2023 International Conference in Nairobi

by Colonel Richard Munn

In late September 2023, the principal of the College for Officer Training–USA East, Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, along with Major Sunkyung Simpson, director of curriculum, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to take part in the International Conference of Training Principals. This unique event, last held in 2013, brought together 120 delegates representing the 58 Salvation Army Training College programs from around the world. The theme of this gathering was “Called, Covenanted, Commissioned.”

The aim and purpose of the International Conference of Training Principals was to bring all training principals and educators together to consider, discuss, and make future recommendations on issues relating to the training of Salvation Army cadets:

  • How to equip cadets for cross-cultural ministry in the 21st century, with a renewed focus on discipleship and evangelism.
  • How to resource colleges within the context of current training needs, changing trends, and challenges.
  • How to address matters of the governance system, compliance, quality assurance, and standards for officer training colleges.

In recognition of the vital ministry of preparing cadets for a lifetime of ministry as Salvation Army officers, our international leaders, General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, spent several days interacting with delegates at the conference.

In keeping with the conference theme, each day was spent actively engaging in a different aspect of what it means to be called, covenanted, and commissioned in the 21st century. The delegates also shared in daily worship, led by officers from each zone. Additional conference-themed electives were offered for deeper engagement in self-selected training topics.

On Sunday morning of the conference, all delegates were assigned to a brigade. Accompanied by Kenyan officers, each group traveled to one of a dozen corps in the Nairobi area. Lt. Colonel LaBossiere shared that he was blessed to attend the Eastleigh Corps of the Nairobi Division with his brigade. The training conference delegates were warmly welcomed into the corps fellowship and worship meetings. There was exuberant worship and participation by senior and youth musical forces, with the sermon and testimonies shared by the visiting CFOT brigade members.

Asked to share some of his personal highlights of the International Conference of Training Principals, Lt. Colonel LaBossiere reports that the most impactful portions of the gathering revolved around sharing with his peers from around the world: “My prayer prior to leaving for Nairobi was that the Lord would speak to me, not only through the sessions but also through the witness, experiences, and the commitment to serving Christ of my fellow training principals and staff officers from settings uniquely different from my own. The Lord answered my prayer through our times of worship, small group assignments, interest session interactions, fellowship during the mealtimes, and private conversations over a nice cup of Kenyan coffee.”

Concludes LaBossiere, “Other highlights included meeting up with ICO sessionmates and Arrow Leadership cohort members, and being greeted at the conference registration table by name by Lt. Colonel Liz Gainsford of the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory. In her greeting, Lt. Colonel Gainsford shared, ‘I worked for you as a counselor at Camp Allegheny in 1996!’”