Model Deed

In settling the preaching-houses upon trustees, John Wesley had to ensure their continued use for the Methodist societies and by authorised Methodist preachers. Various forms of deed were tried, and the Large Minutes from 1763 prescribed a model, or pattern, deed which was a revised form of the 1751 settlement for Birchin Lane, Manchester. This limited the use to persons appointed by the annual Conference (later defined by the Deed of Declaration) and defined the approved doctrine to be preached. Successive Conferences encouraged the use of such forms, rather than local variants, and subsequent forms appeared in the Large Minutes and Code of Rules of 1797. In 1832 a new Model Deed was executed, which was legally able to be incorporated by reference into individual settlements, rather than requiring a full recital in each case. It also safeguarded the heirs of a trustee from inheriting responsibility for debts. In 1838 this new deed survived a protracted challenge by the incumbent of Llanbister in central Wales, with the result that its legal status was established.

The other branches of Methodism (e.g. PM, 1864; BC, 1863; MNC, 1846; UMFC, 1842 and 1865; UMC, 1908) used similar legal forms. All of these were superseded in 1932 by the Model Deed, still similar in form, which was authorised by the Methodist Church Union Act 1929. Existing church property could be transferred onto it by the trustees' deed of declaration and the vast majority was so transferred. Under the Methodist Church Act 1976, Model Deed property became subject instead to the Model Trusts.

See also Birstall Chapel Case; Doctrinal standards; North Shields Chapel Case

  • J.S. Simon, A Summary of Methodist Law and Discipline (1923) pp.62-63
  • E. Benson Perkins, Methodist Preaching Houses and the Law (1952)