The Manchester District Association was initially a body of "gentlemen subscribers" formed in 1859 as a successor to the Lancashire and Cheshire Missionary Society (1821). It was reformed on its present democratic basis, with ministerial and lay representation of its member congregations, in 1891. Its registered charity number is 503753.
There are two bodies: the Unincorporated Association of Churches and the Incorporated Association of Churches. For all practical purposes it is the Unincorporated Association, which meets six times a year, that makes decisions which affect our congregations. The Annual Meeting is held in April.
The Incorporated Association comprises the MDA Officers, Executive Committee (most of whom are also Directors) and any other Directors not at present on the existing Executive Committee. It meets once a year, usually in July, to consider, confirm and approves the decisions taken by the Unincorporated body.
Together with the East Cheshire Union, the Merseyside District Missionary Association, and the North and East Lancashire Unitarian Mission, the MDA form the Provincial Assembly of Presbyterian and Unitarian Ministers and Congregations of Lancashire and Cheshire, the main purpose of which is to share spiritual and social refreshment. (The Provincial Assembly has recently very successfully spearheaded the training of new Worship Leaders).
There are four Trust Funds:
(a) The General Account, the funds of which were derived from legacies and sales of properties at Strangeways, Longsight, Moss Side, Middleton, the Bradford area of Manchester and the Willert Street Endowment Fund. All these funds are now vested in the Incorporated Association.
(b) The Manchester Unitarian Congregational Fund, used specifically for the improvement, maintenance and repair of churches and chapels within the MDA area, and in furthering the religious, educational and charitable work of the MDA.
(c) The Leech Fund, derived from the Rev. Comberbach Leech, an 18th century Presbyterian Minister, and used for the benefit of Ministers in the counties of Northumberland, Lancashire and Cheshire, usually for the purchase of books.
(d) The Manchester Domestic Mission Society, to assist the poor of Manchester, in the words of the Trust Fund: "the diffusion of religious and other elevating influences by ministry among the poor in Manchester".
More details of these Funds can be found towards the end of the MDA Annual Report, under "Memoranda" - Publications (link)
Council, Executive Committee and Officers
The MDA has a Council formed from the Ministers and (at best) two representatives from each congregation, and an elected Executive Committee (which primarily makes recommendations on financial matters), with a President, Vice President, President Elect, General Secretary and Treasurer.
The following Officers are also appointed: the Superintendent of the Lay Preachers' Fellowship, the Secretary of the Lay Preachers' Fellowship, the Preaching Plan Co-ordinator, the Religious Education Co-ordinator, Publicity Co-ordinator(s), Editor of "The Unitarian" monthly magazine and Manager of "The Unitarian". There are at present four Honorary Members, although the Constitution allows for up to seven.
The MDA is represented on Greater Manchester Churches Together, The Provincial Assembly, The Manchester Branch of Christians and Jews, and both Manchester and Cheshire Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education.
The Manchester District Association and the East Cheshire Union support each other's events, and Worship Leaders conduct services in both Districts.
Officers and Executive Committee 2009/10
President: The Rev. ALEX BRADLEY
Vice President: MARIAN NUTTALL
President Elect: KEN JOHNSON
Treasurer: MARTIN G. WEST
General Secretary: The Rev. PENELOPE JOHNSON
Officers of the Lay Preachers' Fellowship:
Rev. Dr. ANN PEART (Superintendent)
GEOFFREY HEAD (Secretary)
Religious Education Co-ordinators:
The Rev. Dr. VERNON MARSHALL
Tel: 01204 841685
Executive Committee as at 31st December 2009
The Officers listed above, together with:
The Rev. ANDREW PARKER
The Rev. MICHAEL DADSON