History comes alive at conference

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by Karen Gleason – 


Almost 100 Salvationists and friends of the Army met recently at Crestmont College for the second annual Heritage Conference. This year’s attendance notably increased over last years’

Co-sponsored by The Salvation Army Museum of the West Heritage Society at Crestmont and the college’s SOAR program, the conference gathered diverse speakers to present different aspects of Army history.

Keynote speaker Dr. Pamela J. Walker, associate professor of History at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada and author of Pulling the Devil’s Kingdom Down: The Salvation Army in Victorian Britain, focused on how the Army in Victorian times influenced the wider world, specifically in women’s rights, social welfare and Christian theology of the 19th and 20th centuries. In these three areas, Walker showed the early Army as the radical, working class movement it was, stating: “Most English clergy disapproved of what The Salvation Army was doing—taking rag sorters, washerwomen, dock workers and drunkards and making them evangelists. Evangelists were supposed to know Latin and Greek and go to Oxford or Cambridge.”

In her second presentation, Walker told the story of Constance Maynard, an accomplished educator in Victorian England. Not a Salvationist herself, Maynard adopted a child from the Army’s nursery in Paris. Walker explained the difficulties that arose from the adoption, highlighting Maynard’s perspective on the Army as an Army outsider and as “a strong-minded, determined woman, like Catherine Booth, who tried to expand the world for women.”

Dr. Ronald W. Holz, professor of Music Literature and Instrumental Music at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, presented a comprehensive history of Army music, from its beginnings as a means of crowd control to the challenges and opportunities it faces today. Initially, a “fertile tension” existed between the ecclesiastical control of General Booth (“a committee of one”) and the Army musicians’ desire for freedom of musical expression. Booth believed in “salvation worked out in sound.” His goal, said Holz, was “to keep the focus on evangelism; music with a message.”

Holz is passionate about Army music—its past and its future, and stated, “The first 20 years of this century will have profound significance, like the first 20 years of the last century.” The story of Army music will soon be available in his upcoming book, Brass Bands of the Salvation Army: Their Mission and Music.

Susan Mitchem, director of the Archives and Research Center at National Headquarters, gave an overview of the facilities at the Archives and then told the story of the creation of the High Council in 1929, bringing to life Bramwell and Evangeline Booth—their character and motivations. It’s been 75 years since these events but Mitchem made it seem like it happened yesterday. The goal at the Archives, she said, is “to serve as a guide to the records, to direct the researcher, to work together for a common purpose.” She admits, “It’s very cool to put the pieces together.”

A conference highlight was the performance by Carol Jaudes of her one-woman show, The World’s Greatest Romance, In this play with music, she portrays Susannah Wesley, Fanny Crosby and Evangeline Booth. Jaudes appeared for five years on Broadway in the musical CATS, and now works for the Eastern Territory as Special Events and Arts Ministries Director. She also serves on the National Board of Directors for CITA (Christians in Theatre Arts). Jaudes was accompanied on piano by Karen Krinjak, a Salvationist also from the Eastern Territory.

Informative and inspirational, the Heritage Conference succeeded in bringing Army history to life and reminded those present that it is up to us to preserve our vital heritage.

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