SPD realigning its structure to be more effective in disciple-making

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Pastor Glenn Townend, Pastor Lionel Smith and Jane Gibson-Opetaia at this week's Division annual meetings.

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

Discussions between SPD, union and institutional leaders have recently been held as part of the usual five-yearly review of the Church’s strategy and operations. Out of those discussions a key issue was identified: there is a need for more alignment and collaboration and greater clarity around roles within the various levels of the Church.

“The unions are saying very, very clearly, we don’t want the duplication of ministries and departments,” SPD president Pastor 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 the discipleship activities of the conferences and local churches.”

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 Division. There will be a new ministry and strategy director who will coordinate the Division-wide five key 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 will continue, which encourages more women to work in every ministry within the Church structure and support them. The stewardship director—also based at the Division office—is funded by the GC, which has indicated it will continue funding the role.

However, 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 with what’s happening at the General Conference (GC), union and local conference/mission levels. Overall the changes will result in one less full-time role at the SPD.

In 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. There will be two new senior roles—a property manager and commercial ministries director. The finance staff changes are a realignment and will not be an increased cost to the Division budget. Within the Division secretariat, a mission support director will be appointed to focus on governance in both union missions with an initial focus on the Papua New Guinea Union Mission. 

Delegates at this week’s Division annual meetings at Fox Valley Community Centre.

Pastor Townend said the changes were considered prayerfully and with the Division’s overarching focus of discipleship in mind.

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

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

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

“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,” Pastor 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.”

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

“The reduction and realignment of personnel has seen a focus on an operational level within the SPD office and a strategic focus designed to improve governance and reporting Division-wide,” he said.

Division 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 yesterday at the Division annual meetings held this week at the Fox Valley Community Centre in Wahroonga. It will be introduced from September 2020.