London, England- The anticipation was palpable as 49 officer and soldier delegates from 26 Salvation Army territories gathered in the historic mansion of Sunbury Court near London, England for the commencement of the International Theology and Ethics Symposium.
‘Sunbury Court 2010’ is the third in a series of symposia held in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2001 and Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2006. Collectively, the meetings have produced a collection of doctrinal and theological papers that articulately convey Salvationist scholarship.
Called by the international leader of The Salvation Army, General Shaw Clifton, and steered by the International Doctrine Council (IDC), the appointed delegates, representing a wide array of appointments and ministries, communicated a collective sense of privilege for the opportunity to attend and participate.
In his opening welcome, Commissioner William Francis, Chairman of the IDC, said “We come as Salvationists, [as part of] God’s divine design.”
The doctrine of holiness is the central theme of theological papers presented during this year’s symposium. “The doctrine will be studied carefully,” said Commissioner Francis, “for when we focus on holiness, we study the very character of God.”
At the beginning of the symposium, delegates watched a documentary video concerning the historic first High Council convened at Sunbury Court in 1929 which culminated in the election of General Edward Higgins, the Army’s first elected international leader.
Commissioner Robert Street, Vice Chair of the IDC, presented the opening paper by General Shaw Clifton: ‘Our Holy Heavenly Father – Characteristics of a Holy God’ setting the tone for the event.
Lt. Colonel Karen Shakespeare concluded the symposium’s opening hours with a poignant devotion asking the delegates “What are you bringing to the Symposium? What will you take back from the Symposium?”
The words of Salvationist writer Colin Fairclough, outlined in the closing song, beautifully summarize the shared aspirations of the symposium:
Gracious Lord, thy grace apply,
Both to save and sanctify;
All my life wilt thou control,
Calmly ordering the whole,
That the world may ever see
Christ, and only Christ, in me.