Tuesday, November 17, 2015

BALTIC BRIDGES - SA Early 19th century Battle Fronts Part One

Chapter 1
 “Every land is my Fatherland” 

1918 Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declared independent states 1920-1940 Years of independence in the Baltic 

1924 Failed communistic coup in Tallinn, Estonia

1929 King Gustaf V visits Estonia and Latvia

1934 Leaders from the days of war for independence, Konstantin Pàts in Estonia 
and Karlis Ulmanis in Latvia, establish authoritarian regimes 

In a time of threats to internationalism Bramwell Booth, Catherine and William Booth's oldest son, emphasized The Salvation Army's opposition to provincialism, racism and enmity between peoples and nations with the statement: " Every land is my Fatherland, for all lands are my Father! s.# 
The Salvation Army did start as a local expression in the east London slums in July 1865 but it soon expanded beyond that limited area. 

In the beginning Catherine and William Booth did not have any ambitions to create a worldwide movement. They were totally absorbed in helping people in the slums out of the degrading conditions in which they lived. 

The work was successful, many became involved and quite soon there were activities established in other parts of London, in great parts of England and in different countries.
The new movement consisted of enthusiastic people who were not afraid of anything. Their methods varied from the established churches. Consequently they also met with opposition. But the opposition created a larger fighting spirit. That is shown particularly in the battle songs that were written and are still in use today. In the current Swedish songbook there is for example song number 625, written by one of the pioneers, George Scott Railton, and in the second verse there is the phrase from which the international vision comes: 

Onward we go, the world shall hear our singing:
Come guilty souls, for Jesus bids you come;
And through the dark its echoes loudly ringing, shall lead the wretched, lost 
And wandering home. 

Salvation Army, Army of God,

Onward to conquer the world with fire and blood, Onward to conquer the world with fire and blood! 

The exclamation point lets us imagine the longing for battle and the challenge to serve. 

William Booth did not have any posts where soldiers eager to battle were waiting to conquer the world. But time and time again, in nation after nation, people who met The Salvation Army adopted the ideas and the calling to win others for God wherever they went. This was the case in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 

Elsa Könönen describes in the book An Army on the March, which relates the history of The Salvation Army in Finland, how the young Estonian Army officer Lieutenant
Caspar Dahl, serving in Finland, received a letter from a Salvationist in St. Petersburg, Russia. The letter writer was Liisa Bakul, a soldier in St.Petersburg's fourth corps. She was from Estonia and together with some other Estonian Salvationists had returned to start the establishment of the Army's work there. They had not only started to function as an Army corps but had sought official permission from the authorities. 

On October 21 1921 the "Christian Association Salvation Army" was registered and approved by the authorities.

Lieutenant Dahl was happy about the news but became worried at the same time. He knew his Estonian comrades and did not believe that they had the capability to organize the work. Caspar Dahl spoke with the Chief Secretary in Finland, Colonel Gustaf Blomberg, concerning the matter. 

A letter was written to International Headquarters in London regarding the new branch on the Army tree. In March 1922 Staff Captain Rosa Hacklin was assigned to travel to Estonia to investigate the possibilities for the work of The Salvation Army there.

It is now possible to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit. 

The Salvation Army had come to Russia in 1913 and Rosa Hacklin was the first Finnish Salvation Army officer in Russia. The Estonian Salvationists who had moved from St. Petersburg knew her very well. The Swedish officer Karl Larsson played a significant role in establishing the Army in Russia and his book Ten Years in Russia offers lively and dramatic stories as to what happened in that large Empire The Army was first established in St. Petersburg and this book ought to be read by all who want to know the precursor of The Army's current heroic battle in Russia. 

FA - Press Corp
Commissioner Sven Nilsson
Stockholm, Sweden

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