by SUE SCHUMANN WARNER –
Seeking new ways to sharpen communication skills and build networking relationships with other Salvation Army editors, writers, and graphic designers—more than 145 delegates from around the world convened in Alexandria, Va., recently to take part in the 2005 International Literary and Publications Conference, “For a Time like This.”
Held under the leadership of Lt. Colonel Marlene Chase, national editor in chief and literary secretary, with the support of Commissioner William Francis, international secretary for the Americas and Caribbean, delegates spent their days learning and sharing in varied and dynamic seminars and workshops.
Keynote speaker author Philip Yancey discussed the “subversive effect of art,” and ways to use it in a positive manner—much as Jesus Christ did in his parables, where the “wrong” person is always the hero: the prodigal son, good Samaritan, and the lost sheep.
“Every time we write, we take the risk of being misunderstood,” he said. “In art and writing, we are continually giving ourselves away.” He admitted, smiling, that writing is hard work. “I have mixed motives when I write. If I write 200 words before noon, I’ll have an ice cream cone at lunch.” He is currently at work on a book about prayer.
Plenary speakers, including former Disney imagineer C. McNair Wilson; Salvationist theologian Dr. Roger Green; former Editor in Chief and Literary Secretary Colonel Henry Gariepy; Commissioner Philip Needham, Southern territorial commander; Dr. Jonathan Raymond, president of William and Catherine Booth College in Winnipeg, Canada; and author Lydia Boardman encouraged Salvationist writers to continue to put forth the Gospel through the written word.
In all, 34 workshops covered such topics as curriculum writing, web design, cutting-edge graphics, writing for youth, evangelistic and devotional writing, publishing ethics, and more. Two of the workshops, addressed issues in writing for today’s world. “Faith, Film and Pop Culture,” led by Australian War Cry Editor Captain John Evans, showed that there is often an underlying “God question” in popular movies and music which writers can use as a launching point to reach out to the many people in our world who are in search of meaning in their lives.
“Controversy and Grace,” led by author Barbara Curtis showed writers how to address society’s hot topics in secular as well as Christian media with both grace and authenticity.
The Western Territory had 12 delegates.
Captain Jennifer Perrine contributed to this report.