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Online soldiership classes begin

West initiates classes through its OnlineCorps.

By Karen Gleason

The Salvation Army USA Western Territory began online soldiership classes Oct. 7 at onlinecorps.net with 20 participants; another 54 people have registered interest.

Facilitated by Lt. Colonel Edward Hill, territorial secretary for program, the six-week course was designed and implemented by Grant Whitehead, territorial social media chaplain. The group meets online each Monday at 7 p.m. for one hour.

Anyone interested in learning about The Salvation Army’s beliefs and practices can enroll and are not required to become a soldier after completing the course. The initial session included students from the U.S., Ecuador and the U.K.

“It is interesting to find such a mix of people who are participating,” Hill said. “Some are officers; others are already soldiers who want to refresh their training experience, and some have an Army affiliation but want to learn more about The Salvation Army and its mission. My hope is that at the end of the course there will be a number of people who will seek to be enrolled at The Salvation Army in their community.”

Two of the current participants have disabilities that make accessing classes at their local corps difficult. For them, the online opportunity is the answer to a prayer.

Online discussions cover topics including Salvation Army history, the 11 Salvation Army doctrines, the six Articles of War, Salvation Army organizational structure and symbols, an overview of positional statements, and sacraments.

“We see this online training opportunity as just another logical step in embracing the technological realities of the 21st century,” Hill said. “While the ideal for instruction of any kind is still likely a face-to-face encounter with a group of people seeking a common goal, the online course allows us to reach people who—for any number of reasons—are unable to join with a Salvation Army fellowship at this time. Our hope is, of course, that the online soldiership course is a helpful tool in leading people toward a deeper understanding and desire to connect both spiritually and socially, if possible, with the Army in their community.”

Developed by the Western Territory, OnlineCorps opened its virtual doors in September 2012 at onlinecorps.net and facebook.com/onlinecorps. It exists to fill the gap between people and local corps, and to connect individuals to The Salvation Army and to each other.

Its other programs include GospelStories, a weekly live Bible discussion video series; LifeStories, a weekly video series of one-on-one interviews; and OnlineCorps HangOuts, allowing people to meet online.

A new session of the online soldiership course will commence in early 2014.

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