Saturday, February 16, 2013

WE NEED OFFICERS! ATTRITION SERIES I

General Shaw Clifton wrote in his New Year 2010 Pastoral letter... “This season of new beginnings allows us to place before the Lord also the hopes we have in our hearts concerning our daily work. Many of you reading this are Salvation Army officers making plans for the spiritual advancement of those you lead and those you serve in Christ's name. I say to you, 'May God bless those plans, those sacred ambitions for the souls of others.'

Today, just three years later, more than 400 of the officers addressed in that Pastoral letter are no longer officers, having giving up their sacred ambitions in the role of SA officers.

Concurrently, the dearth in the number of accepted Cadets in western countries, coupled with the mandated retirement of officers at ages directed by law or SA regulations, casts a troublesome providence when witnessing the increased shortage of officers for today and the future, especially in western world territories.

"If it is important to you, you will find a way.
If not, you will find an excuse! ."
–Unknown

 “We need Officers ...
Officership by its nature is about availability and mobility... We need people who are available. So the more officers the better!
General Linda Bond

The two most common reasons for ‘leaving the dear old flag’ remain, for married officers, separation and divorce. And, for single officers the resignations are most common in order to marry.  If the army had been less fixated on maintaining antiquated regulations once suited to an up-start Victorian era church-army, and instead moved with the times a few decades ago, several thousand officers might well have remained “for life!”

After repeated excuses and stalling the Single Spouse Officer provision (SSO) was approved in select territories135 years subsequent to the organization’s grounding. Other territories enacted similar loosely translated initiatives of their own. The provision sought to attract SA soldiers who were prepared to abide by SA regulations and lifestyles, and to become supportive partners in ministry with their officer spouse. It was expected that the non-officer spouse understood well the nature of the spiritual covenant entered into by the officer spouse, and their own commitment, principally as a loose contract, or letter of agreement, with The Salvation Army.

This significant regulation change, introduced just over a decade ago in several territories to combat the attrition rates, has met with modest success at best, relative to the actual increase in the number of active officers; approximately 100 worldwide, with 60 or so in the UKT. In the NZ and Fiji Territory the Provision struggled, staggered and stumbled for 7 years before being canceled with just one SSO couple still actively serving.

Part I



Dr. Sven-Erik Ljungholm
Former SA Officer
Birkenhead Corps, UKIT

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this post a part of the presentation you'll be sharing in representing the FSAOF when you meet with the Salvation Army leaders in New York at the end of June?

And, is there any possibility that the entire paper might be made available?

Active SA officer (was a member of the FSAOF)
UK

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Forty some years later they need officers? Makes me laugh and cry. Another fact is the population is aging and many are probably retiring so that could be one factor that the ranks are shrinking.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the age and retirement factor impacts on some territories more than others.

Here In the Canada and Bermuda Territory a greater number of officers retire this year than the number of Cadets (14) in College.

Former
Hamilton

Anonymous said...

Sven, I just heard from a FSAOF colleague that your invitation and participation in the USA East conference has been denied by the UKT. Any truth to this and how can they deny the FSAOF's participation?

Do they even have a clue as to the many formers have been reinstated thanks to your and the FSAOF's untiring efforts?

Very sad and depressing if true!

Former officer
USA

Sven Ljungholm said...

The UKT denied Glad's and my participation for valid reasons. The invitation was worded in such a way that one could easily assume that our participation would represent the UK Territory. That, of course, was never our intent. I was attending as the FSA representative, and Glad as my carer, and if requested to lead prayer and to 'special' in a New York area corps.

We are hoping that we'll be invited unofficially as recommended by the UKT.

I deem my presence, along with that of other FSAOF members, as critical to the positive outcome of the conference.

And for the record, few SA leaders, beyond a few Commissioners and other HQ personnel know of the important contributions made by our fellowship since our creation in 2007.

Blessings

Graeme Randall said...

As I've said before in this debate. I do believe that the SSO provision is just a tiny band-aid solution on a gaping wound.

In today's environment, we need to completely and totally overhaul TSA in every way - from the appointment process, to who we have in certain appointments and why, to length of appointments, to our Theology. Everything needs to be overhauled. The SSO provision - no matter how it is enacted - will not solve this problem. The issues are much deeper, and marriage or divorce are just surface issues that muddy the waters in this whole debate.

Yours in Christ
Graeme Randall
Former Australian East in London

Anonymous said...

Graeme - you are right about the need to overhaul the appointment process- Personally, from my observations in my home territory, this archaic,arbitrary system has caused more officers to leave! You are also right that SSO is a tiny bandaid put on a huge open sore,it may help some, but not a lot. We need to grow with the times and evolve with the culture.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the interview with Commissioner Brian Peddle, Territorial Commander of Canada and Bermuda that was on this site earlier this morning?

Former
Canada and Bermuda

Sven Ljungholm said...

The Pebble interview will be reposted... It was shared in the private FSAOF FB forum and is garnering much interest and many comments. All will be edited and posted anonymously in a few days.

Anonymous said...

Sven,

Thanks for the reply, I have alerted a number of active and former about the interview with the Commissioner, and they are looking forward to reading it, and some may respond.

Former
Canada and Bermuda

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me why Officership has to be about 'mobility' in this day and age? Is that really a necessity? Is it not possible for us to 'grow where we are planted' and remain there for a long period of time as other ministers? Is it not said in Church Growth Principles that a minister should commit to at least twelve years ministry within a church? Also, financially, as so much seems to come down to finance, would it not be financially better for Officers to move less often.

Active UKT

Anonymous said...

Yes, that mobility piece lacks in justification to me. In the military mobility is the ability to send armed forces where they are needed when they are needed and sometimes that means relieving officers who have served their time during a battle - but it isn't done just for change or to move a person from battlefield to another. If you have military on the ground and they are doing their job and do not require respite you don't just change battlegrounds on them. Not beneficial to anyone that I can see.