Atlantic Caribbean Union

INCORPORATION - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

INCORPORATION - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
 
Owing to the recent attainment of incorporation for both the South Bahamas and the North Bahamas conferences, I thought to make a few observations. Firstly, I offer commendation to a special committee formed in October, 2011, comprising of Leonard Johnson, chair; Roderick Sands, Paul Scavella, Melvin Lewis, Errol Tinker, Henry Moncur, secretary; Adelma Roach, Isaac Collie and Michael Dean. Particularly, I express profound gratitude to Brother Collie for his persistent and dedicated efforts to obtain the initial incorporation document Given the task of acquiring some form of incorporation as to make it convenient and practical for the day-to-day operation on behalf of the local conferences, without having to rely on the Union for such, the committee sought to incorporate each field. This decision resulted from a shift by the world church to pursue individual incorporation instead of the previous practice of one per country.  The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas was incorporated 1948, and even with a restructuring of the church in 2003, giving birth to the North Bahamas Mission, it operated under one incorporation, the incorporation of the Bahamas Conference. Later, in 2010, with a further restructuring of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas, to include a Union, for the first 8 months of its operation, it functioned by the same incorporation. Following the practice of the past of one incorporation per country, as in the case of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, in the middle of 2011, through an act of parliament, the Union became the incorporated body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas. Nevertheless, it was felt that for convenience, each of the local conferences should have some form of incorporation. Thus, by 2012, an incorporation document was presented by The North Bahamas Conference, and by early 2014, the South Bahamas Conference presented their final document.

What Does Incorporation Mean?
For certain, it does not mean that the three entities in the Bahamas are separate or independent of each other. A look at the constitution of both local conferences would clearly show an umbilical connection. Under Article III captioned Relationships, it states that the conference is a part of the Union, which in turn is a part of the Division (which is the General Conference in a given region of the world). Furthermore, in the Bylaws under Article VI –Officers, it calls for working together of the leadership of the local field with the leadership of the Union.   As a result of incorporation of the two local fields in the Bahamas, each will be responsible for its own assets. This arrangement should make the operation of the local conference more efficient. Accordingly, the main purpose of incorporation is not recognition or independence, but to hold assets and to do business more efficiently and conveniently. With two local fields and a union in one small country, like the Bahamas, it is extremely important that there be unity and cooperation. After all, these entities constitute one church and thus, we speak of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas as opposed to different entities. As such, in relating to the government, NGOs and civic organizations, the Union leadership represents and speaks on behalf of the Adventist Church in the Bahamas. To have each entity approaching the government for crown land or other matters may give a picture of a splintered church thus confusing government, or giving one entity an unfair advantage over another. Even in the way that we introduce and recognize the leadership of the conference versus the leadership of the union is important. Efforts should be made to show a clear connection always bearing in mind that we are one Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas. 

The Way Forward
The purpose of each level of the church is clearly defined in the mission statement of each entity which, “is to facilitate the proclamation of the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6 -12 to all peoples...”   What a significant privilege exists for us in the Bahamas? With a population of 350,000 people and less than 25,000 baptized members, it is obvious that we have to do much work. In fact, the Division Leadership has recommended that a vote be taken at the upcoming South Bahamas Conference session in November, in the event the field decides to restructure, it would not be necessary to call for a constituency meeting resulting in significant cost to the field.  With the consciousness of the second coming in mind, we need to be about our Father’s business. Let’s always remember our purpose for existence. Let’s preach and teach as never before. Let’s live for God at home, on the job, in class and abroad as never before. Maranatha! The Lord is coming!
Leonard A. Johnson,
president , Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists