Heritage Conference links Army past and present

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General John Gowans speaks at the Saturday night anniversary celebration.

Salvation Army history and heritage engaged 40 enthusiastic participants at the Western Territory’s first Heritage Conference at Crestmont College, held in November. “This was one of the most interesting and stimulating Salvation Army conferences I have ever attended,” said one officer of the three-day event exploring the Army’s beginnings and growth in the West. “I have been around many years,” said another, “but so much was new to me!”

Participants, who came from as far as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Alaska and Hawaii, were held spellbound by a distinguished lineup of speakers, including Commissioner Gisèle Gowans, who personally recalled the Army’s unquenchable presence during the WWII Vichy government of Nazi-occupied France. Many Salvationists were taken away for questioning by the Gestapo, said the Commissioner, and the Army had to go underground. “But we continued to do what we were raised up to do, and even without the uniform, The Salvation Army was known by our people, our services and our humanity.”

Presenter Dr. Robert Docter entertained and enlightened the group with anecdotal history of the Army’s long participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Speaker and author Dr. Lillian Taiz urged participants to consider the question, “Did we change American society or did they change us?” and Major Barbara Robinson described the Army’s historic rhetoric of health vs. the reality that the harsh demands of ministry in the 1800s caused officers to last an average of only three years.

General John Gowans (R) colorfully highlighted “The Three Catherines” and also spoke to a full house in the chapel on Thursday night, reiterating the importance of his time spent among people trying to accomplish something for humanity in developing nations of the world.

“The conference far exceeded our expectations in every way,” said conference coordinator and Museum Director Captain Kevin Jackson. “The conference has helped the Salvation Army Museum of the West to move forward in our goal of taking our great narrative and putting it in the context of American history.”

For information on the Museum or Museum memberships, call 310-265-6241 or visit www.crestmontcollege.edu.

Gowans shines as storyteller

Gowans shines as storyteller

Three Catherines by Judy Vaughn –  General John Gowans—poet, showman,



Her rich French accent bringing additional emphasis to the depth of her

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