The YBA Assembly - Part Three


YBA TREASURER Dean Thorpe presented the directors’ and trustees’ report and financial statements for the year ended December 31st, 2015. (Download here)

Dean said the independent examination of the Association’s Financial Statements was still ongoing.
“Given recent changes in audit thresholds for charity accounts we took the decision to change from an audit to an independent examination this year along with a new tender for this work and although this will save money, inevitably the first year will take longer to establish and understand ‘the way that both sides do things’. Our independent examiner is very content for me to present the accounts in draft form."
The examiner would be having further discussions to clarify in his mind the pension debts that YBA has, the “agreement” to buy out the YBA share of the staff scheme, some of which appeared in the accounts at the moment as liabilities.
“We also learned that the BUGB financial statements were going to include an updated note regarding the pension scheme(s) deficit. We requested a copy of this note from BUGB to include the same/similar in our statements.”

Income – and investing back into the churches
Dean highlighted that the total income for the year had been increased by the profit on the sale of closed church buildings – an amount of £242,301. This was from East Park in Hull, Hawksbridge, West Vale in Halifax, and Bolster Moor in Huddersfield. There had also been funds from the sale of Primrose Hill Manse, Huddersfield, some of which were restricted and for the support of Huddersfield churches.
“Had it not been for this our general unrestricted income versus expenditure would have had a deficit of around £15,000,” he said. “Going forward the Executive has agreed to run an intentional deficit of at least £50,000 per year for the next 5 years minimum. This is to support churches in mission, using our resources and investing back into the churches.”
This would hopefully bring down the large capital base the association was holding.

Home Mission
He spoke about the redistribution of Home Mission grant funding, which was now devolved to the local Associations.
“We receive a sum from BUGB to cover grants within the Association – this was £109,669 in 2015 but this has not all been paid out during the year.” He said there was often a time lag between the Association offering a grant and the church fulfilling a call to ministry, and it also arose when a minister left a church.
He added there had occasionally been a change in church circumstances. For example, one was requesting a grant of £12,000 and then subsequently the ministers who the church called had self-funded meaning the money had not been used.
This, along with how the Association distributed money in 13ths rather than 12ths, had led to the building of a surplus of Home Mission money, some of which had been used for Special Project Grants.
There were several Home Mission grant applications in the pipeline to be considered by the grants group,  which was made up of local ministers/lay leaders. “We have been attempting to use Home Mission grant funding along with our wider resources wisely, equitably and across the breadth of the Association region.”

Assets and investments during challenging times
There had been a number of changes in terms of the Association’s assets during the course of the previous year that would begin to feed through into future years.
“In December 2015 after a period of discussion, research and due diligence we made a decision to invest a significant amount of our capital into an ethical investment portfolio with Vestra Wealth. Vestra have an ethical specialist who presented to the Executive a proposal to invest the sum of £1million with the main aim of targeting an income yield of £40,000 per year.”

Dean added: “During the course of 2015 I have begun to get to grips with Association life, including the wide ranging, far reaching and significant impact that the pension scheme/s deficit is having across the Baptist Family. We also have an unknown/unquantifiable liability to the cost of maintaining burial grounds that the Association is responsible for. A lot of uncertainty including financial that is hard to ‘put a figure on’.
“So I felt it prudent to recommend to the Finance Group and Executive that we invest a further £500,000 into a Short Term Strategy Fund. This fund’s aim is to provide a return greater than the interest from a bank over a rolling 3-year period. I believe it also provides a clear demonstration that as an Association we are committed to supporting and working towards finding solutions to the challenging situation that we find ourselves in as a Baptist Family.
“Having made these investments together with the committed funds for church loans we still have a substantial sum of over £500,000 capital held in bank deposit accounts that we can call on in the immediate and short term.”

Pension costs
The Association had current and historic members of both the Baptist Pension Scheme (BPS) and the Baptist Union Staff Pension Scheme (BUSPS), which meant it had commitments to ensuring that members received the benefits they had been promised. He referred to the extensive note on pages 23-24 of the report.
“For the purposes of the Association accounts and from the limited information that has been made available, we have provided for an amount of £185,000 as a liability in respect of the BPS from churches that have closed. It is the YBA as the ultimate trustee of these closed churches that is likely to settle their cessation debts out of the proceeds of sale of closed church assets.
“The amount of £75,000 liability is in respect of the BUSPS arising from YBA staff being members and/or historic members of this scheme.”

Discussions were ongoing and he hoped clarity might be forthcoming during the course of this year as to where people stood. He and Regional Minister/Team Leader the Revd Graham Ensor were on the Employers’ Group of the BPS. He said the situation needed prayer as they worked through this challenge.

Time to say thank you!
Adrian HoweDean closed his presentation saying: “I would like to record sincere thanks to the incredible amount of work, effort and energy that our Finance Officer Adrian Howe (pictured) has expended during the year and particularly in producing the financial statements and explaining, discussing and demonstrating the way our financials work with our new independent examiner. Even though he’s not here, let’s give him a massive round of applause!”
Dean also thanked Association Administrator Debbie Gamble for her support in ensuring the Finance Group operates efficiently.

In concluding the morning session, Chair of the Executive Liz Allen said she had been struck by what Roy had said earlier: “What are you and God working on at present?” “This is an important question for us as an Association and as individuals.” She then prayed for everyone.

Bec and RoyDuring the afternoon there were three seminars – “Discipling children” led by Jodie Thorpe; “Discipling young adults” led by Nick and Marjorie Allan; and “Discipling in the local church,” led by Bec Coates and Roy Searle.
Graham concluded the afternoon by saying: “We want to encourage local churches and release resources. We are committed to seeing our churches become missional and outward looking.”
He referred to the stories shared earlier involving YBA funding – a £200,000 loan to Skipton Baptist Church; the partnership with SBTC; working with churches through Home Mission and partnering with organisations.
“We can do more together than by ourselves individually,” he said.
Roy Searle closed the day encouraging everyone in the words of a Celtic blessing used at the Northumbria Community: "May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you."

(YBA Assembly 2016 Photo Album) - click here.

                                                                                                                                     Report compiled by Joolz Walker

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