Regulator to scrutinise Christian charity whose bank repossessed its church building

The Charity Commission is investigating the Christ Apostolic Church World Soul Winning and Evangelistic Ministry in north London about costs incurred in a court case between the charity and the bank

Site of the now demolished church headquarters
Site of the now demolished church headquarters

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a Christian charity that engaged in a court battle with its bank after its land and property were repossessed.

The inquiry, announced yesterday, concerns the Christ Apostolic Church World Soul Winning and Evangelistic Ministry, a church with objects of advancing Christianity and promoting charitable work for the benefit of the poor.

The commission said that in September 2013 it opened an operation compliance case into the charity, which is based in Islington, north London, after concerns were raised "in connection with the repossession of the charity’s land and property in London and the subsequent litigation and associated costs incurred by the trustees".

It said that the compliance case did not resolve the concerns so it escalated the case to a statutory inquiry on 19 February.

The regulator said the inquiry would consider whether the trustees and former trustees of the charity had carried out their duties correctly, if there had been any mismanagement or misconduct by those managing the charity and if there had been any misappropriation or misapplication of funds.

It said the inquiry would also consider the future governance of the charity, given the "potential inability of the current trustees to manage and administer the charity in accordance with its governing document".

The charity’s most recently available accounts on the Charity Commission’s register, which were filed 105 days late, show that it had an income of £46,432 and an expenditure of £496,561 in 2013.

The independent examiner’s statement on the accounts says that the church’s building was destroyed by fire in March 2012 and all of its accounting records were lost in the blaze.

"As such, a review of the accounting records kept by the charity and a comparison of the accounts presented with those records was not possible," the statement says.

It adds that the church building had been "repossessed by the bank and sold for less than the amount owing on the mortgage".

This left a contingent liability of £452,655 "depending on the outcome of a court case between the church and the bank", the examiner’s statement says, which accounts for the majority of the loss in the accounts.

The remnants of the damaged building have since been demolished.

Third Sector was unable to contact anyone from the charity for comment because the telephone number listed on the charity’s website was dead and the number on the Charity Commission website had a recorded message telling callers to phone back later.

The charity’s website includes a message saying the account has invoices outstanding and the site could be deleted.

Andy Ricketts

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