Fighting injustice with love, unity and understanding

Feb 3, 2021

Black History Month is a time to think about past leaders in the fight for racial justice. It’s also an opportunity to renew our commitment to end racism, poverty and prejudice. To be clear, The Salvation Army does not tolerate racial injustice of any kind. Love and unity drive everything we do.

Acting on our Promise

Recently, nearly 1,000 Salvation Army officers, staff and church members gathered at a virtual Racial Justice Summit to address racism with four objectives: to listen, learn, lament and lead.

With the theme “We can do better,” the powerful two-day event held in October acknowledged the need for more open and honest dialogue on race and the role our organization can play in dismantling racism.

“We must address this critical issue in order to have solutions so that all might flourish,” said Major Katherine Clausell, Salvation Army leader for social justice and urban mission.

The event’s speakers, whose expertise spanned from social justice to urban ministry and more, challenged The Salvation Army to deconstruct anything that leads to or supports racism in order to build things up in a new, better way.

“[Diversity, equity and inclusion] are not the work of man but of the Holy Spirit,” explained Major Dr. Platt. “It requires intentionality. It cannot simply be a program but an ongoing process.”

Salvation Army leadership charted outcomes to pave a clear and decisive pathway forward. Each of The Salvation Army’s regional headquarters in the Midwest are developing strategies to align with the following:

  • A renewed organizational commitment to fight against systemic racism.
  • Policies and practices where we can stand together, work together and struggle together for racial justice.
  • An increased capacity to address racist systems and structures in our organization and society, with a view toward greater unity as a church and social services provider.
  • Creating space for new ideas and fresh approaches to increase diversity and inclusion.
  • Providing a safe and structured way to examine systems and structures that may be keeping ethnic minorities from full participation and advancement.
  • Promoting the Christian value of ethnic diversity and inclusiveness in all expressions of Salvation Army life.

“There is no vaccine for racism,” Commissioner Heidi Bailey, who oversees Salvation Army leader development, said at the Summit. “We must do the hard work.”

Beyond the Summit

The Salvation Army of the Midwest is passionate about continuing racial justice work well into the future. Our path forward includes the appointment of leaders Lt. Colonels Lonneal and Patty Richardson, whose role is to focus on racial diversity and inclusion.

In a recent interview about their new role, Lt. Colonel Lonneal said, “God has allowed The Salvation Army to be in the unique position to address many of our country’s social ills; we must determine if we are willing to allow Him to use us in new ways to truly be a pathway of hope and healing.”

Diverse History

The Salvation Army has a diverse history of people who have positively influenced and led our organization. A recently released virtual museum exhibit titled, “Changemakers: Salvationists (Salvation Army Church Members) Building an Inclusive Community” seeks to explore the important contributions of African-American changemakers since the first U.S. Salvation Army branch opened in Pennsylvania in 1880. View the exhibit.

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