Welcome to the blog of Commissioner Clive Adams. Leader of The Salvation Army United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

Cringe-worthy!... Embarrassed!... Confused!... Shocked!... No words!...

9 January 2014 - 10:23am
| by Clive Adams

You would be correct if you believed that these are quotations from the social media comments being made by Salvationists about the BBC4 programme screened on Tuesday night (7 January 2014). You may even recognise one or more of them as your own!

At the time of writing, the comments, criticisms and questions, while noticeably decreasing in volume, continued to appear some 24 hours after the screening of God’s Cadets on Tuesday. The negative comments are, in the main, from Salvationists who are reacting to aspects of the programme about which they feel uncomfortable or statements with which they disagree. In the main, the comments from “outsiders” are either neutral or positive. I offer no interpretation, except to note that this is interesting.

So intense has been the discussion sparked by the programme that I have decided to return to the topic in this blog. This is not meant to be an apologetic of, nor an apology for, our decision to allow the cameras in. I simply want to let you know about some of the positives that have resulted from the programme’s screening.

But, before I do, let me confirm a few things because some of the facts have become “woolly” as they have been bandied about in cyberspace.

First, there is little of what was said – on either side of the discussion as to the merits or demerits of this programme – that I do not understand. I mean emotionally, and not merely intellectually. It is a fact that I have already confessed my own discomfort at some of what was said or portrayed, and far from brushing such things under the proverbial, I would agree that some statements need to be unpacked with those who expressed them – privately, despite the statements being so public. It’s how we would treat anyone, so it is how we should treat each other.

Secondly, I can confirm that we saw the final version of the film as early as mid-November, but we did not have editing rights nor did we influence the choice of content from the many hours of film that was made. We felt no need to do so.

Finally, it must be remembered that it was a film about The Salvation Army, as opposed to being by, or for the Army.

So, why broach this subject again in a blog?

Simply to share with you that as a direct result of viewing the programme:

  • two people have asked – separately – for information on how they can join us;
  • someone has asked to have a conversation about Eternity;
  • someone has had a personal meeting with Jesus and been saved;
  • someone wants to know where to attend the nearest Army meeting;
  • a group of people working through their addictions spent a couple of hours talking about Jesus and his calling on people’s lives;
  • a couple have offered for officership;
  • someone wants to talk about God in the context of dementia;
  • a person wants to explore healing after an abusive past.
  • someone expressed how it has opened his eyes to reality, purpose, justice and community
  • a group of people started talking about their own beliefs and the things that drive them to follow their faith

These are outcomes I’ve heard about in the past 12 hours or so, and I thought that they present a perspective that’s worth having in the midst of all the lively discussion.


Submitted by Alison on

This programme has certainly been a conversation starter. Everyone is entitled to have their view, but it would certainly help if we can all be gracious toward each other. Let's use it for good regardless of what we think!

Submitted by Geoff Hamilton on

Thank you TC for this update.
Really encouraging feedback.
God bless your work as leader to all UK Salvos

Submitted by Steve on

Thanks for a very open and honest appraisal of what we have seen and read. I am still not however able to decide what the main point of the programme was, or why the programme makers were interested in making it. It did not really come over to me as a programme about TSA, more a programme about some Salvationists in the college and their thoughts on being there. Without Estelle Blake the programme would have been quite dull and lacking a real highlight. Whilst I am encouraged by the positive outcomes you mention in your blog, I would guess it will be neutral in terms of its overall impact on TSA and peoples image of it.

Submitted by Liz Hancock on

I am one who is guilty of expressing dissapointment in the programme, but I also need to accept that when people look at me they may well form their own judgement of The Salvation Army, in that I can be a part of what makes The Salvation Army great, and regrettabley at other times not so great too, and so I find myself praying 'Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me'

The positives listed above in your blog encourage and inspire me greatly, proving yet again how 'God works for the good of those who love the Lord' so thank you Commissioner for your intellient and honest response. To God be the Glory!

Submitted by Anonymous on

As a former Salvationist I found the programme encouraging and gave me real food for thought. We all face challenges in life and the programme helped me when I watched it yesterday, but some of the comments from Salvationists on social media have not.

Submitted by Jon Bond on

"•someone has had a personal meeting with Jesus and been saved;" - Hallelujah!

This alone makes the efforts, interpretations, and public vulnerabilities all worthwhile.

Submitted by David Craik on

Very helpful comment Commissioner.... Great to read of some positive outcomes already. I am particularly pleased to read that there will be some private unpacking of some of the disturbing comments.

I believe letting in of cameras and freedom of editorial has the potential to generate presentation in hindsight we would have preferred not to see. That is no reason to not have allowed cameras - far from it as I do believe challenge is healthy, however uncomfortable at the time.
Was the preparation in coaching of what to expect and be careful of? I am left thinking for the WBC Tutors and staff it was maybe inadequate.
I have no issue with the cadets as there was a clear range for a bit off the wall to the clear direct and meaningful witness. Are they likely to be rebellious? Yes! I recall for myself a period of rebellion which was thankfully handled with love and not harsh judgement. They are anly human and we all struggle sometimes with difficult spiritual concepts. It would have been great to have heard from one cadet in that session who has a marvellous testimony about salvation from alcoholism - maybe that's on the cutting room floor.
It was in the end as you say a programme about the SA and one albeit serious in subject was still produced with ratings in mind :-) The reaction of the press has been very positive and to that end I'm sure the makers are pleased with the end product.
I hope comms and editorial are preparing some external to the press items as at least one, I think the Telegraph, posed some questions....

Submitted by Jean McCrossan on

Wonderful news. This is what the programme was for I am sure. We serve a GREAT BIG GOD! Bigger than programme editors or any ill judged humour or comments. He is able to use our weakest efforts for His own purpose. Praise God for that. God bless all who took part in the documentary. I hope and pray that noone is hurt or damaged by any criticism.

Submitted by bonnie on

Thank you for sharing the outreach that this programme has had. This programme has opened up a window of opportunity to share our church with so many who do not know Jesus. Any opportunity to outreach is to be grasped and made the most use of. I knew as soon as I saw the opening few minutes of the documentary that this programme would speak to many who watched it. It is up to us to use this opportunity to share our faith with others and use it to transform lives. Who knows what seeds will be sown. It showed that we are all human with doubts and fears but ultimately a love of Jesus and a desire to do His will.

Submitted by Tim Reynolds on

As a former Salvationist and Territorial Envoy I want to say a huge 'well done' to the leaders of the Army for having the courage to allow this documentary to be made. Quite remarkable.

People these days can see through spin and PR exercises. If you really do want to reach the hurting, the lonely, the downcast, then you must allow that vulnerability to show. And you did.

It's when we're real and honest that others draw near and feel they can open up too. I think most of the people interviewed gave that sense of vulnerability and honesty and I was shocked that the Army permitted it to be honest. It was SO refreshing and very, very moving. These heroes of the faith may not have a doctorate in theology, but they were real, honest, open, caring, thoughtful, genuine and clearly sacrificing lots for the sake of others, and God. Yes, perhaps some could do with some better teaching and understanding of basic Christian doctrine if they are to help teach others - but their desire to grow, learn and develop was clearly evident. Works in progress, like us all. It was because of these portrayals that I was moved to tears at the end as we saw where each of these beautiful people were serving currently. What a gift to God's church they are!

On the other hand, what saddened me was observing the many things that stifle this movement still, year after year - the out dated rules and unhealthy sub-culture. Sadly, the reason why thousands of us over the years have felt we couldn't carry on in the movement.

The rules, the regulations, all the things that Salvos talk about decade after decade in regard to how it can so restrict your mission, message, and people's perceptions, and yet, change doesn't seem to happen. Sadly, when some of the leaders of the college spoke you could hear the rhetoric, the party line answers as if it's 1865 again - a reminder of the ever-present danger of being institutionalised through an out-dated sub-culture of silly rules, insensitive comments and Victorian speak.

So my own reflection as a now ex-Salvo of three years - I think history will show that this documentary will have been a gift to the Army for all sorts of reasons, some of which you've already shared. It showed the best of the Army - the wonderful, people with big hearts and deep devotion - willing to 'go' when most of the church would rather 'stay' and bravely being Jesus in dark places. And it also showed the worst of the Army - the dangerous sub-culture which restricts mission and creates obstacles for its leaders (and laity) and builds unhelpful barriers to the unchurched (or-un-Armyed!) people you seek to reach.

Again, well done to the leaders for their courage to be involved in this and to the directors for their vision and storytelling through the film - such an insightful, moving, and at times uncomfortable piece. And thankfully, not bland!

Submitted by Anon on

I just wanted to share how much I enjoyed watching the programme. I have not attended SA for over 8 years but as I had relations appearing in the documentary I thought I'd watch. It has certainly made me reflect on my faith and the way forward.

Submitted by Pappa November on

The views of the Salvation Army are going to polarise. Especially the traditionalism of the Salvation Army is destined to do so. As a Salvationist myself I thought the programme was excellent for the public, because it neither glorified nor dismissed the Army and its beliefs, the latter of which is not very difficult to do to any religious organisation with a little bit of editing. So we can be thankful that we haven't ended up with hugely negative press, and even if we would have and the results our TC has listed still occurred, it would have all been worthwhile.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I've heard of a few other positive outcomes as a result of the documentary, people wanting to volunteer etc. If it helps bring people to Jesus lets forget about our own discomfort.
It's sad to hear people being negative about their fellow Salvationists so publicly, as it takes courage to speak so openly about such personal matters.

Submitted by Judith on

Thank you for blog. I didn't feel comfortable with all that was said and portrayed but then documentaries are not made to make us feel comfortable but to challenge our own thinking and perceptions. My admiration goes to those who were prepared to put themselves 'out there' in front of the cameras and to be vulnerable - recognizing that their statements etc will not be always understood or accepted by everyone.

Submitted by Ranjam Rockboy on

I am not a salvationist. I watched the programme on iPlayer only because I had read negative comments from salvationists on Facebook.

As a non-salvationist atheist, I felt that overall the programme was a very positive reflection of the SA and I was impressed that the people featured were just normal, everyday folk.

The only negative I took from the programme was, what I felt to be, the appalling treatment of the man featured in your photo at the top of this blog, by his fellow salvationists. It's the easiest thing in the world to criticise, but it's a very different matter to give up everything you have to alter the course of your life entirely because you feel it is the correct thing to do. I thoroughly applaud him (and the others at your college) for doing so. But, he deserves the admiration of his fellow salvationists too, without exception and without petty criticism. As an atheist, I wouldn't be entirely comfortable having you coming to my stall at a car boot sale. As a businessman however, I can see that it was a great idea to get your message out there. So what if most car boot sales are on a Sunday ?.....Seriously !? Oh, and tell him to put his other watch back on !

Other than that, I am not surprised that the programme has had some of the outcomes you have listed. To the average man in the street viewer, the programme was a good advert for your organisation / church.

If any of you found any of it uncomfortable viewing, then you need to change. All I saw was normal, fallible people being honest. We need significantly more of that in this world.

Submitted by Katie Jones on

I can quite see why there are two seemingly different perspectives on the programme, and I am heartened that there are so many people engaging about what they saw, what they liked and what made uncomfortable viewing. The success of the programme lay in showing the work done by people like Estelle Blake (who undoubtedly shone) and the willingness of the cadets to give up their lives to Jesus and to serve others.

I am happy to differ from other Salvationists in my views on whether groceries should come from Tesco or Ocado, or how many times Star Wars featured in the film! It is healthy to have a range of personalities, opinions and perspectives in the Army, and our quirks and humanity make us real. I can see why non-Christians and non-Salvationists were impressed by the warmth and compassion they saw.

But being a movement of nice, genuine, caring people is underpinned by our shared faith. The main area of discomfort for me (and for many others) was the disconnect between what was said about our beliefs and my own understanding of what being a Salvationist means. Some very peculiar statements about our doctrines came from cadets and officers who, as spiritual leaders are tasked with sharing the gospel and our beliefs with the vulnerable and the unchurched. Leaving aside private conversations with the individuals, there are questions to be answered about why these differences in understanding of important doctrines have arisen (and why particularly they have not been noticed until broadcast on national television!). Whenever we speak to our beliefs (whether on TV or face to face with those we meet), for all the diversity in our life stories and experiences of our walk with Jesus, we should be united as Salvationists in our understanding of the fundamentals of what we profess.

Submitted by Tom Jones on

I recognise my own words, Commissioner(!), and, standing by them, I want to thank you sincerely for yours, and your recognition of and empathy for differing, sincerely held, expressions of opinion. To have taken the time to do so, with such candour, for a second time as you have is refreshing.

Some of those depicted in the film require counsel, and training (and that includes college staff) - and it is absolutely right that this is done in private; many of the issues were indeed deeply personal. Nevertheless, those concerned knew what they were contributing to when they were filmed, and that which is put in the public domain has to 'enjoy' public scrutiny by its audience. The film makers can only air what people have opened their mouths and said on camera, and I found no fault, and indeed great skill, in their editing of the material they had shot.

Of greatest consequence in my estimation, looking at what we can learn and use from this experience, is that this programme, which of course was never anything but a look 'at' and 'into' a cross section of the Army, (a refined one of officers and cadets at that) poses some awkward questions about the knowledge base amongst Salvationists generally of what we believe, and why, and indeed the respect we have for who and what we are as The Salvation Army in this Territory. Recognising with gratitude the kingdom opportunities which have arisen, to which you rightly give voice, I have also heard comments from relatively new Salvationists saying they learned more about the Army's beliefs from the programme, at which one has cause to be concerned as to which contributions they referred to.

More than once in recent times we have had exchanges of correspondence in the 'Salvationist' lamenting the demise of Corps Cadets; I am given to wonder if enough effort and skill is being put into discipling people; teaching them what and why they believe, including Salvationist distinctives. It is harder for one to love what one does not know or understand. Moreover, who is training the trainers - recruiting sergeants to college staff, to ensure consistency and accuracy? There may well be new ways of doing this, like the Online Corps programme in USA Western, which produces some great resources such as a weekly online bible study show, which UKT might replicate, co-create or share, as opportunities for discussion and answering questions.

The Telegraph's reviewer actually troubled to dig out a copy of our Handbook of Doctrine after the show - maybe that is something we might all profitably do, and think about how we can better as individuals and as an Army together say 'this we believe' (another useful volume!).

Finally, on the issue of doubt. Doubt amongst Christians naturally intrigues the unbeliever; it is after all a fundamental component of unbelief!
For all of us doubting people, to whatever extent we are, of faith or not, the Church must have answers; firm answers, answers it understands, answers it lives out and shares unapologetically; answers it finds in Christ. That is the essence of doctrine, and that's what makes us people of faith - because we are assured that despite and amidst doubts, fears and failures, 'Christ is the answer'.

Bless you, Commissioner, for your encouraging and helpful contribution to what I pray will ultimately be a healthy, productive and edifying debate for us all.

Submitted by Craig on

Thank you commissioner, it came across quite confusing and I think for corps who have been without a CO for sometime, they can feel quite left behind in the army of today and not understand where the army stands on so muxh particularly here in the uk. Many thanks for taking the time to wrte this

Submitted by Sarah on

I am very saddened that Salvationists have been so defensive about this programme. The beginnings of the SA was a revolution. The programme presented very well some of the amazing work the SA does. It also showed the real ness of officers and cadets, desperately trying to do what God has called them for. It also highlighted that the majority of Salvationists are 2nd, 3rd - even 4th generation. I pray that as a Church you look to God for your guidance. Why pull yourself or each other to shreds? Is that compassion or loving each other?! Challenge your thinking, look to the future. Don't just minister to each other, in your uniforms on a Sunday. How can you make the Church relevant in 2014? If a revolution is needed again, what does that look like? I sure don't have the answers, I am however sure that it won't be more of the same. I would have loved to have see a joyous, open, caring response to how the Army can learn and grow from this. Sadly as an ex Salvationist I am not surprised by many of the negative responses. Will you ever change? Learn? I hope so.

Submitted by Pat Harvey on

Thank you Commissioner for posting these comments and update on information. It is really encouraging to read something of the impact the programme has already begun to have on people's lives and I guess this is just the beginning of conversations, conversions and lives transformed.
I think people watching will have been touched by the honesty and openness of those who participated2 and a realisation that the SA is a church who will accept and understand 'where they are in their own life's journey.

Submitted by Colin miller on

I was impressed by the program, it was open and honest and although it may not show the army as many members would like O honestly think that the general public who viewed it will come away with a positive view point, I certainly did.

Submitted by Valerie Phelps on

This was a very moving programme, and one was so caught up with interest and concern for the people in it, especially Darren. It so so encouraging that such a variety of people are coming in for training. I do hope more people will continue to follow suit and to seek The Lord Jesus in their lives. I thank God for the Salvation Army and may God Bless you all. Isn't it grand that so much discussion about God has been generated

Submitted by Lynn Oliver on

My First knowledge of the programme was through the comments of others. Prejudiced by this I decided ignorance was bliss and felt ignoring the programme altogether was best. However I was challenged by someone to at least watch it soas to be informed when oters asked questions. Well, I've now seen itnd was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and heard. The cadets came across as living, sincere and honest. Seeking to work out their calling , in spite of questions and fears. Not so different from every other cadet down through the years. The officers left me hoping that support and help is given for some heart felt concerns.
After 32 years I know only too well the flaws of our movement. I am constantly amazed at how God continues to use this 'awkward child'. Yet He does! Thank God for His grace, love and sense of humour!

Submitted by Christine Ritchie on

Some of the residents of Swan Lodge LIfehouse watched the programme. These are a few of the comments.
The cadets are really down to earth.
Imagine giving up the life they had to help people like ourselves they deserve a medal.
The uniform is a bit outdated but people recognise it every where you go.
Having watched the programme myself it shows just how often we touch peoples lives without really knowing it.

Submitted by Paul on

Commissioner, I am heartened by your openness and willingness to engage with the real issues of this programme. You are right to identify the mixed feelings and mixed results of this broadcast.
I am very concerned about the future of the Army in the UK and am slowly falling out of love with the Army in which I serve.
Nonetheless, your words in this blog gives me hope of a brighter future in the Lord's hands, under your leadership.

Submitted by Grant on

As an ex salvationist I watched with both insider and outsider feelings. On the whole I thought it came across quite well and showed some honest thought and personalities. I found it quite refreshing to hear some of the new guys talk but at the same time reflect on some older traditional ways. On a selfish note I was pleased to see a picture of my grandad on the book cover. If I am honest the part I found most disturbing has been some of the negative comments on social media that have followed the broadcast.

Submitted by Anonymous on

More important than my own opinions as a Salvationist are those of the general public who will have been enlightened as to more of the Army's work and practices. We are in the business of reaching out to those who are searching for more about humanity, of God's existence and of course, his great love. Let the concerns be aired privately but let's now focus about the many life-changing things that we now know have happened this past 48 hours or so. God had graciously allowed me to express myself, warts and all, in the Salvation Army. Time to allow his perfect plan and wisdom to take its place.
"Be the artist rather than the critic."

Submitted by Peter Chivers on

I also wish to add my thanks for your response. As a recruit into the SA some nearly 30 years ago from the CofE, I had to search and seek to understand the Army's position on many issues and reconcile them with my existing beliefs. As you can work out that I must have done to have made the move and still be here.
I praise our Lord God that He has blessed and used this broadcast to reach so many and thank our leadership for the bold decision to take this path. In this day when religious broadcasting on the main TV channels is being cut back so drastically, to take advantage of this opportunity was indeed to seize it with both hands.
As many Salvationists have expressed concern over some of the views and doubts aired in the broadcast, so too am I concerned. Perhaps less for the public airing of the issues, but more for the spiritual health of the people concerned. To doubt is human and we are all both human and sinners saved by grace. To criticise and condemn the people is well below the standard required of us. However to see fellow salvationists who need support in their faith and want them to receive the counsel, guidance and whatever other support they need is only wanting all fellow believers to grow in their faith. One position verges on sin, the other should be a positive response in compassion for our fellow believers.
I am very concerned that as a movement we are not doing our missionary work that we were called to do. I acknowledge that there are many who are out on the front lines fighting for souls, but I only have to look around me to wonder what some are doing. I am considerably less fit than I was but praise God for the opportunities He gives me to meet people in entertainment and the depth of some of the conversations has blown my mind. I thank Him that at the time of need, His Spirit does indeed bring to remembrance all that we need to say.
Do I look a typical Salvationist? No I don't and some in my Corps have objected to that :-( However I do believe that He has called this Army to serve him and to seek the lost, and within that aim He has opened a door of ministry to me. I call on all Salvationists to become disciples, to read and understand both the Faith we are part of and the movement where we serve and worship. Then to find the path of personal ministry to the lost souls around us.

Submitted by Mmm on

Personally I have mixed views on the accuracy & editing of the programme but I've had many discussions with Christian & non-Christian friends about it. I left the Army several years ago but the programme prompted me to pray so that can't be a bad thing!

Submitted by matt jones on

After being tired out from a busy Christmas programme. Burnt out by doing lots of corps programme, the TV programme and perhaps more the subsequent debate has reinvigorated me, re energised me to the Army and my involvement.I loved the programme warts and all. My only worry is the suggestion we are a cult?! I agree with the comment that we could all do with training programmes, perhaps online?

Submitted by Ian on

I have to admit I was one of those ppl that used some of the words that appear on the heading. Over the short period of time the programme has been aired I have to say I need to focus on the good the army does throughout the world and challenge myself to bring more people to find Jesus for themselves. As much as I didn't like some of the comments I thank God that people are finding positives and moving forward with them. God bless the Salvation Army.

Submitted by Tracey Cutler on

I came home from JAM (Kids) Club to find my 14 year old son. As a Junior Soldier who is currently asking dozens of questions his first comment was how much better it made him feel to hear cadets and "even" officers asking some of those same questions. It gave us the opener we needed to have am amazing discussion so for that alone I want to say a massive Thank You. If we are always comfortable with what we are all saying or doing maybe we are just too comfortable? We are not a movement called to serve each other and to always say the right things. William Booth challenged the status quo, made people question their lifestyles and behaviours and championed those who didn't fit in - just as Jesus did in his day! I for one enjoyed listening to the honest and heartfelt questioning and responses. I love God with all my heart but we all have dark moments of doubt and I thank God for caring Christian friends who have supported me through mine!

Submitted by Richard Davy-Smith on

It was a great documentary. It reminded me of the good and bad of the Army and of all the reasons why I left. The TCs comments were spot on. The people looked human, and I felt so sad that the training college sausage machine was still trying to get everyone to think exactly the same. Picking on someone because they had a nice watch was pathetic. Guilting people so they act in ways they were uncomfortable with is wrong.

I hope this is the start of the Army realising the hole its rules have dug itself into. It was once an attractive growing church. Now its become all that it despised, it values the pedigree of the salvationist rather than the kindness in your heart.


Submitted by Alexander on

I watched the programme and felt a mixture of frustration and depression. I thought all the participants came across and being 'nice' - a comment a friend of work also made - and despite some ill-considered comments, genuine and committed. However, I thought they were all, particularly the senior officers, naive in the extremely. Did they not realise that the film-makers would want to create a story, and would be rubbing their hands when things were said in jest, off the cuff, or through emotion? Was there no debriefing of participants as they filming was progressing to try and work out how things were being portrayed, and try to influence the message?
I can, however, forgive all this, however what made me almost scream at the TV was seeing a Training College in the 21st Century seemingly stuck in a time-warp. What was all that about giving up art, not wearing an expensive watch, and not drinking ginger beer? What century are we in? And why do cadets feel the need to cook their dinner standing in full uniform?
I think the film showed a portrayal of a quaint, anachronistic, and slight weird Christian organisation (I'm not sure 'Church' came across), who is full of nice, but quite gullible people. Thank goodness for the time spent with Estelle Blake and the street ministry team.
What concerns me, is I am not sure if the portrayal of the Training College was accurate or not. If it was, I am worried about the Army's present and future.

Submitted by Cadet Anon on

I think that this was a good reflection of the modern Army and life at the Training College. This is a place where we are encouraged to explore our faith..and this I think is reflected in some of the opinions expressed in the film. This exploration helps spiritual growth and prepares us for ministering in a world where secularism is on the rise and people will not settle for the simple answers anymore.
I have been very saddened by some of the comments I have seen by fellow Salvationists which I think have reflected poorly on us and made us look a lot less loving and gracious then we really are, especially in relation to one of the College officers. Please remember that this is edited footage, but it does show how we all need to examine our beliefs at times and in the midst of awful circumstances we do sometimes have to 'choose to believe', our faith in God cannot just be on feelings alone as we are holistic beings.
I welcome the debate that this has caused and the many comments where people suddenly realise that it is acceptable to struggle with issues and even our doctrines.

Submitted by Dawn Miller on

It's good to hear that there have been some very positive reactions from the public. As a Salvationist with officer parents and a daughter who is now a serving officer, I had mixed feelings about the content of the programme.
Whilst I was impressed by the openness of a lot of the content, I was distressed by some of the careless trivia - criticisms of where you shop, what sort of watch you wear - only shows that within our organisation we have some narrow and bigotted viewpoints. To declare an intense dislike of the uniform is petty. We are an Army with a uniform as identification. I dare say that the police and firemen feel their uniform is old fashioned as well - unless a constructive alternative is submitted then we should perhaps keep quiet and be proud of the statement and recognition that our uniform gives us. The comments about the Red Shield not being a brand was ridiculous - of course it is a brand - any organisation that wants to be identified has a 'logo' which is used as identification.
There are many 'warts' within our organisation, as there is in any other that relies on people content, but it is one that I have always been proud to belong to and I can't imagine being part of any other organisation for worship and outreach.
Perhaps it is some of the staff at WBC who need some training updates.
We need to pray for the cadets in their new roles as God's ambassadors, and also for those who have made a positive response through seeing the programme. If TSA is ever given another opportunity for a programme of this sort then let's learn lessons from this one and perhaps show officers working in the field and putting their calling and training into practise.

Submitted by Bizzibren on

I pray the PRIVATE unpacking of comments is not a cliche for destroy the individual! they were HONEST!! Thank God for honesty ... I may not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it! Viva FREEDOM of speech.

Submitted by serj on

I am one of those that used some of the above words. As a now ex salvationist I found some of the comments made and the theology used to be very woolly.
It surprised me that confidential meetings / discussions were film and the comments aired. I do wonder about the appointment of some of the college tutors featured and the comments made especially with comments like 'say the magical words 'nit sure ppersonally there are any magical words. There appeared to be some ommisions as to what an officer is paid, remuneration may have been correct but that they also receive free housing, a new Car every 4 or so years travel expenses to name a few seemed to me as a tad dishonest.
There have been several questions in the media as to is the Salvation Army a church or a quaint cult which is very inward focused and I have found myself asking the same question.
Commissioner Glad however others have seen something else from with the rather overly long documentary but it did not stir me to look to put back on the uniform or seek out a nearby corps. It did the opposite!

Submitted by Major Sylvia Watts on

Thank you so much for sharing this positive news. Sadly in the Salvation Army people find fault without knowing the whole picture. In all situations including this programme which incidentally I found interesting,God will be seen and Glorified.

Submitted by Brian Jones on

I too thank you for your posting. I once was a SA Officer for a time and have been through the Training College. I was impressed by many aspects of the programme especially the work by the Officer amongst Prostitues in London. As I watched the programme I was struck by how much that was being done seemed almost the same as when I was there from 1980 to 1982 - cadets cleaning the uniforms, sessional song, the band, summer appointments and commissioning. Despite the new buildings and computers etc it seemed as if I was almost stepping back in time which made me wonder whether the traditions of the Army which give it an identity almost keep things in a time warp of yesterday. The idea that the army is one big family came across but so did it's insularity as all the teachers and the Principal seem to come from several generations of Salvationists - like producing like. Perhaps this was what one of the staff mean't when she spoke of hthe need for new blood in the ranks (comments for which I hope she is not censured). God bless the new Officers as they minister with their new Corps.

Submitted by Peter on

I watched this with a non salvationist friend who felt that the honesty of the participants was refreshing and (real). I personally loved the comment made in the programme, that doubt is part of faith.

Submitted by Bizzibren on

Some of these comments are atrocious, and just seem to want to toe the party lines.

Submitted by Harry Read on

I thought I'd made a comment but it seems to be lost without trace! I repeat the exercise!

Thank you for your masterly response to those who had difficulties with the programme. You handled the problem superbly, not only with the right choice of words but the tone was exactly right also. Thank you too for pointing out some of the positive consequences of the programme. I'm sure that this information will have gladdened the hearts, not only of those favourably disposed to the broadcast, but also those who struggled a little.

Differences may appear to divide us at times, but how quickly, and wonderfully, works of grace bind us together!

Thank you for your leadership and that of Commissioner Marianne you have both become very precious to us and we value all you are doing in our Lord's name.

Submitted by Steph on

Whether the comments made about the programme have been good or bad, the thing I am taking from it is people are talking about the Salvation Army! surely thats not always a bad thing... Like the TC said it has reached lots of people and others are asking questiong relating to becoming memebers and entering into a relationship with God... isnt that one of the aims of the Army!? "save souls, grow saints, and serve suffering humanity"

Submitted by Lee on

I thought the programme was brilliant. I do think though that it would have had a bigger impact had it been broadcast on BBC 1 instead.

Submitted by Concerned on

"I thought the programme was a good reflection of the modern army".

Have to disagree entirely. On the contrary, it was like being stuck in a time warp, I thought.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I thought of compassion and mercy. The Mercy Seat shouldn't be a comfortable place to go to. It's where people are prepared to speak freely. Why do we judge people for being honest in other places? We all interpret our beliefs through the prism of modern life and our own life experiences. Some are liberal others more conservative in their interpretations. Surely we have to accept both. Questioning is at the heart of human life. The Salvationists who took part were brave and true but as a viewer I felt it took us to the importance for mercy. A few have been critical, most have not.

Submitted by Elizabeth on

How I agree with SERJ. I left the Army last year after 67 years as a Salvationist, many as an officer, and watching the programme re-enforced that decision and confirmed the peace of continuing to worship and serving God within another church.
I praise the Lord for the statistics of those who have found or renewed thier faith but wonder about the statistics of those who feel they can no longer belong to the Army church.

Submitted by Joel on

The thing that I find most shocking about this whole situation is that soldiers, officers and even those in leadership positions around the country think that it is acceptable to comment and publically ridicule those involved in the filming.

Haven't you noticed the comments (mainly from ex Salvationists) about how judgemental you are all being, especially on social media sites.

From this filming, souls are being saved, questions are being asked about Jesus and there is a rousing interest in the Salvation Army. What an amazing opportunity! Let's not destroy this because of our own insecurities about "what people might think."


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Let us know your thoughts about this news story. This is an open, family-friendly community to encourage everyone to get involved, so please keep your comments clean and follow our Guidelines so we can publish your comment.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.