International leaders attend zonal conference
Pan-American Conference held in USA Southern Territory.
General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton joined the senior leadership of The Salvation Army’s Americas and Caribbean Zone for the Pan-American Conference at Camp Hoblitzelle, Midlothian, Texas on October 18-20.
Representing one-third of the countries in which the Army serves, delegates came from the 11 territories and USA National Headquarters in the Americas and Caribbean Zone, along with those from International Headquarters.
Under the theme, “Thy will be done,” the purpose of the conference was to strengthen the sense of unity among the different cultures and varied expressions of the Army’s mission. Matthew 6:10 provided the foundational scriptural reference: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Leadership teams from North America, South America and the Caribbean had met together like this on only three previous occasions, the first being in 1946 in Chicago, led by newly elected General Albert Orsborn. Orsborn wrote the opening song for this year’s conference, “Greater Things,” which gave the initial challenge to the delegates to review and celebrate the Army’s heritage, to look at and evaluate the present work of the Army, and to make appropriate plans for the future.
Clifton introduced the discussion sessions, setting the scene scripturally to remind the leaders that The Salvation Army is “called to be a salvation Army, a sanctified Army and a sensible Army.” Commissioner William Francis, international secretary for the Americas and Caribbean, presided over the talks dealing with Army growth, soul saving, holiness, officer recruitment, officer formation, accountability, women officers and ranks.
Commissioner Helen Clifton spoke on the expanding work of the Army worldwide with victims of sexual trafficking. There was a call to pray for the victims, victims’ families, counselors, police and immigration services, lawmakers and governments, media awareness, those who abuse women and those who profit from the sex trade.
Colonel David Gruer, a delegate and translator for two of the previous conferences, was available to translate during the sessions.
During evening activities, Francis introduced a video titled, An Advancing Army: A Historical Perspective of The Salvation Army Across Pan America. Produced by the USA Southern Territory, the video included interviews with Army historians Professor Edward McKinley of Asbury College, Lexington, Ky., and retired officers Colonel Frank Payton and Major John Merritt.
Major Edward Hobgood, general secretary, Florida Division, presented his dramatic presentation of the colorful Staff-Captain Joseph Garabed, better known as “Joe the Turk.”
During the concluding session Clifton spoke on the history and importance of the mercy seat, where God promises to meet every seeker. The conference concluded with leaders kneeling at the mercy seat, and some kneeling at their chairs, as they prepared to return to their places of ministry.
From a report by Major Sandra Defibaugh, assistant national chief secretary, USA National Headquarters.