“Seeking Justice Together”
The General dedicates new International Social Justice Commission Headquarters.
General Shaw Clifton officially dedicated to God the work of the International Social Justice Commission at its new headquarters on East 52nd Street in New York City, in a gathering where international guests, representatives from the nearby United Nations (UN) and Salvationists joined Director Commissioner Christine MacMillan in highlighting the commission’s aim: “Seeking Justice Together.”
The General announced, “This is an historic day for The Salvation Army. It is the official birthing of our International Social Justice Commission, not far from the United Nations. It is not a day to pat ourselves on the back but, rather, it is a day to give glory to God.
“The establishing of our new International Social Justice Commission is designed to give strong and articulate support to social justice initiatives by Salvationists around the world. It will also allow us to network intelligently and sensitively with international bodies, like the United Nations in New York, in Geneva, in Vienna and in Nairobi.”
On hand were the Army’s UN representatives from Vienna (Major Elisabeth Frei) and Geneva (Major Sylvette Huguenin).
The General added: “The creation of the Commission…provides a previously missing element of intentional co-ordination across the 115 lands in which currently we work.”
The Army’s past and present commitment to social justice
Emphasizing the “Seeking Justice Together” theme, he pointed out: “We do not think naively that we can solve the social justice questions by ourselves, but we will do what we can and we will partner with others. We seek to reaffirm and renew our role in social justice advocacy. We need to stand with Jesus!”
General Clifton cited examples from the past when the Army had taken social action during difficult times. He referenced General Bramwell Booth, who, during the First World War, threatened to open a series of bakeries to make and sell bread at cost price if commercial bakeries wouldn’t lower their prices to consumers.
The General also gave a contemporary example of social justice in the UK where the Army was involved, along with other Christian action groups, in getting sexual services advertising removed from free newspapers.
Commissioner MacMillan, affirming the General’s comments, declared, “the price of silence is far too high.”
The representative speaker from the United Nations, the president of the UN Conference of Non-Government Organizations, Liberato Bautista, spoke of the essential need for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Solidarity with the world’s poor, oppressed and marginalized is not optional, he said. ‘We embrace social justice principles so that the world might believe.
“We feel that the Army’s Social Justice Commission exemplifies the active role of peace in seeking justice. The establishment of this Social Justice Commission is a cause to celebrate.”
After the formal dedication service, all in attendance were invited to the newly designed garden, which is surrounded entirely by high-rise buildings. Here, the “Seeking Justice Together” theme was symbolically depicted as several white doves were set free, in recognition of the commission’s aims to help free millions around the world from the injustices that plague them.
The full text of the General’s speech can be found on the General’s website, www.salvationarmy.org/thegeneral.