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Jul31ThuAs they prepare for new IHQ appointments, Commissioners Brian and Rosalie Peddle reflect on their time as territorial leaders. July 31, 2014 interview by Giselle Randall
Can you share a few highlights of your time as territorial leaders of the Canada and Bermuda Territory?
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Brian: Leading our home territory has been the highlight of our officership. It has been a great privilege to be part of the ordination and commissioning of new officers, and to go back to our home province and lead the Newfoundland and Labrador Congress. The opportunity to be out in the territory—at town halls, officer retreats, leading corps meetings—lets us sense the heartbeat of the Army. We always come away from a weekend inspired and encouraged by Salvationists, who carry the mission. We love to hear stories of transformation—how the Army on the ground embraces somebody, provides support, introduces them to faith—and to see our spiritual impact in communities across the country. I'm very proud of what the Army does.
Rosalie: It is difficult to share highlights when every event that we have been part of has left us motivated and proud to be the leaders of such a wonderful territory. You walk away from these kinds of events amazed at how God is at work and blessing his people.
What are the strengths of the Canada and Bermuda Territory?
B: That's easy—the people. Committed, mobilized, mission-minded people. It's in the Army's DNA to assist people in crisis, and over the years we've developed some of the best programs. You only have to listen to an elderly woman in one of our bereavement groups, who remarks, “I don't know what I would have done if I couldn't come here and tell my story,” or a man in one of our transitional housing units who says, “You saved my life.”
Another strength is that we still hold the trust of Canadians. Across the country, they support us in their financial giving and through their volunteering spirit in a way that positions us to lead strong.
R: The respect for the Army is incredible and we encounter it everywhere as we travel across the territory. People are constantly saying to us, “Thank you for what you do.” It is both humbling and inspiring. There are volunteers, people who don't necessarily wear the uniform, but they stand with us. They are the army behind the Army.
B: We also want to acknowledge the 11,000 employees who are the face of the Army, offering dignity and hope every day in more than 400 communities in Canada and Bermuda.
Where does the Army need to change/grow?
B: We need to tackle the challenge of sustainable leadership. In 10 years, we won't have a contingent of 800 officers, it will be 600. How are we going to lead this territory with so few ordained officers? When you look at what we are committed to doing in the next decade, how will we find the resources of people to lead mission? I would suggest one of the biggest next steps for this territory is to align our human resources with our program profile and needs. It's not whether we have enough people, it's whether we have enough people to lead the mission. The challenge is to make sure that everything we're doing is about mission. We need to determine the right profile for the Army in each community, to make sure we're doing the right things to create the right outcomes—not just in a practical sense but keeping in view our spiritual priority to unashamedly preach the gospel, win souls and extend the kingdom. That's a conversation that needs to continue.
We need to develop our leaders—both the ordained and the lay people who work for us, who carry mission in their hearts. Growing and developing them is absolutely critical.
R: We need a new strategy for our children and youth. It's not just about ensuring the Army's future—it's about accepting our current responsibility for the children who are growing up in our communities and who come into our sphere of influence. We need to capitalize on our youth programs and camps, making sure every initiative welcomes children and youth.
What territorial accomplishments are you most excited about?
B: I'm very pleased that we've been able to refocus the Army around a phrase that I kick around a lot, which is Mission Matters Most. We can have all of the finances in place, the best programs to meet people's needs and the best buildings in the world, but if we don't get to the kingdom issues of spiritually transformed lives, then we've missed the point. We weren't raised up to be a social organization—although we are the largest non-profit next to government. We were raised up to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity. The gospel is at the heart of everything we do.
R: I think there is a new attitude toward candidate recruitment and a stronger interest in being a part of the Army as ordained officers. We are expecting the largest session we've seen in recent years this September at our College for Officer Training in Winnipeg. There's also a revived relationship between the leadership of The Salvation Army and Booth University College, with the common purpose of equipping the Army to lead better and address the desperate need for sustainable leadership.
B: We were able to strengthen the territory's understanding of International Headquarters and how we relate to them, and build stronger relationships because of our connectedness there. This has helped us then reconnect to the international Army, in Haiti and through our Partners in Mission. We've travelled to Zimbabwe, to Malawi, to Latin America North—we've put our shoulders behind the need to help our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
R: Under my portfolio, there were two significant accomplishments. One was the women's leadership development webcast, when 900 women from across the country tuned in for four hours of training. Second, we launched a spiritual life development website, www.saspirituallife.ca.
What did you find challenging about your time in leadership?
B: We both agree—the diversity of regions, culture and landscape in Canada is wonderful, but it is challenging to get everyone on the same page. We have travelled much but seemingly never enough when it comes to interacting with people.
I wish I had opportunity for more grassroots input into our leadership, to engage with lay leaders, local officers, at the corps level. There is always the challenge of time. This territory is huge and change doesn't always come quickly. I have had to learn patience, to listen and work with God's timing.
What has God been doing in your life personally during your time as territorial leaders?
R: It has been a growing, stretching and equipping time for me personally. God has been at work in my life and I can see strong evidence of his moulding of my heart and mind. With the challenges of this appointment, you need to spend quality time refuelling your own spiritual life so that you're strong, both physically and spiritually.
B: I'm reminded daily that I can't do it by myself. As leaders, we benefit from the prayers of our people. We know that thousands of people pray for us every day. It's been challenging to preach and teach almost every week and yet we haven't struggled with inspiration. Prayers were answered. We've learned to accept that we don't do this in our own strength. Although we were somewhat intimidated by the sheer burden of the role, we eventually realized how perfectly God shoulders that burden. We don't feel weighed down—we're aware of the challenges but we don't carry an intolerable load.
What will you miss most about Canada?
R: Small pleasures such as Tim Hortons and Swiss Chalet [laughs]. What I'm going to miss the most are the personal connections with family and friends. We've lived in other territories and while we've enjoyed it immensely, at the end of the day, it wasn't home.
B: I like the familiarity of being in my homeland. When we travel outside of Canada, you never know what's around the corner, who you're going to meet. When we travel in Canada, we can rest in the familiarity of cities and congregations and programs. And yet, despite the familiarity, it's a place where we discover all kinds of wonderful surprises.
R: We will definitely miss our children and grandchildren. Being in our home territory for these past three years has been a true gift from God. Spending time with them and watching them grow has been a pure joy for us both.
What are you looking forward to in your next appointment as international secretary and zonal secretary for women's ministries for the Americas and Caribbean?
B: That's a harder question. Our new roles at International Headquarters will take us into a new area of influence within the international Salvation Army and leadership. It will give us a very practical outreach into the Americas and Caribbean, where there is both affluence and marginalization. We're looking forward to helping the Americas and Caribean be strong, from personnel to program to finance to mission. It puts us at a table we could never have dreamed of when it comes to leading the international Army, because we're one of five positions that advise the General, giving us a place in a significant circle of critical thinking about how we move forward.
R: We're amazed at what God is doing now—we're looking forward to exploring his plans as we embark on this new journey. I'm pleased we'll be travelling, speaking and sharing ministry together as a team, as we've modelled here.
As you say farewell, would you like to share a parting message?
B: Rosalie and I believe this territory needs to remain strong and true to the purpose for which it exists. In the context of that, we have to do two things: embrace the challenges that are coming toward us and mobilize ourselves with such faith and conviction that those challenges pale in comparison to the resources available to us. Those resources have a divine dimension to them that says we are “more than conquerors” (see Romans 8:37).
In my first days of leadership, I had four statements that still form a framework of hope for the Canada and Bermuda Territory: 1) create a culture of growth; 2) challenge our capacity; 3) mobilize Salvationists; 4) build an Army fit for purpose.
R: Take courage! The Lord has “new things” in store for this territory as you continue to move forward with obedient faith and Holy Spirit courage (Colossians 1:9-12).