This was my first visit to the ACAT annual conference and AGM, but it won’t be my last. Although it felt slightly odd to be in Bloomsbury and not in Friends House, the Institute of Education was a comfortable venue for the day.
As you might expect from an association with Church or religious connections the day balanced stewardship with time for worship and fellowship. With a buffet lunch, and breakfast, to ensure we had enough caffeine and sugar to make it through to the end of the very full day.
Business wise there was a brief AGM (15 minutes), with a request for anyone tempted by the idea of becoming a trustee contacting the board as they were always looking for new members.
The remainder were talks or introductory samples of the fuller training sessions ACAT offer around the country.
I particularly enjoyed the ‘Balancing Stewardship with mission – Issues for Treasurers and Trustees’ talk given by Canon Dr Christina Baxter CBE where she explored aspects of G-D an Mission, reminding us that mission is now what you live/breathe, living out our beliefs and living so others can hear/see G-D in those actions.
If we allow ourselves to become such living missionaries, people coming to our buildings, events, services should find a taste of heaven. That is people living out their lives faithfully – listening to that divine spark within. “Mission is in the church as fire is in glowing embers” Martin Luther.
One concept I will be thinking more about was, “What we give to the Lord belongs to the Lord – but we don’t give to the Lord was also provided by G-D and however it is used should also glorify G-D”. Money however it is spent is a spiritual issue and part of the role of the Treasurer is to help members of the community to explore how to use those resources to meet their spiritual goals and needs.
With a final quote (with attribution at the moment): “There are lots of parables about growth in the NT (with seeds being sown and growing), a budget which is not a growth budget is not a kingdom budget.”
Plus hearing from Dr James Corah about how CCLA Investments work with Church leaders and other groups to put forward the issues that are important to their customers and change large secular companies policies. Enabling small groups to join together to tackle large issues.
For example before the 2012 Olympics they approached hotel chains regarding human trafficking, with fact and figures from previous Olympics. Originally they had no interest, but then Whitbread asked more questions, realised it did impact their business and put out training for every hotel and staff member.
With regard to the living wage it was through discussions with Glaxo’s CEO Andrew Witty that overturned the original, ‘that’s too expensive’ knee jerk reaction and instead had Glaxo matching the living wage. Resulting in 600 contractors receiving a living wage and Glaxo sponsoring the living wage.
Other talks covered – What is ACAT doing to support its members, Employing People, Keeping on the right side of the Charity Commission and then we split into small or large church groups to work through some issues relating to size. Enjoyable examples of Gift Aid problems and misconceptions.
The day finished at just after 4pm. I took time out before heading to the tube to tidy up my notes and soak up some of the inspiration there within. There is a list of things to research and learn more about too.
I can see why two of my table mates assured us that they came every year. Definitely looking forward to the next event.