FINAL administrative adjustments to bring the Church of Ireland into compliance with new charity law in both the Ireland and Northern Ireland were carried by the General Synod this week.
The business was introduced on Tuesday by the Archdeacon of Meath & Kildare, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, who explained that there were two new charitable regulators in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, and that the Church hoped to complete registering all of its parishes under both bodies in the next few months.
Both regulatory authorities had required tweaks and updates to the constitution of the Church of Ireland to “reflect the charitable nature of the work and mission of the Church”, he said. The main change since the first raft of amendments were carried in 2015 was the inclusion of the word “educational” among the charitable objectives of the Church, to reflect better the importance of the work of its Board of Education.
After an accidental lacuna was spotted at the last moment of drafting which would have changed local ecumenical partnerships with Methodist churches, the Bill was taken rapidly through its second reading, before a brief committee stage when for a quick repair amendment. The next day it was given its third reading, and was carried by the Synod without any further debate.
A second piece of legislative housekeeping was also carried. The Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd Dr William Morton, proposed a Bill that would amend part of the constitution of the Church relating to St Patrick’s. The board of the cathedral, which manages the preservation and restoration of the building, would be converted into a company limited by guarantee (it is currently an unincorporated association with charitable status).
This would allow the board to raise funds for its current roof-repair project. It also had other advantages around reporting and personal liability of trustees, and was the preferred legal structure of the Charity Regulator for complex charities.
The Dean of Waterford, the Very Revd Maria Jansson, “wholeheartedly” supported the change, having overseen a similar reform at the cathedral to a company limited by guarantee. “We’ve been down this route, and it works.”
The Bill was taken into committee stage by Dean Morton, and quickly passed through all the requisite stages without amendment, before being committed to its third and final reading the next day, when it was carried without any further debate.