Church Society Trust (CST) is a limited company which owns the rights of presentation (advowsons) to a number of English benefices. The Trust seeks not only to be involved in appointments but to assist churches and alongside Church Society to provide resources, advice and advocacy. In all this our desire is to promote the honour of Christ by ensuring that churches preach Christ crucified which is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1.23-24)
The Trust was registered as a company in 1903 under the name Church Association Trust (CAT) with the purpose of acting as a Trustee for various charities on behalf of Church Assocation and of holding their advowsons.
In 1950 the National Church League (NCL) was renamed as Church Society and incorporated Church Association. In the same year CAT was renamed as CST and the patronage rights of the League were transferred to the Trust.
Both the League and Association had a long history (back to 1835 and 1865 respective) of defending the reformed protestant and evangelical doctrines of the Church of England.
The patronage rights of CST and its forebears were acquired by gift or, in some instances by purchase. in many cases the Trust was named as one trustee alongside other individuals so that as the latter died the Trust would be the sole trustee.
Whilst times have changed our main concerns as a patronage trust remain the same. We see the role of private patrons as vitally important in the church today. Where there are conflicting pressures towards congregationalism and centralised control private patronage is not simply a relic of history but a reminder that the Church of England as a national Church is a rich fabric of interconnecting threads.
The members of Church Society Trust are appointed by the Directors of the Trust with the approval of the Council of Church Society. At present the membership is restricted to 40.
Up to seven Directors are appointed annually by the Council of Church Society from amongst the members of the Trust.
The Directors meet most months.
The Patronage Secretary oversees the correspondence, which should be sent to the Society's offices in Watford.
At present the Directors are:
- The Revd Dr Mark Burkill
- The Revd John Cheeseman
- The Revd Paul Darlington
- The Revd Dick Farr (Chairman)
- Mr Terry Musson
- The Revd John Simmons
The Trust is one of the constituent members of the Evangelical Patronage Consultative Council and is represented on the Patrons Consultative Group.