by Gordon Bingham –
When the planning group for the Territorial Caring Ministries Conference met early this year, it quickly became apparent that all of our major social service programs, and particularly those working with people in residential settings, are addressing essentially the same issues: homelessness, substance abuse, recovery from physical and sexual abuse, mental illness, and educational and employment deficits.
Intake criteria differ, the scope of program interventions varies, but in very significant ways, all of our programs are serving people with very similar and overlapping needs. Of course, these same issues powerfully impact families who are part of our corps congregations as well.
This reflection has been the basis of the planning of the Territorial Caring Ministries Conference. The conference seeks to bridge barriers of departmental auspices and professional disciplines that separate our efforts, and to find common ground for dialogue, better understanding and mutual support and interaction. Key to that is the spiritual foundation of all Army ministry.
A series of day-long “intensives” will address in depth four areas of program concern: mental health, working with women clients, understanding addictions and moving people into employment. Added to these are program site visits, focused workshops and plenary gatherings.
Lt. Colonel Paul Bollwahn, national social services consultant, will be the conference keynote speaker. Colonel Bollwahn is a spokesperson for the Army concerning social service issues in the federal government and represents the Army to many national voluntary agencies.
The conference will conclude with a shared Sunday worship at which Commissioner David Edwards will be the speaker; the choir of the Los Angeles Harbor Light Center will provide special music. Between the opening and closing events, a host of presenters will provide a rich table of learning, fellowship, skill-building and networking.
Registration for the conference is still open; those interested are urged to contact their immediate supervisor or command head, in order to take part.