Relaymedia

Salvation Army for the Body and Spirit

( [email protected] ) Mar 06, 2004 09:24 AM EST

Despite the lawsuit filed against the Salvation Army for requesting the employees to disclose their churchgoing habits and support their Christian mission, the Salvation Army is pressing on toward their goal, focusing their mission more on providing care for both body and spirit.

According to Washington Times, Salvation Army is making difference in many lives of people. One man (no real name was revealed for his identity protection) who used to be homeless, is going through the six-month residential drug-treatment program at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Treatment Center in Northeast.

"I'm finding I can feel again, I can care again," he said. More than anything, he was in joy because he found what he had thought was lost, ‘hope.’

"It's the love and peace that was there, it's an unexplainable feeling,” he said, “I'm learning to make contact with my higher power, to have faith."

Cassaundra Blackmon, 25, was also thankful to Turning Point of Salvation Army for making difference in her life, turning her into a joyful woman. "They're just generous, not just materialistically, but emotionally, too," Miss Blackmon said.

Besides community outreach programs, including the drug-treatment program, Harbor Light offers worship services, Bible studies, and daily prayer meetings in the chapel for anyone who wishes to attend.

The drug-treatment program is one of many programs offered by Salvation Army across the nation. At Harbor Light, for example, therapists and counselors emphasize that submitting to a higher power is an important step in healing.

"They should have some kind of belief system because it's about goal attainment," said clinical supervisor Sheila Hallsey.

As faith-based organizations in general are receiving greater support from the federal government, there are much criticisms rising as well toward the organizations. Salvation Army is not an exception as the employees sued Salvation Army arguing that they were discriminated against the form that asked them to support the group’s Christian mission and disclose their churchgoing habits.

In defense of the lawsuit, the Salvation Army said, the forms were given only to employees who work with children just for a background check.

"The reason is that it's a natural segue into doing a background check. It's a starting point," national spokesman Maj. George Hood said. "It's not used to eliminate nonchurch members from working opportunities."

Herb Rader, public information officer with the National Capitol Area division of the organization, said employees don’t have to be Christian or even religious as long as their beliefs do not interfere with the mission of Salvation Army. "If someone were of another religion, we wouldn't want them teaching that," Rader said.

Because Salvation Army is founded by a Methodist minister in the 1860s with the mission of providing for the physical and spiritual needs of the homeless, the organization requires the representatives to belong to Methodist denomination. However this requirement does not rise as problems to people who serve at Salvation Army at the non-officer level.

"Social services are my calling," said Elgie Labbe, life-skills coordinator at Turning Point transitional living for single mothers on Harvard Street in Northwest. A civilian employee since 2000, he teaches about nutrition and parenting as if it is a holy mission, even though the classes are not explicitly religious.

"It's what God has called me to do," said Mr. Labbe, who is also a Baptist minister in Bladensburg. "It's more than a job to me, it's a ministry about trying to elevate people's lives."

Recently, Salvation Army International website, www.salvatioarmy.org, has expanded their features, turning it into an informational site more than just a portal. Salvation Army reported that the new website will provide the casual browser with a basic overview of The Salvation Army and more interested enquirers with comprehensive information about the role of International Headquarters and its global services. The Salvation Army will provide information about its international programs, news of interest to supporters of its work around the world, online versions of international publications like ‘All the World,’ as well as articles that describe and support its worldwide mission.