Why a Working Charter for the CBSM is needed (2007)
Since CBSM came into being as a result of a decision taken at the Assembly Leaders’ Conference in 1996 and officially endorsed at the ALC 1998, the CBSM had generally functioned under a cloud of uncertainty and apathy in the initial years. There was also the difficulty of garnering support from assemblies as a whole. In spite of all these, the Lord’s hand was with the decision and those who were called to the task had soldiered on. Praise God, the spiritual, financial and moral support of many assemblies both, large and small have been unwavering and have kept CBSM going in the last 10 years. During this period, a steady foundation for CBSM to build on was laid. Many good decisions have been taken both at ALC and by the Main Committee, and a few projects have been initiated or nearing completion.
The tasks that CBSM has been called to by God through the Leaders of our Assemblies are huge and have to be approached and implemented with care. They involve an on-going process of development, implementation, evaluation and growth which require, apart from hard work, clear direction, consistency, continuity and stability. Additionally, the fruits may not be immediately evident.
The proposed Working Charter is an attempt to bring clear direction, consistency, continuity, accountability and stability to the CBSM.
In many ways, the content of the proposed Working Charter is not new. In it, is gathered together many of the decisions from the minutes of past ALCs and CBSM Main Committee meetings. It is merely putting down more clearly in writing what has been practiced or assumed or has been sent to assemblies for feedback and comments (‘CBSM ~ Proposal for Greater Effectiveness’ sent to all assemblies on 24th Jan. 2007). The Working Charter sets down CBSM’s aims and functions; defines roles, responsibilities and parameters more clearly so that assemblies and elders who are vested with the authority to make decisions on the extent of their involvement have a clearer picture of what is involved and for new elders and those who are unfamiliar with what CBSM is all about can easily refer to something comprehensive in written form.
Furthermore, as proposals become projects, continuous management and accountability is critical. A case in point is the Christian Brethren Teacher Training Trust Fund. The concern regarding the lack of Christians taking up teaching as a vocation and mission, especially those from our assemblies, started from an ALC paper in 2001. It was taken up again in 2003. Finally, The Life Chapel took the bold step of committing some financial support to the project and CBSM was tasked to work on it. The project CBTTTF was officially launched with a substantial gift from The Life Chapel and also a substantial gift from a brother who wishes to support the project. A project such as this carries with it long term responsibility and accountability. Without a written document of some sort, it is impracticable, indeed irresponsible for ALC and CBSM to take up projects of this nature.
On the whole we do not like too much organization and prefer matters to be kept simple. However, when we are dealing with an entity, such as the CBSM, that is national in scope and responsibility; a spiritual entity entrusted with finances as well; and one intended, God-willing, to last for many years, we would want to remove vagueness and misperceptions which can easily give rise to uncertainty, lack of consistency and continuity and even the possibility of the CBSM going off-track. These will provide fertile ground for mismanagement and for Satan to sow uneasiness and discord amongst us.
A Working Charter for the
Christian Brethren Secretariat Malaysia
- Rationale for setting up the Christian Brethren Secretariat Malaysia (CBSM)
By God’s grace, over the years the number Brethren Assemblies including worship centres, has grown to more than fifty. By the providence of God many Brethren Agencies have also been formed to meet specific felt needs among assemblies in the country. As such, many Assembly leaders felt that a networking link and co-ordination centre to enhance fellowship and co-operation, avoid duplication and enable more effective use of scarce resources is much needed.
- Aims of CBSM
- To encourage and co-ordinate combined activities so that Assemblies can work and grow together in unity
- To be a networking centre for the dissemination of timely and useful information, both local and overseas, for the purpose of prayer and co-operative action
- To assist in the strengthening of the Assembly witness by making resources available locally and overseas.
- To collect and disseminate relevant information and news items among the Assemblies
- To maintain a comprehensive list of all Assemblies in the country.
- To circulate information about special projects and programmes planned and carried out by the Assemblies.
- To compile resource materials developed by different Assemblies.
- To co-ordinate with various Brethren Agencies in coming up with a Master Calendar of all major Brethren events in the country.
- To prepare a list of towns in which Assembly witness can be set up where none exists at present.
- To prepare and circulate a Pan-Malaysian Assemblies newsletter.
- To inform Assemblies of the availability of visiting preachers/teachers and plan, if so requested, the itinerary.
- To organize conferences, seminars and plan the programmes of speakers especially invited by the Assembly Leaders’ Conference.
- To help disseminate information of recognized Brethren Agencies if requested.
- To maintain contact with Brethren Agencies like ‘Echoes of Service’ and similar brethren bodies around the world for mutual support and prayer.
- To receive and circulate information regarding Government regulations, restrictions, requirements, etc. that affect our Assemblies.
- To explore the setting up of a reconciliatory panel.
- To conduct research on the life and ministries of the Assemblies.
- To set up a Brethren Archive
The above list of functions may be added to or modified, as decided by ALC * (Schedule A) or the CBSM Main Committee when they are eventually translated into action and activities.
- The Biennial Assembly Leader’s Conference (ALC)
- Under God, the final authority rests with the ALC* (Schedule A) which grants the mandate to the CBSM to exist and function.
- In the event that the CBSM is dissolved, the ALC is empowered to dispose of all its assets after fulfilling all its liabilities and obligations.
- The decisions of the ALC are arrived at by consensus; and in the case where consensus is not possible, by majority decision of the Elders present at the Special Elders’ Session at the Assembly Leaders’ Conference held biennially.
- The CBSM Main Committee
- Management and Accountability
The management of the CBSM is entrusted to a committee called the CBSM Main Committee which is accountable to the ALC. The Main Committee will be responsible to plan and organize the biennial ALC and ensure that a report is presented at a Special Elders’ Session convened for the purpose and incorporated into the conference programme.
- Representation and Selection
- 1. State/Area Representatives
The CBSM Main Committee will consist of 16 representatives as follows:
|State/Area||No. of Rep.||State/Area||No. of Rep.|
- 2. The representatives will be chosen by the assemblies in the respective States/Areas and endorsed at the Elders Sessions at the ALC. (Schedule B)
- 3. The representatives must be serving Elders. Should a representative cease to be an Elder and still remain in good standing among the local assemblies he represents, he continues to serve as a member of the CBSM Main Committee until a replacement is found or until the next ALC.
- 4. When vacancies occur or are not filled at the ALC, the CBSM Main Committee may make the appointments where necessary.
- 5. Once appointed, into the Main Committee, representatives are expected to carry with them the perspective of the needs and welfare of all assemblies in the country, beside the needs and welfare of their own assembly, State or Area.
- The Chairman
3.1. The Chairman will be chosen at the ALC from among the representatives by the decision of the Elders present at the ALC. He will serve for a term of two years and may be available to be chosen to serve another term. No Chairman will be allowed to serve in the same capacity for more than two consecutive terms.
3.2. The Chairman will be responsible to present a report on the affairs of CBSM to the Special Elders’ Session at the ALC.
- The Deputy Chairman
The Deputy Chairman will be chosen at the ALC from among the representatives by the Elders present at the ALC. He will serve for a term of two years and may be available to be chosen to serve another term. No Deputy Chairman will be allowed to serve in the same capacity for more than two consecutive terms. In the absence of the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman will take over his duties.
- The Secretary and the Treasurer
The secretary and the Treasurer will also be chosen from among the representatives.
- The Quorum
The quorum for the conduct of business of the Main Committee shall be a minimum of six representatives from at least three states or areas. (Schedule B **)
- Operation and Administrative Centre
The operation/administrative centre will be based in the Klang Valley until another decision is made by the ALC. ****
- Decision Making Process
- Proposal Stage
Proposals may be put forward by ALC, State/Area, Assembly or by the CBSM Main Committee.
- Discussion Stage
Discussion of the proposals may be undertaken by the ALC, State/ Area and by CBSM Main Committee. A paper would normally be presented and a technical committee may be set up where appropriate to study the matter, prepare working papers/sort out issues, etc. State/Area representatives will be kept informed and in turn will inform and obtain feedback on the draft proposals from assemblies in the state or area which they represent.
- Completion Stage
Adjustments/amendments may be made to the draft or the proposal itself may be set aside depending on the feedback.
CBSM main Committee will review the final draft and if found suitable will approve it and where necessary submit it to the ALC for final endorsement for consideration for implementation by assemblies in the country with the help of State/Area representatives if necessary.
- Implementation Stage
This is entirely up to the absolute discretion of the leadership of each individual assembly.
The activities of the CBSM shall be financed by free-will love gifts from the assemblies. ***(Schedule B). A financial report shall be tabled at each CBSM Main Committee Meeting.. Any single item or purchase/expenditure which is more than RM1000.00 must have the expressed permission of at least 5 members of the CBSM Main Committee. A biennial audited financial report will be tabled at the special Elders’ Session at each ALC. Two auditors will be appointed at the ALC to audit the accounts of the CBSM.
- Stability and continuance of ALC projects
The Main Committee may appoint a suitable person or a team or a group of trustees where appropriate to take charge of the project in order to ensure its effective implementation and proper accountability. The terms of reference of such persons will be determined by the CBSM Main Committee.
- Assembly Independence and Participation in CBSM activities
The CBSM is not a decision or policy making body for Assemblies. The CBSM is not vested with authority that may be used to undermine the independence of any assembly.
Participation in any project undertaken by the CBSM and financial contributions to such projects are entirely voluntary.
- Relationship between CBSM and Brethren Agencies
CBSM recognizes and respects the fact that God in His providence has raised up various brethren agencies to meet specific areas of need among the assemblies through the passionate concern and sacrificial labour of brothers and sisters whom He has called. Therefore, CBSM shall seek to work with these agencies as partners and fellow-workers to establish and extend God’s Kingdom among our assemblies. CBSM’s role is to co-ordinate, facilitate and complement so as to enhance co-operation and effectiveness.
List of assemblies which constitute the ALC. If there are inadvertent mistakes or omissions, changes, etc., please inform the CBSM so that the necessary corrections can be made. Only outreach centres where the Lord’s Supper has commenced have been included.
|1||Bk. Mertajam GC|
|2||Burmah Road GH|
|4||Island Glades GC|
|5||Nibong Tebal GH|
|6||Sungai Ara GH|
|7||Sungai Nibong GH|
|1||Batu Gajah GH|
|5||Kledang C Chapel.|
|6||K. Kangsar GC|
|1||Kota Bahru C.|
|3||C. Highlands GH|
|4||K. Lumpur GH|
|5||Jalan Imbi C.|
|9||Teratai Mewah GC|
|11||Sri Damansara GC|
|14||Bd. Puchong GC|
|15||Bd. Sunway GC|
- The primary aim is not to limit the number but to keep the number manageable at the same time encourage better all round representation and participation for greater effectiveness. The classification and number of representatives are open to review from time to time as the need arises.
- Selangor and Wilayah P. is regarded as two separate areas although collectively function within the Klang Valley. The boundary is difficult to demarcate.
- This was decided at the ALC 2005 and would be reviewed from time to time by the ALC
Brief History and Background up till the Present
The proposal for a Brethren Secretariat was made at the Assembly Leaders’ Conference held in July 1996 in HCC, Cameron HighLands. It drew all-round support and was formally endorsed at the conference.
A pro-tem committee consisting of seven elders, namely, David Boler, Daniel Jevaraj, Yap Kok Keong, Wong San Tosh, Choo Chee Choy, Ong Hock Chye and Ong Cheng Leng. Christopher Leong was nominated as its secretary. The mandate of the Protem Committee was to deliberate on the details of the rationale, aims, and functions of the Secretariat to be set up. The Pro-tem Committee, with David Boler as the chairman, convened its first meeting on 2nd November to begin its task.
The Brethren Leaders’ Conference held in Ipoh in July 1998 made three major decisions with regard to the Secretariat:
- Agreed formally to the setting up of the Christian Brethren Secretariat Malaysia with the terms of reference presented by the Pro-tem Committed
- The Pro-committee will constitute the Committee of the Brethren Secretariat.
- The Secretariat is tasks to recommend:
- Plans for the hosting of the Asian Assemblies’ Conference AD 2000 in Malaysia
- Plans for the bi-annual Pan-Malaysian Assembly Leaders’ Conference
- Plans for the Assembly Youth Consultation
The first committee meeting of the Christian Brethren Secretariat Malaysia (CBSM) was held on 19th September 1998 with David Boler as the Chairman.
On 5th November 2001, at the Executive Committee Meeting, Choo Chee Choy proposed that Kong Yeng Pooi take over as Chairman and Wong Sai Weng seconded.
It was also agreed that future appointment of the Main Committee Chairman and the term of office be decided at the Assembly Leaders’ Conference.
The question whether CBSM should continue to exist and function in view of the inadequate financial support, apathy and uncertainties it faced was put to the participants at ALC 2003. The consensus of opinion was that CBSM should soldier on.
At the ALC 2005, Lee Kah Kooi, Leong Sea Fook, Jimmy Ho, Choo Chee Choy, Wong Sai Weng, Tan Kong Beng, Stephen Lew, Christopher Leong, and Lim Hong Nian, Yap Kok Keong were chosen as Main Committee Members. Yap Kok Keong was appointed the Chairman.
At the ALC 2005, a discussion paper for Elders entitled ‘A Proposal for enhancing fellowship and co-operation among assemblies located in the different regions of Malaysia’ originating from The Life Chapel, was presented by Wong Sai Weng. As a result, a new CBSM Main Committee structure was proposed and the management and manner of operation was streamlined and sent out as ‘CBSM ~ Proposals for Greater Effectiveness’ to all assemblies for evaluation and comments. This is now incorporated in the draft proposal entitled: A Working Charter for CBSM for further discussion and final acceptance at the coming ALC 2007.