The General Launches Web-Based Poverty Summit
THE Salvation Army's first-ever international conference on poverty has been launched in London. Staff of International Headquarters and the William Booth College gathered with cadets as the international leader of The Salvation Army, General John Gowans, inaugurated the Poverty Summit being held on the World Wide Web and The Salvation Army's Lotus Notes Intranet. Earlier in the day the General’s keynote address had been posted on the conference web site.
The conference was originally due to take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but due to increased travel difficulties following the 11 September attacks it was postponed. However, it was the desire of General Gowans that the conference should proceed via the Internet
‘It’s true that we have the poor always with us,’ said the General. ‘The danger is that because they’re always there we can forget them. I want this conference to be a way in which the whole Salvation Army, and by that I include every corps throughout the world, to become aware of the special task God has laid upon The Salvation Army.’
Before the conference, technician Karl Larsson demonstrated the features of the web site. Additional IT resources have been swiftly provided to ensure Internet access so people from as many countries as possible can have a voice. Commissioner Paul du Plessis, International Secretary for South Asia, explained the background to the conference. He described how the Army in South Asia had felt that one of the best ways to celebrate the coming of the new millennium was to focus on the social, economic and spiritual issues that gave birth to the Christian Mission which was to become The Salvation Army.
‘Isaiah 58 was one of the favourite passages of Scripture of our Founder, William Booth, and I’ve been looking at this passage frequently as we’ve prepared for this conference,’ noted the commissioner.
'To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free . . . to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him . . . Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations' (Isaiah 58:6,7,12, New International Version).
The inauguration concluded with the song:
'Christ for the world, we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
With loving zeal;
The poor and those who mourn,
The faint and overborne,
Sin-sick and sorrow-worn,
Whom Christ doth heal.'