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Jul27WedSalvationists in Norway join public demonstrations of love and unity. Update July 27 July 27, 2011
Salvationists in Norway have been a comforting presence in the public displays of remembrance for all affected by the bomb and gun attacks that killed at least 76 people on Friday 22 July. The Salvation Army's leadership in Norway asked that, w here possible, Salvationists should wear uniform or items of clothing featuring a Salvation Army logo so that members of the public can identify them as people who can offer prayer and words of comfort.
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Members of The Salvation Army joined the 'Rose March' in Oslo and other cities. The gathering in Oslo, attended by more than 150,000 people, was a time of shared remembrance and grief, with appeals being given for people to show love and to stand together in the face of hurt.
Salvation Army officers and soldiers also joined the crowd in front of Oslo University where the royal family, prime minister and many others held a minute's silence on Monday 25 July.
Colonel Jan Peder Fosen (Chief Secretary, Norway, Iceland and The Faeroes Territory) writes: 'Salvationists in their uniforms and others with a Salvation Army logo on have had a great response from people talking to them on the street. We have received phone calls at territorial headquarters from people who simply want to talk over some of the things that have happened. Officers on the building are handling these calls.'
The territorial youth department has sent a letter of condolence to the Labour Party's youth organisation, many members of which were killed in the atrocities.
The colonel says that so far no Salvationists are known to have been killed. There are, however, victims who have known links to Salvation Army corps (churches). Corps officers are counselling people who have lost friends or family members.
One of the most moving stories reported by the colonel comes from The Salvation Army's harbour light rehabilitation work. He says that some of the men being treated through the programme made donations which they put together to buy flowers to place with the 'ocean' of tributes outside Oslo Cathedral. He says: 'They wanted also to show their respect.'
More than 200 children and leaders gathered at a five-day Salvation Army camp outside Oslo on Sunday, to take part in activities including dance, music, singing and drama. A Salvation Army counsellor has been available at the camp and gave counselling to all the leaders on Sunday.
Colonel Fosen says: 'It was most moving when many of these 6 to 13-year-old children wrote in their own words prayers about the tragedy and placed them on a wall. [There were] beautiful words about love and sorrow.'
He concludes by saying that Salvationists and friends in Norway are 'truly grateful' for the 'many emails, letters and words of prayer during these days from The Salvation Army around the world'.
Norwegian Salvation Army Offers Prayers and Support Following Explosion and Shooting
Update July 24
Salvation Army officers in Oslo have coordinated a response to meet emotional and spiritual needs following the bomb blast in the capital on Friday 22 July and the subsequent shooting incident on the island of Utøya. More than 90 people are known to have died in the two attacks, with hundreds more injured or otherwise affected.
'Our thoughts and prayers go to those who have lost family members and friends, and we will also continue in prayer for those who have been injured,' said the head of The Salvation Army in Norway, Territorial Commander Clive Adams. Letters of condolence have been sent to His Majesty King Harald and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
The Salvation Army's territorial headquarters for Norway is in close proximity to the buildings most affected by the explosion, but no injuries were sustained by staff and the building was undamaged. In cooperation with the police, the headquarters was opened up to the local community as a refuge before the whole central business area was evacuated at 6:15pm.
On Saturday 23 July, Colonel Jan Peder Fosen (Chief Secretary for Norway) prayed with other church leaders in Oslo Cathedral before meeting with Salvation Army leaders to discuss the ongoing response.
Sunday will be a time of prayer and reflection for the people of Norway and Salvationists have been asked – by email and the web – to wear their uniforms in order to provide a visible presence on the streets. As they come to terms with what has happened, many members of the community want to talk about their experiences with someone they can trust. Messages of appreciation have already been contributed to The Salvation Army's Norwegian Facebook page, such as 'Thank you for opening the doors ... it is not easy to be alone now'.
In addition, Salvation Army centres in and around Oslo will be specifically opened for prayer and a special service will be held at The Salvation Army's Oslo Templet (church), attended by senior Salvation Army leaders.