Catherine program summer school inaugurated

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Europeans learn and share together.

Fifty delegates, including officers, cadets and employees, from nine European countries attended the first Catherine program summer school, held at the training college for officers in Basel, Switzerland. They learned about Salvation Army history, doctrine, theology, social work and culture and gained insight from mixing with participants from across Europe, some coming from as far away as Ukraine, Estonia and Finland.

In many European countries Salvation Army training colleges have partnered with non-Salvationist theological colleges or universities. With this arrangement, cadets and lieutenants study biblical subjects, church history, and practical theology; however, the history and doctrines of The Salvation Army are not taught.

To address this need, European training leaders developed the Catherine program. Instigated by the Switzerland, Austria and Hungary Territory and The Netherlands and Czech Republic Territory, it is a one-week summer school. Subjects will be covered over a period of three years. The program is named after the “Army Mother,” Catherine Booth, who emphasized the necessity of studying as well as practical work.

The program focuses not only on the training of cadets and lieutenants but also allows officers and Salvation Army employees to refresh their knowledge of certain subjects.

Switzerland Territorial Commander Commissioner Kurt Burger—a Western Territory officer—gave the keynote address. Uwe Heimowski (Germany and Lithuania Territory) and the Rev. Hans Blom (The Netherlands) instructed.

“The program is an innovative response to the training dilemma faced by the European territories. Most do not have the resources to fund a school for officer training,” said Burger. “The Catherine program makes a great contribution to the training of personnel. People from former communist nations are particularly fascinated by the new information they are exposed to; it is a new world to them.”

Students who attended a pilot seminar were enthusiastic. Captain Frieda Hanouwer from Maarsen, Netherlands, said, “I was interested to see how others do the job and to share views with them.”

Dace Akermane, from Riga Latvia, added that understanding the Army’s history is essential. “We don’t have to go back to the fathers, but move forward like them.”

—From an international news report and Commissioner Kurt Burger

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