“We’re in good shape”
Commissioners Barry and Sue Swanson complete review of the territory.
by Robert Docter –
Commissioner Barry Swanson, international secretary for the Americas, recently completed his triennial review of the USA Western Territory on behalf of the General. In an interview with New Frontier he gave no formal overview of his findings but stated he found the territory moving forward excellently in pursuit of relevant and appropriate goals.
“This territory is contemporary and up-to-date, living out its faith and effectively crossing cultures in this multicultural environment,” Swanson said. He commented on the positive morale within the territory and noted the large number of corps that attract workers and worshippers with a contagious spirit. These corps seem to have developed an individual program focus on particular program areas that provide the corps with a unique identity.
Swanson served as a corps officer and in several administrative posts for many years in the USA Central Territory. Prior to assuming his present position he was the Army’s National Chief Secretary for the United States. He is a tall, friendly, obviously intelligent man who communicates easily and warmly both to individuals and large audiences alike. Both he and has wife, Commissioner Sue Swanson, zonal secretary for women’s ministries, are college graduates and display a rich sense of humor.
In exploring the hypothesis of a declining officer corps as a function of low officer morale, Swanson stated that morale is individualistic – high or low depending on the individual officer. “Our focus needs to be on our mission, not on a plodding institutionalism that results in depressed feeling. Where the focus is on mission, the morale seems to be high,” he said. He commented favorably on a sophisticated confidential annual survey the West’s Personnel Department provides officers. They have opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings concerning their work. “Where officers have a strong self-management skill and a positive self-image you find high morale,” he commented.
Recognizing that the zone has a history of some variation in theological interpretation like liberation theology in some churches, Swanson was asked to comment on any “theological wandering” within the Army in the Americas. He believed this to be fairly rare among Army officers. “We seem mostly very consistent in our conservative theological position and very solid in our commitment to holistic ministry. It’s something we have to monitor closely and continue to work at,” he said.
In exploring concerns after only a short time in the position, he felt we needed to up-grade our work in cultural awareness for officers sent internationally to a culture much different from their own.