Prisoner of history? Sumter says ‘NO!’

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To the editor:

My response to Lt. Karlström’s statement that we have become ‘prisoner to our history’ is that she is completely off mark. No organizational structure can be put in place that will not cause disgruntlement with associated parties. Are we allowing God to lead or are we taking him by the hand and showing him the path which we seek to travel?

Surely, the decisions made by our first generation leaders were made in the best interest of the Army. Those decisions were at times not so successful but they worked. And isn’t it what we all strive for, to be successful for God’s kingdom? There are many areas that should come under review with respect to our military structure but the lieutenant has not given an alternative means.

The system of rank works well for me. God has allowed me the privilege to attain a ‘rank’ so that things can be done to further his kingdom. By the way, who is it that is dissatisfied with the system of rank? Is it those outside the Army or those within our beloved system? What right does society have to dictate what system or titles we give to our people? I don’t think that the titles used in the Catholic Church are negotiable either.

Open communication and negotiation of appointments

Open communication should be allowed when it affects the overall programs of the Army. I think we are headed in that direction; this is good.

However, I fall short of supporting the idea that negotiation of appointments is an area that should be fully exploited.

Lt. Karlström is looking toward a more democratic Salvation Army. When we have reached a certain degree of democracy, divisional commanders will be able to be elect/vote for their territorial commander; corps officers will be able to elect/vote for their divisional commander and DHQ staff; and the census board will determine, by vote, who will be their corps officer for the next few years. Now, can you see that happening?

As one officer mentioned, “We should be allowed to apply for a particular opening.” If a vacancy is publicized within the Army, there might be 100 applications for that specific opening. Even though the process of seeking the best candidate will be utilized, 99 units will be turned down and will question why they were not selected for that position.

Education of officers and specialization

Each officer should be allowed the opportunity to continue his/her education. Here again, the talk seems to be that we are moving away from the area in which God has called us to first and foremost, we are called to his service as pastors and ordained ministers. Yet we continue to seek areas of service that are not in direct relation to one-on-one contact with those who are lost. Lt. Karlström does have a point when she suggests that some guarantees should be made to utilize an officer’s specialized skills. Let us presume a particular position at divisional or territorial headquarters is filled by a specialized and skilled officer with the understanding that the position will not become vacant until that person retires. Let us also take it a step further and fill all positions that are not corps related. A couple of things will happen:

All field officers will not set their hopes on a particular D/THQ position no matter how skilled they are.

When positions are filled for a period of 20-30 years, then the chance of legalism might exists having to deal with only one person. A new breath of fresh air and a lost of vision and insight might also exist, and possibly stagnation will occur preventing further growth.

Education is good, and we welcome the different educational qualities that an officer brings. Chances are that their specialized field will be utilized at some point in time throughout their service to God in the Army. It is important that The Salvation Army stay focused in the area of evangelism and after care.

In spite the flaws that this Army has, I am still glad to be a prisoner of our history.

Lt. Hendrik Sumter
Clovis Corps, New Mexico

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