Christ’s values always central

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The Accountability Movement  

By André Cox, General –

The four main work streams of the Accountability Movement are now well established. Their purpose is to help us strengthen accountability across the worldwide Salvation Army. I must stress that this is something that applies to every territory, command and region around the globe. It is therefore essential that we engage in this journey at all levels. The principles apply to the office of the General right down to the remotest corps or smallest Salvation Army program.

There has been considerable progress to report in each of the four work streams, and I am pleased to highlight the following examples:

1. Governance

The International Management Council has given approval for an overview of what needs to happen in this area and why. A reference group has been formed with 15 people from eight countries and has started work. At least five territories are exploring what a governance structure might look like according to their legal constitution or trust deed.

2. Finance

The finance sub-group, formed in October 2014, identified a number of priority risk areas for review, based on an informed assessment of current practice. It has since formulated and developed a number of specific project proposals to mitigate identified risk factors, improve systems and process controls, and foster best practice.

Targeted projects include updating of the 25-year-old “Manual of Accountancy Policies and Procedures”; a review of the key financial indicators reported from territories to International Headquarters (IHQ); an International Property Project to address issues regarding land commercialization strategies and management of title deeds; measures for global capacity building of finance staff and the development of international, internal and external audit functions as “three lines of defense.”

The finance workstream has made considerable progress in a short period of time, with further outcomes against already programmed milestones expected in 2016 and beyond.

3. Safeguarding

The emphasis of our safeguarding work has been on strengthening child protection policy and practice around the world. The IHQ Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) is working on plans to establish an IHQ safeguarding unit, so that a small team of specialists can oversee and support the essential work we must do to build child protection capacity around the world. Mandatory child protection training will soon be introduced at IHQ, together with mandatory police checks for all IHQ officers and traveling employees.

Lessons learned from our experience at the Australian Royal Commission will be of value to us all as we work to develop best practice in every aspect of our work with children and young people.

4. Impact Measurement

At the conclusion of the contract with the Bridgespan Group it was recommended that an experienced practitioner be appointed as an Impact Measurement Coordinator to oversee the five identified pilot test sites and to develop the embryonic “tool kit” that would be rolled out as the basis of the impact measurement work stream. This appointment took longer than we originally thought, but it was preferable to await the appointment of the right person to oversee the implementation of the pilot sites scheme rather than embark on research that might then be counterproductive or abortive.

Continued research is being undertaken among equivalent organizations to keep abreast of initiatives and developments in the field of impact measurement that might prove advantageous to the implementation of the IHQ initiative. Efforts have been undertaken to establish an Impact Measurement Support Group, largely from among those who contributed to the steering committee supporting Bridgespan.

As officers and leaders of the Army, we are called to set the tone and shape the future. We need to give a clear sense of direction and indeed set the example required.

Mary Bennett, Vice President of NAVEX Global’s advisory services, has said: “A culture of integrity must be intentionally shaped. A strong compliance program built on an organization’s values and principles creates the bedrock for a culture that is focused on outstanding quality and business outcomes.” The same principles applied in the world of business apply to a movement like The Salvation Army that is in the business of “saving souls, growing saints and serving suffering humanity.”

Excerpt from The Officer

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A theology of accountability

As outlined by Commissioner Robert Donaldson in a paper presented to the General’s Consultative Council

The source and example for authority and accountability is God.

God the creator, preserver and governor of all things is the source of all authority (see John 1:3-4). He is the head of the church (Col. 1:15-18). It is God who gives to leaders in the church their authority to lead (1 Cor. 12:28). They are accountable first of all to him. If they are unfaithful in its use, authority can be taken away (Matt. 25:14-28).

There is mutual accountability.

We are accountable to God and to one another for our relationships, our actions and our stewardship of resources—for justice, harmony and development within the community. We should not think too highly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3) but value every part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31), remembering that gifts are given not only to leaders. Being accountable to each other requires us to learn how to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) so we can become the mature body of Christ.

Parameters define the limits of authority.

In his teaching—and by calling the disciples to account for their ministry (Luke 10:1-3, 17-20)—Jesus sets the pattern. The parameters are set within the context of relationship with God and of living in the power of the Holy Spirit. When the relationship with God—Father, Son and Spirit—is right, we live within the parameters; then right relationships with one another will follow. When necessary, the exercise of authority may require the administering of corrective discipline.

Authority is entrusted to an individual for the purpose of the common good within the community.

All people participating in God’s mission through The Salvation Army are accountable to God and to one another for staying within the parameters set by the Bible and applied by The Salvation Army. Authority is not about coercion or brute force. It is about leading others in the spirit of Jesus.

It is essential that the different parts of the body of Christ are held to account for the part they are called to do to achieve the common good (1 Cor. 12). For example, some are called to govern while others are called to manage. These are different roles and a separation of powers is required for the common good.

Commitments to accountability

To assist in ongoing development of the Accountability Movement in The Salvation Army, each of the four work streams—governance, safeguarding (child protection), impact measurement and finance—has endorsed the following four commitments:

1. Accountability, measurement and ongoing learning primarily help people to improve their progress on the journey.

2. A faithful culture of accountability will result in more quality and integrity in our work and ministry.

3. Accountability is part of being good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us, including caring for people and his creation.

4. Accountability is strengthened by using a reflective, faith-based way of working (such as Faith-Based Facilitation and the Mission Accountability Framework).

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