Good News!

Scandinavian Congress 2015 will end an era

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For as many as 160 years, a tenement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side had housed countless immigrants. Upon arriving on these shores, wave upon wave of Irish, Jewish, Greek, Italian, Swedish, Polish, Puerto Rican, and other families lived in the cramped quarters of this residential building. Today, it is preserved as the New York Tenement Museum. Their stories are remarkably the same. As people came seeking a better life, they found both extreme hardships along with unimaginable opportunity. They worked hard, sacrificed, and slowly moved into the mainstream of American society, finding new places to work, live, and worship.

Commissioners E. Sue and Barry C. Swanson, territorial leaders (second row, center) are flanked by Majors Sidney and Betty Anderson during the 2014 Scandinavian Congress held at the Ladore Lodge and Conference Center in Pennsylvania.

Commissioners E. Sue and Barry C. Swanson, territorial leaders (second row, center) are flanked by Majors Sidney and Betty Anderson during the 2014 Scandinavian Congress held at the Ladore Lodge and Conference Center in Pennsylvania.

Since 1885, The Salvation Army has been there to welcome, serve, and save these “huddled masses.” We preached to them in their language, worshiped in their accustomed style, and respected their culture. It can accurately be said the Army in America was built on its commitment to “multicultural ministry,” even before someone coined that phrase. We simply knew it as “evangelism” and that it was what Jesus taught us to do.

Our specialized ministries to ethnic groups would continue as long as the need was there. As particular immigration patterns diminished and people assimilated into the American culture, many of the unique accommodations fell away. Second and third generations no longer required or expected the Army to provide the comforts and customs of the homeland.

ScandinavianCongress2015_3For instance, our Scandinavian work flourished for many years, following the pattern of other immigrant cultures. It remains a beautiful and meaningful tradition enjoyed by many Salvationists and friends across the territory, as previous Good News! articles have described.

We especially recognize Majors Sidney and Betty Anderson, who, in their retirement, have supported this work for many years.

Recognizing that there is no longer a need for a dedicated ministry to Scandinavian people in the USA (the original language/cultural barriers no longer exist), the Eastern Territory announces that after the 2015 Scandinavian Congress in May, it will no longer sponsor a formal ministry to and for people of Scandinavian descent.

Our multicultural ministry remains as vigorous and as vital as ever. The Salvation Army will continue to serve those people who, because of language or other cultural distinctions, require customized services in order to meet their material and spiritual needs.

— Commissioner Barry C. Swanson,
Territorial Commander

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