This item is taken from the Fourth Quarter 2001 newsletter.
Norm Smith writes: In the First Quarter 2001 newsletter I wrote about consideration being given by the Rocky Mountain Conference Executive Committee to a policy statement about "freedom of information" in the conference. I am happy to be able to report that the Executive Committee has adopted a policy very similar to what we had suggested (perhaps better stated than our draft suggestion). We applaud their courage in doing so. We would hope that other conferences will follow their lead in adopting such policies. If you are interested in promoting such a policy in your conference, why not try it the way we did. We did nothing special, we simply talked to our conference president, Jim Brauer, and he said we could propose something. He had the insight to see that accountability and freedom of information are legitimate concerns of church members. I don't want to tell you too much about this man and how I admire the way he operates or you may be trying to steal him away from us. Here is the policy adopted in the Rocky Mountain Conference, in case you want to suggest it to your conference:
Openness & Accountability Policy: VOTED to approve the following
Policy on Openness and Accountability:
Because the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in the priesthood of all believers, and not in a hierarchical form of governance, the following policy and procedures are adopted to provide a clear understanding of the channels and methods for maintaining an excellent trust level between administration/governance committees and the rank and file membership in the local church. Administration exists to serve and enable ministry, not to dictate or "rule."
However, due to the nature of our society, there are legal issues which dictate the necessity for careful governance and compliance as a joint body of believers.
It is expected that a trust level already exists, but if and when that trust should be broken or even worse, violated, it is equally as imperative for the membership of the Rocky Mountain Conference to understand their privilege in seeking additional information and holding the appropriate administrators/governance committee accountable.
1. Current electronic methods of communication will be used to actively disseminate records of conference activities and decisions. Due to issues of financial privacy and personnel issues, not all decisions can be placed on the public forum.
2. The Monthly statement of Financial Activity will be placed on the Conference Web Page.
a. Members wishing a more detailed printout of the statement of financial activity should contact the conference treasurer for a fuller printout.
b. If any request is denied by the Treasurer, please see 3a.
3. Executive Committee Minutes will be posted on the Web page. If there is any hint of a negative connotation, no names of individuals will be included, and there may be some voted actions not included. *
4. All records are available upon specific written request. Conference officers will be of assistance in helping people to know which documents would most directly answer their questions.
5. When answers to questions are not forthcoming, members are encouraged and reminded of the currently available channels for appropriate accountability:
a. A letter in writing to the Executive Committee with copies to each of the members outlining the nature of the original request to the officers, the reasons given by the officers as to why the request was denied, and finally, the reason why the information is important and necessary to still know now.
b. If the Executive Committee turns down the request for information, the constitution provides for individuals to seek through the local churches to call a special constituency meeting. (Include specific language from constitution)
c. If needed the constitution could be amended to provide additional channels for information being released without having to call a full constituency meeting.