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Wesley International Congregation: review

Confused about charities, churches, not for profits, ABNs, business names, tax status and the relationship between them? Sorry, this review probably won’t help – the fact is, the situation is complicated. And some people just make it more so.

 

Have an interest in Missions Interlink (the Australian Evangelical Alliance), or Wesley Mission, Uniting Church Australia, and its churches? Then read on.

 

On 26 May 2020, Missions Interlink, the Australian Evangelical Alliance Inc’s ‘Australian network for global mission’…announced on Facebook that it had admitted a new ‘Associate’ member:

 

Membership of Missions Interlink is interesting to a donor advocate like us because it requires its members to ‘accept and adhere to’ a set of standards for conduct (including transparency and accountability).

 

The name in the membership list[1] is linked to this website https://wesleyinternational.org.au/about/”

 

 

So, a church. As a church, one would expect that ‘Wesley International Congregation’ wouldn’t want to pay tax. Therefore, from what the ATO tells us, one would expect ‘Wesley International Congregation’ to be a registered charity:

 

But there’s no ‘Wesley International Congregation’ on the ACNC Register.

 

Perhaps it operates but hasn’t registered? But operating would mean that it would likely have an ABN. No, no ABN in that name.

 

So, a website promoting a church, and membership of an organisation that requires accountability from its members, but no official existence. Strange.

 

There’s a big ‘Wesley mission’ logo in the announcement, so perhaps Missions Interlink made a mistake and it is ‘Wesley mission’ that is the member?

 

Strangeness persists though: the ACNC Register shows that ‘Wesley mission’ is also not a charity.

 

It was one, but it voluntarily revoked its registration four years ago, in June 2016:

 

 

 

Wesley Mission, as an entity, is very much operating, so how come it’s not a charity? The answer comes when we search for its ABN:

 

 

It is not a separate organisation, but a name that another charity trades under. This other charity is Wesley Community Services Limited.

 

But Wesley Mission takes this relationship one step further in the footer of its website, saying that Wesley Mission itself has both an ABN and charity registration (and DGR status):

 

So, Wesley Mission, an organisation that controls the operations of the church ‘Wesley International Congregation, offers a tax deduction for donations. Doesn’t make sense.

 

Turning to the About Us section of Wesley Mission’s website (as one should to know about an organisation), there’s a page on ‘Governance’. From there we can read about Wesley Mission and taxes:

 

 

Apart from saying that the umbrella organisation is Wesley Mission, and that ‘Wesley Mission is endorsed as a Public Benevolent Institution’, both of which are untrue, we are introduced to another entity, Wesley Congregational Life. Could ‘Wesley International Congregation’ be part of this entity?

 

Looking Wesley Congregational Life up on the ACNC Register (as the regulator tells us to), we find that it too is not a separate charity, but a name that UCA – Wesley Parish Mission is ‘Also known as’.

 

To further confuse, the website on the Register for this charity is the website of Wesley Mission.

 

From a search of the accounts of UCA -Wesley Parish Mission, we find a couple of mentions of an ‘international congregation’. They all have to do with the establishment of a reserve:

 

 

So, we can conclude that the Missions Interlink member, ‘Wesley International Congregation’ is one section, ‘Wesley Mission International Congregation’, of one department, Wesley Congregational Life, of a charity called UCA – Wesley Parish Mission. So, an entity deeply buried in a complicated structure, an entity with no separate accountability.

 

And if the Missions Interlink membership is actually in the name ‘Wesley Mission’, Missions Interlink has given membership, and requires accountability from, a charity, Wesley Community Services Limited, that has nothing to do with ‘global mission’.

 

 

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