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”
Guest post by Commissioner Birgitte Brekke-Clifton
‘Marching Towards Justice‘ is the best publication I have read in a long time. It is challenging, inspiring, exciting and “Army”!
It gives us glimpses of ‘the heroic stories of the past’: the early Salvation Army – ‘a revolutionary movement seeking to turn the world upside down – an Army born for justice-seeking’. In doing so, it gives us a timely reminder of who we were raised up to be and what we were raised up to do.
The chapter on methodology is excellent and should be read and lived out by every Corps/ Centre in the Army world. It lists four key essential elements necessary to be successful in transforming neighbourhoods: Continue reading “Review: “…challenging, inspiring, exciting and “Army”!””
While doing some of the research for Marching Towards Justice, we were excited to re-discover some of the great advice that is held in Orders and Regulations for Salvation Army Officers (O&R). We focussed particularly on the sections on ‘visitation’, which is defined there as personal contact with people… where they are to be found, with a view to furthering each other’s spiritual interests. We take it as self-evident that seeking to further someone’s spiritual interests involves a concern about their material wellbeing.
For example, if you’re concerned about how somebody’s Bible study is going, you also need to be concerned about whether they are being paid a fair wage in order to put food on the table for their family, or whether the children have enough space to do their homework, or whether the whole family feels safe on their way to work or school. While the earthly and spiritual might be formally distinct, the two are joined together so tightly that neither can survive separation. It is therefore implicit that a visit should lead to action. Continue reading “The Craft of Visitation”
By Nick Coke
In our pamphlet, Marching Towards Justice, we outline a methodology for justice-seeking. We highlight four key elements required for bringing about lasting change: visitation, power analysis, training and development, and public action. Of the four, public action is the most contentious. Why? Because it involves struggle and agitation. In our section on ‘public action’ you will find the following words and phrases: ‘actions are targeted and personal’, ‘they should involve confrontation’, ‘the appropriate action is the one that will provoke the action one is looking for’. Provoke, target, confront – words that might make us uncomfortable as followers of Jesus. After all, isn’t the Christian life all about love, mercy and grace? Yes of course it is, but if we ask the question ‘what would Jesus do?’, we might soon realise that he would not have been too squeamish about the kind of public action we write about. In fact, not only was he a remarkable practitioner of agitation and confrontation (turning over the tables in the temple courts, healing on the sabbath, telling stories about good Samaritans, reclining at the table of ‘sinners’ and ‘outcasts’), he also taught his followers exactly how to do it in some of the most revolutionary political statements you’ll ever find. In Walter Wink’s wonderful short book, ‘Jesus and Non-violence: A Third Way’, there is brief exposition of Matthew 5:38-41. You will know the passage well: Continue reading “What would Jesus do? The art of public action.”
It’s great when you get a good review. Even better when you get insights like these:
‘…justice seeking through community organising is part of the DNA of the Salvation Army. Indeed without such principles, being content simply with charity without justice, it is actually a betrayal of the founding principles of the Army and will result in detracting from its mission.’ Continue reading “Review of ‘Marching Towards Justice’”