Ministry Area FAQs
Leadership and relationships
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.
The Ministry Area Leaders will be appointed by the Bishop following conversations with the Archdeacons and the potential candidates.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Legal and financial
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
The software is available for MAs to transfer data as soon as they are ready. Specific targetted Diocesan support for this will be provided later this year. Dates for this will be issued when they are confirmed.
Yes; the DBF will cover the cost of the licences as part of the MA implementation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Giving and Fundraising
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.
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 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.
The MAC needs to make the application (on behalf of a church) and to specify for which church.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ministry Area structure and formation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teams of diverse people with varied, complementary skills will mean that people are able to focus on what they enjoy and are good at doing, rather than having to fulfil aspects of a role they are not called to. We hope this will mean increased motivation and reward – and less need to be chivvied! As to wider lay teams, it is recommended that (like in Bangor or St Asaph) Ministry Areas have small special interest sub-groups, to support motivation.
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.
Yes, the existing Area Deaneries will continue – apart from anything else they are a Constitutional requirement.
These will also continue as at present.
A system for sending representatives from MAs and Deaneries is being devised that is both Constitutional and as fair as it can be.
Purpose and identity
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.
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.
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.
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.
Capacity and support
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.
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.
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.
There are a range of resources available already on the website along with specific guides about Finance and the Legal and Governance side of things
- A planning template outlines the timeline and an overview of key decisions that need to be made
- There will be a series of webinars that will be set up which will focus on a range of topics
- Mentors will be arranged to support the MA lead
- Networks 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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