Not-so-small Group Discussion Heralds Start of 'One Army Live'
THE modest living room at the home of Majors Nick and Kerry Coke (corps officers at Raynes Park, United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland) hosted more than 300 people at the launch of the One Army Live series of discussions. Fortunately for the comfort of all involved, most of the hundreds of Salvationists and friends were taking part online, as part of a live, interactive web chat – the first in a five-week pilot.
Hosted by Major Kerry Coke, co-presenter of the One Army DVD series, the hour-long session included contributions from Raynes Park Corps regulars Joe, Viv, Phil, Gill, Morten, Jennifer, Glenys and Malcolm. Supported by International Headquarters Communications team members David Giles and Gary Rose, Major Nick Coke brought in contributions in real time from right around the world.
The internationalism was demonstrated from the outset, as Morten – a Salvationist from Denmark – opened in prayer in Danish. Underscoring the connectedness brought about by the webcast, he was reunited with Stella – a friend from his home corps – who participated online throughout the evening. Commissioner Robert Street, the project manager and author of the One Army materials, joined in remotely from Stotfold Corps.
The One Army teaching programme uses written and video material to provide an understanding of what The Salvation Army is, does and believes. It seeks to ensure that Salvationists and friends from around the world have the same basic understanding of what it means to 'be' The Salvation Army. And, as Commissioner Street is keen to remind people, 'Essentially, One Army material is centred on Jesus.'
In all, 30 countries were represented during the evening, with the specially-built website and social media platforms Periscope, Twitter and Facebook all being used to share Bible study, prayer and fellowship as ‘One Army’.
The topics included ‘One Life To Live’, which was enriched by one of the online participants sharing a photo of his newborn baby (‘We can confirm life IS an amazing gift!' wrote Steve from the UK). Cultural and societal differences were highlighted through a number of contributions too, with online contributor Oleg offering a timely reflection from Ukraine on war, conflict and unrest: ‘With all [these] difficulties God cares about everyone! Enjoy what you have.’
As the evening progressed, exploring the lives of Jesus and Salvation Army Founder William Booth, some personal testimonies were shared. ‘Jesus is our salvation,’ shared Malcolm at Raynes Park before admitting: ‘And that’s one of the things that I’ve failed to accept. I struggled for many years to give my life to Jesus … The biggest thing that stops people coming to Christ is that they don’t think they’re good enough. Jesus has already died on that cross for us.’
Reaction to the pilot was positive, with comments among the Raynes Park participants including ‘the community was great’, ‘the next few weeks will be really exciting’ and ‘I’ve really enjoyed it’.
Major Kerry Coke was heartened by the success of the inaugural broadcast. ‘It’s been wonderful to do One Army Live and to have people sharing with us from around the world. It just changes the focus – it makes it a much more international thing.’ Addressing those who might have missed the first online discussion, she adds: ‘One Army is absolutely for you – so make sure you join in next week!’
- One Army Live continues at 7.30pm GMT each Wednesday until 10 February at sar.my/onearmylive, where all the videos and resources are also accessible
- The site also includes video footage of the entire first session