A few days ago Cneifiwr reported that Towy Community Church was a little late in providing the Charity Commission with its annual return. Accounts for previous years had been removed following a change in the church's legal status in 2010, when it de-registered as "Towy Community Church Trust" and re-registered as plain old Towy Community Church.
Since then the church has provided the Commission with the delayed figures for 2010, but anyone hoping that these might cast light on the church's finances will be sadly disappointed because the church apparently falls below the £10,000 threshold which triggers publication of figures.
By contrast, the smaller Living Word Church in Carmarthen reports income and expenditure of just under £29,000 for the year.
Dearly beloved brethren, let us spend a few moments contemplating this miracle. Towy Community Church has persuaded the Welsh Government, the Lottery and Carmarthenshire County Council to stump up the best part of £2 million to finance Phase 1 of its estimated £5 million Project Xcel (bowling alley, 600 seater conference centre, cafe, furniture recycling, debt counselling, performing arts.....). One of the high street banks has also loaned an estimated £500,000 towards the project (secured on who knows what?). Meagre though it was, the church also contributed £17,000 to the project, council chief executive Mark James told councillors in May this year. It also somehow manages to support the pastor and his wife, pay the rent on its offices and pay the rent for the school and other council-owned buildings it uses (assuming that the council is charging rent).
Even more miraculous, the Council Leader, Meryl Gravell, recently proudly boasted that Towy Community Church is the largest social enterprise in Carmarthenshire.
Of course it may be the case that there is some other legal entity through which this funding and expenditure is being channelled, but searches on likely candidate names on the Charity Commission website fail to turn up anything.
In March 2010 a company called Towy Community Church was registered with Companies House, which tells us that the company is dormant with assets valued at £0.
What we are left with is a modern equivalent of the parable of the loaves and fishes in reverse, with the church's revenue apparently now being rather less than it would cost to feed a family of 5, leave alone 5,000.