Focusing the Vision - Salvation Army Canada

Advertisement


Salvationist.ca | The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda

The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda
View RSS Feed

Archives

  • Jan3Tue

    Focusing the Vision

    As the territorial commander, I want to lead an Army that celebrates its relationship with God and others. Please join me in this time of focusing the vision as we become one Army with one mission sharing one message. January 3, 2012 by Commissioner Brian Peddle
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Happy New Year! My wife, Rosalie, joins me in greeting you and we assure you of our prayers. We believe that God will bless and use The Salvation Army, and each of you, throughout 2012.

    As we enter this new year, I am reflecting on the many expressions of hope found in our territory. From my vantage point, General Linda Bond's vision plan of One Army, One Mission, One Message (see Salvationist.ca/international-vision) outlines the aspirations that I covet for our Army. As General Bond writes, “I see a Spirit-filled Army of the 21st century, convinced of its calling, moving forward together, into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, disposed and lost, reaching them by all means, with the transforming message of Jesus bringing freedom, hope and life.”

    In November 2011, the executive leaders in our territory (Cabinet secretaries and divisional leaders) met at Jackson's Point, Ont., and used the General's vision plan to strategize for the future. Though I write with deep personal conviction, my colleagues join me in sharing these thoughts.

    One Army
    We wish to affirm:

    • a clear calling to a sacramental life for every Salvationist marked by sacrificial and selfless service and lived out in the framework of holiness. We remain committed to the non-practice of the sacraments of communion and baptism as a denomination and as a part of the international Salvation Army. This is not meant to put us at odds with other Christian traditions, but we testify freely to a full salvation expressed in a supreme love for God and sacrificial love for others

    • a leadership conviction with regard to our witness through uniform wearing and our desire to increase our public visibility with our officer contingent leading the way

    • the significant value of active officers, retired officers and local officers in meeting the leadership needs throughout The Salvation Army

    • our desire that The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda would be a covenanted Army and that each of us would have the opportunity to explore covenant as we share faith and service together

    • our partnership with the international Salvation Army as we give and support financially and facilitate the availability of human resources to help lead the Army around the world.

    One Mission
    We want to:

    • emphasize the importance and significance of discipleship and evangelism. We need soldiers who will carry out God's mission and win the world for him as a result of training and equipping

    • ensure that in these days of spiritual drift in our culture, every Salvation Army ministry unit would have our spiritual footprint and would bring about Kingdom outcomes

    • give thanks for excellent financial management that enables us to invest in new mission opportunities focused on outcome-based ministry

    • reclaim and strengthen our ministry to the whole family, making children and youth a priority

    • declare our desire for growth in every expression of our ministry and mission

    • explore the principle that above all else “mission matters most,” praying that God will enable us to give evidence that this is so.

    One Message
    Introducing people to Jesus, securing their place in eternity and discipling them for service remains central to all we are and do. Our key message is that Jesus Christ is the hope for the world (see John 3:16; Luke 19:10). We are committed to sharing this message by:

    • reaching children and youth

    • advocating on behalf of those we serve

    • serving from a position of strength and declaring, “God is doing a new thing”

    • keeping our mission central to everything we do and managing the distractions

    • calling people to salvation and covenant through the experience of soldiership

    • asking every Salvationist to consider their part in being a transforming influence in their community.

    As the territorial commander, I want to lead an Army that celebrates its relationship with God and others. As we do this, we will remain fit for purpose in the world in which we live and serve. We have the potential to be a mighty expression of God's love and faithfulness. Please join me in this time of focusing the vision as we become one Army with one mission sharing one message.

    Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

    Comment

    On Friday, January 20, 2012, Royal Senter said:

    Donald, your story greatly disturbs me but does not completely surprise me.

    Fifteen years ago my wife and I resigned our officership and left The Army completely disillusioned. we have been involved with several different churches of different denominations and sizes and filling a variety of roles including being a bi-vocational pastor for two years. We had very good experiences in other churches and saw many very regrettable things. In some churches we felt very welcomed and in others we did not. the reality is that there are plain and simply far too many churches that have lost sight of the mission that God has given his people.

    Two years ago we returned to The Army at a larger corps where we have been very warmly welcomed and been given many opportunities for ministry. All churches should be like this (not that it is perfect by any stretch of the imagination), but we certainly do love it.

    Our experience has been so positive that we have felt called by God back to our previous calling. we have no illusions that there will not be frustrations in any ministry to which we might be sent if that is what eventually happens but I have become completely convinced that it is our responsibility to become a part of the solution and we will do that. We will do whatever we can in any corps tha the may be a part of, as offices or as soldiers, to ensure that the experiences that you describe are not repeated in the lives of others.

    My original comment was about the need to have people who will model ministry rather than simply tell others to go out and do it. It is the responsibility of leaders to recruit, train and equip others to do the work of ministry and to demonstrate by actually doing it themselves. The Army needs more leaders who will do this and so do most churches.

    It is sad if there are Army corps that do not know how to be what God wants them to be, or even worse don't have the desire to be what Od wants them to be but it is inevitable that there will be some. If, as a result, people have to go elsewhere then so they must go it for everyone else who stays, we must make sure that we are doing the work of God's mission and we must be doing all that we can to helms others do so as well.

    God bless you Donald.

    On Friday, January 20, 2012, John McAlister said:

    Norm,

    Here are two books published by The Salvation Army that you can check out. Both include information about the Army's views on the Sacraments. They're PDFs, so you can view them right on your computer.


    Called to be God's People
    Handbook of Doctrine

    Thanks for your interest,

    John McAlister
    Web Producer

    On Friday, January 20, 2012, Donald Jefcoat said:

    I will adress some of the rest of the other article. It was a very very sad day for me to say I can no longer be a soldier. The very reason I became a soldier was to serve. I know some will say but its a covenant has nothing to do with service. And I honestly feel sad for those that feel that. I chose on a bridge at a very low time in life to live my life for service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My covenant was not "The articles of War" but my handing my life to God. What brought me into soldiership was frontline service. My uniform brought to me many times an oppertunity to serve and share the gospel. I for a few years believed the Salvation Army was a church that followed the great commission. However I was so disalusioned on that. When I was repeadedly turned down for positions to people not in the ranks of the Army with less qualification and experience I wondered why. When adherents could do the roles of soldiers while soldiers filled the pew I wondered about the significance or importence of the Soldiership. When non-christians were recruited to roles in the Salvation Army I realized that at that time and in this community the Salvation Army was on the path of the YM/WCA or St Johns Ambulance and many many other organizations that God called into being. I realized that in the effort of the Salvation Army to be the best socail service agency we sold out. In the community I live in we have a great food bank run by the army but i wonder where God is. We have a great place to get coffee but I wonder where God is. Great thrift store with prices so far out of reach that Wal-Mart is cheeper and no witness to God. The officer and senior leadership are so embarassed of the Army they dont use the Army language, they dont wear their uniforms. I had considered at one time to enter officership had a couple of great officers that where God fearing persons who valued what the Army was raised up to be and even went as far as being traditionalist with a modern twist and their ministry was growing and the soldiers were encouraged into front line work. Sadly I had to relocate and 3 corps or shall I say community church or centers. I was sidelined.

    One corps I was told was here held meetings in evenings at their local coffee house. However I could never get a response to what time it started. I did get the chance to volunteer on their ESS responce teams but was told no uniform. In one chance I got to help in a disaster donation center. Great wasnt even lead by a Christian. again no one not even the officer wore a uniform. Infact sadly I thought the officer was a victim not the officer.

    Then I discovered another Corps small in numbers one I attended earlier. So went there. I was able to fill the seat I could greet. but was not able to do much else not even work the sound. Apperently thats was the youths job. However the youth had no guidance the sound was terrible and it was very hard to sit there knowing how to fix it. But I felt maybe if I spend enough time filling the pew the pastor will reconize my gifts. During this time at work a co-workers mother was loosing the battle to cancer and placed into hospice home. Considering all I was doing I decided to work so the family could take one day a week and spend time with each other and to donate the proceeds to them so they could afford to eat. However after the mother had passed I went basck to the church. After the service the Pastor wanted to speak with me. By the time I left that meeting short of being stripped of soldiership (it was offered to me to think of my life and consider surrendering my uniform) I was made to feel my actions were not of God and that my soul was endangered of being sent to hell. I was to sit in the church and contribute to the offering nothing more nothing less. I will never enter that corp again. I took a few weeks of personal time then went into another corps.

    I walked into that corps not in uniform. I was not welcomed. I had to seek out a bulletin on my own. However when the officer did realize I was a soldier they started to slowly welcome me. I was to sit in the corps and unless asked I was not used. I could not run sound, I could not greet. The only time I had opportunities to serve was if their was a conference at the corps for women then was asked to support that by doing kitchen dutie. And when the Corps were doing something for the families I could help with set up and take down. And if they were doing something for......... Finally I asked whenare they going to do something for the single male? and apperently single people dont build the church, they serve the church. It was at that time I started praying where do I stand Lord. I have great gifts but I cant use them Lord please show me what I am suppose to do. At that time again a small inconvience struck our company and that meant the driver that wanted to work on sundays left almost forcing me to work sundays.

    You know for the next several months my time with god was in the drivers seat of my van at work. I was my pastor, my greater, my sound tech, my praise and worship leader. Even though I had the best church I missed the church. I wanted fellowship, I wanted opportunities to serve, I wanted, I wanted I longed for.

    One week we got a new driver this guy wanted to work on Sundays. Especailly mornings. Thank Jesus and Praise God I can go to church again. But Where? So I got up thinkig I will go the Presbyterian Church. But as the time came for me to leave the restaurant I felt a sense to drive up the hill in the opposite direction and head to a grocery store. I went right past the store was off in thought. When I realized my error I looked for a good turn around spot and there it was. A Church it had three little flames on the sign guess the colors. I looked at the service time then my watch and thought what the hey the other church will have to wait.

    I found a parking spot in the back corner of the parking lot, and walked in. Bam I was met by the warmest grandma smile, she had my hand and truly welcomed me. She asked if I had a familly and I told her no what you see is what you get. She was like well thats ok Jesus loves you. I hadnt been eccepted like that in a very long time. And every Sunday I get the same welcome like I am aprt of that family. I have constant fellowship with various memebers of the church. Being a student I have often had some one give me a bucket of soup here and there. At fellowship meals some one is alway bringing me a plate of goodies or meals to have being a student and all it has to be hard. My gifts are being used. Infact to write this means I have had to put down my pen from writing a community service program that our church is looking to impliment to truly reach the needs of the community. I run the sound, I greet people, I will be running the community service branch of the church. And am going to be interning for possible ordination.

    Again the Army needs to make a drastic jump back to where it should be doing what it was raised up to do and be. Commissioner Peddle I encourage you to bring the Army in Canada back on track. All it really does in some cases is a command that the army was so faithful in doing hence the term Territorial Commander. Officers need to remember first and foremost they lead a church not a socail service center. They need to be accepting of all regardless if they come with wife and child. Get back to wearing the uniform, get back to preaching and practising holiness, Get back to making people squirm in their seats. get back to the knee drills, to praying over people who seek help.

    My prayer for the Salvation Army is that they once again be the leaders of Revival, the proclaimers of the Gospel, That they once again are known for their Lord and not their food hamper.

    On Friday, January 20, 2012, Norm Hunter said:

    Jac - thanks for the comment that 'it's been done already'; but I, for one, have no idea where to find the Salvation Army's position statement on the 'non-practice of the sacraments of communion and baptism'.

    There are many positive statements in the territorial commander's Focusing the Vision article which we can all affirm. And, clearly we need to address the challenges of being the authentic Body of Christ in our local corps in fulfilling the vision of being One Army having One Mission with One Message. The vision of ministering to all members of the Body without regard to age/sex/marital status/race, serving the needy, and reaching our communities for Christ is one that we should all be able to support enthusiastically.

    However, when a Vision statement says that we will not do something practiced within Christendom for 2000 years it begs for further clarification and discussion.

    On Friday, January 20, 2012, Jac said:

    Ray and Juan, thank you for expressing what has been on my mind since reading the article and it's comments.

    Norm...it's been done already, but perhaps it would be of benefit for the Salvationist to publish some of the writings for those who do not know where to find/have access to them.

    Royal, perhaps because your statement began with the discussion of the sacraments it tended to run together for me.

    I do agree though, has no one anything else to say about the entire article?
    What about the focus on family and youth? I commend the army for its focus on this because of the fact that we live in an era of broken families, both within and outside of the church.

    The efforts of Major Denise Walker are commendable, providing something new and relevant to youth. I believe this is a great step.

    I do believe on one hand that children and youth need to be a priority because they are the future, but perhaps there need to be greater measures taken to balance ministry because it seems to me that many corps who emphasize children and youth, do only that. However we are living in an aging population and it discourages me to see no mention of our seniors who face significant challenges in areas of affordable housing, elder abuse etc.

    What about a mission in singles ministry? I'm quite happy to be single, but there are times when I feel very out of place in worship due to the significant family focus.

    I realize that the article cannot address all of the possibility for all areas of family ministry, but the way I read the thing I get a picture in my mind of Mom and Dad and children, and everyone else is in danger of falling into the margin.

    On Thursday, January 19, 2012, Royal Senter said:

    Does no one have anything to say about anything else the Commissioner said? What about his statement, "We need soldiers who will carry out God's mission...." I commented on this above and would love to hear other thoughts.

    On Thursday, January 19, 2012, Norm Hunter said:

    I have followed with interest the comments regarding the territorial commander's statement that "We remain committed to the non-practice of the sacraments of communion and baptism as a denomination---". What seems to be missing (from my perspective at least) is a framework to extend the discussion. As followers of Christ I know we all want to faithful to His teachings as recorded in the Gospels and, through the apostles, the Letters.

    I suggest that the best way to advance the discussion would be to have two 'position papers' of 2000 words or less which present a Biblically-based and theologically consistent argument FOR or AGAINST the practice of the sacraments (ordinances) of Communion (Lord's Supper/Eucharist) and Water Baptism.

    Since these two practices are the ones retained (from a much longer list) following the Protestant Reformation and practiced (in various forms) by virtually all non-Catholic denominations but not by the Salvation Army, it would be a valuable advance to have these position papers.

    Anyone up to the challenge?

    On Thursday, January 19, 2012, Juan said:

    I am going to side with Ray on this one. Ray has done a good job (in a short comment section) of doing what no one else has done and that is grounding this debate in the Scriptures and in the context of Luke's theology. Others are basing their fondness for the Eucharist on their appreciation of some perceived beauty they see in it (which I am not going to argue with) or because it agrees with mainline Protestantism. Yet Ray's interpretation is the one that reeks of humanism?!? I know people who confess to a priest and think it is a beautiful Christian thing, but it doesn't mean it is necessary.

    The part of this argument that has always baffled me is how people can continue to unwittingly declare that we don't observe this call of Jesus or that we are doing nothing. As a result they work up guilt and fear about it and side with ritualism rather than doing 'nothing at all'. The Salvation Army, in principle, does follow Jesus' command. But we do it differently than others. You will be hard pressed to demonstrate to me that Jesus instituted a ritual that involved paper-thin wafers & 1/2 oz. of grape juice to be eaten every 7 days (or once per month, etc.). And, yes, I am intentionally being trivial, just as Ray's comment about Tim Hortons and coffee was trivialized. For this issue is not about what is eaten or where it is eaten, it is about why it is performed. And if we miss the connection to our mission to the poor and the marginalized, then we have missed more than just a supper meal.

    On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Patrick said:

    Danny. Thank you very much for your thoughtful response. This will be my last comment on this subject on this blog. I thank God for The Salvation Army and for its wonderful God-given ministry. But I will state for the record that I firmly believe The Salvation Army is simply wrong on its theology of the sacraments - these are part and parcel of what congregational life is all about.

    I recently attended a large SA corps (300+ people) and was pleased to take part in the observance of the Lord's Supper (not a love feast), with an appropriate Salvation Army twist to it (mercy seat/ altar call). I applaud these officers who had the courage to stand for what is right. Let's tell our leaders and our General - and let's get this right once and for all.

    On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Danny Pinksen said:

    I have been interested in the running dialogue on the matter of the sacraments, in particular, communion. For many salvationists, the question lurks, "to do or not to do the sacraments". I thought it would be appropriate to add some commentary to the discussion.

    Recently, scholars are looking at the life of Jesus, through the lens of Jesus being a good, devout Jew. This is producing some great debate and discussion among Christian scholars. Sometimes, we tend to view Jesus' life and ministry as though he were a good Christian. That is simply not the case. Christianity followed the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    The reason I make this comment about Jesus being a devout, practicing Jew is because Jesus celebrated the Passover as a devout Jew. Each year, Jesus, like other devout Jews, would gather to celebrate and remember the events of the Passover. The Passover for the Jews represented saving them from the hand of oppression of the Egyptians. The Passover served as a time of celebration and remembrance for the Jewish people.

    It is in this context that Jesus celebrates what we have called the Lord's Supper (some call it the Last Supper) with his disciples. When Jews gathered to celebrate and remember the Passover, it was done with prescribed ritual and ceremony. This ritual and ceremony known as the "Berakah" is not recorded in scripture. Scholars suggest the reason the Berakah is not recorded in scripture is because very devout Jews would have known the Berakah in the same manner as we know the words to Happy Birthday. When you go to a birthday party, words of the song Happy Birthday are not distributed among the people because it is assumed that everyone knows the words.

    When one reads the passage of the Lord's Supper, Jesus and his disciples, all devout Jews, would have celebrated the Passover like all other Jews. This is described briefly in scripture. Matthew 26:26 it tells us that "while they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to his disciples...". He does the same with the wine. Simple reading this passage, one can draw the conclusion that this happened rather quickly. That is most likely not the case. Elements of the Berakah (specific prayers) would have been spoken for each of the actions identified.

    Here is my point. I think it would be contextually inappropriate to take this passage out of its original context. To relegate the actions of Jesus and his disciples at the Passover (Last Supper) to just sharing a common meal together or a coffee at some coffee shop, I believe undermines the
    integrity of the passage.

    Following the Berakak, the Jewish remembrance of the Passover which would have been familiar to all the disciples, Jesus switches gears. Then he invites his disciples to truly consider his purpose on earth. Jesus takes salvation unto himself. Salvation will come through him. There is little doubt that the disicples did not fully understand the full implications of Jesus' statement. We, today, understand Jesus' words to refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Do you think that Jesus is offering a new covenant to his followers? Instead of remembering and celebrating God's salvation of the Jews in the past, it became time for the disciples to start thinking Jesus' purpose on earth and the new covenant being established through him. Is it conceivable to think that Jesus wanted his disciples on a go-forward basis to celebrate and remember the new covenant when they gathered together instead of remembering the Passover? Is not the remembrance and celebration of the new covenant done through the sharing of the bread and wine as Jesus did with his disciples at the Last Supper?

    It states in Luke 22:19 that Jesus invited his disciples to do this in remembrance of him. What does it mean to do this in remembrance of him? This is where the debate among churches, bible scholars, and theologians commence. Despite the varying opinions on the manner in which communion should be remembered and administered, I do not consider "doing nothing", an appropriate response.

    Blessings!

    On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Donald Jefcoat said:

    I want to voice this opinion. It wasn't the meal that was communion in fact it is recorded in the word that if your hungry go home and eat. When we read the account of the first communion we see Jesus and his disciples gathered around the table. At the end he rose broke bread and said this is my body and he took the wine (wasn't grape juice) and said this is the blood. When he said do this he wasn't talking about the feast but breaking of bread that was administered following the meal.

    William Booth rejected communion and baptism as a way to solve conflicts but really one has to ask when we reject the sacraments do we also reject the first doctrine. After all Jesus in regards to communion "Do this" not if you feel like it. In regards to baptism he says go into all the world teaching the good news of Jesus and Baptize in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. This one reason why I couldn't sit in a corps any longer listening to the officer drive the point home we must obey the bible however ask the officer when is he going to do communion get told we don't participate in the sacraments. to me that was a violation of the doctrines.

    However I also want to raise this question folks when we gather do we break bread, do we break bread in family time. Its not just a special service in church services. We can go after the Army but are we as individuals following the word of God. Even baptism is something that opent to all Christians to preform.

    On Monday, January 16, 2012, Steve Ellis said:

    After hearing the commissioner speak in person on Sunday at Meadowlands Salvation Army, simply put, his point is to go out in the world and share your faith.

    On Monday, January 16, 2012, Lori White-Vafiades said:

    Also, coffee with a Muslim, or a person of any faith, including Christians, in no way can compare to the sacrament with Believers. Albeit the sentiment is nice and it is a necessary thing to get along with all people and to "coffee" together. But, to even infer that this act can in someway replace communion with Believers smacks of humanism. Jesus "coffeed" with others but he had communion with the saints.

    On Monday, January 16, 2012, Patrick said:

    Mr. Harris. Your arguments are well written and convincing. The idea that "communion" takes place at Tim Horton's when sharing a coffee with a Muslim is an interesting idea - and certainly commendable - but buoyed with modern humanistic philosophies. The Salvation Army cannot ignore the fact that the wider Church has constantly rejected the Army's position on its sacramental view as evidenced by the Lima position from the 1980s - a document with which you are certainly familiar. The Army was present at the Lima conference and had the opportunity to voice its concerns on the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper. Representatives from most churches heard the arguments and rejected them. The Army's position therefore puts its at odds with the remainder of Christendom.

    In my opinion, the early Army in Great-Britain rejected the sacraments as a protest against the national churches where communion was especially done in a cavalier manner. Fast-forward to our days, and our current positions now puts us as odds not only against the organized British churches but also with our brethren in Evangelical churches with whom we identify the most and whose understanding of the sacraments/ ordinances are considerably different from the mainline Protestant churches. Ask the average Evangelical - his/ her response will be that he or she is observing the Lord's Supper (i.e. passing the elements during a Sunday morning worship service), out of a love and obedience for the Lord, not to obtain some mystical sacramental grace from God.

    On Monday, January 16, 2012, Lori White-Vafiades said:

    Good points, Ray. I still love the sacrament. It is so beautiful and healing. I want to raise my kids doing both; breaking bread with the hungry as well as with the Bride.

    On Monday, January 16, 2012, Ray Harris said:

    Please permit me to add my voice to this conversation. There are many important issues raised here, and need to be heard. I would like, however, to speak to one matter, and that is the degree to which Salvationists might be "rejecting" the clear teaching of Jesus on the practice of the Lord's Supper. It is stated that when he instructs his disciples to "do this" in his final moments, he has in mind the repeating of a symbolic meal. This is an understable response to Luke's Gospel, but it fails to hear this statement in light of the whole of Luke's Gospel. When Jesus says "do this" the reference is not to the institution of the Lord's Supper as a sacrament, but to the embodiment of his mission with others. Specifically it refers to his practice of table fellowship with the excluded of society, which is a critical element of Luke's Gospel, and results in the giving of his body in death. Thus when Salvationists sit down for coffee with a Muslim in Tim Hortons, or host a Christmas dinner for street people, we are "doing this." The Salvationist "non-practice" of the Lord's Supper warrants good discussion, but we need to at least understand that it is not a rejection of Christ's final words to his twelve. If anything, we practice "doing this" as we attempt to embody his instruction in our service with others.

    On Friday, January 13, 2012, Mike Brown said:

    I attended the Salvation Army for a good number of years till I got kicked out and told never to come back by the commanding Officer. During those years my wife and I often went to other churches that had communion and it meant a great deal to us and when I serve and recieve Communion today it still means a great deal to our Spiritual lives. We were never concerned to much about baptisim as we had already been Baptised before we went to the S.A. as a family. We still have not found the perfect congregation but have ministered in and been ministered to in a good many. I need only to look at my own heart if I need to look for imperfection because there is never going to be the perfect place to worship because worship is in our hearts and if we serve our risen Saviour then that is what He wants. God knows and understands our heart. All we need to do is to continue to seek his Will for our lives.

    On Friday, January 13, 2012, Lori White-Vafiades said:

    I am curious what would happen if an officer practiced the sacrament.

    Is the Army growing? Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit (baptism in)? The Church should be added to daily. We should be busting out of our doors. I do hope that is happening. Blessings again, to the SA.

    Just a note, my corps did not teach that we were superior. It was my interpretation of it. (I may have been reading them rightly or wrongly).

    On Friday, January 13, 2012, Patrick said:

    Robert. I am curious - if the Salvation Army does not practice the sacraments as a witness to the wider church that the sacraments are not necessary to a holy life, why is it that not one church, not one denomination has followed our lead in the last 150 years? Evangelicals, main-line Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox. Zilch, not one. No one has ever been able to name to me another denomination which has abandoned the sacraments - with one exception, the Quakers. But then the Quakers have also abandoned other forms of "church" tradition, including clergy (officers), song books and preaching. Should we do that as well?

    Lori has stated above that in her corps, there was a sense of superiority over other churches because they believe they were correct. In my experience, it has been the opposite - other churches around look down at The Salvation Army as a weaker brother with a poor theology and poor hermeneutics.

    I have read pretty well everything published on the sacraments by The Salvation Army over the past 30+ years. I am thoroughly and deeply convinced The SA is simply wrong on this. I salute the various corps officers around our country who have also come to the same conclusion and who practice the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

    On Friday, January 13, 2012, Robert Barber said:

    Second Communion:I Corinthians 11:23-32 NIV
    The Apostle Paul explains communion the key word being "whenever" meaning all meals. We are allowed and encouraged to have 'love feasts' in the manner and spirit described below. These shouldn't become routine or be taken lightly the same as fasting or praying.

    23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

    Hope this response is helpful.

    On Friday, January 13, 2012, Robert Barber said:

    On the Sacraments: First Baptism;
    Acts 19:1-7 New International Version (NIV)
    1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied.
    The Salvation Army practices the baptism of the Holy Spirit not the baptism of repentance. All in Jesus' name.
    Second, Communion;

    On Friday, January 13, 2012, Lori White-Vafiades said:

    Patrick,

    I agree. We are called to be one. Growing up in the Army I felt a "separateness" from other churches. As a child I felt it was superiority. No one ever said that to me but it was how my young mind figured.

    There is so much potential in the Salvation Army. The adage "Heart to God, hand to man" was such a great thing to hear growing up. It has shaped my life and now as I am raising my family, this belief shapes all that we do.

    But it breaks my heart that old ways of doing things are keeping this amazing church from practicing the sacraments and moving on and out of dated practices. I think William and daughter, Evangeline would do things differently if they lived today. Their reason for applying certain rules and regs had to do with what was going on in England at that time. After all, they were movers and shakers of their own time.

    Think about it, the sacraments are ancient, yet ever young. It would be worthwhile for all of us to look at things in our lives that are old and dead! (I include myself in this soul searching as my family and church are in a 21 day fast).

    I say publicly, Bless the Salvation Army and all people therein (including my precious parents). May all religion break off (of all Believers-including myself) and may we come in to deeper relationship with the Father, falling madly in love with the Son and obeying all of his commandments as a response to that great love!

    On Thursday, January 12, 2012, Patrick said:

    I too continue to be profoundly disturbed by our denominational non-practice of the sacraments (except for the sacrament of marriage). While I applaud our leaders' desire that we be one Army, we must look at the wider pictures and recognize that the Lord wishes His people to be one. In this case our stance puts us at odds with other churches, contrary to what some would think.

    On Thursday, January 12, 2012, Moe said:

    It still amazes me today that a Christian organization/church would be so bold that they reject the Lord's will of doing baptism and the Lord's Supper. When Christ says "do this" in rememberance of me, it stricks me as a command to do so rather than making a statement not to do so.

    On Tuesday, January 10, 2012, Royal Senter said:

    Many years away from The Army taught me to appreciate the sacraments when they are observed in a meaningful way, which usually means not simply being tacked on to the end of the service once a month. Communion can be beautifully observed around the dinner table with family and friends; it is a far more intimate way.

    The Commissioner's statement, "We need soldiers who will carry out God's mission..." struck me. Througout many years as a soldier, an officer and a member and leader in other churches I have come to realize that one thing that it really lacking in too many corps and churches is leaders who can and do actively model this kind of ministering. I honestly believe that there are many Christians who earnestly want to carry out God's mission but are waiting for some one to show them how - not to simply tell them how.

    This is my commitment for the new year, to model these things for others, especially the older youth in our corps, that they can, in turn, do the same.

    On Friday, January 6, 2012, Lori White-Vafiades said:

    I grew up in the Salvation Army and loved so much about it. Now, that I am in a church the practices the sacraments, they are so precious to me. Communion means so very much to me and I could never go back to the non-practice of this sacrament. How precious is the blood of Jesus and I honor it by doing as he said-and practicing as he did. Blessings to the SA.

    On Friday, January 6, 2012, Mark R. said:

    It is good the Salvation Army has a vision for the new year. It hasn't changed much, however. Slightly disappointing that the practice of "physical Sacraments" is so detrimental to our Salvation Army that it needs a line that reads, "We remain committed to the non-practice of the sacraments of communion and baptism as a denomination and as a part of the international Salvation Army". The lines above it and below it are well worded at least.

    It would also be nice to see more of a focus on Youth and Children, the line above reads, "reclaim and strengthen our ministry to the whole family, making children and youth a priority". This line has always existed. From what I've experiences through many corps is that, this is not so. IT would be great to see some practical steps put in place, for this plan.

    I am not interested in being negative to the message of the Salvation Army as it does a wonderful ministry. I am just interested in not reading what our goals are, but rather how we as "One army", or so its stated above, can be practically carried out to achieve these goals. We are falling behind in culture, and falling more a more into a state of irrelevancy. I'd like to finish with a quote Kester Brewin in the book, 'signs of emergence: A vision for church that is organized/networked/bottom-up/communal/flexible (always evolving)':

    "If Christianity is to remain 'vital', then it is, in the truest sense, 'vital' that we understand change: for an organism to show signs of life, it must show it can respond to its environment, and for the church to retain a vibrancy about its faith, it must 'adapt and survive'".

    Leave a Comment