“Winds of Change” coming to Chicago

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The 2009 National Social Services Conference scheduled for March

by Gordon Bingham –

This March, Chicago, Ill., will welcome The Salvation Army for the triennial National Social Services Conference (NSSC), to be held March 14-18. The theme, “Winds of Change: Steadfast in our Mission,” is especially appropriate at this time of national uncertainty.

“Three years ago, those who created the conference slogan, ‘Winds of Change: Steadfast in our Mission,’ had no idea the meaning that ‘change’ would have to us at this moment in time,” said Major Betty Israel, national social services secretary. “We face challenges as a result of negative changes in the economy, but the possibility of positive change exists if we are, indeed, steadfast in our mission.”

Salvation Army officers and social services staff from throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America will participate in celebrating, dissecting and discussing the Army’s social service programs in an effort to improve the Army’s services and skills.

“The Salvation Army was born into a world of such challenge, and once again God challenges us to stand with the ‘least of these,’” Israel said. “I believe that this National Social Services Conference will serve not only to help us improve our skills as we continue the work that God has set before us, but also to encourage one another to believe that the winds of change can carry us into a future of promise.”

The goal of the conference is to “celebrate, promote, shape and advance The Salvation Army’s expression of practical Christian response to human need.”

The Saturday welcome banquet and Sunday morning worship service will feature Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither and the Chicago Staff Band. Innovative social services programs will be honored at the awards banquet. Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan, the Army’s international social justice director, and the Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, a well-known speaker and author, will speak at the plenary sessions.

A complete conference schedule and program, including information about the 70 available workshops in nine different track topics, can found at nssc2009.org. The workshops promise discussion and learning in areas such as cultural competency, grant writing, service to special populations, corps programming and pastoral care. A series of seminars mark the opening day and field workshops in selected programs of the Chicago Metropolitan Division will highlight day three.

This conference provides an incomparable opportunity to connect with colleagues, build a network, share ideas, broaden understanding of the scope and quality of Army services, learn new skills, and expand a vision.

Registration forms are available at the conference website, subject to approval through your divisional and territorial headquarters.

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