After two and a quarter years since the Fellowship Property Trust (FIEC’s trusteeship service) announced that it was closing its trusteeship services they are still a long way off from transferring all their trusteeships. Back in April 2021, the Fellowship Property Trust (FPT) wrote to approximately 180 churches for which they acted as trustee asking them to either set up a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) and transfer the property to the CIO or speak with Church Growth Trust (CGT) about taking on their trusteeship.
Since then, Giles Arnold, CGT’s Chief Executive has reviewed approximately 60 sets of property deeds and met with churches across the country. As he says, “Some transfers were seemingly quick and straightforward, but others have taken more time. This wasn’t helped by solicitors involved being ill and struggling to cope with the volume of work. It now seems we have turned a corner and considerable progress has been made. In the last three months alone there have been seven holding trusteeships, one custodian trusteeship, three sole trusteeships and one property gifted. In addition, there are 12 trusteeships on their way to completion, plus a few others yet to decide.”
The properties vary considerably – from a building on a small site in Needham Market to an early 19th century chapel with large grounds in Westbury. And another with two properties (a chapel and church hall) on either side of the same street in the village of Walberton near Arundel.
Each one is different, and CGT is already helping with a variety of building and compliance issues, such as asbestos surveys, advising on heating systems and structural work.
He goes on, “It has been challenging for CGT to take on so many new trusteeships in such a short period. But the team has certainly risen to the challenge, with robust systems in place to support us. At times it has been out of our control, particularly when referring matters to the Land Registry or Charity Commission. But God is gracious and has given us all we need to provide the high level of service people expect from us. We continue to pray for all the remaining transfers to be completed and for CGT to be able to bless the occupying churches as they strive to proclaim the Gospel in their locality.”