Annual Returns FAQs
In order to search the contents of this page, press CRTL and F keys simultaneously on your keyboard and type your query into the pop-up search box e.g. "Circuit Return".
All questions and answers can also be downloaded.
The Annual Returns site was launched in 2013 as a replacement to Schedules A, C and D and their respective supplements (checklists). Doing so means that the collected data can be more easily viewed by the circuit and district and will also mean less repetition of information for the managing trustees.
Once all the data has been collected, then the circuit and district will be able to generate reports on certain aspects of the return, making it far easier to spot any potential issues. There is no national scrutiny of the annual returns as they are intended purely as a checklist to help circuits and districts. See also:
Blank church and circuit property checklists are available all year round to download and print off. They are available as PDF and Word versions within the Property tab of each individual church record.
The full annual return form is made available at the start of the new Connexional year in September. This means that the information entered for the previous year is archived and the online form is open for information entry again.
While the return does need to be submitted online, you can download the questions via the purple PDF VERSION button. Please be aware that this is a dynamic form which means it is linked to the information currently displayed on the webpage. So when you download that form, you will see the information displayed on the various tabs at that moment in time.
Previous years’ information can then be accessed via the sidebar under the Print Reports function via Church Return.
The deadline for returns is set individually by the district. Your District Property Secretary should be able to provide you with the relevant date.
This is required by circuits and districts for Synod reporting and should therefore be submitted locally.
When I go to SUBMIT RETURN on the final page a pop-up prompt says that I am confirming that all the contents have been submitted to and approved by the church council. Our next church council is not until the spring. How should I proceed?
It might be best to wait with the final submission until all the information has been collected and approved as stated. Alternatively, you may want to contact the council members with a copy of the return and make a decision via email ahead of the council meeting.
If the return has already been submitted, then all fields are locked. However, the Web Support Officer can also temporarily “roll back” a return if additional information needs to be entered. Alternatively, it may be due to insufficient access permissions. Your circuit office should be able to assist in this case.
If you have more than one role, you will be asked to select which one you wish to use for completing the return upon entering the site. You can change roles at any time by clicking on the “Role:” display in the top right hand corner. If that does not resolve the issue, contact your Superintendent (for churches) or District Property Secretary (for circuits) to make sure that Update permissions have been set.
- Managing Trustee – This role will allow you to view and edit the local church returns for those that you have permission for. Please note that if you only have circuit trustee permission you won’t be able to edit the circuit return; you will need the circuit level permission instead.
- Circuit Trustee – The Circuit Trustee role allows you to view all church returns within the circuit as well as completing the Circuit Return. You can also view reports on any issues that churches may have through the Property Issue Summaries.
- District – As a District user, you will be able to see the returns of all the churches and circuits within your district, as well as completing the District Return. You can also view reports on any issues that churches may have through the Property Issue Summaries.
Information entered onto the returns site is saved against the property on a rolling basis. This means that you can check and amend property details at any point, even after the return has been signed off, by going in to the specific property record via the purple CHECK DETAILS button.
A new property record is created the moment when a purchase project is raised via the consents site. However, the record shouldn’t appear on the returns site until the purchase date has been entered by the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP). So whilst you should see the property record on the consents site, nothing should appear in the returns list until the purchase has been completed.
Properties may not appear because of incomplete information held on the Connexional Database (e.g. missing purchase year or incorrect trusteeship) or because TMCP had never been informed of the existence of this property. The Web Support Officer can amend or add records accordingly.
If you wish to complete the circuit return for circuit property, including the manses, please click on the purple CIRCUIT RETURN button at the top left of the sidebar. The Circuit Return is only complete if all properties have been checked, and tabs have been completed and signed off.
The closure of a church building is not the same as the “closure” of a church society. If a building closes and is sold, the sale needs to be recorded on the consents site and is primarily dealt with by TMCP.
A change in status of a society needs to be registered via its profile page on the Statistics for Mission site and is dealt with by the Web Applications team.
These two processes, while ultimately connected via the Connexional Database, are independent from each other and need to be registered as such. The church profile on the Statistics for Mission site can be accessed directly via the sidebar of the returns site.
Further guidance is available here: www.methodist.org.uk/onlinesuite/
This is a Local Authority matter and as such not directly related to the change of status / closure procedure as pursued by the Methodist Church. The registration of a building as a place of worship was started under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855. Registration is a voluntary procedure, although a marriage cannot legally take place in an unregistered place of worship (Marriage Acts 1949 & 2013). Further information can be found via the links below:
The TMCP Legal Team are responsible for updating the database when a property is sold. Once this has been done, the record will disappear from the returns site.
When a society registers its cessation via its profile page on the Statistics for Mission site, the process is handled by the Web Applications Team and includes the automated transfer of the trusteeship to the circuit. If the trusteeship of the relevant building is to be held by another society (e.g. if the former society becomes a class of another society and retains its building for worship as before), changes will need to be made manually by the Web Support Officer.
No, this should happen automatically as part of the Annual Update performed by the Connexional Team, but it is worth checking at the end of August just to make sure all the changes as ratified by Conference have come through correctly. This applies to all sections of the Methodist Online Suite.
Make sure that you enter numbers without £ signs into fields that require numerical information. If the answer is “none” or “not applicable”, enter the number zero (“0”).
This field only appears when the property in question is listed as a model trust. Occasionally, the relevant box is not ticked when adding a property to the system. This can be rectified by the Web Support Officer.
Specific questions are asked about the individual properties within the Property tab under Checking Property Information. You will only be able to submit the annual return once all the properties listed have a Y (for Yes) next to them in the Details Checked? column.
However, for the rest of the return, the questions are against the society as a whole. In the case of multiple properties, you are in effect completing an exception report, which may be followed up by the circuit or district.
As a member of a Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP), any Methodist congregation will have a Methodist Church Council, which is part of the Joint Church Council. It has the same responsibilities as a regular Methodist Church Council, and therefore all sections of the return need to be completed. For LEPs, the property details section is already reduced compared to “regular” Methodist churches. You might be able to respond to most of the questions with “no”, but the annual return does need to be filled in.
The property location can be changed by moving the red pin on the map which is part of the Checking Property Information section under each property listed. When new properties had been created in the past, they sometimes had an incomplete or no postcode, which resulted in the map pin being located at zero longitude and latitude, which happens to be in the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, sites with incomplete address details default to being located at Epworth Old Rectory in Lincolnshire. After correcting the location, do not forget to click Save at the bottom of the page.
Last updated September 2018