Charities Obligations

As a result of requests from parishes seeking clarification about rules around the appointment of charities officers, PCANZ have developed a resource that addresses common questions and is available for download from the Church’s website: Charities Officer Resource: Guide for Congregations, Trusts and Officers.

The resource includes reference material for church councils as well as for charities officers themselves. The document also contains a section for the governance bodies of parish-run trusts.

The Book of Order Advisory Committee has provided input to the resource to ensure that it is consistent with the Book of Order. We thank the Committee for its advice. There are many important points in the resource, but it is worth drawing your attention to these points in particular:

  • Any elder serving a current term on a church council is an officer, however persons who were ordained and who are not on church council are not deemed officers (the resource contains a section dedicated to who should be officers);
  • Elders in congregations that have open terms whereby an elder stays on church council even when they no longer participate in meetings, remain officers in terms of the Charities Act as they remain accountable and responsible for the functioning of the congregation;
  • In keeping with each member of the church council’s responsibility for the proper functioning of the council and congregation and compliance with legislation and regulations (including the Charities Act), it is not proper for a person to be a member of the church council but opt-out of being a charities officer.
  • The Book of Order Advisory Committee advises that if a person who is being approached or proposed to be ordained or inducted as an elder or deacon, or to be elected as a manager, indicates that they do not wish to be an officer under the Charities Act, the most appropriate solution is for the individual not to be ordained or elected to the role. This is because an inherent part of being an elder or deacon is to ensure compliance with relevant legislation. This would need to be attended to with great sensitivity in conversation with the person involved.

In preparing this resource, PCANZ has acknowledged that there are many different ways that congregations arrange their governance, and that this resource may not cover all these variations. Please let us know if there are any gaps in the information in the resource by emailing