Belonging to a fait community makes life meaningful to many people. But without unity and power to achieve, the commitement is often diluted.
Everyone who is a member of an organization, or an association has a relationship to why they are involved. They share the purpose of the association, and desire to participate in the fulfillment of its purpose. And in a modern social system, structures have been set up to ensure participation, security, and predictability in the association.
An organization that both obligates and gives rights
To make it easy for the church as a whole, and to bring understanding of how the organization affects church life, and how one can contribute, the Magazine has created its own podcast. In the latest episode, Trond Eivind Johnsen and Tore Aslaksen from the BCC Federation’s secretariat, are the guests.
“We are part of society, and when we are well organized and fulfill our obligations in society, we are on a solid footing when it comes to our freedom of religion and other rights”, Trond Eivind Johnsen says and continues:
“What in political science is called the “social contract” – which is the unwritten agreement between the individual and the state – means that we all submit to the laws and rules of the authorities in exchange for rights and freedoms.”
Johnsen has been involved in developing the legal structures in BCC in recent years and says that the organizing is linked to the demands and expectations society has towards us as a religious organization. The structure of the BCC Federation has been developed, among other things, by looking at how similar churches have set up their international organization.
Tore Aslaksen, who has also had a part in the process, emphasizes that even though the structure is new from a legal point of view, it is part of a long-term development that goes back to the beginning of the church.
Swipe right to see a legal timeline for the church:
Johan O. Smith’s conversion
Johan Oscar Smith converted on board the warship Thor the night of May 17, 1898. This is regarded as the church’s founding date. There was no formal organization throughout the first part of the 20th century, but there was no need for this either. It was only when the friends became more numerous and needed meeting halls that we have seen the structure take shape.
A new periodical
The paper Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) is established and published as a monthly magazine. This was the beginning of what would become Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatter’s publishing house, which manages the church’s overall musical and literary heritage.
“Consecrated to the Lord, we pray that the magazine will serve the believers in shedding light on the paths that lead to a deeper life of fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. The magazine’s goal is to convey the truth leading to faith and godliness, Titus 1:1.”
(Johan O. Smith, in the first issue of Hidden Treasures in January, 1912.)
Within a few years, the periodical has subscribers in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.
The first meeting hall is built
The church gets its first meeting hall, in Nordre Enggate 7 in Horten, Norway. There is no longer enough space for house meetings. Johan O. Smith and others take out a mortgage on their own homes to raise funds.
The church in Oslo purchases a property
In a document called “Regulations for the property in Vogtsgate 35, Oslo”, it was made quite clear that the property should belong to “the assembly in its entirety and is inviolable and indivisible in that sense” even though some representatives had been appointed to manage the property on behalf of the church. In 1944 we see similar phrasing in a real estate document written for the church in Horten.
Trust for “the unorganized assembly” in Vogts gate.
The documents show that those who were responsible for the church in the early days were concerned with order and righteousness and saw the importance of using legal tools to ensure the rights of the church.
The Nedre Brunstad farm is purchased
Nedre Brunstad farm was purchased. In an interesting protocol from the leader’s meeting at Torsteinslåtta that year, regarding the purchase of Nedre Brunstad farm, the term “The Christian Church” is used for the first time in a formal document. It is a very clear reference to Johan O. Smith and the publication Hidden Treasures.
Development in the organizational structure
Growth and development in the church leads to a clearly defined organization. Formal bylaws were introduced in 1993, as well as a formalized board of Elders and an Assembly of Representatives. Thereafter, in the early 2000s, the church was registered as a religious organization in norwegian public records.
The BCC Federation is constituted
Over 300 people from various local churches sign the Declaration of Incorporation. It states that the BCC Federation was founded in reverence and gratitude for those who have built the church to this day.
A long-term and robust international structure
With activities in over 50 countries, there is currently a need for a more comprehensive and regulated basis, and an international legal structure. The BCC Federation has therefore been established as a central federation for this activity, and therefore previously unorganized activities are being organized.
“The point is that we want to build a long-term, robust structure and not something that is changed every other year”, says Johnsen.
“And we do this to help ensure that the unity and the power to accomplish that characterizes BCC can continue”, Aslaksen adds. “We experience that a well-organized structure with clearly defined roles for responsibility and authority, good procedures, as well as business plans and budgets, are necessary tools for us to be able to succeed.”
Do you want to contribute?
There is no doubt that the church will carry out a lot more in the coming years, and will need all the good talent that wants to be involved in this work. People with specialized skills and professional competence, who want to help accomplish something for the church’s purpose, were encouraged in the podcast to get in touch. However, there is also a need for anyone who wishes to contribute.
The better we understand what we are a part of, and how the church’s structures are organized, the better we can contribute. And if someone is nonetheless not interested in organization, then we recommend that anyone who is passionate about the church’s purpose, to be active where one can and promote all the good things that are taking place in society that we are part of. Then there will be unity and power to accomplish at all levels of the church.
If you want to become more acquainted with the background, purpose and development of the BCC Federation, we recommend reading these articles: