Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
The person who is slowest in making a promise is most faithful in its performance. -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A VISION OF WHAT COULD BE...
Welcome to the Single Spouse Officers’ Club!
SSOC offers many opportunities for today’s non-officer spouses. You’ll make friends with others sharing a commitment to further the soul-saving mission of the Salvation Army. You’ll make a difference by raising money for SSO mission activities and camp scholarships for SSO children, and their SA uniforms. And you’ll enjoy regular membership socials and activities that appeal to a variety of interests including those of your children. And we’ll arrange special retreats to coincide with officer retreats and councils.
The SSOC is a nonprofit organization and serves the growing SSO community and the local corps in two ways. First, we help support endeavors in our base community, as well as the communities surrounding the officer spouse’s appointment. We run regular fund raising events and revenues fund our charitable and scholarship donations. Last year, the SSOC, donated more than $15,000 to various SA andcommunity organizations through our fundraising efforts. We also provided $10,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors and to our officer spouses seeking higher education.
In addition we are here to support one another. SSO life brings many challenges, and we come together to enjoy each others’ company and offer support to one another through the joys and challenges of life as non-officer spouses. Our membership socials will always include a time for voluntary attendance to our time for spiritual reflection, SA history and mission strategies, and Bible study. This will allow and encourage our members to share their experience, talents and insight with one another as we seek to foster fellowship and increase our impact on the army’s mission.
The SSOC is just getting off the ground, and If you find yourself with some extra time, please consider serving on the board or volunteering by doing a bit of research for us. You’ll have fun while helping our army become more effective!
Blessing, Ron Booth
Acting President and founder
Today's SA faces pressure to stay current, efficient and relevant. This is especially true for all churches.
A new Barna Group study examined how pastors of Protestant churches plan to improve the strategic, operational, and administrative aspects of their ministries. A COPY OF THE STUDY WILL BE DISTRIBUTED! We’ll learn more about how pastors plan to improve the effectiveness and capability of their ministries, and how we can benefit from their research.
The SSOC will initiate a new private chat site and we will meet each Saturday evening from 20:00 to 23:00. Drop in anytime by clicking here(SSOC DROP-IN CHAT).
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Four in our fellowship have recently announced a return to full time ministry in the Salvation Army. The support received from our fellowship was mentioned in every instance- here is the latest;
I will receive my new appointment next week. I hope I can still be part of this great FSAOF fellowship..it is so helpful to have found you and to know that others also have been in the same boat, yet we seek to be heard and to find healing, not revenge! It has been a blessing!
Just to let you know I have received a reply re: Application for re- entry to Officership. I have been accepted...I must say also that the TC of the ------- Territory gave me both a personal and a public apology on behalf of TSA as to how I was treated --yrs ago. I did find that healing and was impressed with the humility and love shown by the TC.,,
I will receive my new appointment next week. I hope I can still be part of this great FSAOF fellowship..it is so helpful to have found you and to know that others also have been in the same boat, yet we seek to be heard and to find healing, not revenge! It has been a blessing!
NAME AND TERRITORY ON FILE
Friday, February 24, 2012
The Salvation Army officer’s spouse is the only person I know
In a poll conducted in December, 2011, among non-officer spouses in five territories where the Single Spouse Officership provision is in place, less than 10% of the respondents felt they had been provided sufficient training for their role (call). And most shared that it was a learning-on-the-job through onsite experience and almost solely from the insight provided by the officer spouse.
In some ways there are times when it would appear that the officer spouse has their own confidant, counselor, prayer partner, supporter and much, much more living under the same roof. However, most non-officer spouses felt totally unprepared to assist in the ministry. The Officer spouse had received extensive training on how to be a SA officer. There is no credible training provided to the support spouse. The SA is not alone in having this indictment hurled at them.
In a random survey across Protestant denominational lines it was discovered that 85 percent of pastors’ spouses feel unprepared for the ministry lifestyle. Another, by the Global Pastors Wives Network, found that “eight in ten pastors’ wives say they feel unappreciated or unaccepted by their husband’s congregations.” Most shocking was their discovery that pastors’ wives’ issues are the number one reason pastors leave their ministries.
A friend, the daughter of SA UKT officers, married an American Seventh Day Adventist pastor and shared with me that; “Pastor’s wives receive no training and minimal contact with other Shepherdesses unless one attends the annual ministerial meetings or camp meeting in June. It's a Pastors retreat. However, on a positive note, we even have our own web page and which can only be accessed by a pass code. The site keeps spouses connected providing denominational updates, meditative thoughts (many of us have a spiritual leadership role in the church; not necessarily a paid position), spiritual and psychological support.”
In another survey conducted among evangelical church leaders it was learned that the most important joys that non-pastor spouses experienced was sharing ministry that revolved around friendships with people, seeing persons come to Christ, nurturing the spiritual and personal growth of others, and working as team members with their spouse. At the present time the majority of non-officer spouses are not sufficiently trained for this type of ministry support role.
This will call for a rethinking emphasis on the pre-acceptance and in-service education of the non-officer spouse for their vital role of ministry. Of course, each person is an individual coming into the non-officer role with very different gifts, education and experience and no spouse should be forced to take this training. Nevertheless the opportunity should be provided and presented logically, systematically and in a compelling philosophical style.
While a grad student in New York’s Jesuit Fordham University we were often privileged to have world-class guest lecturers. One of those lecturers was the Brazilian Paulo Freire who was particularly popular with informal educators with his focus and expertise in adult education with his emphasis on dialogue, moving away from and beyond banked learning, Freire provides a rationale for a pedagogy of the “outsider or newcomer” and introduced the highly influential notion of banking education and highlights the contrasts between education forms that treat people as objects rather than subjects; and explores education as cultural action for adults.
It’s this pegagogy form to which adults most easily adapt; exploring a compelling subject to which they can bring their own experience and help form the group’s outcome and direction. This can be achieved through meeting together regionally and nationally and also through webcasts.
The pre-acceptance and in-service education of the non-officer spouse could also be in the form of cultural action for adults explored and enacted online. Prior to the advent of the WWW, pastor’s spouses had little opportunity to connect, commune, and explore. A large percentage of non-officer spouses work outside the SA campus or their quarters, many in professional jobs, and the convenience of teaching/sharing on PCs, IPHONES, IPADS ought to be capitalized upon. And there is every reason to establish a dedicated and private chat site.
Eight in 10 pastors' wives say they feel unappreciated or unaccepted by their husbands' congregations, according to surveys by the Global Pastors Wives Network (GPWN); the same number wish their husbands would choose another profession. "Wives' issues" is the No. 1 reason pastors leave their ministries.
When I formed the FSAOF 4 ½ years ago I recognized, following communication with scores of former officers, that our issues in many instances were very similar yet so private--issues that as Christian men and women we might have wanted to discuss with others, but yet they weren’t in that place we were. No one could have been more surprised than I as our fellowship passed the 100 mark, then 200, 300, 400… We have exchanged views on hundreds of subjects special only to ourselves- each week there are comments of gratitude for shared advice, some requested prayer support when a loved one is ill, or a spouse or family member PTG, and just this week, three members going out to interview for job openings.
Ours is like a ‘closed’ order of 400 sharing about what for some matters most, life after officership- some are in ministry elsewhere, some serve as SA soldiers, others as Methodists, Baptists, CoE, etc. The FSAOF support group’s focus is on how to remain and to be involved in a committed ministry, And to explore what it is the former officer feels God calling them; for many, it’s a return to full time SA service as officers.
Cadets usually undertake a two-year course: year one at certificate level, year two at diploma level. The course is divided into four 'fields' of work and is subject to continuous assessment rather than formal examinations. The four fields are:
Personal Growth and Spiritual Development Biblical Studies, including biblical interpretation and Old and New Testament studies Ministry and Mission, including pastoral ministry, management and communication skills, mission studies,
Faith and Practice, including Salvationist doctrine, Church and Salvation Army history, and contemporary society and Christian ethics.
Is it not possible to establish some type non-officer spouse fellowship on campus? It need not be a formal curriculum, but rather a discussion fellowship meeting weekly at a time convenient to all. The focus would be to discuss those topics that would most benefit them once in the field; SA history, Doctrines, life style, SA structure, theology and even how to lessen the tensions that are certain to be a part of their “new life.”
The non-officer spouses will include corporate types, those coming with education and nursing backgrounds, store clerks and skilled labourers, persons skilled in many fields but who choose to work ‘for the Army’ in support of their spouse’s calling. Their contributions could greatly boost TSA’s capacity to reach society, corps and social services with the army’s mission believing that they too have a role and can contribute to the spouse’s ministry.
Sometimes, perhaps too often, SA leaders think corporately, thinking ‘the organization’, wanting and wishing peak performance. Yes, the army is corporate, but it’s not a corporation. Of course there are instances when leaders must focus on the entire body of believers, diagnosing malformations and prescribe remedies, eg. SSO. However when the word spiritual formation is heard on campus or the army hall we think of individual lives. Is the non-officer spouse, the college’s waitress and corps custodian not all persons TSA must labor and struggle with and ‘to present everyone mature in Christ’.
Finally, is it really out of the question for non-officer spouses to attend ‘In-Sunday meetings, Spiritual Days, and following Commissioning, Councils and retreats? Is it really so daft (a term learned this week!) for the Army to offer the hand of fellowship and ministry to our partners as a thank you for their support? While we are in councils or retreat could something not be offered to the non-Officer partner in the same venue that could help feed them spiritually, bring them together so they too could meet with other like-minded people and share fellowship with the Officer fraternity?
A dilemma for many is whether a calling to ministry is defined as being for a specific place, a distinct role, or to an itinerant denomination where others define that role? This dilemma is one where the non-officer spouse is perhaps the most confused and least supportive. If there was a set pattern of instruction, a clearer role for the 'spouse', perhaps this can be prevented.
The truth is, the Bible has no office or job description called “officer’s spouse.” This is because the spouse is simply expected to be a Christian church member like everyone else. And truth be told, there is no experience to guide us; we had to create everything from scratch. At the beginning, a lot of effort went into establishing the values that would set a framework for the non-officer applicant; what it was going to take to sustain both the organization’s reputation and soul saving mission. How can the support system be strengthened?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
SINGLE SPOUSE OFFICERSHIP
“The Lord says ‘Do not cling to the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already you can see it now!’…”-Isaiah 43:18-19 GNB
THE SELECTION AND APPLICATION PROCESS
The Salvation Army International Commission on Officership (2000) seeking to remedy the significant reductions in the number of officers in many developed countries opened the door for Christian ministry and spiritual leadership for those called by God, but whose spouse does not share the same calling to ministry. SSO celebrates individual calling to ministry as officers in The Salvation Army and requires that each candidate for SSO be evaluated on their own merit. It broadened access to officership for those who married non-officer spouses. Equally important; it acknowledges and celebrates individual calling to ministry as officers in TSA while also seeking to quell the fundamental problem of the diminishing number of active officers in many ‘western’ country territories.
SSO celebrates individual calling to ministry as officers in The Salvation Army and requires that each candidate for SSO be evaluated on their own merit. It acknowledges individual calling to ministry as officers in TSA while also seeking to quell the fundamental problem of the diminishing number of active officers in many ‘western’ developed countries and territories.
Throughout Salvation Army history the unique position on married officer ministry, i.e. both spouses equally called, trained, ordained and commissioned, has been of great strength, but more and more Salvationists rejected the regulation as outdated and a hindrance in advancing the army’s growth and God assigned mission. Nonetheless, the model of service where an officer is married to an officer will continue to be encouraged and endorsed.
This high attrition problem did not affect all territories as broadly or significantly as others. The reduction in the number of officers serving in non-pastoral roles was less affected in the USA, for instance, as their financial resources were sufficient in hiring lay personnel and professional to fill many roles previously held by officer personnel.
It's been 12 years since SSO policy discussions were begun and the provision introduced. Has SSO served its intended purpose to avoid the potential human rights' legal controversy, the perceived unfairness of an antiquated system and added significantly to the number of active officers? Are there remaining issues surrounding the SSO that require attention?
The Salvation Army is recruiting the very best SSO candidates in order that its mission be accomplished more effectively. And a significant part of the recruitment and application process will be a scrutiny and review of the applicants to gage their suitability in joining in the salvation war, The Salvation Army wants to ensure the very best candidates for SSO are recruited and accepted so that TSA’s mission will be accomplished. Although it was initially proposed that the non-officer be a Salvationist, that proviso was eventually ruled ‘non-enforceable’. The obvious benefits of holding to such a proviso are self-evident.
“All applicants for SSO must allow time for an extensive interview and evaluation process. A change of appointment for the spouse who becomes the remaining SSO officer may be necessary. The non-officer spouse must sign a ‘declaration’ of support for the officer spouse’s ministry and a willingness to relocate with the officer spouse as part of the Army’s appointment process. This person will share the same commitment as his/her officer spouse to The Army’s mission, values, beliefs and lifestyle.”
Must the non-officer’s vocation become secondary to that of the officer? Has the applicant been made fully aware of the significance of God’s call to ministry? Can the non-Salvationist, the non-Christian or non-believer fathom what a Divine call to service represents and demands?
“The focus group, made up of officers and lay people, was presented with different scenarios to stimulate our thinking. Without exception, everyone in the group agreed the time to permit single spouse officership had now arrived and that there is certainly no biblical injunction that should prevent such a calling.
This new system of one spouse officership is already up and running in the U.K. territory and has had no adverse impact. Now that the Canada and Bermuda Territory has accepted this policy for the ranks of lieutenants, I believe we need to go the next step and incorporate this to cover all ranks within the Army.
Although there are great advantages in having both husband and wife in ministry team leadership, this should not impede couples where only one wishes to become an officer. Single spouse officership would allow a former officer to be reaccepted without the spouse being required to follow suit. “
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
“Throughout Salvation Army history our unique position on married officer ministry, i.e. both spouses equally called, trained, ordained and commissioned, has been a great strength. The model of service where an officer is married to an officer will continue to be encouraged and endorsed.
The Salvation Army International Commission on Officership (2000) opened the door for Christian ministry and spiritual leadership for those called by God, but whose spouse does not share the same calling to ministry.
The application process starts with a written request to the Divisional Commander or Department Head asking for consideration as a single spouse officer. An interview with the applicant and the non- applicant spouse (or spouse to be) will subsequently be arranged. Divisional Commanders and Department Heads will provide a copy of the Manual of Guidance for Single Spouse Applicants to interested persons. This manual will address questions and detail the application process.”
(It is doubtful that such a manual exist in all SSO territories – I’ve been an officer’s spouse for almost 4 years and have yet to receive one. Then again, we’ve moved cities 3 times and quarters 4 times… perhaps it’ll soon catch up!)
What will be the expectations and role of the non-officer spouse?
A stated expectation was: “…the non-officer/retired officer spouse will possess a thorough understanding of The Salvation Army, its mission and values and its officer appointment system. The nature of officership as a spiritual covenant rather than a contract with The Salvation Army must be understood and affirmed. He/she must sign a declaration of support for the officer spouse’s ministry and a willingness to relocate with the officer spouse as part of the Army’s appointment process. The non-officer spouse must be a senior soldier* of The Salvation Army “in good standing.” This person will share the same commitment as his/her officer spouse to The Army’s mission, values, beliefs and lifestyle.”
*It is unknown to this author if this regulation was ever upheld or for how long. What is clear, however, is that its well-intentioned purpose was short lived. The abandonment of the regulation can in part be understood:
· Too narrow and restrictive
· Unenforceable if TSA wanted to retain the officer
· Illegal and unethical
· TSA can not impose conditions on persons not in a covenanted role or those who are not employees of the army (non-officer spouses enjoy free living accommodation in most SSO territories and one could argue that a quid pro quo expectation ought to exist)
Officership is not a career, but a covenant relationship designed for the long haul. Of course if we want people to sign up, we need to change our approach.
Some concerns were raised in regard to what standard the non-officer spouse should be required to follow:
· Must they be a soldier or member of the Army, or can they simply be a professing believer of the Christian faith?
· Would they be prepared to live in an officer’s quarters if their combined income enabled the couple to afford a more expensive place to live?
· How would our corps/community churches accept this new leadership arrangement?
· What kind of expectations would be placed upon the non-officer spouse by the congregation at large?
· Required to move to a new location when the officer spouse receives farewell orders
· Be prepared to live in an officer’s quarters if they deemed the property was in disrepair, lacking conveniences for a disabled spouse, located in a dangerous neighborhood, or where the furnishings were worn, dirty, etc.
(As a disabled non-officer spouse I can vouch for the fact that TSA has been very supportive in providing somewhat adequate alterations to our present quarters, and with promises of possible updates in the next fiscal year.)
The SA’s claimed membership includes;
· 16,938 active Officers
· 9,190 retired Officers
· 1,122,326 Soldiers
· 189,176 Adherents
Adherents are persons who do not make the commitment to be a soldier but who formally recognize The Salvation Army as their church.
Commissioner Kay Rader speaks to the commitment expected of all SA soldiers (the clear division in expectations between Soldiers and Adherents):
“Actually, the Soldier’s Covenant (what we used to call, ‘The Articles of War’) signed by every soldier, commits us to a lifetime covenant of service within the Army. It is part of the uniqueness of our movement that we expect that level of commitment from all our members”
William Booth's wife Catherine put it like this:
“While the nature of officership is a spiritual life-long covenant the non-officer’s commitment is rather in the form of a contract with The Salvation Army. These uniquely distinct pledges must be understood, agreed to and affirmed by all entering into the SSO proviso. Although it was initially proposed and expected that the non-officer be a Salvationist, a soldier, that proviso was eventually ruled ‘unenforceable’ and has been the cause of much concern. The obvious benefits of such a proviso are self-evident. The immediate advantage would be that, if every non-officer spouse was a SA soldier it might be assumed that they would understand and accept their soldiership as a call to mission; that being a ’soldier’ is synonymous with being a support person to the officer spouse. “
However, would such a demand severely reduce the pool of qualified and willing applicants? Would SA restrictions, regulations and demands limit the freedom of the non-officer and cause SSO to appear unattractive and too confining??
Today’s, non-officer spouses include Salvationist, former officers, those of other faiths and some professing no faith. Some non-officer soldiers wear uniform, others don’t. Some take an active role in supporting their spouse and the SA’s mission. Others are less committed and some not all involved.
Without some sort of universal regulations on whom an officer can marry is it not simply a matter of time and the territory before this becomes a PR nightmare and embarrassment for the Army at the local level?
“Shouldn't an officer's spouse at least be a Salvationist who subscribes to the Army's ban on alcohol and tobacco? Would these things be allowed into an officer's quarters and how would that look to the public and/or the soldiership if one's spouse was engaging in those activities?” 
SA Adherents for instance, do not subscribe to the SA ban and are already included among the non-officer ranks. Can we, TSA, realistically ask all non-officer spouses to represent Christ at all times and promise: I will not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, etc. and reject their application and suitability unless they sign ‘on the bottom line’. People signing such a pledge will tend to fall into one of several categories:
1. They sign it with the intention of breaking the rule with discretion when necessary.
2. They sign it with every intention of honoring their commitment and as a sign of the esteem in which they hold their spouse, TSA (the church)
3. They sign it believing they can uphold the rules with little or no effort- a practiced life style.
Yet, even with all the precautionary concerns and ‘controls’ there have been many negative experiences. In seeking to rectify these issues it’s clear that the major causes for the negative experiences stem from the lack of preparation and/or ongoing training of the non-officer spouse? Are the non-officer spouses or those intending to be, fully aware of the spiritual commitments made by their spouse, the army’s mission and their expected role in it?
The officer spouse will or has received extensive training on how to be an officer. However, the same cannot be said of the non-officer spouse. Instead, unless they are themselves former officers, or at the very least long term Salvationists they may well feel totally unprepared for the expectations associated with their assumed ministry support role.
In communicating with a number of non-officer spouses the army’s expectations of them and the army’s motivation in enacting the SSO provisions do not appear to have been satisfactorily explained, understood or adopted. Is an indoctrination course and regular review the answer?
In fact the SSO provision was scrapped in NZ last year due a number of unexpected controversial issues, and only one SSO couple remain serving in that territory. What might be learned from that experience?
In Finland and Australia non-officer spouses are challenging the expectation that they move their household in conjunction with the officer spouse’s new appointment.
Those non-officer spouses (SS0) I’ve spoken with, or have contacted me privately, see their spouses’ calling and vocation as the officer's own, and do not consider themselves a specific part of his/her ministry, although they view themselves generally 'supportive'.
Can it be all that difficult to demonstrate to the non-officer spouse what their assumed role represents? And that their general attitude should be that of 'servant-helpers' - their primary vocation being; to anticipate, meet and support the needs of their officer spouse.
Some, along with me, consider ourselves ‘appointed’ to be in part- time unpaid ministry with the officer spouse, determining how we should be involved in the corps. (this subject has proved to be controversial on many levels and requires further research) The corps often assumes incorrectly what the non-officer’s role ought be… no previous experience with the provision or unfamiliar with the person’s qualifications.
It is unrealistic to define a specific role within the corps based on models where in the past both spouses were SA officers. The SA needs to formulate a strategy to introducing the new support structure. And SA Leaders need to address why non-officer spouses have not received a proper ‘role introduction’. How about a ‘recommended job description’?
The SSO spouse Job Description…