Church takes bold steps against graft

Lae News, Normal


THE Evangelical Lutheran church of Papua New Guinea is taking radical steps to weed out bribery and corruption and bad behaviour in the church leadership.
It is creating a leadership code for its pastors and church officials and establishing an office of ombudsman.
These were among sweeping changes to the church constitution and by-laws, tabled at the 27th Synod now underway at the Martin Luther Seminary in Lae.
Under the proposed church leadership code, a leader who engages in adultery, gambling activities, drinking and being disorderly in a public place or convicted of a criminal offence is guilty of misconduct in office –  will be dismissed from office if investigated and found guilty.
It states that a church leader who directly or indirectly asks for or accepts, on behalf of himself or an associate, any benefit in relation to any action in the course of his duties, or by reason of his official position, is guilty of misconduct in office.
The code warns church leaders that those who fail to reveal to the church or the church council or any relevant committee the extent of his interest or the interest of any associate in a matter which he has to deal with in his official capacity is guilty of misconduct in office.
It also warns leaders against accepting bribes or properties either for themselves or for persons associated with them The code forbids church leaders from engaging in full time job in the public service or the private sector.
It stipulates that this could bring the leader into significant conflict of interest.
It also states that a member of the church council or executive of the district or relevant committee of the church who proposes to speak or vote on any matter before the council or the district, or committee of the church should declare any interest he has in the matter whether directly or indirectly.
Such disclosures shall be recorded in the minutes of the proceedings of the relevant body dealing with the matter.
The code requires leaders to disclose any interests they may have in contracts that are to be awarded by a church body.
Misappropriation of church funds by leaders is also an offence under the new code.
The use of official church information for personal gain also constitutes misconduct in office under the new code.
It also states that church officials found guilty of misconduct in office will be dismissed from office and will not be eligible to hold any office in the church again.
In the case of a pastor, the code states that he is to be suspended from pastoral duties indefinitely.
Other major changes to the church constitution include streamlining of the church organisational structure to make reporting easier as well as abolishing or streamlining its committees to reduce costs and operate more effectively.
Delegates to the synod have been given until tomorrow to study the amendments and propose any changes before it is adopted.