LA officer travels with training team to Turkey

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Lt. Chris Golden at the Blue Mosque

 By Karen Gleason

Lt. Christopher Golden, corps officer at Inglewood Citadel (Calif.) with his wife, Joanne, traveled with Rotary International and Mediators Beyond Borders to Turkey on a vocational training team Sept. 24-Oct. 3. The Rotary actively seeks to partner with other organizations to strengthen the world’s communities.

Although active in 126 countries, The Salvation Army is not established in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country with a secular constitutional structure. According to the CIA World Factbook,  99.8 percent of the country’s population are nominally Muslims. The Salvation Army currently ministers in the Middle East in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.

Unbeknownst to Golden, the Rotary put his name forward as a member of the team based on the Goldens’ work in the Inglewood community—from mediating with the homeless population to providing cohesive services within the community.

Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Doug Riley approved the mission, which was entirely funded by Rotary International.

The team stayed in Istanbul’s Old City. “I felt like I was tracing the steps of Paul,” Golden said.

During its stay, the team attended workshops at the Mediators Beyond Borders Congress and toured the city, home to 18 million people.

The workshops provided a cultural overview and an understanding of what life is like for the Turkish people. Congress leaders acknowledged The Salvation Army’s work in areas of conflict—such as the Syria/Jordan border and Jordan—and the Army’s ability to deal with crises, negotiate, and effect change and resolution.



Golden was struck by the poverty he witnessed. “Right outside the hotel, groups of kids—some no older than my 6-year-old son—were hustling,” he said. “They huddled in packs to stay warm and eat.”

Because of how its laws are written, Turkey has no welfare or social services. The team conducted research on the streets, determining what resources would be necessary to establish an outreach program that would address the poverty and hunger.

The team worked with Rotary District 2420, located in Turkey, which will report the team’s findings to the government. The team in Los Angeles is assembling a report for Rotary International.

“When we came to Inglewood, we were told that this is ‘a church on the move,’” Golden said. “People told me to ‘take this church outside these walls.’ That’s what I’ve done. A representative of The Salvation Army in Inglewood went to Turkey to share the message of Christ and to seek to meet people’s needs.”

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