Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Newport, Wales has quite a remarkable history – the original fellowship was formed off the back of an open-air sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was part of the spiritual revival years at the beginning of the twentieth century, and welcomed Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones to speak at the opening of their current building in the 1970s.
Becoming a CIO
Changing their charity status to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) might not therefore seem that notable a moment in their history. Yet this change in status marks a significant new chapter for the church, bringing a number of important benefits. Trevor McMillan, Elder at Emmanuel, explained that:
“The main consideration in this for us was the reduction in liability for Trustees.”
While legal liability in an unincorporated charity lies with individual trustees (and potentially also with church members), becoming a CIO enables a church to operate as a legal entity in its own right, limiting the risk of a claim against the trustees personally should the charity be unable to meet its financial commitments.
Seeking legal support
Deciding if becoming a CIO is the right move, and then applying to become one, can be a lot to take on for a church. Trevor explained that Emmanuel:
“recognised that we would need assistance to achieve this change in an efficient and timely way.”
Enter Edward Connor Solicitors. Completing an initial application confirmed for Emmanuel that becoming a CIO was the right course of action for them and provided accurate estimates for the costs to support them through the process.
What was working with Edward Connor Solicitors like?
From the onset, Emmanuel:
“were guided with clear communication as to what steps we had to take and in which order and what forms had to be completed.”
There was a lot of communication and transferring of documents needed between Emmanuel and Edward Connor, but in spite of this:
“the process worked smoothly. A key to this was maintaining momentum without long gaps in responses by each party so that we did not have to constantly remind ourselves of where we had got to in the process.”
And in all this, the uniqueness of Edward Connor as a Christian law firm was clear for Trevor and Emmanuel:
“Edward Connor Solicitors’ clear Christian position meant that they understood how churches work and the questions we raised in tailoring the templates to our needs.”
Can we help you?
If you think that your charity may benefit from converting to a CIO, please have a look at our booklet “Charitable Incorporated Organisations” for more information. If you would like more specific advice on what converting to a CIO would mean for your charity, please do get in touch at [email protected] or by calling us on 01858 411 568.