“You Are The Salt of the Earth”
KEYNOTE–Andrew Young gave the keynote address.
(Ed. note: a portion of Young’s remarks follow.)
“You are the salt of the earth–a light to the world. You are the leaven of the loaf. You are what really makes the kingdom happen,” stated Ambassador Andrew Young to the assembled audience of Salvation Army advisors and officers as he began his keynote address. “There’s an old hymn with one of my favorite verses which says: ‘It’s not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums; but deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes’.”
Young painted the difficulties of life today and used the victories of committed people in the past to present a note of hope for society. “Order within our society is strained to its very limits. We are caught in the throes of change. In almost every aspect of our lives we are bombarded by more information, more opportunity, more confusion and chaos than has faced any prior generation. There are very few things we can hang on to that are constant. But in the reverberations that rock our major institutions, you as an Army have held on to what is important. You have been symbolized in my mind from the depression ministry of The Miracle on 34th Street to the miracles I see all over the world. They are the kinds of things that people take for granted. Yet, without the work of The Salvation Army I doubt that we would be who we are, what we are and where we are as a nation.
“I want to thank you for that.”
In introducing Young to the audience, his dear friend of many years, Frank Skinner, former National Advisory Board Chair and retired President of Southern Bell, stated that it was both an honor and a challenge. “The challenge comes in the fact that introducing Andrew Young is like introducing six or eight different people, he has done so much, so well, so long.” Skinner noted that he was a Christian minister, a top aide to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, an executive of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an author of several books, a three-term Congressman, a three-term mayor of Atlanta and a former Ambassador to the United Nations. He holds France’s Legion of Honor and the highest civilian award this nation bestows–the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In his speech Young recounted some of the personal associations he has had with The Salvation Army. In times of crisis, he said, “I found the Army reaching out to political and business leaders, pulling us together and reminding us that we are all one people. As I walked the streets of Atlanta and discovered homeless people suffering from accidents over which they had no control,” Young recalled, “I learned what you have learned day in and day out–that I am what I am because of blessings I could in no way deserve: that my parents were good Christians–that they guaranteed me a good education which would guarantee me a secure future–a future in which I would inherit a political order where I would be free and could accomplish anything I would be willing to work for.
“What happens to the less fortunate?” Young asked.
“In times of social change similar to what we now experience, the alienation, the hostility, the violence, the chaos threaten the very fabric of our lives. In the midst of this, you bring a loving and caring presence that does more to hold society together than almost any force.
“I’m basically a preacher, but churches get so bogged down in what happens on Sundays. We worship with people pretty much like ourselves, who live in our same neighborhoods and who share in the same sort of experiences. I guess in our insecurity in Christ we probably need that. But we also need some secure Christians to reach out beyond the limitations of race, creed, clan and class to people as the Good Samaritan did. That’s what holds society together.
“You have done another remarkable thing,” Young continued. “We tend to partition our society so that religious institutions are over here–political institutions are over here–and business is over there. Never shall they meet.
“The Salvation Army finds those faithful people in business, politics and the church who have something else to give, and you create an environment whereby they are able to give according to the way God has blessed their hearts. And I think our businesses run better because of the spiritual involvement of business leaders and the increased sensitivity that is gained through associations that you provide. I know that when our political order makes sense it is because it has been inspired by the highest and best values that we are to portray and possess as people.”