By Nick Coke
Inspiration for the journey comes from many quarters. Some of it is through more obvious means – scripture, prayers, sacred music, religious art – and then there’s the more oblique stuff, like a film scene, an unexpected piece of music on the car radio, the sun reflecting off a skyscraper that suddenly moves you, an overheard snippet of conversation on the street. It’s nuanced for all of us. For me it’s music – not really the kind you hear in a church meeting but something you find on an old vinyl record in a charity shop. A number of years ago I blogged a little on some of my favourite musical gems – songs for the journey. Here’s one I recorded earlier:
Sufjan Stevens – The Perpetual Self or What Would Saul Alinksy do? (Listen on Youtube here) Continue reading “Songs for the Journey – Saul Alinsky and Sufjan Stevens”
By Nick Coke
What is a justice-seeker? What do we dream of becoming? What characteristics should we desire and pray for? What should we be doing? Here are some personal reflections. Although far from this, I pray I might walk this path. When you have read it, have a go at writing your own version. Use it as a source for daily prayer.
Present: justice-seekers understand there is no justice to be done from a distance. Like the Good Samaritan, they go out of their way and take risks to recognise and know the suffering of others. There are no boundaries that they will not cross, nor comforts they will not dispense with in order to build relationships and understand others. They know that first and foremost change begins with relationship and relationship can only begin with presence. Continue reading “The justice-seekers dream… Spiritual exercise #2”
Guest post by Major Estelle Blake
For 11 years I was the manager of The Salvation Army centre in King’s Cross, London. This was an outreach centre to men and women in pro
titution; including brothels, saunas, lap dancing clubs and street ministry. Just over 2 years ago, I moved to Rome to start a national awareness campaign within The Salvation Army and after a year the plan to begin a local community based outreach programme here in Rome.
And so it began – a threefold mission to bring and see change in this area of ministry: a response to the national and international movement; research for local possibilities of ministry; and discovering where we fit in by networking with other potential partners. Continue reading “Theory and Practice”
Guest post by Major Malcolm Martin.
A few weeks ago William Booth College partnered with South London Citizens to host a conversation with Luke Bretherton, who shared some of the key concepts outlined in his latest book ‘Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship, and the Politics of a Common Life’. The book examines the theoretical foundations of community organising, particularly as found in the work of Saul Alinsky, and relates them to an extended case study of implementation within London Citizens – inc
luding an honourable mention for ‘Nick Coke, a softly spoken Salvation Army officer’. Those who are readily familiar with ‘Marching Towards Justice’ will find this to be a familiar format. Continue reading “Community Organising: where it came from and why it matters”
By Nick Coke
A year on and there’s only one sentence I can remember from the justice-seeking seminar. Such is the way of things, as we preachers and teachers well know. It came right at the close, just as the speaker was heading for the door. She’d packed up her notes and left the microphone behind at the lectern when suddenly she glanced back over her shoulder, fixed her eyes on me and from under her breath came the throwaway remark – ‘of course we don’t do social justice, we live justly’. She disappeared out of the door and down the corridor. I looked around to see if anyone else was struck by the Colonel’s final word but the post-session hubbub had already began. Perhaps it was meant just for me.
I’ve pondered this one-liner ever since. Continue reading “Do be do be do! Spiritual Exercises for justice-seeking #1”
Naomi and I were on our way to Salisbury this afternoon with our daughter, when we suddenly had to come to a stop on the B3079. We realised that, a few cars ahead, a cow had come into the road. With its friends, the cow waited patiently until it was ready to move on. It reminded us that over the last few weeks, cows have been ‘wandering’ into places they’re not usually found – namely, supermarkets! Farmers for Action, a campaign group, organised a number of actions which drew significant media attention. These, alongside the negotiations, put sufficient pressure to get Asda, Morrisons and Aldi to agree to increase the amount they pay for milk, linking it to the cost of production.
In our pamphlet Marching Towards Justice: Community Organising and The Salvation Army, we describe public actions as being essential for seeking justice. Without it, the other ingredients that we discuss (visitation, power analysis, and leadership development) become neutralised for the purpose of changing the world from the way it is to the way it should be. The public actions by the Farmers for Action are great examples of how it can and should be done. Here’s why: Continue reading “Cows! and what we can learn from the farmers”
Guest post from Panna Simon
When I first came to The Salvation Army in 2012, I was 8 months pregnant and had just been made homeless. I had moved into a privately rented flat that had turned out not to be fit for human inhabitance. There was mould, severe structural problems, no heating and dodgy electricity. It was basically built on top of a garage. This was meant to be the place that I would bring my son back to.
I reported this to the council who condemned the property straight away but then wouldn’t help me with further accommodation because I was in-between an application changing from jobseekers allowance to maternity allowance. I worked really hard to find a flat and then was able to get some money together for the deposit. I moved in on the Monday. I went in to labour on the Tuesday. Just in time! Continue reading “…a Salvationist, telling my own story…”
Guest post from Dan Tomlinson
In the past fortnight I’ve read two books: “Marching for Justice” and “Go Set a Watchman”, the widely publicised sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”. One, a pamphlet on community organizing and the Salvation Army and the other a novel exploring issues of race, family and faith in the USA in the 1960s. Different though these titles may sound, they both showed me the importance of looking beyond the things that divide us. I wanted to highlight how this is an essential feature of successful community organising.
“Go Set a Watchman” returns to the Finch family of Macomb, Alabama, 20 years after the events in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Jean Louise is now in her late twenties and has been living in New York for a number of years. She returns to the family home for a summer break and discovers that many of the people she knows and loves hold very different views on race than her own. This progressive New Yorker is forced to accept that the town she loves is, at least in part, a town of hatred and division. Continue reading “Though we are different, we are decided…”
Last Monday, we discussed ‘the craft of visitation‘. We reflected on its importance to the role of a Salvation Army Officer: the need for all Salvationists to be involved in visiting, that visitation is a skill that can be developed, and that it is a discipline that is important to plan and prioritise.
In Thurday’s guest-post, Commissioner Birgitte Brekke-Clifton said “Building relationships this way is the key to ‘success’.” In this context, we are defining success as ‘effecting social change’ and this is something Commissioner Birgitte knows a lot about, being one of the co-founders of Others, a Salvation Army social enterprise. A social enterprise is an intervention in the market. In Sally Ann – Poverty to Hope about the early days of Others, when it was known as Sally Ann, there is a description of a change in mindset that took place when people realised they should no longer be ‘recipients of development aid or charitable handouts’ but rather ‘business partners.’ Let’s consider how this ‘change in mindset’ might be applied to our practice of visitation in two ways: Continue reading “Visitation for social change”