Across the District, each Church and Circuit needs to have systems in place to adequately control their organisation's income and expenditure and to protect its buildings and other assets. The Church Council or Circuit Meeting have ultimate control, but they will need lay support, preferably in the form of a volunteer treasurer. That person will have a hands-on task of arranging payments and the banking of income, but also has the responsibility for working to the policies, practices and timetables the Church/Circuit has set for properly administering their financial affairs and preparing budgets, periodic and annual accounts.
All such treasurers are eligible to join the Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers* (ACAT) which exists to provide advice, training and information on accounting, financial, legal and other related issues. Membership costs £12.50 per annum, and this would be a reasonable expense against Circuit/Church funds for their treasurer.
It is recommended that Church treasurers make contact with other treasurers in their Circuit to discuss issues, and where necessary contact their Circuit Treasurer for guidance and clarifications especially on accounting matters. If further guidance is desirable, Connexional paid staff who are qualified should be able to assist. The District Treasurer is also contactable through the Circuit Treasurer.
Several documents have been developed to help in these tasks, and these are briefly described below and attached.
A District Financial Resources Committee, mainly comprising Circuit treasurers active in the District, can offer advice on specific problems that may arise. Its terms of reference are attached below.
The District Treasurer convenes a meeting of all Circuit treasurers annually to consider the District's budget and the assessments on individual Circuits, but also to discuss any issues which are brought up by Circuits which are likely to be of general interest. This meeting is supplemented by mailings on training events which may be of interest to both Church and Circuit treasurers, usually organised by the Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers (see above).
The documents available on this website are:
Financial Governance and Best Practice for Trustees (attached below). This is a key document on Circuit and Church finances which all treasurers and superintendent and other presbyters must be aware of. It is an overview of Methodist financial governance and good practice to help trustees consider their shared responsibilities for Church and/or Circuit. A series of sections are broken into 'musts' where there is a requirement that must be followed, and 'shoulds' where there is a strong recommendation for action.
Charity Reserves District Guidance (attached below). The Charity Commission has recently established guidance on how Circuits and Churches (which are charities whether registered with the Commission or not) should establish their reserves, have a reserves policy and report on it. The Commission's document (CC19) should be referred to for the authoritative statement, but this three page summary developed by the District sets out the main principles.
The Methodist Church Draft Reserves Policy Guidelines (attached below). This statement complements the previous one with the theological background to stewardship and reserves and some practical examples.
For more information about the Responsibilities of Managing Trustees, please visit the Methodist Church website. This link is an invaluable one for treasurers for as well as covering general responsibilities it has sections, with links to relevant documents, on data protection and retention, insurance and risk assessment, and a range of finance matters including the form of annual accounts.
(*Please note this link opens to an external website.)