The Fund has traditionally supported the theological education of those intending to enter the Particular Baptist ministry and provided benevolent grants to serving and retired Particular Baptist ministers and their widows who are in need, hardship or distress. It has also advanced loans for the construction and repair of Particular Baptist chapel buildings. We still do this and you can find details about each of these activities elsewhere on this website.
However, about 15 years ago, the Trustees recognised that, as a result of capital growth and with the Fund receiving the proceeds of the sale of some redundant chapels, our general fund had increased substantially and would not return to an appropriate level, if we continued to restrict ourselves to these areas.
We therefore introduced a new grant, called the Home Mission Pastoral Grant. Its purpose was establish new Particular Baptist churches in locations where none existed, although its remit was later widened to provide assistance where a church had closed but there was potential for a new one to be established in the same location. The grant has proved very popular but as the general fund is now scheduled to fall significantly, as we intended, we are not accepting further applications, at least for the time being.
We recognised at the outset church plants funded by the Home Mission Pastoral Grant could take up to ten years to become established. (We subsequently extended the period of support to a maximum of twelve years.) The grant was intended to cover up to 80% of the pastor’s or church-planter’s stipendiary costs initially, with the percentage reducing over the life of the project, and the grants were subject to searching reviews every three years, to ensure that the project remained on course. Meanwhile, the Trustees have been monitoring the progress being made in reducing general fund reserves, on the basis of a rolling ten-year plan, taking account of any further capital growth in the Fund’s investments or the sale of additional redundant chapels.
We recognised from the start that such a large investment in these projects would substantially reduce the Fund’s general reserves but that was our objective, as well as to plant a significant number of new Particular Baptist churches. We are pleased to report that although some attempts did not lead to success, several churches are now well established, such as Shepherd’s Drive, Ipswich, Christ Church, Southampton, Kings Road Baptist Church, Chingford, Essex, Noddfa Baptist Church, Gwent and City Church, Manchester and others are well underway to becoming fully independent local churches. However, the Fund’s reserves are now fully committed to these projects and the Trustees are currently not able to accept further applications for this grant. This only applies to new applications. By taking action now, we have ensured that we can meet all our existing commitments to pay Home Mission Pastoral Grant. We will continue to monitor the situation by means of our 10 year rolling plan and should we receive additional unexpected income or if existing projects come to an end early, thereby releasing resources, we may be able to make further Home Mission Pastoral Grants. If so, we will post an update on the website.
The Fund’s other grants for training and benevolent purposes come from income arising from our Permanent Endowment. Only the income arising from this source can be spent, not the underlying capital, so these grants are unaffected by the reduction in general fund reserves and those who currently receive these grants should have no concerns. The loan scheme also continues. Moreover, as loans are repaid, funds will become available for lending to others, as in the past.