By Bryan+ Patrick
Let’s begin by doing something that our beloved Bishop Chuck used to do all the time: Let’s throw a skunk on the table. My guess is that most of us reading this blog have not taken the time to read the new constitution for our mission society and, unless someone twists your arm, you probably won’t. I get it. Constitutions usually make for pretty good bedtime reading because of their capacity to put you to sleep. But please indulge me for a minute and let’s talk about why a constitution is important and why you should care about the new constitution that’s in the process of being adopted for the AMiA.
A constitution is first and foremost about identity. Constitutions cannot create identity; but they should reflect and call an organization into its identity. This was an area where our existing constitution—the one we adopted in 2012—honestly needed an update. While our existing constitution reflected our identity, it used legal and canonical language that made it difficult to read and quite confusing for many. To the great credit of Ryan+ and the team that helped to draft this new constitution, language has been both simplified and clarified. Gone are technical titles—Apostolic Vicar, Rector General, etc. Gone are words, terms and phrases that people without a law degree or who are unfamiliar with canon law don’t typically encounter. Gone are nearly 10 pages of text! In their place is plain, concise language that communicates clearly about who we are as a mission and what it is that God has called the mission to do.
Take a read and see if you agree.
Secondarily, constitutions also provide the framework for authority and accountability within an organization. The updated constitution fundamentally changes this framework. Previously, it was the College of Consultors, primarily comprised of bishops and archbishops of our global mission partners, that was vested with ultimate authority in our mission society; it was to the College that there was ultimate accountability. The new constitution amends the role of the College. It removes the authority of the College and makes clear that the College is now only a consultative and advisory body. Under the new constitution, therefore, the mission will no longer have any formal legal accountability to the College. In its place, the new constitution vests the Leadership Team, led by the Lead Bishop and comprised of those he appoints, with this authority. This is a fundamental shift in the mission society’s framework of authority and may prove to have significant implications for the relationships with the mission’s global mission partners in the future.
Identity, authority, accountability: three fundamental issues for lives together as a society of mission and apostolic works. This is why each of us should read this constitution. This is why we should care.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to read this. I hope you believe it’s been worth your time. May God bless each of you and may He bless our mission society in this next season of our common life and ministry together in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.