Thursday, September 4, 2008

Corps and Social Inclusion

I've been writing something tonight about social inclusion and the potential of Salvation Army corps to create connections for social program clients. Here's a few thoughts...

Salvation Army corps are well placed to provide long-term community connections to clients of our social programs. In Victoria alone, there are nearly 100 Salvation Army corps providing social and spiritual services in their local communities. Many of these corps are demonstrating their commitment to building a sense of belonging for people and enhancing their connection to the community through a range of activities from meal programmes and kids clubs to women's groups and religious services.

Increasingly, corps are making intentional space to integrate isolated and marginalised people into their communities. The communities that are built around Salvation Army corps can provide valuable safety nets that reconnect people into stable social networks, and contribute to increasing their sense of self-worth as they are encouraged to play active roles in the community. Furthermore, corps are ideally placed to act as connecting points into other Salvation Army services, as well as partner services as needs arise.

Finally, The Salvation Army is committed to a holistic view of life that recognises the multidimensional nature of human existence and values the place of music, art, recreational and cultural experiences in people's lives. Many Salvation Army programs recognise the importance of these activities and their function to enhance our lives. In addition, many corps offer programs that encourage people's search for meaning and spiritual engagement, providing pastoral support and care as people journey towards personal and spiritual growth.

Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but I find this a compelling and exciting vision of corps life that has a meaningful place in the community and provides vital connections to social programs.

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