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History of SLD

Australian history of Spiritual life development

In 2005 the Australia Southern Territory appointed the then Major Frank Daniels to a specific role in Spiritual Life Development. This was the first such appointment in the territory.  It arose out of an emphasis on the more contemplative aspects of spirituality – particularly the importance of silent spiritual retreats and spiritual direction – that the Major had offered while serving as Divisional Commander in the Western Victoria Division. 

He was followed in the role by Major Robert Paterson (2006) and then by Major Christine Faragher (mid-2010). The emphasis of the role continued to be primarily on the conducting of silent retreats, spiritual direction for individuals, and a growing role in teaching on prayer and the spiritual life.

In 2012 Major Faragher was asked to convene a group to look at the way forward for this area of ministry. This was done and a proposal submitted to the territory’s policy council who adopted the new strategy.

The proposal outlined a thematic approach to capture the key components of a Spiritual Life Development Strategy for the Territory. It suggested how this approach could be embedded in the life of the territory, and offered strategies for accountability. It also suggested a range of resources/events that could be provided and advocated for some structural change around the location of Spiritual Life Ministries, and the clarification of roles for Spiritual Life Development Personnel.

In the adoption of this proposal two roles in Spiritual Life Development were identified – the first around an emphasis on prayer, evangelism and early discipleship and the second focussing on deepening the spiritual life of already existing believers. The two roles were designated as Territorial Spiritual Life Development Secretary – Evangelism and 24/7 Prayer and Territorial Spiritual Life Development Secretary – Discipleship. These roles work together as the two wings of a butterfly. Both vital to keeping territorial leadership accountable for the spiritual health of their flock.

The work of Spiritual Life Development sits under the territory’s mission intention of Making Disciples and is located within the Territorial Mission Resources Department.

Major Faragher’s role was re-designated as the Territorial Spiritual Life Development Secretary – Discipleship, and Major Major Marney Turner’s role was re-designated as Territorial Spiritual Life Development Secretary – Evangelism and 24/7 Prayer, and has held the role ever since.

Major Heather Jenkins was appointed to the TSSLD-Discipleship in 2014, and Major Cathy Elkington in 2016.

International history of Spiritual life development

At the same time that this emphasis on Spiritual Life Development was emerging in Australia Southern Territory, internationally The Salvation Army was reviewing its response to the need to stimulate the development of spiritual life amongst Salvationists. An outline of this (shown below) comes from the Army’s Centre for Spiritual Life Development website.

“During his term as international leader of The Salvation Army, General Paul Rader (Ret.) called the Army to its knees as it entered the new millennium:

Simply put, it is time for us to take more seriously issues related to our inner life. We owe it to our people. It is essential to maintaining the engine of commitment and passion. Our mission is energized by our spirituality. ...The cultivating and sustaining of the spiritual life of [Salvationists] is paramount.

 

In 1996, the International Spiritual Life Commission was convened, whose report included the recommendation that human resources be given to help prioritize the inner lives of Salvationists.

One such outcome was the call to establish a formal commitment to intentionally make Spiritual Life Development a top priority within the Army structure. Subsequently, Colonel Earl Robinson was appointed as secretary for spiritual life development for the international Salvation Army and was succeeded by Commissioner Linda Bond (later General).

In July 2008 the International Centre for Spiritual Life Development (CSLD) was established on the campus of the International College for Officers in London and Lieut. Colonel Janet Munn was appointed to the role of Secretary for Spiritual Life Development.”

Since that time a number of territories around the world have appointed Secretaries for Spiritual Life Development either as stand-alone appointments or as additional appointments to other already established roles.  An international conference for officers in these roles was held at the CSLD in 2010.

The priority of the CSLD is expressed in a three-fold emphasis:

  • Offering conferences and events that are spiritually enriching and that help form people in Christlikeness;
  • Providing resources to cultivate spiritual life development;
  • Encouraging implementation of intentional and systematic opportunities for Spiritual growth throughout the international Salvation Army.
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