01 April 2014

DELEGATES from around the Salvation Army world gathered in Orlando, Florida, USA, for the Global Conversation, an international event held in partnership with the USA National Social Services Conference and hosted by the USA Southern Territory. The Global Conversation was a time of reflective listening, meaningful conversation and enriching appreciation for the internationalism of The Salvation Army. The significance of the event was punctuated with the presence and participation of General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox who not only attended but also actively participated in round-table discussions with delegates. 

A total of 275 people attended the Global Conversation in Orlando either as a participant or observer, with a further 419 people engaged in conversation via the Internet. Online participants spent an average of almost 90 minutes engaged in interactive dialogue.

Commissioner Gerrit Marseille, International Secretary for Programme Resources at International Headquarters (IHQ), recounted the purpose of the Global Conversation at the plenary session on Friday morning and encouraged delegates to keep the conversation going upon their return home. He also offered a prayer of thanksgiving for all that was accomplished. Major Dean Pallant (Under Secretary for Programme Resources), who was the Global Conversation coordinator, asked the question: 'So what now?' He elaborated by asking delegates what God had been saying to each person during these days. He also asked delegates: 'What have you learned?' This thoughtful probing formed the starting point for a 500-word theological reflection which each delegate is required to submit to the IHQ Programme Resources Department upon their return home.

In his keynote address, the General told delegates that God had brought each one of them to the conference for a purpose. He also encouraged his listeners to keep the conversation going. He was frank in his presentation, telling Global Conversation delegates that this is a watershed moment in the history of The Salvation Army and that, as an organisation, 'we are going to have to up our game if we are going to significantly continue to impact community in the days and years ahead'.

The General continued, saying that The Salvation Army is 'a force for positive change – however, the hallmark of our movement needs to be grounded in transparency and accountability'. He spoke about the need to ensure that corruption is banished and, in a realistic nod to the challenges facing the Army today, he acknowledged that good and evil are present in The Salvation Army but reminded delegates that 'no one is above the law!' The General also suggested to delegates that a culture of change is needed in The Salvation Army which will bring it back to its founding roots.

The Global Conversation was a significant event in the history of The Salvation Army. Not only was it a time of deep reflection and an intentional review of strategic questions, it has helped to shape the global Salvation Army landscape and deepened the understanding and need for theological reflection and discussion while creating an appreciation for transparency and accountability in all that takes place.

The General and Commissioner Cox concluded their time in Florida by leading Sunday worship at Clearwater Citadel, which coincided with The Salvation Army's International Day of Prayer for Children. During the morning meeting, the General enrolled five junior soldiers, six senior soldiers and three adherent members. The international leaders were supported by USA Southern territorial leaders Commissioners Donald and Debora Bell, along with officers, soldiers and friends from the territory.

Report by Major John P. Murray, MA, APR
IHQ Communications and Literary Secretary


Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, Africa, Europe, Americas and Caribbean, South Asia, Events, The General