Docter Reports on International Symposium
by Mary Docter – For two weeks in March, 38 Salvationists from 18 countries around the globe met at the International Training College in London to discuss important issues of Salvationist faith education. I was honored to represent the USA Western Territory at this unique and important event. Although we represented a variety of ages, experience, and expertise, we all shared the conviction that the new millennium holds extraordinary possibilities for the Army. Convened by General Paul A. Rader, and under the gifted leadership of Colonels Philip and Keitha Needham, we gathered each day to share, dialogue, and strategize. Our goal was to consider the crucial challenges in the education and training of Salvationists in the 21st century, and to develop strategies, guidelines, and models that would help strengthen our faith education, and thereby produce Salvation Army soldiers and officers who are, in Colonel Needham’s words, “rich in the knowledge of God, mature in faith, and competent in mission.” To this end, during the first week papers were presented, discussed, and debated. Focus groups and workshops met to discuss the topics of the day, especially as they related to one’s particular region and culture. The second week was devoted to drafting the Call to Salvationists, developing proposed strategies for the future, and drafting specific recommendations for the General. Throughout the symposium, we began each day in prayer and worship–feeling the Lord’s blessings and his Spirit bringing us together to work toward a common goal. We worked long and hard, but the rewards were great. It was a highly intellectually stimulating experience, a marvelous time of sharing creative ideas and insights, a period of forming close, personal relationships. Each and every one of us agree that this was a profoundly life-changing experience. I know I will never be the same as a result of it. I returned home with an enormous notebook bursting with papers, reports, and recommendations, but most importantly with a renewed faith, a deepened sense of God’s calling in my own life, and 37 new friends in Christ whom I shall never forget.