The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) has set up an alternative business structure (ABS) to provide legal services to its 500 member churches and other Christian groups.
Edward Connor Solicitors, a charity regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, went live on 1 March and is named after FIEC’s founder, Edward Poole-Connor. It is the first ABS of its kind.
The firm’s website makes it clear that its solicitors are “Christians first, solicitors second”.
It goes on: “We see ourselves as gospel partners, not just business partners. We want to help our clients be more effective in serving Christ and seeing his kingdom grow.
“That’s why our specialist legal team supports Christian organisations and churches by providing advice that is both legally robust and biblically faithful. Our mission is simple: to release our clients for theirs.”
Edward Connor has offices in Market Harborough and London, and its managing director is Gemma Adam.
Ms Adam, who qualified as a solicitor at Birmingham-based Anthony Collins – whose eponymous founder was motivated by his Christian faith to set up the firm in 1973 – wrote on the FIEC website: “Society is very different today from the New Testament times where the early church existed.
“Britain is heavily-regulated with a complex legal picture. Churches need to operate carefully if they’re going to follow Scripture’s command to obey the authorities.”
Ms Adam said Edward Connor would build on the work of FIEC Practical Services – of which she is also director – in providing churches with property law, charity law and human resources advice. That department offers other support to churches as well, ranging from acting as a property holding trustee to advice on effective Facebook marketing.
However, Ms Adam said that “British regulations and governance issues mean our current set-up just isn’t sustainable in the long-term” and Edward Connor would provide churches with “affordable legal support”.
She went on: “It’s a separate charity to FIEC but is linked to the Fellowship in its governance. Just like FIEC, Edward Connor Solicitors wants to see God’s kingdom grow, by offering legal advice that allows your ministry to flourish, at a price you can afford.
“Our team of qualified Christian solicitors can provide legal services not only to the FIEC family of churches (although that will continue to be a key focus) but also to other Christian groups who share our gospel aims and ethos.”