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Looking at the big picture

4 August 2017

New national secretary for mission Lieut-Colonel Lyn Edge has a message for Salvation Army employees facing  the next chapter of Australia One: ‘We need to keep our eye on the big picture. We will be a better Salvation Army nationally than we have been as a divided Salvation Army. Most people think it is a good decision to become a national Salvation Army, and most people outside of the movement assume we already are.

‘… As we start to hit the pain of what that is going to cost us, we need to be mindful of that bigger picture. My experience, and I am new to this space, is that we have just gotten to the hard part.’

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Lt Colonel Lyn Edge
e-connect:
Let’s talk ‘mission’ …

LE: The missio Dei, the mission of God, is a critical plank in my theology, and in mission theology. We believe that God is at work in the world, and that the church is one of the means whereby God does what God does in the world.

So, we are a part of the mission of God. There is a church, because there is mission – not the other way around. The church exists to pursue God’s mission.

e-connect: I looked back at a 2013 ABC Radio interview you did with John Cleary and Majors Brendan and Sandra Nottle, where you presented in a sentence or two almost a synthesis of the book you recently published with Major Gregory Morgan* …
LE: Yes; ‘We need to live a more engaged faith, with society as a whole. With each other...’


e-connect: How do we maintain a ‘client focus’, or an ‘others focus’, and why should we do so?
LE: For me, in more recent days, this has been very much informed by theology. Theology of the ‘image of God’ being inherent in everyone, and the Wesleyan idea of ‘original goodness’; all people are people of dignity and worth…

Tim Costello often cites Jesus’ Great Commandment:  ‘Love the Lord your God and others as yourself’. Somehow, as a movement, as part of the Christian church… we somehow divorced them. We did the whole Christian thing: going to Bible study, worshipping, listening to sermons, praying… For me, there was playing timbrels and going to SAGALA**; all the things you did in the Army of that day. But there was not too much of the ‘looking after others’, unless they were my immediate family or circle of friends.

As a movement we did divorce those two aspects, as did the wider Christian church. We are not alone in that.

e-connect: We got swallowed up by our own subculture?
LE: Yes, I think we did. It’s about re-discovering, reclaiming and moving into a far more holistic understanding of faith being enacted; being lived. We need to do both parts of that command – loving God, and loving others – we’re actually not doing any of it. One necessitates and facilitates the other. There is no sense in a discipleship that is only about personal piety.

   
e-connect: What's your background re education/work; where have you studied and served?
LE: I have a Bachelor of Arts - Welfare Studies, at Western Sydney University; a Masters of Management - Community Management, at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), a Masters of Theology from the Sydney College of Divinity, a Doctorate of Ministry from the Australian College of Theology… and I have a Diploma of French.

e-connect: Did that come in handy when the late General John Gowans tapped you on the shoulder to serve in Paris?
LE: Actually it came later, but I throw that one in because that’s the one I’m most proud of [laughs].


My first appointment was in corps planting, in Glebe [an inner-western suburb of Sydney], which included a Sydney University chaplaincy role. My second appointment was in the heart of Paris, to develop new ministries, in a place called the Palais de la Femme. It is a fabulous women’s housing project.

The third appointment was back at the training college, where I was the field program officer and assistant training principal. I was also a CO at Petersham at that time. The fourth appointment was as a Sydney Congress Hall corps officer, and I was also a hub leader for Sydney… and now I have moved from assistant territorial secretary for programme to the national secretary for mission.  

e-connect: What message do you have for Salvation Army employees as we go into the next chapter of Australia One?
LE: We need to keep our eye on the big picture. We will be a better Salvation Army nationally than we have been as a divided Salvation Army. Most people think it is a good decision to become a national Salvation Army, and most people outside of the movement assume we already are.

The difficulties lie in the minutia, the struggle and tugs-of-war that are going to happen. Let’s keep our eye on the fact that this will help us to be better stewards. We don’t need to have two of everything. Also, it gives us the resources to be able to speak in advocacy, policy, senate enquiries etc., with one united voice that draws on the strength of all the work in Australia. It is going to be sensational.

As we start to hit the pain of what that is going to cost us, we need to be mindful of that bigger picture. My experience, and I am new to this space, is that we have just gotten to the hard part.  
* Partnering with God: Being a Missional Salvationist (2017), written by Majors Lyn Edge and Gregory Morgan.
** Salvation Army Guarding and Legion Activities, or SAGALA, is the Salvation Army equivalent of the girl guides and scouting movement.
interview by Barry Gittins