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13 November 2006

General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton lead Pan-American Conference

Author: International News

GENERAL Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton, The Salvation Army’s international leaders, joined the senior leadership of the Americas and Caribbean Zone as they gathered for a Pan-American Conference at Camp Hoblitzelle, Midlothian, Texas, USA (18-20 October). The theme ‘Thy Will Be Done’ was used for the shared time together. Matthew 6:10: ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ was the foundational scriptural reference.

Delegates came from International Headquarters and the 11 territories and USA National Headquarters in the Americas and Caribbean Zone, representing the leadership of one-third of the countries in which the Army serves. They were welcomed with true southern hospitality and servant-leadership modeled by the officers of the Texas Division of the USA Southern Territory. The relaxing atmosphere created by the wide-open space of this beautiful camp setting provided a restful and rejuvenating experience for all who gathered under the leadership of the General.

The conference was arranged to strengthen the sense of unity among the different cultures and varied expressions of the Movement’s mission. The national and territorial leadership teams from North America, South America and the Caribbean had met together in this way on only three previous occasions, the first being in 1946 in Chicago, USA, under the leadership of newly elected General Albert Orsborn. The opening song for the 2006 Pan-American Conference, ‘Greater Things’, was written by General Orsborn. This set the stage for the challenge given to the zonal leaders to review and celebrate the Army’s heritage, to look at and evaluate the present work of the Army, and to make appropriate plans for the future.

Colonel David Gruer, a delegate and translator for two of the previous conferences, was available to translate during the sessions.

The evening activities included Commissioner William W. Francis, International Secretary for the Americas and Caribbean, introducing a video titled ‘An Advancing Army: A Historical Perspective of The Salvation Army Across Pan America’. The video, produced by the USA Southern Territory, showed the beginnings of the Army in the USA as the officers and soldiers proclaimed the message of salvation and holiness across the land. The video included interviews with Salvation Army historians Professor Edward McKinley of Asbury College, Lexington, and retired officers Colonel Frank Payton and Major John Merritt, who shared their research on this advancing Army.

Everyone enjoyed and was inspired by a dramatic presentation written and performed by Major Edward Hobgood, General Secretary, Florida Division, titled ‘The Turk: Sanctified Salvationist Showman’ and featuring Staff-Captain Joseph Garabed, better known as ‘Joe the Turk’.

On another evening, the delegates, in western attire, enjoyed a Texas barbecue, with entertainment by a country and western music group and a world rope champion demonstrating his skills with the lasso and whip.

Discussion sessions were introduced by General Clifton as he set the scene scripturally to remind the leaders that The Salvation Army is ‘Called to be a Salvation Army, a Sanctified Army and a Sensible Army’. Commissioner William Francis presided over the discussions dealing with Army growth, soul saving, holiness, officer recruitment, officer formation, accountability, women officers and ranks.

Commissioner Helen Clifton made a presentation on the expanding work of the Army around the world with victims of sexual trafficking. Victims of this trafficking are society’s most vulnerable: young children, teenagers and defenceless women. Sexual trafficking includes commercial sexual exploitation through prostitution and pornography. The Salvation Army has been, and continues to be, a leader in opposing these tragic trades and supporting anti-trafficking programmes. Most recently there was a worldwide call to prayer for victims of sex trade trafficking. There was a call to pray for the victims, victims’ families, counsellors, police and immigration services, law-makers and governments, media awareness, those who abuse women and those who profit from the sex trade.

During the concluding session General Clifton spoke on the history and importance of the mercy seat, where God promises to meet every seeker. After speaking about the scriptural background of the mercy seat he shared stories depicting the importance of the mercy seat to the Army and declared that the mercy seat needs to continue to be widely used and made available to all.
The conference concluded with leaders kneeling at the mercy seat, and some kneeling at their chairs, as they prepared to return to their places of ministry.

Report by Major Sandra Defibaugh, Assistant National Chief Secretary, USA National Headquarters


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