adams’, 16 for ‘Rex Rigby’, 12 for ‘Rosemary Richardson’, 12 for ‘Douglas Ring’, and nine for ‘Peter Dobson’. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and of course no for-profit organisations.  Therefore, if after eliminating the charities for which a WMCA person is not a director, you are left with the total being more than a handful or so, it would be legitimate for you to question whether his ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.

To whom is WWM accountable?

  • WWM, although it is not registered as a ‘business’ in its own right, is a member of Missions Interlink.
    • This membership is mentioned on neither website.
    • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

Hills Alliance Church Incorporated: mini charity review

Mini charity review of Hills Alliance Church Incorporated (HAC), including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask before donating.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review on 8 July 2017. On 14 July they said that they did not want to comment.

Is HAC registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a New South Wales incorporated association (INC9874502).
    • For GST.
    • Doesn’t appear to be fundraising, so doesn’t require fundraising licences.
    • Not, at least from the information on the ACNC Register, operating interstate, so doesn’t need an ARBN registration.

What do they do?

  • From its Facebook site, its Mission is
    • To Glorify God by obeying his command to make disciples of all nations” (sic). The Great Commission teaches that we should love God, this is called Worship. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves, this is called service. We are to obey the great commission to preach the Gospel to all peoples, this is called evangelism. We are to obey the Lord Jesus Christ by teaching men to observe all that He taught, this is called discipleship. We understand we will all give an account of our lives at the judgment seat of Christ – so we are to be stewards of all God has entrusted to us. All that we do at Hills Alliance Church inc. Falls under these five headings; Worship, Service, evangelism, Discipleship and stewardship.
  • HAC is a Christian church, a member of the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia denomination.
    • The ‘head office’ is a charity, reviewed here.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Yes

What impact are they making?

  • Nothing found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • The expenses are not classified to allow this calculation.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • NA – none offered.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged six+ months after their year-end).
    • But if you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now over 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • The accounting method given, cash, does not match the financial statements.
    • There are no outcomes given.
    • ‘Email address’ is blank.
    • ‘Donations and bequests’ does not match what’s in the Profit & Loss Statement.
  • Financial Report 2016: NA
    • HAC’s size, ‘Small’, means that it is not required to submit a Financial Report to the ACNC, and they didn’t submit one voluntarily.
    • Nor, for the same reason, is it required to submit financial statements to the state regulator.
    • However, it is required, under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, to ‘prepare financial statements that give and true and fair view of the association’s affairs’.
    • And it is required, under its constitution, to have those statements audited [section E] by ‘An auditor with suitable accounting qualifications and external to the Board of Deacons’ [Article V].
    • A request for the audited statements to the ‘Charity Address for Service’ got an immediate response from David Benyon (one of the ‘responsible persons, see below): I was told that the accounts for 2016-17 had not been finalized[1], but that I was welcome to use the ‘2015~2016 balance sheet Profit and loss and Audit approval’ (which he attached).
    • The ‘Audit approval’ is a signed Independent Auditors Report for the 2015-16 year dated 1 June 2016; that is, it is an audit completed one month before the year ended![2]

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Keeping in mind the restriction that the financial situation is described in a Report that falls far short of what should be produced by a professional accountant, and has had a very questionable audit –
    • HAC made a loss of $11K, 8% of ‘Total income’.
    • The largest expense was ‘Total Employment Expenses’, $87K.
      • This was 61% of ‘Total Expenses’.
      • This was, per the AIS 2016, for one full-time and two part-time employees.
    • The second largest expense was ‘Citibank Old Arrears’, $11K. If this was, as its name implies, the repayment of a loan, it is misclassified: it should be a reduction to a liability. (Not such liability exists in the Balance Sheet.)
    • HAC made no donations or gifts (usually called ‘missions’ in a church).
    • Are repayments to the loans under ‘Long-Term Liabilities’ required? If so, the repayments that are due in the next 12 months should be classified as current liabilities.
    • Even without this reclassification, HAC has a significant shortfall in working capital (current liabilities $31K compared to current assets$5K). This is a red flag for the going concern assumption, yet nothing was said by the auditor.
    • Although HAC’s constitution allows it to hold real property[3], HAC belongs to a denomination that has a separate charity, The Christian And Missionary Alliance Development Fund (see ‘Is CMAA registered’ here), that describes its activity as holding and administering properties for its churches.
    • HAC has determined, and the auditor has accepted, that it, not the property trust, owns the land and buildings that it is using.
    • HAC doesn’t have the capacity to repay its loans from current assets or cash flow. If the property is not, as the Balance Sheet implies, at its disposal, then it couldn’t even repay these loans by using the property. Again, there is no comment from the auditor.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • See first ‘Financial Report 2016’, above. There you will see why you should take little comfort from this opinion.
  • In addition
    • The report is on the letterhead of EzyBooks Accounting, a letterhead that also has a logo saying ‘RP’ (see below), and the CPA Australia logo.
    • There is no CPA Australia public practice in that name in the suburb in which EzyBooks has its office.
    • The name that appears under the signature appears to be a combination of two names:
      • The first one is Roshani Priyanga. (The ‘RP’ above?) Although the firm’s website has no names, this service says that she works for them.
      • I cannot find the second, Kahadalwala Ritchie Donna, on the internet. You could check with CPA Australia.

If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete?

  • If there are indeed only three ‘responsible persons’, yes. Otherwise, not quite.
    • ‘Phone’, ‘Email’, and ‘Website’[4] are blank, but none of them are compulsory.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • NA

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website or on Facebook.
  • The ACNC Register, under ‘Responsible Persons’, says that it is these people:
    • David Benyon
    • Robert Berry
    • Terrence Davidson
    • If these are the only officers, then HAC is not following its constitution:
      • The officers shall consist of: the Pastor, Associate Pastor and Assistant Pastor where such may be called; Elders; Deacons, including the Treasurer and Missionary Treasurer, Trustees where such are required; and such other officers as the membership may elect [Article VI – Officers].

To whom are HAC accountable?

  • Primarily to the ACNC.
  • But also to the New South Wales associations regulator.

 

 

  1. The audit report was sent to HAC, together with the financial statements, from Account Care Bookkeeping Services.
  2. Even without this issue, this audit should not be relied on. If the auditor is a member of one of the three professional accounting bodies, and this one (or two?) has the CPA Australia logo on the audit, he or she is required to comply with the Australian Auditing Standards. But this audit report falls well short of those requirements. (This is chiefly because ‘a true and fair view’ for a professional accountant means financial statements that comply with the Australian Accounting Standards. These statements are far from compliant with those standards.)
  3. ‘The church may acquire, own, dispose of, improve, encumber and convey property, real and personal, for church purposes, in conformity with the laws of the States or Territories where the property is situated and, where Trustees are requires (sic), they are to be elected by the membership according to the law. Such property may be sold, conveyed, exchanged, or encumbered only by order of the membership through the church Board of Deacons. In States or Territories where Trustees are required, the order of the membership shall proceed through them.’ [Arp[ ticle XIII – Property].
  4. The website, http://www.hillsalliance.org.au/ is a copy of the Facebook news Feed.

Crossway Baptist Church Inc.: mini-charity review

Mini-charity review of Crossway Baptist Church Inc. (CBC), an organisation that

  1. is connected, through its director John Peberdy, to the CMA Standards C0uncil, Christian Management Australia’smajor new initiative, accrediting Christian organisations against a set of standards of good governance, financial oversight, and fundraising ethics.’
  2. seeks donations online.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • When sent, on 24 April 2017, a draft of the review written before they lodged their 2016 Annual Information Statement 2016 (AIS 2016), they…did not respond.

Is it registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • CBC is a Victorian incorporated association (A0045459U).
  • It controls three other charities:
  • CBC has not registered the name it uses, Crossway.
  • As a religious body that has authority to marry people, it does not need a fundraising licence in Victoria, the only state in which it operates.

What does CBC do?

  • There isn’t one page that gives this on the website, but the ‘Senior Pastor’s Report’ in the 2016 Annual Report will give you a good idea of what CBC and its controlled entities does.

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.
  • CBC’s mission is ‘Loving God, Loving People, Disciples that Multiply’. The 2016 Annual Report, a report on CBC and its arms, reports
    • ‘502 first time commitments’
    • ‘145 baptisms’
    • ‘Net increase in lifegroups 23’
    • ‘3 new missional community (sic)’
    • 300 pre-Christians discipled through Discovery Bible Study’
    • ’79 New Disciplers’
    • ‘794 people struggling in our community were transformed through hope, healing and care’

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • Although there is an item ‘Administration & Facility expenses’ in the profit and loss statement, ‘Depreciation’ is shown separately, and the composition of the program expenses is not given.
    • The 2016 Annual Report says that it is 23%.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Not to CBC itself.
  • But you could if CBC sought donations for its two funds, Crossway Baptist Fellowship Fund, and Crossway CRE Fund, but it doesn’t.
  • It does however offer, on its website, tax-deductible donations to two of its charities, Crossway Kingdom Fund, and Crossway Lifecare Ltd.

Is their online giving secure?

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • If you give online:
    • ‘Crossway Tithes and Offerings’
    • ‘Crossway Kingdom Fund (Tax Deductible)
    • ‘Crossway Lifecare (Tax Deductible)’
  • If you give by direct debit:
    • The last two above, plus
    • ‘General Fund (Tithes/Missions)’
    • ‘Crossway Property Fund (Refurbishment)

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (four months after their year-end)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement 2016 (AIS 2016): No
    • Over half the figures in the ‘Comprehensive Income Statement summary’ are incorrect.
    • The activities do not relate specifically to 2016.
    • No outcomes are reported.
    • Zero for ‘Grants and donations made…’ does not match the Financial Report information.
  • Financial Report 2016: No
    • The Report excludes the entities that CBC controls. It is difficult to see how this gives a true and fair view.
    • It stretches credulity to say, as the directors do, that an organisation with $7.46 m of income and 82 employees [AIS 2016], and 1881 members and 1669 volunteers [2016 Annual Report], has ‘no users dependent on its general purpose financial statements.’ This allows them to produce the lower standard special purpose statements.
    • No explanation is given for why all the figures in the last year column for expenses are different from what was shown last year.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • With the understanding that the Report only covers part of the church’s operations,
    • The surplus as a percentage of income has decreased from 1% to negative 8%.
    • Short-term cash assets are equal to about five months’ income.
    • Both short-term and long-term financial structure appear sound.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion[2].
    • But he agreed with CBC excluding the entities they control, and he agreed with them saying, effectively, that anybody needing financial information about CBC would be able to get a report tailored to their needs.

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete?

  • ‘Phone’ and ‘Email’ are blank, but this is not compulsory information.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website.
  • On the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
    • Mark Churchward
    • Edward Harrison
    • Francis Hoe
    • Kok Looi
    • Scott Pilgrim
    • Margaret Spicer
    • Dale Stephenson
    • Beth Strybosch
    • Timothy Wilson
    • John Peberdy
      • John is a director of Christian Management Advancement Ltd, an organisation that believes that
        • Christian organisations should be the standard-setters in terms of impeccable corporate behaviour.
          • The mission of their committee, the CMA Standards Council, is to ‘help build faith and trust in Christian organisations’, including by allowing organisations who are compliant with a set of standards, formed by the Council, to display the Council’s seal of approval.
    • There are 14 directorships recorded for the name ‘John Peberdy’, and 8 for ‘Timothy Wilson’.  And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and no for-profit organisations.  Therefore, if after eliminating the charities that don’t belong to the CBC director, you are left with their total being more than a handful, it would be legitimate for you to question whether their ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.

To whom is CBC accountable?

  • To the ACNC.
  • And to the Victorian associations regulator.

 

 

  1. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.
  2. To take the right amount of comfort from a ‘clean opinion’, please read here and here.

Citylife Community Care Inc: mini-charity review

Mini-charity review of Citylife Community Care Inc (CCC) an organisation that invites the public to donate to it. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, on 30 March 2017, they…did not respond.

Is it registered?

What does CCC do?

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No.
    • It describes itself as a ‘faith-based organisation’, not Christian, or Christ-centred.
      • It does say, though, that ‘Our counsellors are competent in using various trusted and proven therapeutic approaches informed by Christian principles.

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • The way the expenses are classified does not allow this calculation.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Yes

Is their online giving secure?

  • If security is mentioned, it is after you enter your personal details.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • None.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (five and a half months after their year-end).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement 2015 (AIS 2015): Almost – no outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2015: Only if
    • You agree with the directors that CCC has no users, present or prospective who need general purpose financial statements for their decisions about CCC.
      • The directors don’t give a reason for saying that CCC is not a reporting entity, and therefore able to produce the lower standard special purpose financial statements.
    • There is no Note on related parties (an ACNC expectation).

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Surplus as a percentage of revenue declined from 2% to 1%.
  • Working capital declined marginally, but is still strongly positive (440%).
  • Long term capital structure is sound.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion[2].

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete?

  • Yes

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website.
  • ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register:
  • Assuming the ‘Position’ shown is correct, this number of directors is two short by the constitution.

To whom is CCC accountable?

  • To the ACNC.
  • And to the Victorian regulator of associations.
  • To Citylife Church (as a wholly-owned subsidiary).
  1. Opinions vary on whether an internet invitation qualifies as ‘fundraising’.
  2. To take the right amount of comfort from a ‘clean opinion’, please read here and here.

Gateway Baptist Church: mini-charity review

Mini charity review of Gateway Baptist Church (GBC) as an organisation that seeks donations online. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • They did not respond to the draft I sent on 16 February.

Is GBC registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
    • But Gateway Baptist Church Ltd is not its correct name; immediately upon registration its name was changed to Gateway Baptist Church.  [Update, 2.01.18: This is incorrect. It is allowed to trade without ‘Ltd’/’Limited’]
    • To add to the confusion, GBC is still registered as the charity it was before the company took over its activities: Gateway Baptist Church (GBC-old)
    • Not to be confused with Gateway Baptist Church And Community Centre.
      • Especially as GBC has a fund called the Gateway Community Fund (see below).
  • GBC has two Australian wholly-owned subsidiaries
    • the charity Bloom Asia Inc. (BAInc) (registered in 2012)
    • the charity Bloom Asia Ltd (BALtd) (registered in June 2016)
      • Because GBC has not taken advantage of the ACNC’s group reporting concessions, these charities, and GBC-old, must report separately.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • GBC does not have a fundraising licence in the state, per the ACNC Register, in which it operates[1].
      • BALtd: licensed to fundraise only in Queensland.
      • BAInc: no fundraising licences.
      • GBC-old: no fundraising licences.

What does it do?

  • GBC: other than obviously being a church, there’s no direct statement saying what it does; its activities are shown here.
  • GBC-old: replaced by GBC.
  • BAInc: no website; Annual Information Statement 2015 (AIS 2015) says ‘As a Christian ministry aligned with Gateway Baptist Church, raised funds and awareness of charity work in Cambodia’. (There are no countries listed under ‘Where the Charity Operates’ on the ACNC Register.)
  • BALtd: See here.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • GBC: Yes
  • GBC-old: NA (replaced by GBC).
  • BAInc: No information available.
  • BALtd: No mention of the Gospel, Jesus or Christ on the website; tax deductibility (see below) would suggests not.

What impact are they having?

  • GBC: No information found.
  • GBC-old: No information found.
  • BAInc: No information found.
  • BALtd: No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • GBC: Even though they have been going since August 2015, the ACNC does not require any information until 30 June 2017; no financial information on the website.
  • GBC-old: Because it is a ‘basic religious charity’, no financial information has to be submitted to the ACNC.
  • BAInc: All expenses were classified as ‘Other expenses/payments’ in the AIS 2015 (no Financial Report 2015 required because of its size).
  • BALtd: Even though they have completed their first year, the ACNC does not require any information until 30 June 2017; no financial information on the website.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • GBC: No
  • GBC-old: NA (replaced by GBC).
  • BAInc: No
  • BALtd: No
  • Both GBC and BAL are able to offer tax-deductibility for ‘Bloom’ because they are collecting for a project run by Global Development Group, a secular overseas aid and development organisation.
  • But nowhere is there an explanation for their ability to offer tax-deductibility for an unregistered entity called Gateway Community Fund.

Is their online giving secure?

  • GBC: Online giving is offered for five of the six choices. All five use PayPal, so yes, giving is secure.
  • GBC-old: NA
  • BAInc: NA – not offered.
  • BALtd: For the options other than BAL, PayPal is used, so yes. The BAL option transfers to the Global Development Group site, and the page says ‘Make a secure donation now’.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • GBC:
    • General giving – Mackenzie campus
    • ‘General giving – Ormeau Campus’
    • Gateway Beyond’
    • ‘Bloom (tax-deductible)’
    • ‘Gateway Community Fund (tax-deductible)’
    • ‘Call to Build Giving’ (not an online option)
  • GBC-old: NA
  • BAInc: No website
  • BALtd:
    • Donate (Without a Tax Receipt)’
    • ‘Donate (With Tax Receipt AUS)’
    • ‘Donate (With Tax Receipt USA)’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • GBC: Yes (none has been required yet).
  • GBC-old: Yes (five and a half months after their year-end).
  • BAInc: Yes (five and a half months after their year-end).
  • BALtd: Yes (none has been required yet).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • GBC:
    • AIS 2015: NA – none required yet.
    • Financial Report 2015: NA – none required yet.
      • But their membership of Missions Interlink requires them to have one available, so just ask.
  • GBC-old:
    • AIS 2015: Apart from the absence of outcomes, yes.
    • Financial Report 2015: As a ‘basic religious charity’, they weren’t required to submit one. Nor financial information in the AIS.
  • BAInc:
    • AIS 2015: Not quite – no outcomes are given and the business name is missing.
    • Financial Report 2015: NA – none required (because of their small size).
  • BALtd:
    • AIS 2015: NA – because they only started in June 2016, not required yet.
    • Financial Report 2015: NA – as for the AIS.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • GBC: NA
  • GBC-old: NA
  • BAInc: NA
  • BALtd: ‘Other Income/Receipts’ $24K, ‘Other expenses/payments’ $19K, ‘Net surplus/deficit’ $5K, ‘Net assets/liabilities’ $13K.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • GBC: NA
  • GBC-old: NA
  • BAInc: NA
  • BALtd: NA

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete?

  • GBC: No countries shown under ‘Where the Charity Operates’.
  • GBC-old: No countries shown under ‘Where the Charity Operates’, and ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank.
  • BAInc: ‘Email’, ‘Phone’, ‘Website’, and ‘Other Name(s)’ are blank.
  • BALtd: Yes

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • GBC:
    • The ‘Board of Elders’ is not shown on the website, but
    • These are the people declared to be ‘responsible persons’ (on the ACNC Register):
      • David Angell
      • Paul Bakes
        • Is it this Paul Bakes?
      • Luke Campbell
      • Anne Cock
      • David Eames
      • Jason Elsmore
      • Josha Hanna
      • Derek Peters
      • Andrew Ross
      • Trevor Shinners
        • Is it this Trevor Shinners?
  • GBC-old:
    • Not shown on the GBC website.
    • These are the people declared to be ‘responsible persons’ (on the ACNC Register):
      • All the above except the last two.
  • BAInc: From the ACNC Register:
    • David Angell (see above)
    • Derek Peters (see above)
    • Glenn Valentine
      • Is it this Glenn Valentine?
  • BALtd:
    • The ‘team’ is shown on the website, but are these the directors?
    • These are the people declared to be ‘responsible persons’ (on the ACNC Register):

To whom is the charity accountable?

  • GBC:
    • To Missions Interlink[2] via their Associate membership.
    • They are also accountable to the ACNC, and ASIC as the companies’ regulator.
  • GBC-old: To the Queensland associations regulator.
  • BAInc: To the ACNC and the Queensland associations regulator.
  • BALtd: To the ACNC, and to the companies’ regulator.

 

 

  1. The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.