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The End Of An Era
By : Alan Matheson
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Australian Churches of Christ are now at the end of an era. On July 1 2008, we will have a new constitution, we become a company, there is no AC, and we will have no national agencies accountable to a national organisation. From that day, all of what used to be our national agencies, whether related to theological education, appointment of army chaplains or overseas mission, will self select their board members,write and rewrite their constitutions, and may or may not report to a state conference annual general meeting.

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Comments / Feedback
Harold Hayward
Alan’s comments on the new constitution are timely. For the past twenty years or so Churches of Christ in Australia have been pushed in the direction of an oligarchy by managerial and Pentecostal ideologies. As a senior Catholic academic put it to me recently “in Churches of Christ you have episcopacy with none of its rules”.

In NSW there is no discussion of Conference business – just a few formal motions – making delegate membership a farce. If this is the situation that applies in other states, then we have the prospect of CEOs, often elected on a flimsy basis, controlling federal Council. This would remove a last level of review within our communion. And it will produce some worrisome results – with CCTC and ACOM operating within the same influence systems – if not directly under the same control.

These state and federal governance issues go to the heart of local church autonomy and congregational empowerment, networking and giving. It seems contradictory to be urging local churches to be missional while maintaining centralized control.
Mark Butler
As one of those dreadful State Conference “CEO”s (well, State Minister, in my case), I feel I really must make a response to Harold and Alan, from my point of view. In FACT, the National Restructure grew out of a concern expressed by a number of members of National Council (including all state “CEO”s) about two things; 1. The influence of some on the NC towards centralising control nationally; and 2. The enormous drain on state conference resources (time, money and intellectual energy) which NC had become, when a number of us felt those resources needed to be refocussed on resourcing local churches in vitality and mission (an idea that seems dear to your heart Harold!). The restructure is intended to do two things; 1. To enable Churches of Christ to best do those things on a “national” basis that need to be done nationally, whilst freeing up resources for each State to promote church vitality and mission at a local level; and 2. To promote healthy dialogue/networking between State bodies on matters of importance in our mission and identity as a Movement. From my point of view, I look forward to a more fruitful relationship between States bodies which have, in the past, often been more concerned with what they disagree about than what they hold in common. And, for the record, our focus in South Australia is all about empowering the local church for mission and being servants of those churches, and when I talk to my counterparts in the other States, they are talking the same language.
Harold Hayward
Fine, Mark, but perhaps we don't we need state structures reflecting colonial boundaries. A representative national structure with some decentralisation ( e.g. mission) to regions related to where our churches are located would work better. But you don't get empowerment within congregations unless they have some sense of ownership of collective work. But openness in all our dealings is essential to trust. Blessings!
Dale White
Thank you, Mark, for providing some balance to this discussion.

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