November 20, 2019

In the South Pacific, Leaders Realign Structure to Improve Disciple Making

Tracey Bridcutt, Adventist Record

A restructuring at the South Pacific Division (SPD) headquarters is aimed at aligning it more effectively with the Adventist Church’s priorities of disciple making and movement building.

Discussions between the SPD, union regions, and institutional leaders recently took place as part of the five-yearly review of the church’s strategy and operations. Out of those discussions, a key issue was identified: a need for more alignment and collaboration and greater clarity around roles within the various levels of the church.

“Unions are saying very, very clearly, ‘We don’t want the duplication of ministries and departments,’” SPD president Glenn Townend said. “Instead, they are looking to the SPD for strategic direction and high-level insights from research and data that will help them to support discipleship activities at conference and local church levels.”

A New Structure

In response, the SPD has mapped out a new structure, representing a significant shift in how the SPD office provides services and ministry support to the entire region. A new ministry and strategy director will coordinate the five key region-wide strategic areas: Discipleship, Media, Health, Leadership, and Mission to the Cities — which will continue operating at the SPD.

Two new roles will focus on innovation, research, and data. The new women-in-ministry role, which encourages more women to work in every ministry within the church structure and supports them, will continue. The stewardship director — also based at the regional headquarters — is funded by the General Conference world church organization, which has indicated it will continue funding the role.

South Pacific Division (SPD) delegates voted to make administrative structure changes at the regional headquarters. Regional church leaders said the rationale for the changes is avoiding role duplication and strengthening mission and disciple-making initiatives. [Photo: Adventist Record]

Some of the traditional ministries such as youth, children’s, women’s, personal ministries, and Sabbath school will no longer function at the SPD, to end duplication of roles at the world church, union, and local conference/mission levels. Overall, the changes will result in one less full-time role at the SPD.

In the area of finance, the associate CFO role will be discontinued, and a realignment and upgrading of some finance and service positions will occur to allow increased focus on key areas. Two new senior roles were created — a property manager and a commercial ministries director. Finance staff changes are a realignment and will not result in an increased cost to the church region’s budget. Within the SPD secretariat, a mission support director will be appointed to focus on governance in the Papua New Guinea Union Mission.

Focus on Discipleship

Townend said the changes were considered prayerfully, with a focus on discipleship in mind.

“Restructuring doesn’t change our vision, mission, and purpose, which is making disciples and building a movement — it is something we want to make really, really clear,” Townend said.

“Unions have identified a need for strategic visioning and research-based innovation, and the changes will help us to meet these needs.”

Townend affirmed the work of the ministries and departments that will be impacted by the restructuring.

“They have done an outstanding job, working collaboratively with our union personnel and having a significant impact in the places where they have provided training and resources,” Townend said. “I want to acknowledge their hard work and dedication, and we will be supporting them as we transition to the new structure over the next year.

“I know that their ministry has been greatly appreciated by the unions, which are equipped to carry on the work of discipleship.”

SPD general secretary Lionel Smith said the SPD secretariat has already undergone its own restructuring to increase efficiency.

“The reduction and realignment of personnel are designed to improve governance and reporting region-wide,” he said.

SPD CFO Rodney Brady said the change within the CFO team will allow greater focus and attention on specific strategic and growing areas like IT and property.

“The change is both healthy and timely, and reflects the positive growth and development of the SPD that it is now able to strengthen its treasury and service functions,” he said.

The new structure was approved on November 14, 2019, at the SPD annual meetings in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia. It is expected that changes will be introduced from September 2020 onward.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.