19 October 2016

THE latest meeting of The Salvation Army's International Theological Council (ITC) was hosted by the France and Belgium Territory. As well as meeting together for discussion and contemplation, members of the council were given opportunity to share with local Salvationists and see some of The Salvation Army's ministry in and around Paris.

The first day was a Spiritual Day held at the historic Palais de la Femme, with Salvationists from 10 different corps (churches) attending. Territorial Commander Colonel Daniel Naud welcomed members of the ITC before Colonel Eliane Naud (Territorial President of Women's Ministries) led the congregation in vibrant singing. Members of the ITC contributed throughout the day with testimonies and Bible messages.

Throughout the Sunday, excellent music contributions were shared by various groups, including the territorial band, a gospel swing group and a group from Boulogne-Billancourt Corps. In the afternoon meeting the message 'Thank God for Theology' provided focus on the way in which the gospel can be communicated to various groups of people – including those who might sometimes be marginalised – and needs to be shared as good news. Theology as something practical was a theme that would continue to recur throughout the following days of the ITC meeting. The territorial leaders concluded the afternoon with prayer for the ITC members and a benediction.

The majority of the remainder of the council’s five-day meeting focussed on the General’s assigned priorities, and a significant amount of work was undertaken. Some of this work is part of a project jointly undertaken with the International Moral and Social Issues Council. The ITC also considered some current theological trends and challenges. 

On Tuesday afternoon the formal business of the ITC was suspended while Chief Secretary Lieut-Colonel Sylvia Arnal took members on a tour of Salvation Army programmes in Paris. At La Cité de Refuge, the council members witnessed the care undertaken in a Le Corbusier-designed facility that was built more than 80 years ago and is still being studied by architectural students. Practical theology was at work among people who are refugees, or who experience various forms of disadvantage or addiction. 

The next visit was to a boat on the River Seine named after Major Georgette Gogibus – a French Salvation Army officer who was famous for her work among the disadvantaged. The boat is a place where today's Salvation Army brings a focus of care on many people who experience addiction or homelessness. 

The ITC is grateful to the France and Belgium Territory for the hospitality shown during its time in Paris. 

Report by Major Geoff Webb
ITC Vice-Chair

Tags: Europe