Nov3TueSalvationists reflect on the new territorial vision statement. November 3, 2020 By Brianne Zelinsky-Carew
Over the past 12 months, much work has been done to help discern God’s plan for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. This work commenced when the territorial leaders, Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd, embarked on a listening tour, visiting 18 cities in just a few weeks. The commissioners interacted with members of our Salvation Army community to get a sense of the feelings and concerns in the territory. They continued listening as they visited six officers’ retreats, held a discussion with the territorial executive council in May, and facilitated focus group discussions with area commanders and emerging leaders across the territory.
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Building on the themes that had been discerned from hearing many God-inspired voices, in August 2020, an online survey sought input from all ministry units, departments and teams that would inform the development of a territorial vision statement. The result? More than 3,000 people shared their thoughts about the future of our Army, laying the groundwork for the creation of a new vision.
If ever there was a time to release a statement that echoes the collective hopes and dreams of our Army, it is now. In a world rocked by rapid change and gripped by fears of an uncertain future in a pandemic, it is a tremendous opportunity to pause and consider where God is leading us as we live out the mission he has given to The Salvation Army.
Following the survey, five focus groups were formed to allow diverse voices across the territory an opportunity to speak to the themes of the survey results. These groups included stakeholders with corps, youth, soldier and employee, external and social service experiences, whose feedback, paired with results from the survey, culminated in a territorial vision statement.
The territory is proud to release this vision, as it will provide direction for our movement in the coming years. The official vision statement for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda is:
We are an innovative partner, mobilized to share hope wherever there is hardship, building communities that are just and know the love of Jesus.
Participants from the focus groups shared thoughts on how they relate to this vision, highlighting where they see their identity and ministry represented.
Lt-Colonel Susan van Duinen
“We are an innovative partner”
Lt-Colonel Susan van Duinen is a retired Salvation Army officer living in Winnipeg. She acted as a focus group facilitator in the vision development process.
Vision statements are critical in any organization, business or church. Even in our own personal life, it is the vision statement that compels action and gets attention. It brings alignment so that everyone is pulling in the same direction. In kingdom work, it is imperative to have a vision, for the mission is our calling, and the vision tells us where we are heading.
What excites me about this vision statement are the pictures of the future that are painted, which, after all, is what a vision statement does. I see a picture of partnership (both horizontal and vertical), a picture of rolling up sleeves and engaging in hard work, a picture of tenderness and compassion offering hope, and a picture of communities filled with human kindness. I see a picture filled with the love of Christ expressed in a myriad of ways.
This excites me for two reasons. First, the vision statement will pull us forward and energize us to make those sacrifices for the greater good and create new ways of being disciples. Second, I believe (and it has been my experience) that a vision statement must balance inspiration with realism. Ours does just that.
There is no doubt that, in our world, we face challenges. We can choose to concentrate on adversity or we can make a difference. The same can be said of our Army. We can choose to question where our children are going if they are not coming to Sunday school or other youth programs, why Sunday attendance is on the decline, where our funding will come from for the next budget year, or what program we should be engaged in. There is much to be said about all of that. I prefer to be optimistic. Not naive optimism, but the relentless optimism that moves us forward. We have made some missteps along the way and this vision statement can help us find our way back to who we are and what we do best.
I see a Salvation Army in this territory where every connected person, be it through corps, social programs or administrative hubs, is deeply engaged with, passionate about and clear on the mission. I see a Salvation Army that will filter decisions through our vision statement. I see a Salvation Army in which everyone knows our mission and vision and is excited to tell the story of God’s love.
We are told that each new generation stands on the successes of the previous generation. Looking back can help us push forward. The Salvation Army is here today because of past innovation, which shows up in our history. We offer hope in times of hardship and continue building communities that shine the forever love of God throughout the territory. There comes a time in the life of every organization or movement when we step back and reclaim these strengths before moving forward with relentless optimism.
The new vision statement aligns well with our mission. The mission statement is about what we do, whom we serve and how we serve. It is about today. The vision statement moves us into the future. It places focus on tomorrow, identifying the hopes, dreams and problems we are going to solve, and addresses how people are going to be inspired. I believe that our spiritual roots combined with our unique strengths, resilience, spirit of discovery, diversity, work ethic and commitment will ensure the picture of this vision becomes a reality.
(Social/Program Focus Group)
“mobilized to share hope”
Cameron Eggie is the executive director for The Salvation Army’s Northern Centre of Hope in Fort St. John, B.C.
This vision statement brings together all of The Salvation Army’s ministry expressions and sums up what we are all about; we want to partner, we are prepared to serve wherever there is need and we want to do that in a just way that honours Jesus.
The Army has a long history of planning, preparing and being ready to serve, which benefits us well, especially now. This year, we have been mobilized to address a variety of concerns in response to a global pandemic. The Salvation Army is sharing hope and meeting human needs in ways that we didn’t expect but have always been ready for.
We are often ready to serve because we value partnership. The use of the word partner in our vision implies that we come alongside others, rather than resolving or fixing situations. By definition, partnership is also reciprocity. For far too long, many have viewed our work as handouts, but we want to partner with people, recognizing that they contribute value.
In my community, we are earning the trust of our neighbours. It is my desire to be truly welcomed by the community. My goal is not to merely point people in the “right” direction, it’s to journey alongside our neighbours.
This vision makes me feel a sense of pride in our organization. We desire to partner with our communities, we desire to share hope, and we want just communities. The Salvation Army is all of those things to me.
(Youth Focus Group)
“wherever there is hardship”
Elizabeth Borgela is a young Salvationist who attends Montreal Citadel.
This vision signifies determined action to me. It holds up to the standard that William Booth set for The Salvation Army as a whole: to share the truth of Christ with servant hands and servant hearts. To me, I see this as our commitment to innovate in ways that better serve others in our communities while still staying true to our mission of sharing the gospel.
The emphasis in the vision on sharing hope “wherever there is hardship” resonates with me most. The hope of salvation is meant to be shared in all signs of hardship, whether that is spiritual, emotional or financial. I believe this reflects our duties as Christ-followers to reflect the life of Jesus, to go and make disciples of every nation. No matter where we are set or where God has called us, there are souls that need salvation.
Each focus group was created to get the most rounded representation of the Canada and Bermuda Army in order to create a vision statement that could be applied to all peoples of all ages. It is encouraging to know that this vision was formed with Salvation Army voices from different creeds, status and perspectives. It was an honour to take part in the youth focus group. Including the voices of the younger generations communicates that we are one through the body of Christ.
As a Christian and Salvationist, I believe it is my duty to build Christlike communities that show his love and grace, and to share this hope in my ministry.
(Soldier Employee Focus Group)
“building communities that are just”
Brent Hobden is the community ministries director for The Salvation Army in Comox Valley, B.C.
I see this vision statement as an echo of the Great Commission; as Salvationists, we are called to journey with people who God places into our care and help others recognize the abundance of hope in Christ.
The desire to “build communities that are just” speaks to the inequality that exists in every community, so I understand “just communities” as parts of a territory that regards every individual as valued and equal. This action is complemented by the word “mobilized,” which draws a vivid picture of an Army being sent out to distribute a vital message. It is a strong word of action with pending success.
I like to think of myself as an out-of-the-box-thinker, so I connect with this vision and the notion that our Army is moving forward with new ideas. Within our growingly complex communities live diverse populations. To encourage partnership through our vision statement confirms that we will enlist the support of qualified individuals and agencies. Together, we are equipped to love the individuals that God places into our care.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that, in life, struggles will always be a reality and then he says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In a COVID-19 reality, a vision like this communicates that our Army anticipates the struggles of life and is well positioned in the community to serve, recognizing that service is an outward expression of love through an indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Captain Graciela Arkell
(Corps Focus Group)
“and know the love of Jesus”
Captain Graciela Arkell is community ministries officer and corps officer at Ottawa Citadel.
The words that stand out for me in our new vision statement are “building communities that ... know the love of Jesus.” It compels us to show Jesus’ love in all we do, and to take every opportunity to unashamedly tell others about who Jesus is, sharing his message of salvation.
As The Salvation Army ministers in places of hardship—financial, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—it is my hope that people would know that, in the midst of hardship, God is present. God is the only one that can bring hope where there is none. It is my prayer that folks will experience the love of Jesus and know that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from his love.
The year 2020 is quite different from what I expected. So far, it has been a difficult one, which can make us feel a sense of hopelessness. In contrast, this vision statement gives me a sense of excitement and anticipation of the “new thing” that God is and will be doing in our territory over the next decade. I will live out this vision in my ministry, being attentive to God’s voice, led by his Spirit and obedient to his call to share the gospel. I am called to build God’s kingdom; my aim is to do so with his guidance.
I am excited to see all that God is going to do through The Salvation Army over the next decade. He will continue to bring transformation as we reach out to folks in our communities.
Brianne Zelinsky-Carew is a Salvationist living in Toronto and currently works as a communications specialist for The Salvation Army’s Mobilize 2.0 team at territorial headquarters.