Creating the Compassionate Heart - Salvation Army Canada

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    Creating the Compassionate Heart

    At the territorial social services conference, delegates explored ways to make Salvation Army ministry more effective and Christlike. April 15, 2011 by Julia Hosking
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    Territorial News

    As Creating the Compassionate Heart—the territorial social services conference—drew to a close, Mary Ellen Eberlin, territorial social services secretary, shared what she learned as a daughter of an Alzheimer's patient.

    “Compassion is the ability to recognize the humanness in another regardless of their situation, presentation or struggle," she said. "To express compassion, you have to do something. Allow God to create in you that compassionate heart and commit to releasing it in the work and ministry you have been given.”

    From March 26-29, 355 delegates representing Salvation Army social services ministry units from around the territory gathered in Mississauga, Ont., for a time of refreshment, education and networking.

    This commenced with three pre-conference sessions on Saturday, one of which focused on housing with Dr. Sam Tsemberis, founder and executive director, Pathways to Housing and Housing First.

    “Housing First is a model to addressing homelessness,” explained Bradley Harris, territorial social services consultant. “It's about giving someone a home and then dealing with their addiction problems or mental illnesses. The pre-conference provided us an opportunity to hear from the person who started Housing First and strategize how it applies to our Army context.”

    A chaplaincy session was led by Dr. Gloria Woodland, territorial social services consultant. “The purpose was visioning for the future,” she said, “in particular, how we're going to strengthen chaplaincy and be more intentional about spiritual care.”

    The third session explored restorative justice with Dr. Joao Salm from the Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. The workshop explored the values and practices of restorative justice, which focuses on the needs of both victims and offenders, giving victims more say in the process and encouraging offenders to take responsibility for their actions.

    Conveyors of Hope
    The Saturday evening banquet was the official starting point for the social services conference. Major Campbell Roberts, secretary for program and national director of social policy and social services, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory, presented the keynote address. Using personal examples, he said delegates must engage in bold action and that the people living on the margins of society are often “sinned-against,” that is, victims of others' sin.

    “One Saturday, while I was a cadet in training college, I helped lift onto an ambulance stretcher an alcoholic who had obviously been lying in a dirty, dark corner of a house for a number of weeks,” Major Roberts shared. “As I was looking down at him, he died. The Holy Spirit clearly said to me, 'He was my love child and you let others destroy his life.' The ministry of compassion I learned that morning involved doing something about it.

    “It is our biblical mandate to be conveyors of hope in what is—for some of the people we work with—a dark, frightening and hopeless world,” said Major Roberts. “The Lord requires us to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.”

    Serving Hearts
    The conference included devotional sessions led by Major Kevin Metcalf, territorial secretary for music and gospel arts. Noting that, “We cannot conjure up a compassionate heart by our own resources,” Major Metcalf facilitated opportunities for worship through singing, prayer and Scripture.

    The Sunday morning worship service featured a six-piece brass ensemble from the Canadian Staff Band and male soloist, Cameron Rawlins, Northridge Community Church, Newmarket, Ont., who sang a moving rendition of It Is Well With My Soul. Jason Hildebrand's gripping dramatic presentation of the father of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15) showed God as a father filled with love and compassion for his children.

    Colonel Tracey Tidd, territorial secretary for womens ministries, participated in responsive readings from Scripture and then Colonel Floyd Tidd, chief secretary, delivered the message.

    “A compassionate heart is a heart surrendered to the will of God and the mission of God,” Colonel Floyd Tidd said, referencing Philippians 2:6-8. “It is a serving heart as Jesus calls us to be servants.”

    Exploring the Issues
    Workshops were held on Sunday afternoon and all day Monday, with networking sessions taking place Monday evening. Dr. Marjory Kerr, a Salvationist from Toronto's Yorkminster Citadel, led an all-day session on Monday for area commanders. It addressed emotional intelligence and influencing for organizational impact.

    The workshops explored a variety of issues, such as ministering to clients of multi-faith backgrounds, human trafficking, working with youth, protecting children, stakeholder relationships, housing, addictions, correctional programming, compassion fatigue and working in long-term care homes.

    “As hoped,” Eberlin commented, “the 2011 territorial social services conference provided opportunity for officers and employees to learn, network and experience a time of spiritual refreshment. The conference was a blessing on many levels and I look forward to the continued development of Salvation Army chaplaincy ministries, a continuing commitment to restorative justice and the application of best practices in our sheltering and housing ministries, addictions treatment and correctional and justice services.”

    In Their Words

    “It was a great opportunity to learn different things that I can apply to my ministry unit and community.”—Major Edward Hayden, executive director, community and family services, Strathroy, Ont.

    “It was a truly holistic experience—developing, educating and inspiring body, soul, spirit and intellect toward a more effective and intentional ministry.”—Major Gerald Cory, director of correctional and justice services chaplaincies, Ontario Central-East Division

    “The conference offered a great opportunity to network with others across the territory who are serving others through the mission of The Salvation Army.”—Ivy Scobie, executive director, Regina William Booth Special Care Home

    “I learned the importance of showing compassion to everyone and being willing to enter their life story.”—Cadet Monika Gillard, Friends of Christ Session

    “It was nice to have an opportunity to gather with others in like-minded ministries.”—Captain Ed Dean, Maple Creek Community Church, Sask.

    “The conference provided a perfect measure of knowledge, fellowship and worship, key ingredients in creating a compassionate heart.”—Cathy Oleschuk, program director, Thunder Bay, Ontario Great Lakes Division

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