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30 January 2017 | Watford, UK [John Surridge / tedNEWS]  On Sunday, 22 January General Conference Associate Secretaries John Thomas and Claude Richli flew to the UK, from Washington DC and Bangkok respectively, to help lead the first ever TED run Secretariat evaluations covering both Union and Conference level. Trans-European Division Secretariat had evaluated all the Unions within its territory during the previous five years, but this was the first time to roll out the programme to Conference level using a brand new, electronic evaluation tool.

Team with BUC Office StaffTeam with BUC Office staff 

Under the spotlight were Douglas McCormac, South England Conference Executive Secretary, Alan Hush, North England Conference Executive Secretary, and John Surridge at the British Union Conference office, together with their Secretariat teams. Gideon Reyneke, Executive Secretary of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division flew in from Johannesburg just to observe the process. "We'll soon be repeating this process in our territory," he said, "and we need to know how it all works."

Team with NEC Office Staff

"Secretariat evaluations should not be seen as a threat", said Thomas, whose grandfather came from South Wales. "We're here to support and commend and well as to give recommendations on how processes and systems can be improved."

Claude Richli with John Thomas behindRichli, who studied at Newbold College in the late 1970s, also stressed that his role as a General Conference evaluator was to encourage and affirm those working in Secretariat. "However, there is a great deal at stake in the work that Executive Secretaries perform", he said. "Around the world the Church is losing hundreds of millions of dollars because of mistakes or missing data in our contracts, employment records, and other legal documents. If it can be shown that we are not strictly following our own policies and procedures, we are wide open to litigation."

Alan Hush in NEC atticAs part of the evaluation process office staff, directors, and the executive officers of each field were interviewed and asked questions about the internal protocols and procedures in their offices and on their committees. Among the suggestions for improvement were off-site storage for copies of vital paper records, multi-site or cloud storage for the vast amount of electronic data that our offices now generate, the use of recording secretaries on major committees, and a more rigorous approach to archiving.

The evaluations were coordinated by Trans-European Division Executive Secretary, Audrey Andersson, together with Associate Executive Secretary, Dean Papaioannou. They will now be coordinating evaluations for the other Unions and Conferences in the TED between now and the next General Conference Session in 2020.

Team with SEC Office Staff

Andersson sees these as important. “They provide affirmation for the Executive Secretary as a person and the secretariat team,” she says. In addition, the process “gives hands on training in the function of Secretariat, highlights areas of growth, identifies areas where the higher organisations can provide support and training, and directs resources where they are needed and can best be used.”

The evaluation now over, a formal report will shortly be sent to the participating fields. [tedNEWS]


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Esti Pujic, associate editor
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tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division.



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