Firm foothold in the world of big business

Food, jeans, building supplies--all part of the fellowship's commercial ventures

Chronicle and Echo/October 8, 1984

Residential members of the Jesus Fellowship Church share their possessions and eventually turn over all their capital wealth to the community.

Elders preach of living 'in the simplicity of Christ, separated from the world's covetous spirit'. But the Fellowship is heavily involved in the complicated world of big business.

Directors of various companies, who are all members of the Fellowship, are responsible for sales amounting to millions of pounds.

And the latest published accounts go some way towards revealing the wealth of the organisation known as the New Creation Christian Community.

The main Fellowship company is the House of Goodness Ltd which is the holding company for two other Fellowship businesses, Skaino Services Ltd. and Towcester Building Supplies Ltd.

The last accounts, audited by the Northampton office of Coopers and Lybrand of Sheep Street cover the year ending December 31, 1982. Coopers and Lybrand are one of Britain's biggest accountancy firms.

They show that a loan of £750,000 was made to House of Goodness Ltd. - interest free and unsecured!

In normal business practices, or a loan of almost any size, some security would have to be provided.

And anyone with £750,000 to invest could attract interest of £75,000 in a year if the money was placed at just 10 per cent.

The explanation as the why House of Goodness Ltd was able to get such a large loan on such favourable terms is very simple - the money came from the Fellowship's central trust fund.

But where does the trust fund get its money? Again the answer is simple.

A fundamental condition of residential membership of the Fellowship is that those who are over 21 and who have satisfactorily completed a probationary period should contribute their capital to the trust.

This means the money they receive for selling their possessions which can include houses, cars and furniture, goes into the trust.

In addition, any surplus cash from the Common Purse of the various households - this is used to meet the day to day running expenses of the household - is also given to the trust.

The House of Goodness Group carries on business as farmers, retailers of foodstuffs and clothing, builders' merchants, hauliers, motor engineers and heating and plumbing and building contractors.

Mr Noel Stanton is listed as chairman among the other directors.

The accounts show that as well as the £750,000 loan in 1982, the group had overdraft and loan accounts with Barclays Bank Ltd of £75,831.

And these were secured by legal charge over the freehold property of the company and by unlimited guarantees from Towcester Building Supplies and Skaino Services.

The size of the Fellowship business empire is impressive and embraces a wide range of products and services from food to jeans.

House of Goodness Ltd. is the key to the empire. Skaino Services and Towcester Building Supplies are both wholly owned subsidiaries but in turn, all the shares of House of Goodness are held by the Jesus Fellowship Community Trust and Mr Stanton and others are trustees.

Jeans Plus Casuals in Northampton, which sells leisurewear; and a firm of architects, Heritage Design Group, based in Daventry.

In addition, the community hold more than a quarter of the shares in White and Bishop, the quality clothing and leisure retailers in Bridge Street. More than 500 shares in the company were donated by the son of the founder who is a member of the Jesus Fellowship.

Over the years, the accounts showed a continuous growth at a time when thousands of other companies have been forced into bankruptcy.

In the financial year from November 1, 1978 to October 31, 1979, House of Goodness Ltd. Had a turnover of £302,309 and a pre-tax trading profit of £40,696.

But in the financial year from January 1, 1981, to December 31, 1981, the turnover had soared to £959,600 leading to a pre-tax profit of £115,500.

During 1979, Towcester Building Supplies and Skaino Services amalgamated with House of Goodness as the holding company and the accounting dates of the three companies were brought together.

The most detailed accounts are for the House of Goodness Groups which show the 1982 turnover as a massive £2,575,979. After taxation of £58,193, this left a profit of £108,236 and a retained profit of £408,632.

At the time of the accounts the current assets of stock, debtors and cash were just under £950,000 with liabilities totalling £361,035. During the year, the group spent more than £350,000 buying assets such as motor vehicles, land and property.

As group chairman Mr Stanton received fees of £2,745, which, said a senior Elder, were paid into the Common Purse. In all, £21,735 was paid to directors with the highest receiving £3,835.

The community has been expanding for many years and at a public auction in June 1974, they were able to pay £67,000 to buy Bugbrooke Hall which was renamed New Creation Hall.

According to records, the community acquired more than 20 properties of all sizes between 1974 and 1982 and one of the biggest purchases was the Cornhill Hotel at Pattishall which cost £160,000.

The community also expanded outside Northamptonshire and members can now be found in Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry, Milton Keynes, where they have properties.

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