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Ministry Area FAQs

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Leadership and relationships

Who will be the leaders in a Ministry Area and what roles will they fulfil?

The Ministry Area will be the single parish and we aim to sustain at least three incumbent-level posts within each Ministry Area. These Vicars will have designated pastoral responsibility for particular congregations and work together within a single team. One of them will be designated the ‘Ministry Area Leader’. Technically this cleric will be a priest-in-charge though will always be referred to as the Ministry Area Leader.Alongside the clergy there will be lay leaders including a new role of Lay Chair of the Ministry Area Council and two MA Wardens, plus the trustee leadership of the Ministry Area Council and whatever operational leadership the Ministry Area Council decides is appropriate.

What is the process for appointing MA Leaders (MAL) - does the Diocese appoint or is it decided by the Ministry Area during its formation?

The Ministry Area Leaders will be appointed by the Bishop following conversations with the Archdeacons and the potential candidates.

Will clergy currently in post be required to re-apply for posts within the new Ministry Area?

No – clergy currently in post will remain in post but licensed to the Ministry Area as a Vicar in the Ministry Area clergy team until such time they want to apply for another role, as usual.

It will all depend upon good working relationships. What happens if there are not good working relationships?

High quality working relationships can be encouraged and planned for, but not controlled. It is recognised that relationships can break down within a ministry team just as easily as anywhere else.One would hope that in the majority of cases of poor working relationships interventions can be made to at least restore co-operation and mutual respect, if not necessarily friendship. The Archdeacon will be able to offer support and suggest options for finding ways forward.

Will those who currently hold the Bishop's Licence to administer Communion in church or in the community (home communions) be automatically licensed to the whole MA, or will new licences be issued wef 1 Jan 2022 to cover the whole MA?

Each MAC will need to submit a request for the Bishop to update the licences. If this doesn’t happen by 1 Jan 2022 it should be achieved soon after, and in the meantime licence-holders can minister across all parts of the MA.

What will the position be with Readers? Currently they are licensed to a parish. Will they be re-licensed to the MA?

Readers provide a valuable ministry and as with other licensed roles, will require re-licensing to the MA. It's likely that a new working agreement between the Reader and the new MA will need to be worked out.

What is the position of retired clerics in a Ministry Area? At present they have Permission To Officiate. Will this continue, and will retired clerics be available for service in the entire Ministry Area?

A PTO, unlike a Licence, is not limited to a specific area within the diocese. Therefore those who currently hold a PTO can continue to minister in any part of the Diocese.

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Legal and financial

How do we manage the renewal of Church insurance in 2022 as we move to Ministry areas?

Currently individual buildings are covered, within a parish group policy, so there is no risk of churches being uninsured. The Representative Body of the Church in Wales (RB) is not changing nor the names of churches and as such remain jointly insured as a Group Scheme by the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG). The Diocese has recently been in contact with EIG and sent them a list of which churches, in which (current) parishes, will be in which Ministry Areas.However, it is up to the Ministry Area whether you receive documents per church or, per Ministry Area with the different churches identified (and premium broken down for you if you need that). This is a matter for the Ministry Area to decide as works best for you, rather than being dictated by the Diocese or RB for 2022 at least. It is likely that EIG will not change the policies – i.e. in Ministry Areas where there are individual documents for each church of the current parishes, that will remain so; whereas for Ministry Areas where there is a combined invoice covering a number or churches, that will remain so. It will then be up to the Ministry Area and EIG to decide in future how they want to manage those invoices and documents. If premiums are paid by direct debit then, EIG will continue to take that from the bank account whose details they have, unless and until you contact EIG and change the bank account.It is important therefore, that the newly formed MAC informs EIG of the new trustee body as soon as you can. Ecclesiastical don’t seek named people on the policy but rather office holders as set out in the Constitution (Churchwardens, MAC members, Secretary, Treasurer, Incumbent). The name of your Ministry Area needs to be confirmed and bank account details. Specialist Insurance & Financial Services | Ecclesiastical

What is the legal structure of a Ministry Area?

We are currently working on how to adhere to the Constitution of the Church in Wales, the requirements of good governance demanded by the Charity Commission as every Ministry Area will be a registered charity, and the effective working demanded by the local context.Every Ministry Area will be a single parish in the form of a Rectorial Benefice but will always be known as a Ministry Area. The responsibility for the Ministry Area will be held by trustees, some of which are ex-officio, some elected and some co-opted. We will no longer use the terms of ‘Rector’, ‘Team Vicar’, ‘PCC’ or ‘Sub-Wardens’ but instead refer to Ministry Area Leader, Vicar, and Ministry Area Council.

If the Ministry Area is the legal entity does that mean someone can get married in any church within the Ministry Area?

Yes. The decree for the Ministry Areas will name all churches within the Ministry Area as parish churches and will specify that the rights of marriage remain. Someone with a right to marry will be able to marry within any church in the Ministry Area. Churches that are not currently licenced for marriages will remain as they are.

How do MAs afford positions like administrators?

A Ministry Area, with its combined financial resources from a number of churches, is more likely to be able to afford a paid administrator for a number of hours to work across the Ministry Area. Being a larger Ministry Area, your volunteer pool is also likely to be a bigger resource from which to draw upon, so it might not necessarily have to be a paid administrator.We would encourage the creation of a Ministry Area Office or administrative support hub as part of the development of the Ministry Area Plan.

What support can we expect particularly around the financial and practical issues involved with merging accounts?

The Diocesan Office finance team will be on hand to provide practical support and resources to assist with the issues involved with merging parish accounts. Toolkits covering financial issues will be made available on the Ministry Area section of the website.

What is the software which may help to simplify the accounting process? And what help can we get with this?

The Diocese is looking to utilise the MyFundAccounting software (previously Finance Co-ordinator) developed by Data Developments (church specific software provider). Assistance with the set-up of the software, training and guidance notes will be provided as part of the implementation process. Please ask the MA Finance Adviser, Fr Michael Gable, if you would like to know more.The system requires a super user to be able to have access to assist ministry areas if they need assistance with their data once they are set up on the system and to help in the initial stages of getting the system set up.

What do we do about Electoral rolls? Will the Electoral Roll now be for the entire Ministry Area? How will we be able to collect all the forms together for such a wide area?

Every parish was to have renewed its electoral roll in 2020 as required by the Constitution of the Church in Wales, however this has now been postponed by the Governing Body to 2022. Each parish will need to review its electoral roll to ensure that those who wish to be added have completed a form and been added and any who have died, moved or wish to, have been removed. This needs to be completed before the end of 2021. The electoral roll for each parish will then be combined to form the new Electoral Roll for the Ministry Area and must be available for inspection at the first Vestry Meeting of the new Ministry Area. This will be the Electoral Roll in force at the first Vestry Meeting of the Ministry Area.

Is there an official Church In Wales declaration for MAC / Trustees, which also includes their responsibilities?

Yes - all MAC members have to make a declaration to abide by the Constitution of the Church in Wales (currently named as the PCC). The Constitution itself, and the Charity Commission "The Essential Trustee", are both current regulatory guidance for PCCs/MACs as managing trustees, and will continue to be so before and after parishes become 'registered charities'.

What do we do about "Friends of" accounts or 100-club type accounts?

It would depend on whether these have separate constitutions or are separate groups under your existing PCC. If they are separate charities with their own constitution, then they would remain operating as they currently do under their own objects. If they are separate groups under the existing PCC then they will continue in the same way but under the new MAC.Further assistance can be provided by the Diocesan Office on specific cases.

One of the parishes employs 3 members of staff - how will this work under a Ministry Area?

Assuming they remain in employment then they would become employees of the MA. If their activities were confined to just a part of the MA then presumably the MAC would decide that that part of the MA would be responsible for continuing to fund their roles. A new contract of employment will need to be issued as the employer has changed.

If we do not become a legal entity by 1st January 2022 how can we get a bank account set up beforehand?

Most MAs will have a bank account before end Dec 2021 that can become/be renamed as the MA bank account after 1st Jan 2022.

Do each of the individual churches with accounts have to have a separate Data Developments licence?

Yes; the DBF will cover the cost of the licences as part of the MA implementation.

What insurance cover is available for Trustees (MAC members) once we have moved to Ministry Areas, given incomes and total liability may be increased?

Most MACs will choose to adopt Ecclesiastical Insurance Group's Parish Plus or Parish Guard policies, which are the policies that most parishes will currently have. Each has employer’s liability, public liability, and trustee indemnity included. Please consider the different levels of cover your MAC will need to take out. These policies set out standard limits of indemnity, but these can be varied by the MAC if they so choose but of course would require additional premiums, which should be discussed with EIG or your insurance broker.

What financial support will the diocese provide for the transition to Ministry Areas?

The DBF has approved a package of support which is available to all MAs. The DBF will pay the licence fee for the Data Developments software, myfundaccounting.online, for all churches in all Ministry Areas across the diocese, along with training and consultancy support to help transition from current parish accounts to MA accounts. Staff delivering this support may also be able to give advice on MA resources, stewardship, different ways of giving, other fundraising, alternative business models etc. The DBF will pay for the initial Independent Examination to make sure that the accounts are produced legally and correctly, and for legal support in registering with the Charity Commission and HMRC for Gift Aid if necessary.

Can we use one of the existing bank accounts as the ministry area bank account?

It may be possible to alter the name of an existing account to reflect the new name and new signatories of the new ministry area. This is likely to prove easier to achieve than opening a new bank account, particularly of a brand new charity. If church accounts are to be closed then this will need to wait until direct debits, standing orders, Gift Direct payments etc have all been transferred to the ministry area account.All the bank accounts will be under the responsibility of the ministry area council once the decree forming the ministry area has been signed. Some ministry areas may wish to retain their separate accounts, which is possible, but not recommended long term. If church accounts are retained, then the MAC (ministry area council) is required to be able to have control of the spending of the church account. It is recommended that 4 signatories be on the account, two trustees (members of the MAC) and two church members. In this way the church can do the day to day running of the account, but the MAC can also have full access to the account if they need to. The MAC should set spending limits and receive regular and frequent information as to the income and expenditure of any church accounts.

Can we use the existing HMRC numbers?

The existing HMRC number can be used if it is related to an existing registered charity which is continuing to be used as the registered charity. If it relates to a church or a former parish then it can only be used until a new registration process has been completed.The ministry area needs to complete (or update) their registration with the charity commission before beginning the registration process with HMRC. There will be a step by step guide and the Finance Adviser will be able to assist in the process. The advantage of a new registration with HMRC is that it avoids any legacy issues from being carried forward.

Do we need to receive positive consent from donors to continue receiving their donations?

No this isn’t required, however it is good practice to keep donors informed of changes to an organisation they support. It may also depend upon the financial model the MAC wishes to operate. There may be church accounts retained (in the short to medium term) meaning no effective difference for the donors, although legal governance changes. The MAC may use a single current account, but through MyFundAccounting continue to report on each church so the effect of the donation is still seen at church level. The MAC may decide that general donations are all assigned to the ministry area which would be the biggest change for the donors.The MAC will need to decide whether it is happy to receive donations that are for specific purposes. It is likely that a donation (eg for children’s work) will be welcomed and received, however the MAC may choose to decline a donation where the restriction placed upon it by the donor is limited to only supporting ministry within a specific church. Ministry areas need to be careful not to allow donors to limit their ability to offer mission and ministry throughout the whole ministry area.

How will Gift Direct work with a new ministry area?

There are two options depending upon how the ministry area is going to operate. If church accounts are retained then new and existing Gift Direct payments can be made into the church account, the RB will create sub accounts for Gift Direct within the ministry area and donors will be able to choose this sub account. If there is to be one bank account to which all collections will be made then Gift Direct payments will need to change to this account. The ministry area can then assign the donations to the different churches if it so wishes.

Can we claim GASDS as a new Ministry Area and will we lose out under the £8,000 rule?

The new Ministry Area can claim under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) as long as it claims Gift Aid in the same tax year, even though it has just merged. There is no limit on the number of community buildings that a charity can have. The Ministry Area can claim up to a maximum of £8,000 per building per year, subject to the matching rule of 10 times the Gift Aid claims for the whole Ministry Area.

Will the Diocese be able to see our accounts? Doesn’t this break GDPR rules?

There has to be a super user account for MyFundAccounting who will be able to see what happens across the platform. This is not about spying on the ministry areas but is a resource to be able to offer advice and assistance through having the actual data available to view and, if requested, to alter. The super user will not have the time to spend looking at the accounts of individual ministry areas unless responding to a request from the ministry area.The legal advice from Geldards is that the Church in Wales is an umbrella organisation with 6 DBFs and the RB and under each DBF is each MA. It is therefore within the regulations for data to be shared by an MA to the DBF without explicit consent. This doesn’t mean a MA can share data with another MA or a different DBF. It is good practice to avoid recording any personal information within such platforms, but rather to use initials or some other code when relating to individuals.

MyFundAccounting doesn’t offer a backup facility, how to we keep records? Is our data secure?

“Most MA’s produce a considerable quantity of financial records, but not all of these need be kept permanently. The annual accounts of all Ministry Area Council funds should be kept in perpetuity. Other supporting documents, including cash books, bank statements, wages records, vouchers, and routine correspondence should be kept for at least seven years.” CinW Keep or Bin document.To achieve the above, MyFundAccounting has a reporting mechanism that can produce PDF reports (it also has an extra downloadable Windows program called MyFundAccounting.offline that has more options with file formats to export reports to). What happens in MA’s is that the consolidated PDF reports are included in the Trustee Annual Report that needs to be uploaded to the Charity Commission website anyway, but the Ministry Area Treasurers also keep copies of these either printed or electronically. Some MA’s may choose to retain an electronic or printed copy of the transactions report, however with the source documents and the final accounts are able to provide evidence of all income and expenditure should this be required.All Data Development cloud platforms (MyFundAccounting.online and MyGiving.online) both operate on Data Development’s own private servers. Their server and network infrastructure are compliant with the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) which is regularly tested by an independent ICT security compliance company. They therefore have an extremely robust data protection and business continuity regime in order to reach and maintain the PCI DSS accreditation.

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Giving and Fundraising

Can we still fundraise for our own church?

Yes, of course. It just needs to be remembered that all funds and assets are under the control of the MAC. The MAC might need to consider whether such funds are restricted or designated.

A lot of areas have an older population so how can we make sure we help everyone still to give?

The focus recently has been encouraging online-giving to enhance what is already in place. But the current means of banking won’t be changed, so if people wish to donate in cash etc they are still able to.

We have grants currently for a parish project - will these be affected if we then become a whole MA?

We have contacted the regular funders supporting churches and they are currently of a mind that funding applications will continue to be reviewed as relating to the applicant church only. In order to satisfy application protocol, funders will require churches to isolate the accounts of the applicant church from the whole Ministry Area accounts. The new accounting software will enable this very easily. It is certainly advisable to contact the funder about changing your charitable status.

Can new funding applications still be made by an individual church if it is now part of the legal entity of the whole Ministry Area?

The MAC needs to make the application (on behalf of a church) and to specify for which church.

In our parish (which is an excepted charity) we are half way through a grant-funded project – what happens if we now have to register as a charity?

It is good practice to contact your funder to let them know what is happening. Our understanding is that it shouldn’t affect the grant.

What if more than one church in a Ministry Area wants to make a funding application?

The MAC is the body that will make applications for any of its churches. At present there appears no reason to suppose the 'application per church' structure will alter. Funders usually understand that more than one church within a Ministry Area may be undertaking works for which an application is required, but we are investigating this more closely with some of our key funders for confirmation.

Will becoming part of a MA affect the Welsh Church Act funding which gives £10,000 per Church, not per Parish or MA?

Our experience shows there has been no impact on WCA funding – the number of churches remains the same, so there should still be £10k available per church.

Will we be at a disadvantage when we make grant applications for individual churches, when we are part of a Ministry Area?

The main grant funding bodies used in Llandaff, understand Ministry Areas and are happy to continue with receiving applications from churches. It is important to take advice before making a funding application and Helen Embling will be able to assist you.Some very large grant-making Trusts say that they have greater confidence in the governance of projects being managed by larger Ministry Areas with better local scrutiny.

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Ministry Area structure and formation

What qualifying factors have this Diocese employed in groupings?

A range of factors contributed to the decisions about groupings, including geography, demography, historical boundaries, social and ecclesiastical history. (Sometimes these can work in opposition to each other.) In addition, as far as practicable, the aim was to ensure that each Ministry Area had at least three incumbent-status clergy and strong lay leadership to provide a collaborative team. A balanced decision was then made based on consultation with Area Deans.

Given that the existing territorial arrangements within the diocese can only be changed by decree and that such decrees must make provision and give directions concerning a substantial number of matters listed in the Constitution, how is the agreement of the existing parishes and their incumbents (Vicars in the legal sense with rights of appeal against removal) to be obtained?

Under the Constitution of the Church in Wales, the Bishop has absolute discretion as to any change in territorial arrangements, and she is supported in that discretion by the Standing Committee of the Diocesan Conference. All members of the PCC declare when taking up office that they will abide by the Constitution. PCCs will need to pass a resolution in relation to becoming part of a Rectorial Benefice, but they are obliged to comply with the terms of the Constitution in doing so. Vicars are not being removed from their posts. They will become or remain Vicars in the Rectorial Benefice.

Why haven't PCCs been consulted about the makeup of their own Ministry Area?

The Diocese has been advocating engagement with the Ministry Area process for at least 7 years, and even employed a full-time officer to assist in the process. That officer worked tirelessly to engage with Deaneries and parishes to stimulate discussion and move the process forward with some significant success but reached a point where no further progress was being made. Archdeacons have picked up the threads of past conversations and consulted with Area Deans and Diocesan officers in reaching the current makeup of new Ministry Areas.

With larger churches and more people and more money vs smaller churches, how will this equality of influence be managed?

Many existing multi-church parishes have faced and dealt with the same situation for many years. We hope that a basic principle of fairness, coupled with the Christian imperative for mutual respect, generosity and compassion means the Ministry Area can operate and respond sensitively.

Can’t the objectives be achieved just as well by an informal cooperation without combining the PCC and accounts?

There has been much fruitful collaboration between many parishes, particularly over the last 7 years. However, such collaboration have often proved difficult to sustain or cement over a long period – perhaps because people move or because a PCC prioritises its own parish interests over wider collaborative or shared initiatives, or are reluctant to invest intentionally without long term security. Working together as one wider Ministry Area enables consistent sharing of resources and encourages a bigger vision and longer-term joint plans.The necessity for every parish to become a registered charity in 2021 with all the responsibilities of charitable governance makes this the right and necessary moment for this change.

Will handling vacancies and appointments be the Area Dean or the Ministry Area Leader?

Vacancy cover will in the first instance be arranged within the MA. Where the MAL post is vacant the Area Dean will liaise with the MA clergy regarding need for clergy cover etc. Where the MAL is also the Area Dean, and the post is vacant, the Archdeacon will liaise with the parish regarding need for cover etc.With regard to clerical appointments to MAs, these will continue to be handled by the Bishop’s Office, relevant Archdeacon, and the MAL or Area Dean.

Are Deaneries remaining in the new set up?

Yes, the existing Area Deaneries will continue – apart from anything else they are a Constitutional requirement.

What will happen about Deanery Conferences?

In 2022, every Annual Vestry Meeting of each Ministry Area within the Deanery shall elect up to six lay members (but must elect at least as many lay members as there are clerics in that Ministry Area) to the Deanery Conference. They will hold office for three years.

What will happen about sending representatives to Diocesan Conferences?

In 2022, every Ministry Area shall elect five lay members to the Diocesan Conference at its Annual Vestry Meeting. They will hold office for three years.

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Purpose and identity

How has MAs allowed Welsh language ministry to flourish/ develop/ begin?

Collaborative ministry at its best plays to people’s strengths. It should therefore enable Welsh language ministry to develop in a more intentional way. A wide variety of ministry should be available across the Ministry Area and those who are better equipped to deliver Welsh language ministry should encourage and give confidence to other members of their team.

How can we be sure that with all this bureaucracy we don’t lose sight of the task of care?

Pastoral care is one of the key elements of ministry - but like all ministry it is not the preserve of the clergy. Ministry Areas are a platform upon which to build our ministry – not the end, but the means to exercise pastoral care, along with all other aspects of ministry and mission expressed by the Vision to tell a joyful story, grow the Kingdom of God and build our capacity for good. Ministry Areas will only exercise the full range of ministry and responsibilities for mission to the extent that these are seen as duties and privileges that are shared among all the baptised.

How can churches ensure they remain locally relevant to their community when operating within a larger entity?

In the same way that individual churches within a multi-church parish currently seek to ensure they are locally relevant, so churches within the new MAs will continue to do so.

What’s to stop a new Ministry Area closing down our church, or using our financial reserves for purposes the existing Parish PCC would not approve?

The new MA Council would normally comprise representatives of all the churches in the group; these would have a say in how the MAC uses its assets.The process for ‘closing down’ a church is much more involved than a PCC / MAC simply deciding to do so, and involves input at Diocesan and Provincial level. This input acts as both a help and a safeguard.

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Capacity and support

A MA is effectively like running a business, isn’t that a lot to expect of clergy and laity?

Key to the formation of the MA will be the identification of the Core Team. One of their key roles is to ensure that the tasks of mission and ministry are shared. We have many skilled and gifted people in our parishes who would no doubt relish these opportunities. This will be supported by appropriate training for all involved in sharing these tasks.

What do we do when clergy are very worried about managing this process along with all the other things they are already doing?

The Diocese is working hard to ensure that clergy and parishes are well supported through this process. The Senior Leadership Team are here to give individual support to Ministry Areas to help take steps that are manageable, and each Ministry Area Leader will also have a mentor specifically to support them through the process. The new Vision resources in mission, outreach, children and young people, fundraising and lay training will also be there for Ministry Areas to use and draw on. The new role for the Director of Ministry and Discipleship has an explicit responsibility for clergy wellbeing and to provide tailored support. In addition, the new Provincial Ministerial Development Review scheme will assist with enabling clergy to reflect on the past year and set goals for the coming year that are realistic and achievable.

What prospect is there of diocesan funding for f/t or p/t administrators and/or treasurers? Can we apply for funds to finance some admin help?

Certainly – the Diocesan has a Grants Committee that looks after the Mission Fund and Community Development Fund allocations. Grants awarded won’t be sufficient to pay a whole salary (certainly for f/t staff), nor will they provide funds indefinitely, but they can certainly assist in the initial stages of employing.

What resources do the Diocese have or will put in place to help?

There are a range of resources available already on the website along with specific guides about Finance and the Legal and Governance side of thingsA planning template outlines the timeline and an overview of key decisions that need to be madeThere will be a series of webinars that will be set up which will focus on a range of topicsMentors will be arranged to support the MA leadNetworks offering support will be provided (including drawing on existing Rectorial Benefices)Licences for the accounting software will be paid for centrally by the Diocese.There will be staff in the Finance Department to assist with the financial implementation, new accounting software etc

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