Colonel Wendy Swan is the director of the International Social Justice Commission, chair of the International Moral and Social Issues Council and sitting member of the International Theological Council. During her doctoral studies at King’s College London, England, she researched and wrote about a theology of protest. Now, she has published a book, Living Right While Righting Wrong, that offers Salvationists a framework for understanding their own participation in social justice, based on Salvation Army theology. Colonel Swan spoke with Salvationist staff writer Abbigail Oliver about the book, the research and the global experiences that guide them.

Where are you from and what can you tell us about your current role with The Salvation Army?

I was born and raised in Burnaby, B.C., but after I completed training college, I was determined to explore the world in whatever capacity I could. I’m very much a global citizen. Twenty-six out of my 39 years as an officer have been a global journey.

I am currently the director of the International Social Justice Commission, which I see as a great responsibility and a privilege. This appointment has the potential for global impact, and I’m incredibly grateful to God and the Army for these opportunities. 

How did this book come to be?

While The Salvation Army has had several publications written about our social services work, which is incredibly important, it was confirmed by a number of scholars within the Army that no one had ever written about the theological underpinnings of our social justice work. 

Social services is the day-to-day work of meeting people where they are. Social justice looks at the root cause of how they got there in the first place. When you look at those root causes, one can better address how to best come alongside people. Within The Salvation Army, we have no theological language to explain this. This book, Living Right While Righting Wrong, is a translation of my academic studies and is meant as a resource for our global Salvation Army family. It asks, “Is social justice just something you do, or is it an integral part of discipleship?”

I believe that Living Right While Righting Wrong is a timely resource, and yet I am hopeful that it is a timeless resource as well. Social issues continue to arise, and though they are not new issues, they reappear in new ways. The world-as-it-is has been that way for a long time, but as God’s people rise up and say, “Enough is enough,” and do it in respectful and informed ways, I believe we fulfil God’s calling on us as followers of Jesus.

What can people expect to read in Living Right While Righting Wrong?

We read in Scripture that Jesus protested social injustices, but how do we link that to the 21st century and to our own lives as disciples?

This book is for all Salvationists, but is targeted specifically to those aged 18 to 30. They are a very socially minded generation, concerned with so many moral and social issues. Within the book, I ask a number of questions, including, “Is it possible for a Salvationist to be morally mute or invisible?” I don’t think it is. And I think many of the young adult generation will agree. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you, you not only can do something but you must do something.

I hope this book will allow readers to understand and articulately explain the theological grounding behind their commitment to social justice, to understand not only what they are doing and how other people’s lives are transformed by it but also how it can change us into more mature disciples. There are intentional discussion and reflection questions that I hope will move beyond the individual into groups, communities, Bible studies and conversations over coffee.

"If the Holy Spirit has convicted you, you not only can do something, but you must do something." COLONEL WENDY SWAN

What are the key messages that you hope readers will take away?

That God is already at work. We need to find ourselves where God has already said God will be, which is out in the world. God still loves the world. His call on our lives is to go where he is. If you really want to see where God is, look for the margins. To understand what God is doing, start by speaking with your neighbour. Truly see the individual who is struggling.

I want readers to perhaps be called back to the first claim that Jesus made on their life. Yes, we are saved from sin, but equally, we are also saved toward something—to be involved in a transformation of the communities, the families and the neighbourhoods where we live. And God is doing that. So, our job as Christians and as Salvationists is to find out what God is doing and to make sure we’re part of it. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Instead, God says, “Come and join me.”

When will this book be available?

General Brian Peddle has graciously agreed to launch the book at the International Conference of Leaders this fall. Both hard copies and e-books will be available to make it as accessible as possible. I hope that as people engage with the material, they will also find the language accessible.

We all need the encouragement to focus and be intentional about the things that are important to us. I’m grateful for energy and friends around the world who believe in a lifestyle of justice. I’m grateful for all the learnings I’ve had, for sisters and brothers, aunties and uncles, who have been willing to correct me or challenge me as a disciple of Jesus. I pray that Salvationists can see themselves in the book and recognize why they do what they do, for engaging in a life of protesting in justice is part of our holiness journey.

To order a copy of Living Right While Righting Wrong, visit

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On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, Edna Williams (Lt.Colonel) said:

This book “Living Right while Righting Wrong” should be included in the officer training programme and highly recommended to all Salvationists. It is a solid reminder of the origins of our Movement and what we claim to be. It is a challenging read. Thank you Colonel Wendy. God bless you.

On Sunday, October 9, 2022, Joan king said:

Very interesting ….God Bless the Salvation Army..and all the Leaders!n

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