07 September 2016

'THE fact that you sit here,' the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Brian Peddle) told 82 delegates to The Salvation Army's Catherine Programme Summer School in The Netherlands, 'is for me a sign that God is faithful and meeting leadership needs within the Army.' Opening the 10th annual summer school, the Chief admitted that sometimes it can seem – especially in Europe – that the number of people involved in The Salvation Army is diminishing. But he was encouraged that such a significant group was participating in the event, showing they were committed to the mission and expressing a personal desire to lift their leadership skills to serve within The Salvation Army.

At the summer school, which was held at the Army's Belmont Hotel and Congress Centre, cadets, soldiers and employees in leadership positions gathered to learn about Salvation Army history, doctrine, social work, ecclesiology and principles. This year's delegates were from 15 European countries and aged from 21 to 60.

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The first lecture day started with morning praise led by Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World Secretary for Women's Ministries), who spoke on the theme 'Run – to Make a Difference'. She told delegates that she was a 'walker' for physical fitness but a 'runner' for the Kingdom of God. She challenged her audience to be runners themselves, saying: 'Run with confidence, courage and commitment.'

In his guest lecture the Chief of the Staff spoke about spiritual leadership within The Salvation Army. He challenged delegates not only to be good, but rather to be the 'utmost best'. He spoke about the importance of leadership planning, giving young people opportunities to lead, and emphasised for the mixed audience that it is important that those 'who are called to wear the red epaulettes' [Salvation Army officers] and those who work out their vocational calling and work for The Salvation Army as employees serve together in mission partnership, each bringing his or her own skills and gifts. The lecture concluded with a flurry of questions about leadership, with each exchange underpinning the importance of the subject.

At the previous day's opening meeting, the Chief of the Staff had received the first copy of a game called: 'Darkest England and the Way Out – Revisited'. Using scenes from the poster that had been published with Salvation Army Founder William Booth's well-known book, the game helps workers within The Salvation Army to discover the movement's history as a source of inspiration, making clear the importance of salvation.

In his keynote address the Chief spoke about being aware that the number of vulnerable people is growing. The mission to which the Army offers itself, he said, is great and diverse, requiring quality and committed people. He explained the importance of leadership in The Salvation Army, which must strengthen and support its infrastructure to enable its mission. 

Throughout their time at the summer school, the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle spent time in conversation with delegates, sharing stories about the varied work taking place across Europe.

More information about the Catherine Programme can be found at www.catherine-programme.eu

Report by the Rev Hans Blom
Secretary, Catherine Programme Committee

Tags: Europe