Mission Area FAQs

As part of 2020 Vision, the Diocese of St Asaph is being reformed into Mission Areas, defined as a group of mutually supportive churches working together for a common purpose.  There are lots of questions being raised about this change and many are answered below.

Click on the question (which is a link) and the page will move down to the answer.

If you don’t see an answer to your specific question, please email us and we’ll add it to the list below along.

Assets
As charity trustees, all members of the Mission Area Conference (MAC) are responsible for the assets and liabilities of the charity that is the Mission Area.
What happens to the money we have in our church funds now?
We have a church in our Mission Area which is in debt to the Diocese. Does this liability belong to the MAC?
Does the church building remain an asset of the Church Committee?
Who is responsible for maintaining the church buildings?
Who is responsible for other buildings such as church halls or houses?
We have a parsonage next to the church. Are we responsible for maintaining it?
We have a parsonage next to the church. Is it fair that we have to pay the water bill when the cleric serves the Mission Area?

Clergy appointments
How will the panel for new appointments of clergy to the Mission Area be composed, allowing for appropriate representation from the churches they will be rooted in as well as the Shared Ministry Team?

Gift Aid and GASDS
Our churches are currently registered as individual charities with HMRC – do we need to register the Mission Area?
When do we do our final claim as a Parish?
Will I have to change when I do my paperwork?
I’m the MAGAS – what paperwork do I need to complete to tell HMRC that we are now a Mission Area?
What should we put on our visitor envelopes?
I’m a church Gift Aid Secretary – how will I do a Gift Aid Claim when we are a Mission Area?
I’m the MAGAS – how do I collate the schedules into one claim?
What happens to Gift Direct?
I’ve heard that we will get less money under GASDS when we become a Mission Area. Is that true?
I’m the MAGAS – how will I make a claim to GASDS when we are a Mission Area?
When we become a Mission Area, will churches only be able to share in one £8,000 worth of GASDS?
If we become a Mission Area on 1 January 2017, how will we claim GASDS for 2016/17 in April 2017?
How do we transfer our compliance history from the parishes to the MAC so that we don’t have to wait two years before making a claim?
Are there deadlines for when we must do this?

Gifts and Legacies
All charities are required to deal with gifts (made during the donor’s lifetime) and legacies (specified in a Will after the donor’s death) according to the wishes of the donor. Donors are encouraged not to be overly specific about how they wish the money to be used, but to rely on the trustees to know how best to use such gifts. This alleviates the problems encountered by some charities whereby money has been left for purposes which are no longer appropriate (e.g. the church who received £50,000 for the roof fund six months after a successful roof project was completed with money from grants, or the Diocese which was left money to supply each new cleric with a carriage and whip).

It is important to remember that the Charity Trustees, i.e. members of the Mission Area Conference (MAC) must be responsible for all the assets and liabilities of the charity. That is required under Charity Law. This does not mean that the MAC can decide to pull all money into a central pot to spend as it will. The MAC will manage the finances in collaboration with the Finance Sub-Committee and church committees. These ways of working will be set out in the Covenant which is discussed with all churches within the Mission Area.

My church was left some money, does it now become Mission Area money?
I’d like to leave my church some money in my will for use in my local church – will it automatically be used by the mission area?

What happens if my will says “for the benefit of parish X” or “for the benefit of church Y”?
How can I make sure that my legacy is used for mission and ministry across the Mission Area?
Should the Mission Area Conference consider adopting a Legacy Policy?
How do we go about adopting a Legacy Policy?

Mission Area and Church Administration
Will individual churches have to keep an electoral role or will this responsibility pass to the Mission Area?
What is a church committee?
How will a church committee be set up and run?
Which decisions can be made at Church Committee and which should be made in the MAC?
Is there any guidance available on the role of the Mission Area Buildings Committee and how is its role  different from the role of the Church Committee in respect of buildings?

Wardens
What is the role of the Mission Area wardens and how are they appointed?
Do the MAC Lay Chair and the MA warden have to be the same person?

Weddings
How will couples wanting to get married qualify to marry in a Mission Area?


How will couples wanting to get married qualify to marry in a Mission Area?
Anyone living within a Mission  Area can marry in ANY church within the Mission Area.  Banns must be read in the church where the marriage will take place and can be read in other churches if the couple wish.  The Diocesan Registrar will noticify the Civil Registrars in each Mission Area. This will come into effect on the signing of the Bishop’s Decree for each Mission Area.


Will individual churches have to keep an electoral role or will this responsibility pass to the Mission Area?

Constitutionally, the Parish has to prepare and keep an Electoral Roll. As the Parish will be co-terminus with the Mission Area, it will be the Mission Area Conference’s responsibility to prepare and keep the Electoral Roll.

Given that it may still be desirable for each Church within the Mission Area to also have  a Roll of Members the preparation of each section of the Electoral Roll can be delegated to each Church Committee and fed to the Mission Area Conference so that one complete Mission Area Electoral Roll is maintained by the Mission Area, amended as required by continuous updates from the individual Church Committees.


What is a church committee?
Each church in a Mission Area may elect its own Church Committee to be responsible for running itself, and to do all those things which PCCs currently do, except for matters now given to the Mission Area Conference (ie  the powers and responsibility of both the Parochial Church Council and the Deanery Conference as set out in the Constitution).


How will the church committee be set up and run?

The Decree is not prescriptive about this. As the rules for election to the Mission Area Conference are decided by the Mission Area itself, to ensure fair representation of each of the Churches, so the principles behind and therefore rules for election to the individual Church Committees can be so decided.

You can read more information on this on page 10 of the October/November edition of Teulu Asaph.


Which decisions can be made at Church Committee and which should be made in the MAC?

As long as it is constitutionally allowed, each Mission Area is responsible for deciding how the Church Committees are to act, the rules and regulations that will govern each Committee and the powers that may be delegated to them. It is only if the rules and regulations have not been agreed by the Mission Area Conference that the Diocese will have the power to impose regulations.


Is there any guidance available on the role of the Mission Area Buildings Committee and how is its role  different from the role of the Church Committee in respect of buildings?

Unless covered by the draft Decree agreed at the last Standing Committee meeting, Mission Areas are free to make up their own (constitutional) rules and regulations that govern each sub-committee of the Mission Area Conference, including the Buildings sub-committee.

It may be, however, that Church Committees, being on the most local level, will have the best chance of ensuring the care and maintenance of the individual churches, but that such discussions on the Church Committees are then fed up to the Mission Area sub-committee so that the Mission Area Conference has a good working knowledge of the needs of each church within the Mission Area.


What is the role of the Mission Area wardens and how are they appointed?

The Mission Area wardens will take on the constitutional duties of Churchwardens, as well as any additional responsibilities agreed by the Mission Area Conference. The two wardens will be appointed in the same manner as at present, that being one will be appointed by the Mission Area Leader or Clergy team to act as “Vicar’s Warden”, and the other appointment shall be by vote of the laity at the meeting of the Mission Area Conference that takes place as the Annual Vestry Meeting.


Do the Lay Chair and the MA warden have to be the same person?

Not necessarily if the MAC decides this doesn’t need to be the case.  However, there is a desire for lay leadership within Mission Areas and suggesting that the lay chair and the MA Warden be the same person might be the easiest way to accomplish this.


How will the panel for new appointments of clergy to the Mission Area be composed, allowing for appropriate representation from the churches they will be rooted in as well as the Shared Ministry Team?

There will be a consultation with lay people within the Mission Area before appointment and the MAC will be involved. However it has been noted that this process needs revising.


Our churches are currently registered as individual charities with HMRC – do we need to register the Mission Area?
The Mission Area Conference (MAC) will be the legal entity so Gift Aid claims will be done in the name of the MAC. This will involve merging the existing parishes into the MAC and this will be done by the Mission Area Gift Aid Secretary (MAGAS). It is important that this is done in a timely way to ensure that all Gift Aid is claimed under the parish scheme before initiating the MAC registration.


When do we do our final claim as a Parish?
Most Mission Areas are promulgated on 1 January 2017. Parishes within these Mission Areas must make a claim for 2016 by the end of January 2017. Other Mission Areas will receive guidance once dates for promulgation are agreed.


Will I have to change when I do my paperwork?
The Finance Sub-Committee of the Mission Area Conference will discuss and decide how often claims should be submitted to HMRC. This may mean that your schedule will need to be produced either more or less often than you are used to.


I’m the MAGAS – what paperwork do I need to complete to tell HMRC that we are now a Mission Area?
For Mission Areas promulgated on 1 January 2017, the attached document template should be completed and sent to HMRC not before 1 February 2017 and no later than 31st March 2017. Mission Areas promulgated later than 1 January 2017 will be sent further guidance.


What should we put on our visitor envelopes?
HMRC requires that a donor is clear about the charity receiving the Gift Aid, which is the Mission Area. Therefore donation envelopes must contain the name of the Mission Area. Suggested wording for visitor envelopes is “[name of church] in the Mission Area of [name of MA]”.


I’m a church Gift Aid Secretary – how will I do a Gift Aid Claim when we are a Mission Area?
As Church Committees will no longer be charities in their own right, all GA claims must be made by the MAGAS.
The church Gift Aid Secretary (GAS) will complete the schedule for all gifts to the church as normal. This schedule is saved then sent to the Mission Area Gift Aid Secretary (MAGAS). This should take place at agreed times throughout the year as appropriate for the Mission Area.


I’m the MAGAS – how do I collate the schedules into one claim?
The process for claiming is the same as before. The difference is that you will need to copy the data for each church into one schedule for the Mission Area. You will also need to ensure that the data on the schedules covers the same period for each church. The MAGAS can copy the data onto a master schedule, then make the claim for all the churches. When the claim is paid into the MA bank account, the MAGAS will ask the Mission Area Treasurer to apportion the relevant amounts.


What happens to Gift Direct?
The scheme is able to direct donations to individual churches within a Mission Area and to send the monthly information to the church GAS if that is what is required.


I’ve heard that we will get less money under GASDS when we become a Mission Area. Is that true?
The only churches that will lose out are churches which are currently the only church in a parish, whose attendance at worship is regularly below 10 people. They have been able to use the ‘normal’ GASDS scheme this year, but that will no longer apply. All churches will be counted as Community Buildings and the Mission Area Gift Aid Secretary (MAGAS) will use that scheme to ensure all churches get their share of GASDS.


I’m the MAGAS – how will I make a claim to GASDS when we are a Mission Area?
The church GAS will send you the amount of eligible small donations (i.e. cash gifts of £20 or less, given at a service with at least 10 people attending) for their church at the end of each tax year. You can then make the claim using one Community Building schedule for all the churches. You should then ask the Mission Area Treasurer to apportion the amounts as agreed.


When we become a Mission Area, will churches only be able to share in one £8,000 worth of GASDS?
The MAGAS will be able to claim on up to £8,000 worth of small donations given at services with at least 10 people present, for each church using the Community Building scheme.


If we become a Mission Area on 1 January 2017, how will we claim GASDS for 2016/17 in April 2017?
As the parishes will have merged into the Mission Area by the end of March, the MAGAS will make this claim, based on the amounts given by the church GAS. The MAGAS will ask the Mission Area Treasurer to apportion the relevant amounts.


How do we transfer our compliance history from the parishes to the MAC so that we don’t have to wait two years before making a claim?
The MAGAS will ask the church GAS to give details of when they have done successful Gift Aid claims. The Diocesan Admin and Legal Team will then work with the MAGAS to ensure that the merger enables claims to continue.


Are there deadlines for when we must do this?
Yes, the application to merge must be made within 90 days of the date of promulgation, i.e. by 31 March if promulgated on 1 January.
This is why it is important that all parish claims are completed by the end of January, to give a clear window to allow HMRC to process the merger document. If a parish fails to make a claim then this may impact on the ability of the Mission Area to make future claims under the GASDS scheme.


My church was left some money, does it now become Mission Area money?
There are several things to take into account.

  • It is the donor who decides what a gift or legacy can be used for. If the donor has restricted the money for a specific purpose then the money must be used in that way (e.g. for the church fabric, flower fund or youth work).
  • Special permission can be sought from the Charity Commission to remove the restriction but this is only granted in exceptional circumstances.
  • Gifts or a legacy left to a ‘church’ do not relate to the fabric of the building, but to the mission and ministry of the church. It is perfectly legal for a church to use some of this gift to contribute to the mission and ministry of the Mission Area if it wishes.


I’d like to leave my church some money in my will for use in my local church – will it automatically be used by the mission area?
We advise anyone intending to make a will to use the services of a qualified legal professional.

If you specify in your will that the legacy is for a specific church, then it must be used for that purpose. Of course, the Church Committee may decide that the best use of the money is to contribute to a youth worker for the Mission Area or for some other project that goes beyond the church.


What happens if my will says “for the benefit of the parish of X”! or “for the benefit of the church of St Y”?
We would always suggest that legacy clauses in wills are left as open as possible, but the Decree merging all current parishes into a Mission Area means that the Mission Area will be the ‘substitute’ parish for the former parish which no longer exists as it will incorporate the geographical area where that former parish used to be.
If a particular Church is named, then funds left will be restricted for the use and benefit of that particular Church. If that Church has closed, then the Executors of the will, will then have discretion to give the funds to a charity that has the same or similar objects to the original, so the Mission Area can still benefit from the legacy left.
Unless specifically referred to in the will – that funds can only be used for the maintenance of the building, for example – the funds left can be used by the Mission Area for any general purposes in furtherance of its objects.
It may be that the Executors (or their solicitors) ask to see evidence that the former parish or parish church was merger into the Mission Area and, if this happens, the Mission Area Conference should contact the Diocesan Registry so that a copy of the Decree forming the relevant Mission Area can be sent out as proof.
It is always recommended that proper legal advice is sought when making a will, but if any Mission Area requires any specific wording to be suggested to potential doners, please contact the Diocesan Registrar.


How can I make sure that my legacy is used for mission and ministry across the Mission Area?
You should ask your legal adviser to make any legacy payable to the Mission Area Conference.


Should the Mission Area Conference consider adopting a Legacy Policy?
It is recommended that all MAC adopt a legacy policy. This helps potential donors understand that the MAC welcomes legacies. It also gives confidence around the use of any future legacies.


How do we go about adopting a Legacy Policy?
The Diocesan Office has legacy packs available to help trustees discuss and debate the issues, and how to communicate policy to people within churches in a sensitive and timely manner.


What happens to the money we have in our church funds now?
Funds currently held by each church (including endowments, investments and bank deposits) will be restricted funds for the use of those churches in the future, as the donors will have provided such funds, or other gifts, for the use of those particular churches.


We have a church in our Mission Area which is in debt to the Diocese. Does this liability belong to the MAC?
All assets and liabilities are the responsibility of the MAC so members do need to be aware of any outstanding debts. However, as with any funds received, the debt remains with the church that incurred it.


Does the church building remain an asset of the Church Committee?
The church building is owned by the Representative Body of the Church in Wales. It was never a parish asset and is not an asset of the Mission Area Conference.


Who is responsible for maintaining the church buildings?
Overall responsibility lies with the MAC, however, they are likely to delegate some of this responsibility to the Building Sub-committee, who will collaborate with the Church Committee. The way these committees work together will be laid down in the Covenant.


Who is responsible for other buildings such as church halls or houses?
Overall responsibility lies with the MAC, however, they are likely to delegate some of this responsibility to the Building Sub-committee, who will collaborate with the Church Committee. The way these committees work together will be laid down in the Covenant.


We have a parsonage next to the church. Are we responsible for maintaining it?
The cost of maintaining all parsonages is paid for by the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) which allocates a sum of money each year from the Diocesan Budget for each Parsonage to cover repairs and improvements. The DBF appoints a Parsonage Board which raises additional money for repairs by selling old parsonages and investing in newer, more efficient properties. These new properties are more comfortable and cost effective for our clergy to live in.


We have a parsonage next to the church. Is it fair that we have to pay the water bill when the cleric serves the Mission Area?
No, that isn’t fair. The cost of providing water to the Parsonage will be paid by the Diocese, with that cost added to the Share of the Mission Area so that the cost can be spread more equitably.