Structure of CPA-USA
With the re-establishment of CPA in the United States questions have been asked. What is the overall structure of CPA-USA? Does CPA-USA have chapters? Does CPA-USA require national membership? Does CPA-USA have dues? Do I have to sign anything? How is over site of CPA-USA provided? In addressing such questions it is important to consider three basic organizational styles. No one style is right and each accomplishes individual purposes.
Style number one functions like a paramilitary organization. Leadership and authority is offered by someone who is directly in charge. Often times this appears as a fixed power and has a tendency to become encumbered with philosophies and rituals derived from the individual passion of one person. It also has a tendency to promote more personal preferences than a set of fundamental basic principles. This can result in inflexibility and fear of experiencing change. When recognized by those seeking involvement and desiring less stringent methods, it is discouraging and eventually dismissed or abandoned.
Style number two takes on the form of a democracy. It is structured utilizing a board of directors and an overall appointed director. Those involved or holding membership often nominate, elect and even revoke various positions. It represents a model to promote somewhat larger groups of like minded and focused individuals. It can however, have a tendency to promote various doctrines influenced directly by the core groups own beliefs but, divided upon by others at large. The organization is often perceived as drawing its identify and purpose from the core group rather than a sovereign God. Those seeking involvement can see this as a club or even therapy group with a fixed agenda. Over time those closely involved can even look reverently, as well as those on the periphery with disappointment, to established positions.
A third style is neither a paramilitary or pure democracy where any one person or where the majority rule. This third style resembles more closely a republic. Diversity and variety are realized and appreciated within the larger body of believers but, not necessarily emphasized. The desire of those overseeing the organizational structure is to reach mutual decisions and mutual accountability without compromising basic principles of the Christian faith. Organizationally leadership relies upon the openness of the Spirit of God with all involved agreeing together subject to the Lordship and guidance of Jesus Christ. And, in doing so seeks to avoid exclusiveness or becoming ingrown. Emphasis is also placed on not neglecting or bypassing the local church or in emphasizing any particular denomination. The focus remains on what the Christian faith claims in common. And, although important to recognize, does not focus on unique diversities, influence or persuasion. Accountability is provided with sensitivity based upon scripture. Involvement seeks to avoid interfering with the privacy of another’s life or in fault finding that can cripple fellowship efforts.
Each of these styles seeks to meet needs in their respective ways. Internationally CPA-USA can incorporate any of these styles as well. However, it is the desire of CPA-USA to maintain and encourage the third style. The re-established CPA-USA exists as a 501 3c based initiative under the ministry direction of CCGM. (See the CPA-USA statement of faith for additional details)
The re-established CPA-USA desires to see others drawn together by a platform of unique careers. A close group of individuals who desire to effect change and, although from different denominations and nationalities, desire to follow Christ, to the best of their abilities. But, who realize they have not yet become the complete person God desires them to be.
CPA-USA also recognizes that many officers claim individual followership. But, they may not necessarily voluntarily join others in celebrating and living out the faith. For a variety of reasons they decide to remain outside local fellowship and sometimes outside the universal body of believers known as the local church. For others there is a blind optimism to doing something with no apparent basis or merit. They resist being asked to step into the unknown just to belong. They sense superficial solutions and disjointed activities. And, still others engage in the things they see as worthwhile and relevant to supporting regular re-entry into an already consuming career, lives and daily activities.
CPA-USA believes it can best accomplish its core purpose as envisioned by Catherine Gurney with a very limited amount of national structure and allow local interest to capture the overall vision and purpose of CPA-USA.
The CPA-USA website will serve as a primary resource for all those interested in finding a balanced life with greater recognition of the positions and responsibilities given those serving in the Criminal Justice System. Realizing the significance of the original vision of fellowship, prayer and Bible reading, officers are encouraged to seek gathering together. The CPA encourages officers to either locate existing groups, under a variety of names serving police and correctional officers. Or, simply begin meeting in small groups regardless of what name is chosen. CPA-USA is not a franchised name! Feel free to use it.
In deciding to join or establish a fellowship group strive to rotate the responsibility that comes with meeting together. Focus on significant topics of discussion, devotions, Bible study or praying for one another between fellowship times. This site offers practical ideas in those areas.