Walking With the Spirit

The mid-point of the five-day International Theology and Ethics Symposium being held at Sunbury Court near London, contained doctrinal discourse, recreation and aesthetic expression.  (Click here to read the report from the first two days.)

Day 3

Following morning prayers Colonel Johnny Kleman, from Sweden, spoke on the subject ‘Relational Holiness “In Community” – Gathered in Community’ and said that the teaching of holiness doctrine needs to be combined with the vitality of life. ‘To only love yourself is a sin. Holiness can only be cultivated and developed in a community,’ Colonel Kleman stated.

Bringing a fresh Pacific Rim perspective, Major Elsa Oalang from The Philippines concluded the morning sessions with her paper ‘Relational Holiness “In Community” – Mobilised for Mission’. Her succinct closing statement excellently expresses Salvationist thinking: ‘The greatest challenge for every Salvationist and every corps is to grow in holiness so that their compassion for the lost will naturally overflow to mission.’

The formal presentations were followed by a prepared response, forum questions for clarification and then lively small group dialogue. There was no room for passivity as every delegate participated in some active fashion.

Delegates spent the afternoon touring historic Hampton Court (less than three miles from Sunbury Court) or visiting The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in central London where they met the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, who prayed with them in his office.

On Friday night musicians from Staines Corps (church) visited Sunbury Court to present a Holiness in Song festival, featuring holiness hymnody and melody composed by Charles Wesley, William and Herbert Booth, Albert Orsborn, Brindley Boon and John Gowans. Lieut-Colonel Janet Munn brought the Revelation 1 Scripture passage alive through choreography.

The stirring Elwood Stokes holiness song, popular in Korea (some lines below), has had a positive impact on every participant.

Fill me now, fill me now,
Jesus, come and fill me now;
Fill me with Thy hallowed presence,
Come, O come, and fill me now

Day 4

There was a shift in proceedings on Saturday 9 October at the International Theology and Ethics Symposium, held at Sunbury Court Conference Centre near London, as delegates moved from doctrinal discourse and debate to resolution and recommendation.

Two final papers were presented, concluding the eight-part series. Captain Juliana Musilia from the SALT College, Kenya addressed ‘Socio-Political Holiness in the World – Service’. The captain focused on this global hallmark of Salvation Army ministry and mission but warned: ‘Being highly gifted yet lacking love is a waste of time and may cause harm to the body of Christ, for great works of service without love are of no use and have little effect.’ The dialogue that followed indicated this material touched on heartfelt desires for integrity and purity.

Dr James Read (Booth University College, Winnipeg, Canada) concluded the morning session with ‘Socio-Political Holiness in the World – Social Justice’. Drawing social justice principles from William Booth’s In Darkest England and the Way Out, Dr Read concluded with a profound challenge: ‘The simple and utter sacredness of each and every human being should make us stand in awe. That same human being needs redeeming and transforming, it is true; but it is the redeeming of a being who already demands profound respect from every other human being.’

During the afternoon, small group review and assessment commenced the process of crystallising salient matters for future exploration. The task was to choose one issue of importance to The Salvation Army and its understanding and practice of holiness in the 21st century. Three hours of discussion ensued, with both the large and small meeting places of historic Sunbury Court animated with the conversational buzz of holiness theology and ethic proponents.

All these discourses fused together in the concluding plenary session, ‘Global Issues and Concerns Relating to The Salvation Army’. In a series of swift, carefully prepared statements group representatives each focused on one pertaining issue, showing the rationale for its importance, making clear the cultural differences of understanding that may pertain and offering suggestions for a future practical response. The business was conducted with clarity, conviction and courtesy. The ensuing open dialogue demonstrated similar grace from this diaspora of Salvationist emissaries. There was graceful holiness in the proceedings.

In a way fitting for this day of orderly decorum, the final evening prayers – led by Captain Mary Mizinga from Zambia – were characterised by African spontaneity and jubilation.

Day 5

The symposium concluded with the sacredness of Sunday worship. Song, personal testimony, small group prayer and Commissioner Bill Francis’s message of the morning – ‘Walking With The Spirit’ – combined to bring the entirety of the proceedings before God. The Sunbury Court mercy seat was lined with row upon row of delegates, many praying together as colleagues in Christ.

The final stanza of Charles Wesley’s song ‘And Can It Be’ brought the five-day symposium to a triumphant close:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

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