Church reaches out after charity snub

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MP Richard Fuller came out in support of a church whose charitable status may not be recognised on Saturday.

Mr Fuller called in to the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church Gospel Hall in Barkers Lane, Bedford where free lunches were served, and residents were given free bibles and gospel literature.

The church, which has worshippers worldwide, is currently appealing a decision by the Charities Commission not to recognise charitable status for a church in the same group in Devon, a move which could have an impact on the Bedford church.

Member Ted Picton said: “It is both a sorrow and a mystery why the regulator has decided we are not charitable.

“There has been a Brethren Church in Bedford for 147 years, we have preached in the town centre for many years and help the homeless and vulnerable.”

The commission is basing its decision on guidance from the Charities Act 2006. But on Wednesday MPs voted 166 to seven in favour of amending the law to “Reintroduce the presumption that religious institutions are of a public benefit and therefore eligible for charitable status” as put forward by MP Peter Bone.

Mr Fuller said: “I strongly support Peter Bone and I strongly support the idea that religion is by its very nature a charitable benefit, the Charities Commission should support this.

“I was very happy to see the Brethryn open their doors to the local community and had a very positive time there.”