In her message, the territorial commander affirmed, “Core values help us to determine if we are on the right path. They are an unwavering guide that we can turn to when we’re faced with difficult questions. They are grounded in Scripture and in God’s call upon our lives.”
Beginning more than three years ago, the Ethics Centre in Winnipeg engaged in a process of surveying the territory’s adherence to and understanding of its original core values statements. While they discovered that overall the Army is good at living out its values, they identified the need to frame them in such a way that they would resonate with everyone—from the territorial commander to thrift store employees to corps officers to volunteers on the kettles.
“Changing the core values statements does not mean the previous values are not worthwhile or important,” notes Sharon Jones-Ryan, who led the study during her tenure with the Ethics Centre. “But working toward congruency between organizational values and practice meant growing our understanding, both at the Ethics Centre and in the territory as a whole, as to the role of values in organizational life.”
The first formal statement of values for Canada and Bermuda was created in 2003. In 2011, those 10 values were organized into core values of faith (salvation, holiness and intimacy with God) and operational values (compassion, respect, excellence, integrity, relevance, co-operation and celebration). This categorization led some to question whether or not our Christian identity as The Salvation Army was compromised by the separation between “faith” and “operation” in the statements.
Another complicating factor was that many officers and employees, when asked, could not name the values. The conclusion of the study was that 10 values are too many, and that workers can only live the values to the extent that they can readily call them to mind.
In 2015, a process for establishing a new values statement began. This involved wide consultation throughout the territory, from the leadership to the grassroots. After a series of working groups involving representatives from all levels of the organization, the current values statements were crafted and approved by Cabinet.
A decision was made not to retain any of the words from the old values list for fear of implying that one was somehow more important than the others. As in the past, each value is accompanied by an associated “behaviour statement”—a short explanatory line that helps unpack the meaning and expectations behind the value.
Management guru Susan Heathfield writes, “Core values are not just qualities that you consider worthwhile; they represent an organization’s highest priorities, deeply held beliefs and fundamental driving forces. They are the heart of what your organization stands for in the world.”
James Read, director of the Ethics Centre, agrees. “Values are both ‘who we are’ and ‘who we want to say we are,’ ” he says. “They are both ingrained in our DNA and an ideal that we continually strive for. The four values chosen are what differentiate us and make us unique.”
Posters of the values will be circulated for use in ministry units. The values statements are intended to be coupled with and reinforced by our mission statement: “To share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world.”
Unpacking the Values
The following excerpt from Commissioner McMillan’s New Year Address brings context to each of the new territorial core values:
HOPE—We give hope through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The first of our new values is hope. That’s no surprise! Our brand promise for more than a decade has been “Giving Hope Today.” We give hope to vulnerable people in more than 400 communities across the territory. Our mission is to reach out to people who are lonely, lost and marginalized. To let them know that someone cares. That even though today may have its challenges, there can be a better tomorrow.
SERVICE—We reach out to support others without discrimination.
We all need other people. But for various reasons, some people are overlooked, stigmatized or pushed to the margins. This is demeaning and unfair, and God takes it personally. On the other hand, the Bible says that those who serve others will know God’s blessing. Jesus’ ministry was dedicated to interacting with people from every walk of life. He calls his followers to do the same. In our corps and in our social ministries—indeed all of life—we are called to love each other, and particularly those who are not like us. People are not as different as we might think.
DIGNITY—We respect and value each other, recognizing everyone’s worth.
To be human is to bear the image of God. This is innate and inalienable; it cannot be earned or taken away. It gives every human being a fundamental equality with every other human being. When it comes to our social services, our founders, William and Catherine Booth, offered “soup, soap” and then “salvation” to hurting people. I think the order is important because it speaks of dignity. They realized that it’s hard to feed a person’s soul when they have an empty stomach. It’s hard to preach about finding a spiritual home when you don’t have anywhere to lay your head for the night. That’s why they took care of people’s practical needs first. Human dignity should never be ignored.
STEWARDSHIP—We responsibly manage the resources entrusted to us.
The Bible asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). This is the starting point. The most that anyone can do is to build on something they were given to start with. Gifts from other people or God are best understood as trusts. We can be good stewards of our finances, as we budget wisely, give generously and account for funds. We can also be good stewards of the earth, reducing our carbon footprint and caring for creation. And we can offer up our time and talents, turning our passions into a way of giving back to others.
I invite you to consider: How do these values apply to your situation? How can you embed these values into every aspect of your work? How are you giving hope, providing service without discrimination, offering dignity and ensuring wise stewardship of resources?
I would encourage you to see these not only as corporate values, but as your values. Together, we can own them and together they can provide a new context for how we live out The Salvation Army’s mission in the world.