The Salvation Army 2017 International Conference of Leaders held in LA
By: Major Christine Clement
The 2017 International Conference of Leaders held in Los Angeles concluded with a meeting in which Commissioner Silvia Cox, the world president of women’s ministries, invited everyone to rejoice. This followed a week attended by Salvation Army leaders from around the world which began with Chief of the Staff Commissioner Brian Peddle querying: “Are you listening?” and concluded with General André Cox asking: “What are you hearing?”
Facilitators trained in faith-based facilitation helped delegates in conversations about issues that differ across the world, guiding the leaders to a greater appreciation of one another’s cultural perspectives. There was also an introduction to the format of the long-awaited rewrite of “Chosen to be a Soldier” (Orders and Regulations for Soldiers). Feedback on this was positive but reflected the many
ways people now get information, especially young people, and the need for a multi-format response.
One of the emerging challenges confronting the Army is where national laws restrict the role of expatriate personnel or the way in which The Salvation Army is registered to legally work within a country. To help delegates understand the constitution of The Salvation Army – framed in British law – and its impact on how the leaders operate within their own territories and commands, a comprehensive outline of the Army’s legal framework was presented by Richard Clark, who worked for the Army’s legal advisers in London for more than 30 years. In a later session, delegates explored the importance of developing leadership for the years ahead, so consideration was given to succession planning and capacity building.
The leaders celebrated recent accomplishments, noting progress in finance, governance, The Whole World Mobilizing initiative, child protection and women in leadership. The celebration was followed by a concert of prayer led by Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, the world secretary for women’s ministries.
After a week in conversation the General posed the question: “What are you hearing?” Leaders agreed that they need to create space and freedom for people to explore a range of relevant issues within their territories and commands. “We have become more acutely aware that the contexts in which we live and work are not the same,” said the General, “and one solution to an issue will not apply across all contexts … We must also guard the fact we are one body, and each part matters.”