Congregations and Membership
What kind of membership does the AFSP offer?
The main type of "membership" is intended for the leading Ministers of Congregations that have obtained a Charter. When a Charter is issued to a congregation, the leading Minister is automatically made a member of the Fellowship so he/she can represent the congregation to the AFSP.
However, Assistant Ministers or those that have been ordained but haven't yet got their congregation going can join as an Associate Member. Associates are also able to attend Fellowship meetings and have a say, the only difference being that they do not represent a congregation, unless by proxy on behalf of the leading Minister.
How many people do I need to start a congregation?
To start an official organisation you need at least 3 people - the Minister, who is usually also the president, plus a secretary and a treasurer. However, many Ministers are ordained and obtain a Charter first, then hold a meeting for interested people and form the official congregation organisation, so if you don't have 3 members at this stage still get in touch.
Can my congregation get any tax concessions?
Yes, if you register for an ABN (Australian Business Number), as a religious body if you are established as a non-profit organisation you can apply for endorsement as a tax exempt charitable institution. This will obtain tax exemption, GST concessions, and Fringe Benefits Tax rebates.
Can people make tax deductible donations to my congregation?
Endorsement as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) is done by the ATO according to specific criteria. Being a religious body is not sufficient grounds to obtain a DGR endorsement, however if you have the charity tax concessions you may be able to obtain DGR endorsement for individual separate funds operated to raise money for religious education in government schools or welfare for the needy.
Can a congregation have more than one Minister?
Yes. Members of a congregation can be ordained and made an assistant Minister at the discretion of the leading Minister, especially if they believe the member has knowledge or experience that could be beneficial.
Can my congregation meet at my home or someone elses home?
Yes, of course, and in the early stages especially this may be the best option unless you can access a community hall for free. However, you should check with your insurance company and/or landlord regarding any requirements under your insurance policy and/or lease.