Unity and Diversity Recognised at ICL 2017
THE 2017 International Conference of Leaders (ICL) – held in Los Angeles, USA – concluded with a meeting in which Commissioner Silvia Cox (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 the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Brian Peddle) querying: ‘Are you listening?’ and concluded with General André Cox asking: ‘What are you hearing?’
In the early part of the week facilitators trained in Faith-based Facilitation, drawn from the International Moral and Social Issues Council and the International Theological Council, helped delegates in conversations about issues that differ across the world. This led the leaders to a greater appreciation of one another’s cultural perspectives – necessary to guard the moral authority and doctrinal integrity of the international Army – when framing Orders and Regulations. 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 ex-patriot 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 Mr Richard Clark. Having worked for the Army’s legal advisers in London for more than 30 years, he was well placed to speak and answer questions on this subject. 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.
Friday morning gave leaders an opportunity to celebrate recent accomplishments. Progress was noted in finance, governance, The Whole World Mobilising initiative, child protection and women in leadership. The celebration was followed by a concert of prayer led by Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (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.'
Finally, while no formal recommendations came from the conference it was apparent that there was much for which to thank God. It was apt, then, that the final worship session was themed ‘rejoice’ and the General’s message centred on hope.
Report by Major Christine Clement
- Photos from the ICL 2017 can be downloaded from the IHQ Flickr stream: sar.my/icl2017