Making Sense of Your trust status

Most Baptist Church Buildings and manses are held under deed of trust. This does place certain restrictions on what the church can do or what the buildings can be used for. This can sometimes be the cause of some confusion and unease for deacons and churches, but this simple outline might help:

Present trust status divides the oversight of the church into two:

Management Trustees - this is the body of individuals, appointed by the church who are responsible for the day to day management of the premises and church life. This is usually the diaconate, and their tasks include such matters as management of finances and production of annual accounts, ensuring the premises are safe and secure, ensuring proper insurance is in place etc. Management Trustees are regularly re-appointed at Church Meetings from active Church Members.

Custodian Trustees.- this is the body which is responsible to ensure that the Management Trustees fulfil their responsibilities in a way that maintains the ethos of the church. They are usually appointed on a permanent basis and will hold any property deeds etc. It is important to recognise that the Custodian Trustees do not determine how the church and buildings are used - this is defined by the Trust Deed which is established by the Church Meeting. The task of the Custodian Trustees is to ensure that the wishes of the Church Meeting are carried out. In the present context the term Trustees is used below to refer to the Custodian Trustees.

Do You know who your trustees are?

Churches will either have appointed the Baptist Union Corporation, North Western Baptist Association or a board of individuals to act as trustees. One or two churches may have appointed another legally competent body to act as its trustees. It is important that you know this as it is vital to handling and queries or problems you may have.

BUC/NWBA - Because NWBA works in close partnership with BUC, either body is quite happy to assist you in trust matters on behalf of the other. As a rule of thumb contact NWBA on routine, local matters (e.g. Building extensions, appointment of minister) and BUC for more complex matters. However if NWBA staff are unavailable, and a matter is urgent, feel free to try the corporation.

Private Trustees. We do not recommend that you appoint private trustees. Although this may seem to keep things more local it can present difficulties in the longer term. If you do appoint private trustees it is important to ensure that you keep track of their address changes if they move from the church or district; that you obtain death certificates of any deceased trustees; that they have deeds and other documents in appropriate safe-keeping; that they properly keep themselves aware of changes to relevant Charity Law and Government Legisliation.

Do You know where your deeds are?

Your trustees should have safekeeping of the title deeds to any property that you own along with the Trust Deed under which it is held. It is useful to check with your trustees that they hold all relevant documents for every property that you own. NWBA or BUC cannot advise you without access to your Trust Deeds.

When should I contact the trustees?

This will depend upon the precise wording of your Trust Deed, but as a rule of thumb, you should contact the trustees in the following situations:
Before buying or selling any property
Appointment of minister or other members of staff
When taking loans or making major capital investments
When making significant changes to your church rules or constitution
Making major alterations to your building