The Staff College Open
This article appeared in the 21 October 1950 edition of The War Cry. It tells the story of the opening of the Staff College, which was a predecessor to the current International College for Officers.
The Staff College Open
General performs dedication ceremony – first officer-students arrive
The last of the plans projected by the General at the High Council which elected him to the supreme leadership of The Salvation Army has reached fruition in the opening on Tuesday of last week of the International Staff College in South London. Today officer-students from many lands are being welcomed by the Staff College Principal, Assistant Principal and staff and tomorrow a nine-weeks course begins its crowded curriculum.
The opening ceremony, attended by about sixty leading officers and distinguished friends, began under the leadership of the Chief of the Staff. A prayer by Comr. John S. Bladin that ‘the work of God through the Army might be the more effectively prosecuted as a result of the contribution this college is to make,' and a song led by the British Commissioner evoked a warm respond. Lt.-Commr. Fred Hammond, the Principal, read from the Scriptures before the Chief spoke of the General's hopes and plans for this specialized training centre for officers and of the pleasure of all that the General himself was able to be present to declare the building open for its high purposes.
The Chief of the Staff said that not only were the purposes of the place international, but that the furnishing and equipment of it had been fully international, too. Students would sleep warmed by blankets sent from Australia and sheets given by the USA, on pillows from Canada, would rise to walk on carpets given by America, Pakistan, India, Canada, Scotland; draw back curtains sent from the United States and look at pictures from Scotland, Denmark, Belgian Congo, Holland, Norway; pass down a stairway carpeted by New Zealand; sit in chairs given by France; rest in a room furnished by Sweden; eat where Switzerland's gift had provided china, tables and chairs; find beauty in ebony elephants sent from Ceylon; tables from West Africa and gifts from many another territory. Items so far mentioned have been only a small part of the total presentation from each country or section of Army work, gifts valued in the aggregate at more than £2,000. Mrs. Commr. Allan, to whose industry and energy in organizing these gifts the General paid tribute, has supplied also the names of many individuals who were proud to have a share in the equipping of the institution.
The General began by greeting those whose presence provided further reminders of the Army's internationalism-Mrs. Lt.-Commr. Lord, whose husband is still isolated in North Korea; Lt.-Commr. and Mrs. R. Hoggard, on the way from America to New Zealand; Col and Mrs. Wm. Dray, newly arrived from Canada to take up responsibilities in the British Territory, for which the Colonel is the new Chief Secrtary; Lt.-Col. And Mrs. W. Smith, travelling from New Zealand to new duties not yet made known-and paid tribute to Commr. Alfred G. Cunningham (R), the ‘distinguished principal of the Army's earlier staff college.'
‘The opening and dedication of this college will give joy to our comrades throughout the world,' said the General. ‘The Founder saw the value of training his staff officers,' continued the speaker. ‘He needed men all over the world who were with him in principle. No army can do well if its staff work is poor,' asserted the General. ‘It is in the interests of the whole of our movement that we train our staff.'
The General traced the history of first Staff College and said that when the officer-students arrived today (Monday) they would find that spiritual things were still having first place in staff training.
‘We are essentially a spiritual movement.' He spoke of the Army's social work as fundamentally ‘redemptive,' and referred to the increasing difficulties of ‘world missions' which were hampered by the feeling that in some of the new lands where authorities could find reasons for not renewing the visas of people whose avowed intention was the preaching of the Gospel, they would refuse it. He outlined the kind of studies the students would take and made reference to the educational and home staffs who would care for their well-being.
Mrs. General Orsborn gave voice to the desires the words of the General had awakened in all hearts. She asked that God might bless this house with His presence continually, since here would be gathered those who would be seeking first His Kingdom for the very various parts of the world from which they would come, and that in the fellowship, as well as in the studies and the ordinary running of the place, there might be that quickening of spirit which would speed the day of Christ's victory.
The Chief of the Staff announced that the courses would last for nine weeks, after which overseas visitors would see something of various aspects of Army work in Great Britain before returning to their homelands. Approximately four sessions would be held a year and, apart from studies and discussions led by the staff, visiting lecturers would include Salvationist experts in various fields as well as non-Army friends of high distinction who had special knowledge to impart.
The college, situated in Sydenham Hill, South London, is know as the ‘Cedars' and has secluded grounds and quiet surroundings which make it ideal for its purpose.