Christ salvation

The Salvation Army International – ICL 2022, Limitless God: new wine in new wineskins

September 28, 2022

International leaders gathered on Monday, September 26, 2022 to hear and reflect on an engaging and thought-provoking presentation on Identity given by Commissioner (Dr) Ted Horwood and Commissioner Debbie Horwood, QGI International Secretaries for Program Resources.

Officers worked together in contemplation around tables while others joined in the conversation via live stream, all accompanied by the efficient translators in the conference room. During a busy working day punctuated by focus groups, the Chief of Staff, Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham, invited officers to participate fully in the guided conversations that followed the official contributions. He said, “We are very keen to hear as many voices as possible.

Commissioner Ted Horwood challenged delegates to think about what they consider to be the main elements of our ministry and our message. Emphasizing that the General actively seeks the opinion of international leaders, he stressed that the day’s work was not an academic exercise. He said: “Not only is the general looking for opinions on how best to shape the Salvation Army of the future, but he also wants to know what its leaders are willing to intentionally implement. Leadership is synonymous with change. A change that will advance our ministry and mission and prepare us for the future.’ Speaking personally, he added: ‘I don’t want my children to know about my generation’s army. I want them to see a renewed army, relevant to their generation, and led by people who understand that new wine must be stored in new wineskins.

Plenary sessions began at specific times throughout the day, with leaders initially tasked with examining aspects of The Salvation Army‘s identity that advance the Salvation Army’s mission or reflect to modifying those that do not.

A balanced stool

Healthy organizations are recognized as those that are fit for purpose and functioning well. Leaders were asked to think about the functionality of a stool that balances perfectly on three legs of equal length. A phrase such as “Save souls, cultivate saints and serve suffering humanity” properly structured could be a good representation of The Salvation Army. But if one leg is shorter than the others, the stool will be unbalanced and unsuitable. Commissioner Debbie Horwood challenged leaders to discuss two questions: Where is there an imbalance in your area of ​​responsibility and can you identify areas of weakness or inadequacy in the Army?

Leaders listened intently to a presentation that posited the nine specific characteristics that Commissioner Ted Horwood says can form the foundation of an organization. These set the tone for the day’s discussion of the future of the movement and included: Polity (church governance), that we are ‘people of salvation’, mission statement, dual ministry of personal salvation and social action, women in ministry, military metaphor, sacramental position, our Wesleyan theology and that we are culturally assimilated (nationally relevant to the culture in which we operate). Delegates were also asked to consider and highlight any topics they believe should be an important global priority. Two deep but fundamental questions were debated: what advances the mission of The Salvation Army today and what limits it?

Possibility of comments

Commissioner Ted Horwood said this was the start of a dialogue that must continue. Concluding the session with an opportunity to share feedback from the group, comments included that: these questions were best addressed not by a global response but by a contextual zonal response; that the global deployment of officers required a willingness to adapt to the culture of the host territory and that the obstacle arises when officers export their own culture without wanting to assimilate to their new culture; that the Salvation Army believes in and affirms a sacramental life; that there is a need for courageous global discussion to determine the “non-negotiables” of the Salvation Army in this 21st century context; that God is with us; that we believe we should be champions of who we are in Christ; that the Salvation Army as a movement must recognize the difference between our articulated identity (what we say we are) and our operative identity (what we actually do); that the possibility of innovation should not be crushed; that we should focus on the development of young people and officers in need of continuity; that the army needs to strengthen its identity; that we recognize that the single army is an army of diversity; that we fully recognize that women have a fundamental right to preach and to be appointed to roles that recognize their gifts; that we need to emphasize salvation, holiness, and integrated service; that the military must recognize a diversity of cultures, different styles of uniforms and a variety of musical expressions, but must not compromise on theology; that looking to the future, the Army must maintain a sacrificial orientation with unconditional love, and that people need to feel heard and understand the decisions that have been made in order to understand and embrace the way to be continued.

The International Conference of Leaders will not make recommendations as a result of this work, but views will be collated and reported to the General for further consideration.

Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham closed the day by indicating that delegates from Russia, Africa, South Asia, the Americas, Europe and the South Pacific and East Asia area were able to participate in the discussions of the day thanks to the remote access provided by the technology.

QGI Communications

Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, Africa, Europe, Americas and Caribbean, International Leaders Conference 2022, South Asia, The General, News