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Generally speaking, Brian Peddle is a man of conviction

Generally speaking, Brian Peddle is a man of conviction

Generally speaking, Brian Peddle is a man of conviction

1 December 2018

General Brian Peddle, with host Captain Nesan Kistan, answers questions during Coffee With The General at Still Others. Photo: Cazeil Creative

By Bill Simpson

General Brian Peddle showed a man who understands authority and accountability in leadership but still finds time for fun and an occasional cry in answering questions at a Coffee with the General session at Melbourne Convention Centre today.

At times, he was firm (“no, there is no need to update our doctrines” … “The General expects his soldiers to serve”).

At times, he was fun (“I answer to boards and others, but ultimately, I answer to the World President for Women’s Ministries”).

And, at times, he was emotional (“I see children at safe houses. A visit can keep me quiet for the rest of the day. I want to take the children home, but I can’t. But I can’t leave them, either”).

The Salvation Army international leader spent an hour answering questions, mostly submitted via social media.

There were controversial questions: How did he think The Salvation Army could rebuild trust with the LGBTQI community?

He encouraged The Salvation Army and individual Salvationists to show more grace as they discuss increasing prominence of LGBTQI issues.

There was a need, he said, to acknowledge The Salvation Army’s part in causing pain to and the distrust of LGBTQI people.

“We made judgments and took positions for which we need to be sorry and repentant,” General Peddle said. “Nobody is outside of God’s care.”

General Peddle said The Salvation Army internationally was working towards improving its relationship with the LGBTQI community.

“My greatest concern is our inability to talk in our church pews without judgment.” The issue wasn’t about whether Salvationists agreed or disagreed with the LGBTQI lifestyle. It was, for Salvationists, more about finding grace within our hearts to accept LGBTQI people.

There were questions on the future of soldiership and its decline in some areas, to which he responded that he saw soldiership as a call to service rather than a “rite of passage”.

International Headquarters was currently rewriting orders and regulations to reflect this thinking, he said.

He stressed, however, that soldiership numbers were not declining in all territories of The Salvation Army world, but mainly in Western countries.

General Peddle also expressed concern that where there was a decline in soldiers, there was also a decline in the pool of people available to serve as officers.

He was concerned about the safety of Salvationists in some countries, notably in Pakistan and India, where The Salvation Army was “not being encouraged to take on our remit”.

In places like Australia and New Zealand, he said, The Salvation Army was free to do whatever it wanted. But in “more unfriendly” countries, Salvationists were needing to “look over their shoulder”.

On a question about whether The Salvation Army needed to update its doctrines, General Peddle responded, “Our doctrines are rock solid”. He expanded his response to say that changing the wording of doctrine could get very messy.

Asked why young people we being less attracted to The Salvation Army, he said the question was not so much “why” but “how” that could be achieved.

He referred to the Cowra (NSW) Corps Kids in the Kitchen cooking program and Just Brass music lessons as great examples of attracting and involving young people.

“I would be a more independent person today if (the cooking classes) had been around when I was young,” he joked.

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