Sunday, 29 July 2012

A whistle from your Dad

I've just passed Norton Fitzwarren and as 'Oliver' digs into the climb to Whiteball, my thoughts turn further west.

Little Paddington is with me in the train and I hope to see some of our relations later on in the journey, but first we have to go through places which are particularly difficult for me - along the sea wall and past the nursery.

I know you will understand that I have reached the conclusion that I am entitled to a life of my own, and as such this is the first job west of Bristol I've done since I last saw you.

As we hammer over the marshes to attack the South Devon Banks, The crew have been asked to greet you with a whistle from me. It's the best I can do right now.

Love from Daddy

A whistle from your Dad

I've just passed Norton Fitzwarren and as 'Oliver' digs into the climb to Whiteball, my thoughts turn further west.

Little Paddington is with me in the train and I hope to see some of our relations later on in the journey, but first we have to go through places which are particularly difficult for me - along the sea wall and past the nursery.

I know you will understand that I have reached the conclusion that I am entitled to a life of my own, and as such this is the first job west of Bristol I've done since I last saw you.

As we hammer over the marshes to attack the South Devon Banks, The crew have been asked to greet you with a whistle from me. It's the best I can do right now.

Love from Daddy

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Keep the change

Yesterday I was at the airport to welcome my cousin (with her children) back to the land of her birth.

I don't know that you can actually catch jet lag, but thanks to an unscheduled late night helping out a friend, I went to bed when they had been in the air for an hour and a half and was arriving at Heathrow on the Number 140 by the time they landed.

There is a peculiar sort of welcome party laid on for those arriving in London this week:

Either you are shot by the 'Met' or smothered by the Olympic do-gooders in their gaudy shirts and new trainers. Tricky choice.

The man next door is one of the volunteers - he's been at it for almost two years now in various forms, and even his own wife has apologised to us for his preoccupation with all things Olympic!

Anyhow, hard on the heels of the Botswana Olympic team, my cousin and her son and daughter, and their luggage, came through the one-way doors and we headed back to the bus station.

My first cousins once removed have been to this country before but not for a little while. Mindful that Virgin Atlantic's catering might not have been up to much, I handed them a note, telling them it was worth more than they thought (the exchange rate being as it is!) and sent them off to Smiths to get themselves something to keep them going on their bus ride, which would have taken them not far from you.

They came back, suitably amazed at the availability of Cadburys chocolate and Coca-cola (although I am informed that it tastes different here!) and promptly handed me a generous fistful of change, having spent less than half what I'd given them. On the bus home this reminded me of a little story about Big Grandad, and his sister - my cousin's Mum, who sadly is no longer with us and had her own sad story of loss.

Big Grandad and my Aunty were the children of Great-Nana and Great-Grandad, who were Salvation Army officers. In those days, that vocation was a poverty-inducing one, and they were never very well off.

On a long train journey (before the days when officer families had cars), Big Grandad tells me that his parents told him to go with his sister and have something to eat in the dining car. Such was the expense of this (some things never change - railway catering prices being one!) that they couldn't afford to go with them.

Big Grandad and his sister went into the dining car and were offered all manner of food. Despite being particularly hungry, mindful of their parents' sacrifice, the two children politely declined everything that was brought out to them, to the bewilderment of the train crew. In the end, they had but a toasted teacake each (that was nearly a pun, wasn't it!), and that was that.

Returning to their parents, they were asked what they had had to eat, and as they gave their account, faces fell, as it turned out that dinner was a fixed price and they could have eaten as much as they wanted...

Now, I have to say this doesn't seem to run in the family. Despite having supposedly been fed at nursery, I used to take you in the restaurant on the 1200 Plymouth - Paddington and more than once you polished my meal off, causing me to have to order a second!

I'll be on the West of England main line again more than once in the near future, and heading your way. 

I know you will be moving away from the line when you leave the nursery, but keep waving to the trains, son. One day, I might be on it. And next time God's Wonderful Railway brings you to London, you can be sure of a warm welcome from all your family here.

Love from Daddy

Monday, 23 July 2012

A happy anniversary

Hard on the heels of a sad occasion which shouldn't be, we have a rather happier one, as Step Mum and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary.

Getting married twice was not something I ever had planned. I should add that it is not something you should ever plan for, but to quote Alan Partridge, I was given promises which weren't kept.

Covenants are important. We have talked about that a lot recently. I think the biggest lesson I have learned is that, as in business, the parties to a contract weigh one another up, and take considerable steps to ascertain the likelihood of one another keeping their part of the deal, one of the most important parts of a covenant is being sure not only that you "enter into this new and holy relationship with reverent thought, honest intention, and in the fear of God", to quote the Army articles of marriage, but that the other person does, too!

It was of course a day when you were keenly missed, but we had a lovely day, staged at places which were 'home' for me in particular, accepting the kindness offered by our Army and Railway families.
We had a job getting all our elderly relations to (and through) the day, and not quite all of them made it.

Our special train was hauled by Great Western Railway 4-6-0 No. 4953 'Pitchford Hall', specially chosen for the occasion, not only because it looked a treat on the umber and cream, but because it was the engine on which you had your first cab ride on your second birthday.

The specially made headboard, from the same foundry that produced the shedplate I had made when you were born, has since graced a number of other vehicles, including at the National Railway Museum and a run past Grandma and Big Grandad's house, and the level crossing on the North Staffs line where I used to go watching engine and van moves on the main line when I was a kid. We will of course use it on future family occasions.
Objectively, it has been a difficult first year of marriage for us. We have had a lot to contend with - but we have made it out the other side. Mummy's claims that you were at risk because there was a likelihood of Step-Mum kicking me out have been proved somewhat ill-founded. Indeed, Step-Mum didn't just welcome both of us into her life, but she sacrificed an awful lot for us - and without her I wouldn't have been able to get as far as today. There is no doubt, the full force of what Mummy has unleashed would have broken me if I'd been left facing it alone.

The thing is, when you have entered into a covenant and seen it smashed to pieces; when you have seen the administrators of that covenant run a mile, you are even more careful before entering another one.

You will find out for yourself in time that Mummy's wild claims about Step-Mum and me are a load of old cobblers, and that you have a Dad who keeps his promises, so far as he is able.

Time will tell what all of us make of our lives, with and without particular people around. I will be sad for you though, for all the time and people that you may have lost by the time you are free to seek the truth.

Love from Daddy

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Who moved?

Your fourth birthday leaves me wondering what to write to update last year's piece.

I told you then about the chronology of your life, about what had happened, and all the people who had vanished from your life.

A year on, despite having not even seen a picture of you since, we know a lot more that we did about just how that happened. We know what conflicting arguments were made, what dubious logic was successfully advanced to people eager to hear and act on what was self-evidently nonsense. We know, too, that our instincts have, as more often than not, been right, about what has been going on.

I have been told recently by Mummy's legal executive that I am not entitled to answers to questions about you, which include asking when and how you are going to see your Dad and your paternal family again - if indeed you ever will in some cases (Great Grandpa is really not well, for starters).

You however will one day be able to ask questions of your own, to which you will draw your own conclusions about the answers, from whatever information is available to you.

At your house today will arrive, as usual, a gift and a card from us (as from others), the only likely proof of which I ever will get is the signature from Royal Mail. We won't know if you got it, let alone see you open it. We won't know if you knew who it was from. We won't know if you knew why it was sent.

Today, as usual I will be found at Paddington. We certainly don't expect to see you there today, but it is good discipline and a point of focus for me. One day you might want to come and find me there. I want also to mark today the kindness of the people who have given to you by giving to us, in all sorts of ways, over the past year. They will understand the significance, particularly.

I'm not a big fan of smug wayside pulpits like the one above, even if the theology is right, but it would be a good challenge to all manner of people involved in your case at the moment. They know who they are.

It's not your fault - none of this is - but if you grow up and feel far from your Dad, guess who moved?

The question for you, then, is who moved you?

My commitment to you is that I will still be here if you come looking. Just like all the toys you put in their bed the day you left, I'll be waiting for you when you come back.

Happy fourth birthday, Son.

Love from Daddy.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Holy Huddles

Well, it's been a busy weekend in the Army world.

After an unexpectedly fraught day on Saturday, we made it to Westminster Central Hall for the evening meeting of the commissioning of the 'Friends of Christ' session of cadets, several of whom we know from various places.

It was good to share in the occasion; oddly enough, it was the first time I had been to a commissioning, despite the fact that for much of my life I would have envisaged already having been to my own.

You see, it is all very well the Candidates Director saying, as he did on Saturday night, 'Don't worry about your children. God knows about your children', but people like Step-Mum and I are in circumstances where it's not quite that simple.

I have to say that when you have been personally (and painfully) 'hung out to dry' by certain Army leaders to whom you looked for help, when you have seen your infant son's welfare become, at times, a political football, when you continue to see the Army at an organisational level ignoring the pain of people suffering an affliction which affects you personally, and when you know that speaking out about those things compromises your standing in the eyes of some mighty men (and women) who would hold your future in their hands were you an officer, and when you see Godly men and women stifled by church red-tape, it's a conundrum.

When your ability to 'leave your nets' is compromised by the debts you've racked up as you were dragged through the courts by another Salvationist, it is of little practical help that, under God, you have stuck to his, and the Church's, precepts, to that point. Especially when the Army struggles to show any sign of upholding and acting as arbiter over covenant relationships which it administers.

As it happens, the Army had every opportunity to have me for an officer before I even met your Mum; before practical matters impinged upon my ability to 'go'. I was a member of the Vocational Fellowship when I was still a junior soldier. Even my careers papers from school record (to the complete bewilderment of the 'careers officer') my intention to follow your great-Grandfather into training. In the end, I turned up to a candidates interview to be told off for being 'too Army', to find that my assessment conference place was cancelled (a surprise only to my Corps Officer and me) and that they would much sooner I become a 'Lieutenant' in a hurry, which would after all allow them to make me a corps officer sooner and plug a hole in the division. My insistence that I wanted to go to Denmark Hill and train properly for a life's work cost me any opportunity at all, at that stage.

A later interview a few years on the railway later, included on the divisional panel a young officer, not long out of the college, who told me 'we have to give you a hard time now, because we can't afford to have people dropping out all the time like they used to - this is a lifelong commitment'. Yeah, you guessed it - within a year, that particular Divisional Youth Officer had cleared off to another denomination at the drop of a hat.

Now, I am quite willing to testify to God's timing. I am quite happy to testify to God having guided my life in directions I never expected, or even wanted, because he knew better, and he held the future. Indeed, I can only have any credibility working in the field I do now because I have been there, done it and unwillingly bought the t-shirt myself. Nevertheless, I am also pragmatic enough to understand that organisationally, as from a policy standpoint, the Army is capable of getting things wrong, because it is full of fallible human beings like me. The Army has let people, has let officers, down in the past. Sometimes has been open enough to admit it.

As I sat in Westminster Central Hall on Saturday, I looked at my friends on the platform and I wondered where I fitted in - no less convicted of a calling from God to serve, but frankly not sure any more where he was asking me to cast my lot in the longer term.

In the ministry which I have recently embarked upon, I have no great resources of finance or people - but even Commissioners have told me (not that they want to be quoted as such!) that I am doing a pioneering work; that one day, the Army's practical outreach to families in general and fathers in particular might show the hallmarks of what we are feeling our way into.

That work is no less a calling and no lesser calling - and it offers me a degree of autonomy and a freedom to speak up and speak out which the Army's senior leaders tell us from the platform to use, and tell us in their emails not to. An officer recently pointed out to me that there are things I can do now which they simply wouldn't be allowed to.

Moving forward a day, and west a continent, General Bond spoke last night at the commencement of the International Leaders' Conference in Toronto. She, as usual, was speaking on her 'One Army, one mission, one message' theme. She said this (my emphasis added):
You are the Salvation Army... The SA on fire, the SA that knows who it is, the SA that is convinced of its calling”
Now Yes, we do respect other churches. We thank the Lord for what they contribute - and in many ways God has given them gifts he has not given us. Now that’s the truth. But God has given something to the Salvation Army that, if we surrender it, I think we will die. He’s given us a holy passion for him. He’s given us a holy passion for the marginalised. He’s given us a holy passion for the lost. We cannot lose it. We must be one Army on fire, all around the world. 
And we need to be the Army of the 21st Century.  And we need to, with this kind of purpose and power, to move into the world together...
...We were never meant to be a holy huddle. And if you are content going to your corps, Sunday after Sunday, enjoying the music, enjoying the fellowship, and you do not care what happens beyond your walls, I need to tell you, maybe I’m being too direct, but you’re not the Salvation Army
I absolutely agree. General, that sounds like an Army I want to be serving in. Wait, I am!

I have to say though, to the senior officers, from the soldiery, that this cuts another way:

You weren't meant to be a holy huddle either! And if you are content going to conferences, sitting in meetings and visiting one another at headquarters, week after week, enjoying tea and biscuits with dignitaries, promoting each others' books, stifling the creativity of the best officers, tolerating the incompetence of the duds, and pontificating upon the state of 'your' army, and you don't care what happens beyond your walls (or your halls), I need to tell you, and maybe I'm being too direct, but neither are you! (Except of course that, as we know, the Army legally belongs to the General).

I sense especially at the moment that the Commissioners are a 'holy huddle' of a sort, because it is very difficult to discern individuality, new thinking or difference of opinion among them. I don't doubt for a moment that they have all of these things, but it's as if there is an unspoken rule, tightening its grip, that they keep it behind closed doors, where the efficacy of internal debate is beyond the sight of the rest of us. Of course the church, and its leaders in particular, should show solidarity. But we are in danger of confusing holding the line with toeing one.

As an example from my own experience, those who have met with me (and they have) over the last little while to talk about you in particular, or the Army's response to family law in general (and I try to keep those subjects discrete) didn't want anyone else to know that they were doing so, and certainly didn't want to be quoted. Particularly since they have done so little, I wonder why. Maybe it's because they've done so little.

On Sunday, we participated in something of a 'health check' on our corps. I think a good few of us, when asked what we would like to do to improve what we do, looked at the boards of post-it notes and were struck that other people were thinking what we were. Not everyone agreed, not everyone felt able to say exactly what they thought, I feel sure, but particularly if you think the afternoon meeting needs revitalising, or the speakers in the foyer re-connecting, it turns out you are in community! That board of 'improvements' is now a range of opportunities which as a corps we can consider and do something positive with.

I happen to think that if the Army was less afraid of debate, and less afraid of letting people crack on, those Commissioners would likewise feel emboldened by community of views amongst those whom they lead. People would be able to come forward and encourage them.

As it is, ironically, an Army which, to quote the General's vision, reaches out to the dispossessed, inadvertently dispossesses the soldiery and corps officers in particular by failing to show that their concerns are the Army's concerns, and giving advocacy to causes which they personally can identify with or have expertise regarding.

To come full circle, I am reminded nevertheless that if Step-Mum and I are ever to become Salvation Army officers, we will have to have our candidacy signed-off by a Territorial Commander. One of the hurdles, if you will, is that we have, through no particular desire of our own, ended up at closer quarters to the top of the tree than most, and that speaking candidly of my experience, as I do, is unlikely to help unless things change!

General Bond told the conference yesterday "Any time his people meet together, he wants to come with the unimaginable, the unexpected and the impossible. So we will wait on the God who loves to surprise us". My question is, will the Army let me do the unimaginable, the unexpected and the impossible, for and with God? The messages are mixed.

Even so, as our Lieutenant friends, the 'Friends of Christ', settle into their new positions at the foot of that command structure, in appointments some of which are out on a limb, either metaphorically or geographically, (the General spoke last night of people 'working in difficult places' ) we wish for them God's richest blessing in their individual ministries - because whilst their officership will be governed by the Army, it is for the one who calls each of us that they will labour - and his will be the 'well done' for which we, and all our fellow Salvationists, of substantive rank or not, must strive.

Love from Daddy

Friday, 6 July 2012


A number of friends of ours are being commissioned as Salvation Army officers this weekend.

I thought I might, with that in mind, share this speech by Commissioner Vic Poke, our former Chief Secretary:

It's all about doing your best in the situation you find yourself in, and leaving the big stuff to 'the man with the plan'. 

 Love from Daddy

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The wages of stupidity

I had other plans for a piece I was going to write today - in fact two pieces were already vying for my attention when Step-Mum picked up a tweet from @salvationarmyuk which raised more than a little interest.

The 'Travelling Horse of Wrexham'
Whilst there's a saying on the railway that there's 'nowt so daft as the general public' (and a good degree of CCTV evidence to back this up), it is dangerous to proceed on that assumption in the PR space.

When the UK territory tweets "Read our latest response to the statements made on Australian radio regarding the LGBT community", they immediately invite not just a look at their piece, but for people to hit Google in search of their own truth. Five bewildering minutes later, having read the UK territory response (now, curiously, removed, but not before a screenshot was collected!) to something they didn't clarify the origins of, and the Australia Southern territory response which gave us the radio station name to whack into Google, I was listening to the 'Salt and Pepper' show on 'Joy 94.9', an Australian radio show, clearly by gay people, for gay people.

Their interview, on the back of a statement responding to a proposed boycott from a former pop star, which was only really reported by the gay media, with Major Andrew Craib, (at the time the Territorial Director for Public Relation, now all of a sudden Divisional Public Relations Secretary for South Australia, quelle surprise), was by the Army's agreement. He was not ambushed! That being so, you have to ask the question - what on earth were they thinking when they agreed to give an interview to a show which describes itself thus (cover your ears, children, the Army wouldn't want you reading some of these words so I've had to edit it):
"'Salt and Pepper' takes a salacious look at the week that was. Think of it as a queer media watch' Serena, the salty one and Pete,the peppery one, are a couple of grumpy old journo types who bring you an overview of the week in media. From Royal Wedding w**k to the simplest of idiots making stupid errors, we will look at media treatments of gay events around the world, and the headlines that you didn’t read right here in our own back yard. No one is immune – not event our own joystars. Join them to hunt through headlines, and wade through mediocrity, and just have a rollicking time."
I am not sure on what grounds they felt it was desirable or sensible to give an interview to a show for homosexuals which hinges on the word 'salacious', on a station with only 216,000 listeners, on a show that airs at 2300 on a Tuesday, but Major Craib's comments suggest that it was all about the money.

The Army was so desperate to try and make sure gay people kept giving, that it put itself forward for ritual humiliation. That would have been bad enough, but Major Craib's performance was an utter disgrace and a total embarrassment. If the show set out to 'wade through mediocrity', well, they succeeded.

I'm not going to type it all out, but I would encourage you, if you're a Salvationist, to grab your handbook of doctrine, a Bible, and listen to it here or here.

You might feel sorry for a soldier being stopped in the street and fed to the bears like this, but a Major? In a Public Relations appointment? Deliberately putting himself in that position? Was he crazy?

He didn't understand the scriptural or theological basis of our beliefs. He didn't understand the context of the book of Romans. He didn't even identify that the Army uses the same bible as all other mainstream Christians, or manage to make the point regarding Leviticus that if they objected to the old covenant, maybe they would like to take on a Jew regarding that, since they, not us, still live rigidly by it? Bit of a training issue, one might suggest?

He did, however, understand that his brief was to try to make good any damage to the Army's reputation amongst gay people or sympathisers, who may put their money where their mouths are and stop giving - and herein lies a greater problem, which becomes painfully apparent in the UK territory statement.

Another blogger has said this:
"Craibe’s reason for doing the interview was to convince members of the LGBT community that they should ignore the boycott call because The Salvation Army is a good organization doing good deeds in local communities. However, he was not prepared for the tough, but fair, questions he received. Instead, of tamping out the boycott flames, he undoubtedly fanned them.
While other Salvation Army spokespeople have stepped back from Craibe’s dogmatic statements, they have not completely repudiated them. They have all articulated the belief that members of the LGBT community are sinners existing in spiritual death and in need of salvation. Nevertheless, The Salvation Army is delighted to take their money. 
The Salvation Army is certainly entitled to its religious beliefs. But, given its beliefs, what did the organization really hope to gain by going on a radio show targeting the LGBT community? While Craibe was not adequately prepared, I’m not sure any amount of preparation would have helped much given the organization’s religious beliefs. Rather than helping to end the boycott, the interview will likely strengthen it.
The follow-up statements from The Salvation Army are also troublesome. The Salvation Army USA official statement makes it sound like the organization accepts the LGBT community. However, as Byrd’s [US NHQ PR Director] email to me reveals, the posted statement may really be just a fig leaf hiding what many in the LGBT community believe to be The Salvation Army’s true position: You’re a sinner. You’re broken. We look down on you. But, we want your money."
Even though I agree with the position the Army espouses, I am troubled by the logic, which is strong. It's not a big deal until you go to those people asking for their money, not least because once they've given, rightly or wrongly, they feel that they are owed a form of acceptance of their life choices which we cannot in all good conscience afford them.

As the blogger, Michael Rosen, concluded:

"The Salvation Army cannot have it both ways...
...The Salvation Army should develop a communications strategy before speaking. And, that strategy should be absolutely honest. Come to think of it, perhaps The Salvation Army needs to be honest with itself. Perhaps it should actually embrace the boycott movement rather than fight it. Perhaps it should stop accepting donations from people it believes are unrepentant sinners.
All nonprofit organizations should be true to their mission and values. When engaging the public, all nonprofit organizations should have a carefully crafted, but thoroughly honest, strategy in place. The Salvation Army missed the mark on both points."

William Booth believed there was no such thing as 'dirty money' - he would take it from anyone - even the likes of Lord Rothschild.

When I was a boy, I thought that was such a wonderful view to take; indeed, when I used to do my 'red shield appeal' (if you read 'red shield' in German, there's an interesting conspiracy theory!) enveloping during the mid-90s, our envelopes used to bear the words 'we do not benefit directly from the national lottery', or something similar. Grandad explained to me that the word 'directly' was because whilst we didn't take money from Camelot, we weren't to know if the tenner someone put in their envelope was as a result of three balls matching on the preceding Saturday!

It's not that simple though. In my youth I failed to perceive that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not from the state, not from private donors. He who pays the piper may not exactly call the tune, but he can decide on the basis of the tune played if he wishes to fund the piper further.

The question I therefore ask is, does that matter? I would say yes, if it does to the donor, at least!

If you receive money to use as you see fit, that's great. But if you receive money wrapped with expectations other than those which you feel are right, that's a different matter.

The Army already subscribes tacitly to feminism, cheaply portraying men as abusive, homeless drunks who need setting straight and women and children as their victims, who need protecting. You only have to look at the materials we send to prospective donors, and put on the walls in our halls.

Similarly, at a lower level, there are those who, on this particular issue, are waving a rainbow flag through the Army's corps', and even the corridors of power, in pursuit of doctrinal change. There are many Salvationists who do not understand the Army's stance, because we are often scared of teaching it, and there are a good few, I reckon, who actively oppose it or even break it, but are soldiers nonetheless.

At the point where a radio show which claimed to want 'balanced debate' rounded on Major Craib for correctly asserting that homosexual acts are a choice, and therefore may be abstained from, there was a decision to be made. Do we want these people's money as our first priority, or do we want to be 'true to our colours'?

It was too late for the interview itself. Major Craib was in complete meltdown - in fact, we heard in the background the surest sign that someone is 'dying' in an interview - the ringing of their mobile phone, followed by a short silence and a message tone. I wonder who and what that was. Maybe we should have ordered Major Craib a taxi like Diane Abbott?

Returning to that first tweet, the international Army has decided to respond, and it's only because of that decision that the likes of me even know about the incident. That's right, something damaging happened in Australia as a result of a public spokesman dropping the ball, so we told the world. It looks like that has hit home now, in the UK at least, because the webpage, the statement, and the tweet advertising it, have all been excised less than 24 hours after they appeared. Light the blue touchpaper...

The interview took place on 21 June and it was yesterday, 3 July, that the UK territory's statement appeared. It appeared to have common elements with those from other territories. The opening paragraph, for instance, matches that on the United States NHQ page. Australia Eastern's Major Bruce Harmer's competent (though not hugely edifying) 'Q&A' response is also available there.

The UK territory chose not to link to that bit, but to write their own conclusion, and it's the last paragraph with which I must take issue:
"We respect and value the diversity of our staff and the people we support and treat them each as unique individuals. As well as having a right to be dealt with professionally, people can expect from us encouragement and a respect for their individual beliefs, ambitions and preferences." (emphasis added)
Insufficient use of the comma has inhibited the clarity of that last sentence, but I am sorry; for precisely the reason outlined by Paul in his epistle to the Romans, it would be utterly wrong of me to 'encourage' a preference for sin, the wages of which is death. (Rom 6:23). It would be wrong in civil society to believe that unsaved sinners merit wilful disrespect - it doesn't fit with 'love the sinner, hate the sin', but I am still entitled, indeed called, to the sincerely held belief that those who participate in homosexual acts are going to hell - and, regretting that, to sincerely want to do something to bring them to salvation and a more fulfilling way of life.

General Bond told us fervently from the Albert Hall platform a few weeks ago that she believes in the devil and hell, but not that we should evangelise out of the 'turn or burn' mould.

Scripture tells us again and again that the devil wants us to be comfortable with sin - to think nothing of it. That's the most dangerous situation - when we tell ourselves 'it's ok'. We are specifically called to guard against it!
"Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." (Romans 12:2, MSG) 
"Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. " (Ephesians 6:13, NIV) 
Does the Salvation Army still believe in sin? In strong doctrine and strong mercy?

I hope so. If it doesn't, why would any Salvation be necessary?

If we do, then we should say so - and maybe it would be prudent not to expect donations from those who vehemently disagree, or would seek to mould us into something else.

A senior officer recently said to me that if we removed from the soldiers roll everyone who broke the dedication covenant made in relation to their children, we would have far fewer soldiers. We remove them for drinking alcohol, but not for failing to uphold the principles of Christian family life in relation to Children regarding whom they freely entered into an extra covenant relationship with God.

Maybe we should tell people, when they bring their child to the Army to be dedicated to God, that we don't actually worry about whether the covenant which the Army administers and into which the parents and congregation enter with the almighty, is kept? If the covenant is defiled by disrespect, the ceremony is as a clanging gong, is it not?

And if homosexual acts are one day no longer sin to be identified as such, when and how did we become arbiters? More to the point, which sin might we legitimise next?

The one that shouts loudest?

The one that's most socially acceptable or politically expedient?

The one which threatens to stop giving money to us?

If as individuals, or as an Army, we are ever foolish and short-sighted enough to take our eyes off being the best we can be, as saved sinners and sanctified saints, and dilute our doctrine for the highest bidder, or to keep the cartridge giving up, ours will be the wages of stupidity.

Eventually, we wouldn't even be there to love those people as God intended

Love from Daddy.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Keeping records

GULLIDGE William Arthur  

B Company 22nd Battalion
New South Wales

So reads, when translated from the Japanese phonetic script, the entry on the log thought to be the most accurate record of those on board the Montevideo Maru when it sank, torpedoed by a US naval ship, in 1942.

The Montevideo Maru was carrying POWs and internees, captives of the Japanese, when it was sunk on 1 July 1942. It is recognised as Australia's greatest loss at sea.

Amongst those on board, all of whom (the captives at least) perished with the ship, was one of the finest Army march writers - Arthur Gullidge, and most of his men of the 2/22nd Battalion Band, fellow Salvationists, seven of whom were from Brunswick Citadel corps and had joined up en masse with their bandmaster

Speaking at the funeral of the great Welsh composer Joseph Parry, Elfed said it was impossible to bury a musician because his songs and his music lived on beyond his death - and that is certainly true of Gullidge, the seventieth anniversary (to the day) of whose death we marked on Sunday afternoon with the playing of 'Emblem of the Army'

Gullidge's was a unique style of march, characterised by a minor key opening and (from where I sit) heavy, technically challenging bass solos, and indeed if there were to be any criticism levelled at his famous marches, it would be merely they are quite similar! You hear a Gullidge march, be it 'Victorious', 'Army of Immanuel', 'The Fount', and you just know it's one of his - or the 'honorary' one, 'Crown of Conquest', written as a tribute to him by Ray Steadman-Allen.

You can find out more about the story of Arthur Gullidge and his band, on YouTube, and in a recent blog piece here.

The sinking of the Montevideo Maru was a communications man's nightmare in the dark days of 1942. The ship had not, apparently been carrying any markings indicating its cargo, and in the context of the thinking of the day, it is unsurprising that there was cover-up about what had happened until the war was over. Gullidge's wife and children were kept in the dark for three and a half years about the fact that he had died.

These days, it would be much harder to effect a cover-up like that. Wars are played out on the television, and where that falls short or is silenced, it is hard to stop social networks from doing their stuff. You only have to look at the lengths the Chinese have to go to now, with their attempts to effect censorship.

Nevertheless, obtaining information about much smaller matters like the state of your teeth, is rather more troublesome, even with all the legal provision of the Data Protection Act 1998, a piece of legislation Step-Mum and I are now very familiar with.

Two weeks ago, after I raised the issue with the aim of completing my set of healthcare records (and because the health visitors hadn't checked), Mummy suddenly decided you should go to the Dentists. She reluctantly gave me the details of the surgery, and when I rang them to check when you were due to be seen, they helpfully told me not only that you were going the next day, but told me, quite without me asking, the details of Mummy's next appointment, too!

Unsurprisingly, when I said I would like to attend with you, Mummy cancelled the appointment, and all of a sudden the surgery are being rather less obliging - indeed they've not replied to my correspondence at all. So, it's Subject Access Request time, another tenner to cover the maximum statutory fee and another trip to the post office for a recorded delivery.

We now have had to play the data purchasing game with, amongst others:
  • Hospitals
  • GP surgeries
  • A Primary Care Trust
  • Nursery
I've spent over £100 just on obtaining, or trying to obtain, information which I shouldn't have needed to ask for. The next step for some of these places is the Information Commissioner, or a claim in the civil courts. Not really good enough when some of those who have given the most grief are agencies of the state.

I have to say that part of the problem is that so few Dads in my position seem to go through the process of obtaining what they are entitled to. The moment I was prevented from keeping an eye on your health myself, these things became important. With one in three children missing their father from their home, places such as these should be receiving more requests than they are, and would as a result know more of their legal obligations.

For the benefit of other Dads who may be reading, everything you need to know is on the Information Commissioner's website.

Mummy would of course have little to fear from all these records being pulled, indeed she might be more keen to share them, if it weren't for the fact that they are stripping the veneer from her competency as a parent. Similarly, she probably wishes she hadn't told all her family and friends to read this blog, now that, with time, my claims about her duplicitous and vindictive actions are all being proved accurate.

In the same way that you can hear a Gullidge march and instantly recognise his hallmark, the day will come, a good few years down the road, when no matter what has happened (and I might even have gone to my reward by then), you can open the books and see the sheer administrative lengths I went to on your behalf in the face of all this hostility and opposition. Even if I haven't been, or aren't around, you will be able to discern the hallmarks of your father's labours.

Love from Daddy

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Measuring happiness

Yesterday, on the occasion of the launch of the Save Childhood project, the Grauniad ran a piece on unhappiness in childhood, something this country seems to be particularly adept at causing:

Typically, though, they didn't mention the fatherlessness epidemic in their lists of ills. The Centre for Separated Families, though, said this week, in response to the government's consultation on changes to the Children Act 1989:

"Unless family mediators, Cafcass officers, social workers, child support professionals, children’s centre staff and all the other individuals and agencies that parents come into contact with start to work outside the lone parent paradigm, children will continue to miss out on the vital relationships that allow them to grow and develop into psychologically secure and fulfilled adults.'"

I am in the middle of a lot of white-collar court work at the moment, but I am left to worry about how you are getting on.

Your medical records tell me that you are hitting, spitting, biting, not sleeping when you should and sleeping in Mummy's bed when you do.

They tell me that you are scared of the bath, have successfully refused to go to nursery on occasion, and are scared of the abstract notion that someone you've not seen for 19 months is going to take you away. There is even a suggestion that someone you are calling 'Uncle' has appeared in your life and is acting as your confidante, whilst your Aunty is referring her own sister's parenting to health visitors for intervention.

Unfortunately, that doesn't sound like a very happy little boy to me. It would be a poor kind of father who wasn't bothered about that - and I am very bothered about it. For the time being, though, all I can do is paperwork.

Love from Daddy.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

What's on the cards?

According to a YouGov poll in the last week, 80 per cent of Brits (and 88 per cent of fathers) think that 'Fathers day is just another way for companies to make money on cards and presents'.

This is slightly curious, given that 52 per cent of those questioned also disagreed with the notion that 'Fathers day is unimportant and just another day', but reflects the fact, I think, that whilst the day may be important, it is not treated as such, because fathers aren't regarded as important.

In the 18-24 year old age group, only 73% agreed in any way that 'Fathers are instrumental in bringing up children'. Well, what you've never known, you don't miss, I suppose. Given that only two-thirds of children have their father around, why would many more than that think they were important?

Step-Mum accidentally took me into a card shop last week and I had to leave, because all the saccharine rubbish was too upsetting. They don't do a card which says 'Thinking of you today because someone stole your child'.

Nevertheless, with the help of Moonpig, I have sent a few cards this year, to the fathers in your maternal family, all of whom have seen you more recently than me.

Most of them are professing Christians - one of them even works for the church, with young people.

All of them have stayed silent for the last two years or so. None of them have ever sought to disassociate themselves with what is being done to you, as it was done to your late Grandmother.

I could talk about 'Good men doing nothing' - but instead, noting that two of them have children younger than you, I will remind them that what they deem appropriate for you, could happen to them one day. To celebrate today for themselves, whilst agreeing that others don't deserve the same, makes their position the ultimate in hypocrisy.

And as they enjoy 'their' day, with their children and family around them, they have no more rights to fatherhood than I do. They are just running their luck for a little longer.

Ironically, it's me that's fighting to change that - for all of us. Including you.

Love from Daddy

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A busy week

After our Scottish sojourn, it's been an action-packed week in the world of the disenfranchised father.

I received word that on Tuesday, Brighton Congress Hall closed its contact centre. As you know, I consider them about as acceptable as testing cosmetics on monkeys, but unenlightened churches usually set them up with the best of intentions.

More to the point, the likelihood is that the fathers who were going there are now facing disruption at best, and quite likely cessation, of their ordered contact with their children. Many of them will have been ordered to see their children at the Army.

Meantime, silence from Mummy's solicitors. They send lots of letters, but when their threats come to nothing and they start to have to respond to correspondence, they tend to look at the court diary and hope they can hold out until next time, because there is nothing they can say which will help their client's position. So much for the paramountcy principle.

Thursday brought the announcement of the Government consultation on changes to the Children act.

There is almost nothing proposed that can't already be done within the Act - a judge is empowered to imprison or fine mothers who breach contact orders (even if their solicitor says they are innocent) - and to reverse residence. Such recourse is common if you are a Dad upsetting the CSA, but otherwise reserved for 'show' cases.

I feel let down by my party, after all the pre-election rhetoric, but nevertheless, the proposal is an improvement, so we must bank it, like the gay movement did with civil partnerships. The world will not change, so they will have to revisit the issue.

Over the last two days we have received some interesting documents, which we are still studying. Amongst them is my police record! It makes interesting reading, especially compared to the stories various people an organisations have told.

Yesterday I sent Mummy a very pleasant text asking which Dentist you are seeing. No reply. Maybe that means no dentist, I don't know. The court rang to change the hearing time for Monday - fortunately not by much; I also sent my fathers day cards.

I'm on the Bakerloo line now - not bound for Scotland, where you told us it goes, but for Trafalgar Square, to see what happens there today.

And tomorrow? Well, amongst other things I have a sermon to deliver!

Court on Monday, meetings at Westminster and elsewhere on Tuesday, and so it continues.

Busy, busy, busy.

Hang on in there, mate.

Love from Daddy

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Showers on the Fife Circle

If you'd asked me a week ago where I would be now, I certainly wouldn't have guessed that I'd been in Scotland since Sunday.

Step Mum has had the most unorthodox of bank holiday weekends - by not having any time off work! Indeed, she has been working long days and late nights throughout.

When you were a baby, it was me who once brought you and Mummy with me to Glasgow for a night - I remember going to Baby Gap in Buchanan Galleries to buy your dedication outfit. Now, it's Step Mum, as the earner in our household, who is bringing me to Scotland, owing to her employer's late shout calling in her weekend.

As it happens, the job's not finished yet, so having flown up on Sunday night (less said about the two hour delay arriving to find they'd booked the wrong hotel  and McDonalds for tea, the better!) we are still here! This has caused a few logistical issues, but it's given me the opportunity to have a few days away from London - and neither of us have had to cook for a week!

Today, I am trying to 'clear' Scotland. I first came up here about ten years ago and by the end of today, connections permitting, I will have travelled on every piece of railway in Scotland over which scheduled passenger trains run. I've done a few bits which are freight-only, too, but those days are over now, probably for good.

I've been to the Bo'ness and Kinneil railway, Ardrossan Harbour, Largs, Alloa, and last night I dropped in to Inverkeithing and found that yes, you can still ride behind a 'Skip' on the Fife circle, 1708 off Edinburgh. I'm going back for the whole run this evening. It reminds me of a time when I used to do a lot of trips behind Class 67s, and it reminds me of you.

You of course have done a fair bit of mileage up here, too. You've been to Kyle of Lochalsh, and you've been over the stretch of line I'm on now, between Linlithgow and Polmont, albeit asleep at the time!

I sent you a postcard yesterday. It is as much as I can do directly. We are waiting for the next court date, and Mummy's solicitors, whilst sending me weekly letters with some new threat or other, are ignoring my repeated requests for them to confirm when the court order, some 18 months old now, is going to be adhered to.

Their only response? They tell me that Mummy isn't breaking the order at all. I am struggling to find a definition of the word 'shall' which fits the meaning they are ascribing to it!

You're not seeing me though, are you. That's the reality. So the words are of little consequence and the pieces of paper of no meaning.

Love from Daddy

PS: I've not been able to post what I wrote earlier yet. I'm now on the 'Skip' job now, coming round the Fife circle curve at Thornton Junction. 67011 in charge again and it's slinging it down, so I'm in the saloon!

Paisley Canal earlier this afternoon was my final scheduled passenger mileage in Scotland.

I wonder when you will next come up here?

Friday, 1 June 2012

The uninformed worshipper?

It was good that, after lobbying from a number of us, THQ decided to make the congress meetings available to watch again (although not for long, I hear - SP&S need to protect their revenue!).

General Bond is a powerful speaker. She has a limited but distinctive range of speech inflections - Step Mum and I still (fondly of course!) mimic her high-pitched 'Who wouldn't want it?' strapline from her installation address.

For as long as she spoke about Jesus, she was on fire. Some of her political comments crashed and burned with me, though, but that's for another time. What the General does impeccably is lead an Army meeting. She has an innate musicality, and a sixth sense for creating and moulding atmosphere in a hall.

The musical highlights of the congress for me were not 'Blood of the lamb lite', (good as it was), nor the contributions of the staff sections. They were in the closing moments of the morning meeting, as the General led the congregational singing.

It is one of the beautiful freedoms of Salvationism that we have next to no set liturgy. As a meeting leader, the idea that you can take the congregation on a journey with the freedom to deviate, or stop off, at the spirit's guidance, is a wonderful tool. And so, having deftly rolled an uncommon but beautiful combination of tune and old Army words (SASB 643, 'We the people of thy host', to 'Healing Stream') to the boundary as she made her appeal (marred only by a howl of feedback from the PA system) the General decided to start knocking the ball all over the ground.

What happened next wasn't her fault - but it should teach us a valuable and transferable lesson.

"Let's sing the first verse of 'Jesus, keep me near the cross'".

The pianist had no need to change tunes, but the a/v team were out of the game. Not everyone knows those words any more. Barely anyone has a songbook of their own in a congress meeting these days. Those that could sing it (a good number, of course), did, and those that didn't know it, struggled.

You could have typed the words out several times in the time available, or searched the songbook for them.

But the screen stayed blank.

Undeterred, the General, being an all-rounder, bowled the pianist a googly. Or did she?

I happen to think that if you are the pianist in the Albert Hall for a congress led by the General, you ought to be able to manage the founder's song without the copy. Plenty of Army pianists could have. Great Grandad used to pick a chorus and surreptitiously indicate to his teenage son what key he wanted it in, sharps indicated by fingers on the right hand, flats on the left.

It turned out to be no matter. No sooner had the pianist wafted their bat at the incoming delivery and looked for a tune book, than General Bond plucked the ball from the air, one handed, as, with a commendable choice of pitch (not a cricketing analogy this time!), she started the singing 'and now, hallelujah!...',  a capella.

Boom. That was what made my hairs stand on end.

The Albert Hall can be a swine to sing in - that's why those 'mushrooms' are there! But putting thousands of Salvationists in that famous cauldron and letting them sing is a dead cert for making a glorious noise. The most mellifluous and vocally-competent football crowd you ever heard.

In four distinct parts, 'boundless salvation, for you and for me' rattled round the walls, conducted, song book in hand, by the General herself. How I wish I'd been there, just for that.

But if you didn't know the words by heart? Well, we were halfway through singing it for the second time before the words appeared, accompanied by a bit more PA howl...

If the ISB had played one of their big pieces badly, or the ISS had forgotten a repeated chorus or coda, people would have been quick to say so. But when the audio visuals are poor, something that actually impedes the worship of the congregation, why the silence - and why let Powerpoint steal our spontaneity?

If I am in the congregation, my needs are few and simple, but increasingly forgotten - and this is true for lots of corps and lots of other churches now, but demonstrated by the congress.

I need to hear the spoken word
It really is inexcusable when the microphone gets switched on after someone has started speaking. How can I understand, be touched by, and respond to things I cannot hear or make sense of? See also: Mix, below.

I need access to the words when I sing
If you want me to sing from a screen, I need the words, the right words, to appear. I need them to advance at the right time; not to be expected to 'just know' when, say, a line is repeated. I need the words to be correctly spelled and punctuated. If this is too much to ask, can we just use the song book, which meets almost all the requirements?

This is divine worship. The best for the highest applies. If you can't play the piano, you don't offer to be the pianist. If God's not given you the gift of spelling, you might not be the one to write the slides.

Whoever runs the slides must give the task their full concentration, and must be sufficiently competent to dig out (or even type!) words quickly in order to help the leader of the meeting maintain their flow. Dare I say it, but no small degree of familiarity with scripture, and with Army music, songs and ecclesiology is necessary, and that these competencies are as critical as that of the pianist's ability to read music and play the piano.

I need an idea of the tune, and when to start singing!
Many songs in the Army song book have multiple tunes, and some of us like to mix them up even further than those suggestions (some of us even remember the rule, written in the songbook, of checking every verse actually fits the tune you've selected!).

How often, though, have you been in a meeting and a song is called, you rise to sing, and the first sound the band plays is the first note you are expected to sing? An introduction won't kill the band. It will introduce the tune and key, and it will give the congregation chance to get ready to sing. If it's not obvious, the meeting leader can also tell the congregation to which tune we are going to sing.

I need to hear a decent mix
It sometimes feels like the only feedback everyone accepts in an Army meeting is the howling through the PA, or the thud of people tapping on microphones to see if they're on.

Many Army halls have PA systems set with no reference to what is a useful EQ balance. Too much bass, too little mid and treble, and thus vocals are often indistinct. I'm coming to worship, and not at the Ministry of Sound. If I can't hear and understand the spoken or sung word, I cannot respond to it.

I need to be able to sing my part
Choral singing is as much a part of Salvationist DNA as brass bands, if not more so, because it is more inclusive. We sing, we sing well, and we sing in four part harmony. Amazingly, we have done this since 1986 with a tune book that has barely any words in it, whilst the Welsh and Scots churches, supposedly behind the times, are still producing tonic sul-fa books for those who want them.

Why are we trying, particularly through the auspices of 'Scripture based songs' and the like, to turn Army meetings into 'Songs of Praise'?

Why are we so often, needlessly, being pushed into singing in unison? In that same congress meeting, did we really need to have 'Lobe den Herren' (which has survived the test of a long, long time) to the ridiculous new 'walzy' arrangement, when that monochromatic 'amen' could have sounded again from God's people in glorious technicolour? Vocally, as scripturally, there are many parts in one body.

Your Great Grandad was known as a man who was not easily riled, but Big Granded remembers that one night, in an Army meeting he was leading as a Divisonal Commander, he turned from the platform to a very talented 'busker' at the piano, saying "Captain, could you just play the straightforward harmonies, please?" Save it for the offering, or the band or songster piece. Congregational singing has to be functional or it falls down!

When left to their own devices, those Salvationists in the Albert Hall did not sing in unison. Let's remember our heritage, and at least give people the choice by giving them the chance. This is their worship, too.

Second only to the General's skill and craft as a preacher and meeting leader, I was struck that congress gave us an example of how more and more, we are seeking to use modern technologies, which can make or break a meeting, and the extent to which people engage with the ministry of God's word. We need worship to be inclusive, accessible, clear and simple. And we need to remain true to who we are.

These tools (and boy have some corps spent money!) are only as good as the workmen. Maybe it's time that we should elevate the standing, the training, and our expectations, of the person doing the audio-visuals. We have made them the most important person in the meeting, after the preacher.

Love from Daddy

Monday, 28 May 2012


It's been a strange old weekend.

Sure enough, Saturday morning came and the postman woke us with some more nonsense from the nursery. It says something about a nation's priorities when a nursery is more likely to get in trouble for mishandling data than for helping to split children and parents. Having given them several 'last chances', I am now left with no alternative but to hang them with whatever legislative rope comes to hand.

Anyway, in the same way that we are not going to be going to the Olympics, we had the strange situation of being in London during a big Army congress, which, for one reason and another, we didn't attend. There were other occasions in your family over the weekend, and yesterday we went up to see Grandma and Big Grandad, to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

On Friday night, though, we were at the Regent Hall for the 'warm up' gig with Commissioner Christine MacMillan, shortly to retire from her appointment as leader of the International Social Justice Commission, whose visit was of much interest. There was a great deal of atmosphere, and a sense of anticipation as to what the weekend would bring.

Ironically of course, the 'I'll fight' theme betrays a common but fundamental misapprehension regarding Army history. Begbie's biography of William Booth, like the War Cry of 1912, quotes a good deal of what the founder said on 9 May in the Albert Hall, but it is generally accepted by Army historians that he is unlikely to have uttered one of his most famous quotes - indeed, words in that form were first attributed to him several years earlier! A year on from a band's 120th birthday, we commemorated a speech (the one he gave was a stirring one in its own right!) using words probably never uttered in it, which was a little odd.

The idea, though, that 100 years on from the promotion to glory of that great visionary and the founder of our movement, The Salvation Army should make another push into the field of social justice, is most laudable. I hope people take more time this year to study Booth's work and writings, which remain so very relevant to us today, if not in their practical absolute specifics, then in their sincere, Godly and audacious intent.

The '#iwillfight' hashtag was designated on Twitter over the weekend, and it was interesting to see what people had to say as the congress progressed. Predictably, much of it was about the event, the venue, the music, and admiration for people and their words. I ventured to suggest that it was today, and in the days ahead, that our 'fight' will be tested. We need the hashtags '#iamfighting' and when we win, '#ifought'!

I was reminded by a quip made by General Shaw Clifton at his welcome meeting in 2006:

"It's a strange quirk of the Salvation Army's legal constitution that a general takes office at midnight. It gives him or her a few hours to mess things up without anybody noticing, I think that's the rationale... there must be a reason for doing this to people at midnight!
...But I did wake up at about 6am, and Helen was sleeping soundly, so I thought 'that's not fair' so I woke her up and said "do you realise I've been the General for six hours?"
She said "What have you done so far?!"
I had no answer to that one! I said "I've slept through most of it so far!""

That afternoon, General Clifton went on to say this, and I think this is all the more relevant in the context of social justice and this weekend's congress:

So it is that God, who raised us up, is calling us again to be a Christ-centred, Cross-conscious Army. As I said to the High Council just a few weeks ago, He calls us back to the old wells. He is not calling us back to old, worn out methodologies, but to the things that made us what once we were: humility, simplicity, nothingness, brokenness, a readiness to risk all – even our reputations – for the sake of Christ, obedience come what may, a fearlessness that the world could not comprehend, a total and ruthless rejection of worldly enticements, a refusal to be seduced by, and to root out from among us anything displeasing to God, a heart for the lost and lonely, being all out for holiness and allowing Jesus to grow Himself within us to change us, and change us, and change us again, from glory into glory ‘til in Heaven we take our place. 
Where do you stand in all this?

Many tweeted '#iwillfight' this weekend. But did they all get up this morning and get fighting? 

This is the Salvation Army that put phosphorous matchmakers out of business, and kept bread affordable.

This is the Salvation Army that bought a girl, losing a man his liberty, to bring to light the exploitation of children.

This is the Salvation Army that gave women a full and equal role from the off, long before most of society did.

This is the Salvation Army that turned the world upside down, with Soup, Soap, and Salvation.

This is the Salvation Army of our forebears; of your and my ancestors. 

This is the Salvation Army, then, of people like you and me. "Sing it as our comrades sang it, many a thousand strong, as they were marching to Glory", as I used to sing in the singing company.

In kindness I ask all our Salvationist readers, and myself (and one day, as your Dad, will ask you):

'What have you done so far?'

Love from Daddy