Charitable status confirmed for dozens of churches

Nearly 60 churches have had their charitable status confirmed after a landmark ruling last year which was welcomed by The Christian Institute.

Due to concerns about a dangerous precedent being set for all churches over how Holy Communion is administered, the Institute made representations as a third party in a test case between an Exclusive Plymouth Brethren congregation and the Charity Commission.

Now 58 other Plymouth Brethren churches have had their charitable status reaffirmed, with the Charity Commission stating that these new decisions were made with reference to the benchmark ruling, which affected Preston Down Trust.


A spokesman for the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church said the individual registering process was satisfactory, commenting: “One might have wished for a smoother process in some cases, but the church respects the need for the commission to make due enquiry of every trust.”

In January 2014 the Charity Commission announced it would accept Preston Down Trust’s application, after previously rejecting it.

In arguments against the Trust, the regulator criticised its Holy Communion services, which are reserved for members only.

‘Picked on’

The Charity Commission had faced strong criticism over the issue, with Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke accusing the Commission of suppressing religion.

Elphicke told the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, “you are the little guys being picked on to start off a whole series of other churches who will follow you there”.

Last year Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, welcomed the charity regulator’s move to register the Trust: “It’s a victory for religious freedom.

“Common sense has been restored and the decision reflects what we knew all along, that the Charity Commission never had the power to direct how a church administers Holy Communion”.

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