The Charity Commission has accepted a re-submitted application from Preston Down Trust (PDT), part of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, to register as a charity based on a revised governing document.
The Commission decided that:
- PDT was capable of benefitting the public through its instruction and edification of the public in a Christian way of life;
- provides benefits to a sufficient section of the public; and
- although PDT operated predominantly rather than exclusively for the benefit of its members, this was not necessarily fatal to charitable status.
In its decision the Commission concluded that, although the practice of ‘separation from evil’ results in both a moral and physical separation from the wider community, it has seen evidence of an organisation which is “evolving and increasing its level of engagement with the public”. According to the Commission, PDT was able to demonstrate a beneficial impact in society, including through providing public access to worship, engaging in street preaching and limited engagement with the wider community, including through encouraging charitable giving and providing disaster relief assistance.
It is noteworthy that, by insisting that PDT set out in writing its doctrines and practices of faith and soften some of its disciplinary practices, the Commission now finds itself regulating the nature and quality of religious worship and intra-community relations.
This route may enable other exclusive religious organisations to register as charities.
For more information please contact Hugh Welch or 0191 211 7903.