West holds first Theology and Ethics Symposium

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by Donna Ames, Major

SYMPOSIUM PARTICIPANTS INCLUDE (front row) Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock, Dr. James Read, and Majors Donna Ames and Tedd Lowcock.

“Saved to Save: Towards a Salvationist Ecclesiology for the 21st Century” was the theme of the Western Territory’s first Theology and Ethics Symposium, held recently at Crestmont College. Twenty-two delegates presented formal papers and responses related to the theme, and participated in dynamic discussion leading to positive recommendations for territorial leadership.

Subject matter for the eight presentation and discussion sessions built on the Symposium’s theme by posing questions along two major axes. The first axis was temporal, looking at the past, analyzing the present and visioning for the future. The second axis posed questions regarding purpose, people and programs. While recognizing the internationalism of The Salvation Army, particular emphasis was given to the unique context of the western United States.

Dr. James Read, executive director of The Salvation Army Ethics Centre in Winnipeg, Canada, was both the keynote speaker and discussion moderator. In his keynote address, Dr. Read spoke of the Symposium building on the precedents and foundation of previous international Salvation Army events such as the 1987 Symposium for Salvation Army Ecclesiology and the 2001 International Theology and Ethics Symposium. In fact, the USA Western Territory is the first to follow through on a recommendation from that 2001 meeting that similar events be held on the regional level.

In discussing the importance of theological and ethical dialogue for action-oriented Salvationists, Read, borrowing a term from author Donald Schon, called for Salvationists to be “reflective practioners,” whose ideas—informed and shaped by vital activity—in turn fuel even more vital action. This was certainly true for 22 delegates who represented the variety of ministries within the territory and came ready to thoughtfully and honestly share their own perspectives as well as respectively dialogue with others who might have different perspectives and opinions.

All sessions were open to the public and there were a number of officer, cadet, soldier and employee observers. Cadet Martin Ross, who attended several sessions, wrote in response: “Congratulations to The Salvation Army in taking a major step in transitioning into a 21st century learning organization. In one talk, when the audience was asked if the Army will ever have originals like Booth, Railton and Cadman again, my response was yes, right here in this room of Symposium attendees. Let’s give the Army’s originals some space to be original. The Ethics and Theology Symposium is a good start!”

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