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Adventist book promoting corporate integrity finds traction among leadership

‘Transparency and Accountability’ a response to recommendations made by church’s auditing service board

Adventist book promoting corporate integrity finds traction among leadership

Paul Douglas, director of the church’s General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) delivers an auditing report at Adventist world church headquarters on October 17. Douglas is editor of a new book promoting transparency and accountability across all levels of church administration. [photo: Ansel Oliver]

Seventh-day Adventist Church officers say a new book promoting integrity among leadership will transform corporate culture within the church and inspire greater confidence among membership.

The book, called “Transparency and Accountability: A Global Commitment of Seventh-day Adventist Church Leaders,” was distributed earlier this month at the Leadership Educational and Development (LEAD) Conference at Adventist world church headquarters.

Already, top church leaders worldwide have pledged to embrace the book’s principles and model them back home. The commitment signals a move toward greater transparency, church officers said.

“Constituents and other stakeholders want to have confidence in church leadership and their stewardship,” said Paul Douglas, director of the church’s General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) and editor of the book.

“The principles and best practices presented in this book provide the basis for leaders to meet this expectation,” he said.

The book includes a “code of conduct” for Adventist leaders anchored in humility, integrity, trust, respect, accountability, collaboration and excellence; a thought paper on transparency within leadership; and best practices for organizational governance, local church leadership and financial administration. It also contains responses from church leaders on how to “promote, model and support” fundamental principles of integrity.

“Leadership needs to set the tone,” one leader said. “Ensure openness. Diminish the risk of people being afraid to talk just because of organizational structure or lack of communication channels,” another added.

In recent years, church leaders have called for increased transparency and accountability among Adventist leadership worldwide, stating on numerous occasions that “communication is at the core of effective governance.”

“As a Christian organization, there is a greater expectation for each person, but particularly leaders, to ensure that behaviors conform to biblical principles, legal parameters, professional standards and denominational policies,” Douglas said.

The book is a direct response to recommendations made by the church’s auditing service board, among them to “promote a culture of transparency and accountability that is modeled by church leaders at every level of the denomination.”

Another recommendation urges leaders to “revise policies to incorporate best practices related to the receipt, response and resolution of issues identified in audit reports.” The recommendations came after the frequency and recurring unresolved nature of certain audit findings raised concern among church auditors.

Adventist world church President Ted N.C. Wilson, who oversaw the book distribution at the LEAD Conference and urged leaders to pledge their support, has advocated for greater transparency during his administration. At a church business meeting last year, he urged church leaders worldwide to make corporate integrity a matter of personal responsibility.

“On committees, ask questions,” Wilson said. “Don’t assume somebody else is going to take care of it.”

The book takes this idea a step further, prompting leaders to “create a corporate culture where openness is valued and rewarded.”  

The benefits of cultivating a high level of organizational transparency can be “huge,” said Adventist world church Secretary G. T. Ng in a thought paper called “Transparent Leadership,” included in the book.

“Transparency boosts a leader’s credibility. Greater credibility engenders loyalty, commitment and optimal performance. Organizations benefit from a more efficient process of decision-making as followers are more informed, and problems are more readily identified along the way,” Ng said.

-- Click here download a pdf of “Transparency and Accountability: A Global Commitment of Seventh-day Adventist Church Leaders”