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Oct30ThuHundreds gather for the 2014 Territorial Social Services Conference. October 30, 2014 by Pamela Richardson
More than 300 people gathered October 18-21 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre in Mississauga, Ont., for the 2014 Territorial Social Services Conference. Meeting under the theme Responsible for Ministry, Committed to Mission, delegates had opportunities to learn, network and receive spiritual refreshment.
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Guests for the conference included Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander, Colonel Geanette Seymour, director of The Salvation Army's International Social Justice Commission (ISJC), Major Dean Pallant, international health services co-ordinator for The Salvation Army, and the Canadian Staff Band (CSB). Lt-Colonel Ann Braund, territorial secretary for spiritual life development, led delegates in devotions on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
Following Saturday's welcome banquet, a concert by the CSB initiated people in the musical traditions and spiritual underpinnings of The Salvation Army. A wide range of musical presentations included Crusaders, a festival march by Dean Goffin, and Kevin Larsson's Boundless.
On Sunday morning, the band led a service of praise and worship. “We need the Lord to give us the spiritual resources to help us with our ministry and mission,” shared Major Kevin Metcalf, territorial secretary for music and gospel arts, and corps officer at Ontario's London Citadel, as he invited the congregation to worship.
Trombone soloist Craig Lewis' moving rendition of Somebody Prayed for Me was followed by prayer from Major Ken Smith, assistant territorial music secretary. “I pray for your servants who have gathered from across the territory,” he said. “Equip them as they bring comfort, hope and dignity in sometimes very trying circumstances.”
In her message, Commissioner McMillan challenged the congregation to follow the example of Jesus Christ as they engage in ministry and mission. Sharing from the story of the healing of the blind man recorded in John 9, she reminded delegates that people in need were always important to Jesus, and they must be important to us as well. “All ministries are responsible to carry out the holistic mission of The Salvation Army,” she said. “God help us to be open and inclusive to all so they can come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
On Sunday afternoon and on Monday, delegates attended workshops and networking opportunities of their choosing from more than 30 available sessions. For Anita Andreen, who works at the New Frontier Halfway House in Saskatoon, these sessions were the highlight of the conference as she shared one-on-one with people from across the territory and learned about the ministries in which they serve. “It was good to get together with people from other facilities,” she says. “They didn't know what we do and we didn't know what they do, but now we all know that we work together as a group.”
A wide variety of topics were included, from specific social services components (e.g. chaplaincy, community and family services, human trafficking, accreditation training) to employee relations issues (e.g. diversity in the workplace, workplace accommodation for people with physical and mental disabilities) to the financial aspects of social services ministries (e.g. interpreting financial statements, internal controls and audits). Workshop leaders and facilitators included territorial social services consultants, members of the territorial employee relations and finance departments, faculty from Winnipeg's Booth University College and executive directors from social services facilities across the territory.
A number of delegates were also involved in a pre-conference addictions foundations workshop and an area commander development day. “The highlight of the conference for me was the addictions course,” says Paul Fredriksen of Barrie Bayside Mission, Ont. As the food services manager, he engages with clients on a regular basis and appreciates the opportunity to learn more about addictions services.
Following the evening meals on Sunday and Monday, delegates gathered to hear Major Dean Pallant and Colonel Geanette Seymour, respectively, as they spoke on their experiences in their current leadership roles within The Salvation Army.
Major Pallant shared his experiences as international health services co-ordinator and discussed faith-based facilitation, a Salvation Army theology of accountability. “Faith-based facilitation is not a theory or project,” he said. “It is a way of working, of helping people think, talk, explore and respond to issues.”
“When we talk about social justice at the ISJC,” said Colonel Geanette Seymour, “we're actually talking about holiness and the way we live. You don't do social justice—you live a socially just life.”
On the fourth and final day of the conference, delegates joined together to hear Mary Ellen Eberlin, territorial social services secretary, as she brought the event to a close. “The Army was birthed because William Booth wanted to make the gospel of Jesus Christ accessible to persons who were unacceptable and unwelcome in the churches of his day. We are continuing Booth's vision,” she said. “On any given day we are present in hundreds of communities and we minister to thousands of people. It's great to see that we are together in this and that we will, together, share the love of Christ and transform the communities of our world.”