Do the brethren meet the public benefit criteria?
Do the Plymouth Brethren meet the public benefit criteria?
Many Brethren will have received the news that the UK Charity Commission recently denied a group of Plymouth Brethren, the Preston Down Trust, recognition as a charitable organisation. The Commission determined that the Church failed to qualify on the grounds that it did not meet public benefit criteria.
The Brethren do not believe this to be a fair and accurate assessment of the Church, which has been undertaking a wide range of activities for the public good for many years –a recent example in the UK where the Brethren set up a canteen to feed volunteers searching for a missing girl.
Charitable giving and caring for those in need are core to the teachings of the Church, and are frequently demonstrated through Church activities such as distributing food, drink, Bibles and gospel tracts.
It is the considered view of Brethren member Rod Buckley that the Church is finding it necessary to make the public aware of its public benefit activities.
Buckley also acknowledged that some Church practices, such as limiting Holy Communion to Brethren members, do invoke criticism, but he also pointed out that the Plymouth Brethren preach the gospel in public and that many Christian Groups, including the Catholic Church, limit access of non members to Holy Communion.
Said Buckley, “We’d certainly look at making information available online and making service times clearer …. it’s not something we’re opposed to.”