The Anglican Charity Association of Strasbourg was created on the 2nd of December 2007 by the members of the Anglican Chaplaincy of Strasbourg, in order to help them fulfill their projects of solidarity and humanitarian help within France but also on the international stage. The association uses a variety of ways to raise a sum equivalent to 8% of the Chaplaincy annual income. It organises fund raising events such as participating in local flea markets, Christmas stalls, cake sales, the production of calendars, organising concerts and evening events. This is by no means an exhaustive list and it all depends on the creative ideas and availability of our members. The aim is that all members of the Anglican Chaplaincy of Strasbourg be inspired to participate actively in the Association.
The Association does not levy any running costs, apart from the account management costs required by the bank. All the funds raised during our activities integrally benefit the projects proposed by our members during our annual meetings. Over the years we have bought cows in Ruanda, set up kitchens for school meals for hungry children in Madagascar, contributed to gypsy projects in Romania, helped a women’s workshop in Lithuania, given to a number of medical services in Uganda, paid school fees for Christian children in Pakistan, helped with restoring churches in Sri Lanka etc. etc. etc. Precedence is granted to activities in countries or even towns and villages where our members find their origins and where they can keep a direct link and supervision on the use of the monies. We have also been able to answer to Diocesan Appeals for help during diverse disasters, especially to fight famine in Western Africa.
Nearer to home we support the good works of CASAS and CIMADE helping migrants and asylum seekers in Strasbourg. During a recent meeting, the ACAS committee proposed to support an Armenian organisation dealing with abused children; we are also trying to gather information about an Angolan Parish which seems to be in need of help.
Why does St Alban’s Anglican Chaplaincy, Strasbourg, have two registered associations?
The short answer is: because French law requires it.
For many years we existed in law simply as the “religious association” (association cultuelle) entitled “Anglican Chaplaincy” (Aumônerie Anglicane). As with many parishes, we had the policy of giving 10% of our annual income to outside causes both here in Alsace and in other parts of the world.
This was a very straightforward situation, easy to understand and to operate. Unfortunately, however, we (and all the other chaplaincies in France) became aware a few years ago that, under French law, associations cultuelles are not allowed to give money to causes outside themselves. This perhaps rather surprising provision is intended to maintain the strict separation between religious life and secular life (laïcité) which is a leading principle of the French Republic.
We were advised by the Archdeaconry that we (and probably all other French chaplaincies) were therefore acting illegally in giving money to outside causes. One chaplaincy had indeed got into trouble with the authorities over this, and all of us were vulnerable.
As is usually the case in France, there is a way round this problem. This is to set up a second association which is not an association culturelle but an association caritative. This is why we set up the Association Caritative Anglicane de Strasbourg, ACAS, (Anglican Charitable Association of Strasbourg), whose sole aim is, as the name suggests, to give money, in the name of St Alban’s Strasbourg, to worthy causes outside ourselves. When the gifts are sent accompanied by a letter it is stressed that this is a gift from our Chaplaincy, through its giving arm the Charitable Association.
The two associations are quite separate in law, and above all their accounts must be kept quite separate. However, in practice we regard them as two aspects of the life of one Christian community, St Alban’s Strasbourg; and all members of the Chaplaincy will hopefully belong to the ACAS.
Because the two associations are separate, each has to have its own committee and its own officers. But the constitution (Statut) of the charitable association (ACAS) provides that the Chaplain and one of the churchwardens are ex officio members of the committee. The activities of the ACAS are reported to the Chaplaincy Council, but the law does not allow the Council to make decisions about outward giving. However, anyone in the Chaplaincy can make suggestions for projects to be supported and open meetings are held to which all the congregation are invited to suggest causes or interesting projects which need support.
There is no denying that this requirement to have two associations complicates our Chaplaincy life, but we just have to live with this situation if we are to order our life in accordance with the law. In particular it is now more difficult to apply a clear rule of giving a sum equal to 10% of the income of the “association cultuelle” to outside causes, because this money has to be raised by events. In some years the ACAS no doubt ends up giving rather more than 10%, and in other years rather less. But the ACAS continues to regard 10% as the norm and the target for each year.