Guest post by Capt Emma Scott
“Mummy, what church do we live in?” This was the question 4 year-old Nathan asked about a year ago and it pretty much sums up the values of our Salvation Army gathering in Mitcham, London.
It was refreshing to read about the importance of visitation in the report ‘Marching Towards Justice’ and in particular the challenge to the status quo that visitation isn’t about me – spending time with someone because I know best and want to support them – but it’s about us, where we “…encourage both parties to speak freely about themselves.” As a leader in the church it can be really hard to make myself vulnerable to those around. My experience is that my ego compels me to have to keep a bit of mystery around who I am. The reality, however, is that I am a believer who messes up, struggles with faith and questions the world I see around me – church included. Continue reading “The power of us: listening, vulnerability and making room for God”
‘We get 30 or so on a Sunday, but back in the 70’s it would have been 300.’ Carl [not his real name] is telling me about the local working men’s club he has attended for decades just down the road from where we sit at a coffee morning in the church building where my wife Jenni and I have spent the last few months on our summer placement as part of our training to be Salvation Army officers. He has lived in the same house in West Leicester for 70 years and was an engineer and cleaner for most of his working life. He reflects that Leicester has a proud history of industry, particularly in shoe-making and hosiery, but like much of British industry, it declined in the decades after WWII. Continue reading “Reflections from Leicester – institutions are key to strong communities”
By Nick Coke
Last night I attended a prayer vigil for refugees, with Salvation Army colleagues from across London. It was a remarkable gathering.
Look at this photo – what do you see?
Here’s what I see…
I see diverse people. Gathered in the courtyard of Westminster Cathedral 450 souls stand shoulder to shoulder. A snapshot of the diversity to be found in this great capital city. People of various faiths, ethnic and social backgrounds. Humanity in it all it’s jumbled, glorious, and wondrous mess. All belong, all needed. Continue reading “Praying towards justice – a vigil for refugees”
By John Clifton
On Friday evening, some of the Match Factory collective went to see The Last Internationale (TLI), a New York rock band with a political edge, play at the Barfly in Camden – a few doors down from Chalk Farm Salvation Army. At a time when there is a lot of unrest about the insufficient level of action from the UK Government on the refugee crisis, it was helpful to be in a space which both expressed and cultivated anger. These were truly songs for the journey, written to be worked out in the justice-battles of everyday life. Continue reading “Songs to help us march towards justice #RefugeesWelcome”
Guest post by Lt Ben Cotterill
After one year of Salvation Army officership (leadership), I’m barely off of the starting blocks! With a background in international development within The Salvation Army I decided to make the jump, together with my wife, to our movements two-year leadership training programme in London. As novice preachers, rookie pastors, and enthusiastic community organizers we were sent to serve an unsuspecting congregation in the Yorkshire town of Keighley, (Northern England).
Our new responsibilities include the operation of one of the largest Salvation Army-run food banks in the country. We were encouraged to assess the effectiveness of the food bank from various people, including our ever humble and helpful predecessors. Continue reading “Marching Towards Justice in Keighley: Top 5 Community Organising Tips”
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”