Social Services to convene in Orlando
BY GORDON BINGHAM –
“Bread for my Neighbor,” the title of General Frederick Coutts’ 1978 book exploring the “social influence of William Booth,” will be the theme for the ninth annual National Salvation Army Social Service Conference in 2003. General Coutts borrowed the title from a quote from Nicholas Berdyaev: “Bread for myself is a material question: bread for my neighbour is a spiritual question.”
Coutts’ book explores the roots of Salvation Army social services, particularly the “Darkest England” scheme and the place of voluntary organizations within the welfare structure. To Coutts, as to William Booth, there was little question that the church belongs in the forefront of caring for human need.
It is an appropriate background text and theme, then, for the national conference, which has as its purpose, to “celebrate, promote, shape and advance The Salvation Army’s expression of practical Christian response to human need.”
The 2003 conference will be hosted by the Southern Territory at the Sheraton World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The planning committee, representative of the four U.S. territories and Canada, and chaired by Captain Paul Fuller, Territorial Social Services Secretary in Atlanta, has put together a conference program that includes seven pre-conference seminars; five plenary sessions, 69 workshops and an active exhibit area to create a busy agenda from Saturday to Wednesday March 15 – 19. The plenary speakers include Commissioner Todd Bassett, national commander, and Commissioner Phil Needham, territorial commander, Southern Territory. A third plenary speaker will be Ms. Wilma Gallet of The Salvation Army’s “Employment Plus” program in Australia. “Employment Plus” is a nationwide program that addresses welfare to work issues in Australia, and is implemented across two territories and multiple divisions. In the annual “delegate forum,” Ms. Gallet will address issues of functioning as a faith-based organization within a national political arena, as well as the problems of working across Army internal jurisdictions.
The 2003 conference introduces a new “track” of disaster services training that will be a regular feature of the conference in the future. The disaster services track is part of the effort of the Army to better train staff and volunteers for disaster response. Its inclusion in the national conference recognizes the interface of disaster and social services.
The preliminary conference program and registration materials have been distributed to the territories and divisions. Interested persons should contact their local leadership and/or divisional commander.