MagazineOn File

Holiness, Culture, and Passion

Colonel Richard J. Munn is leader of the territory’s new Theology and Christian Ethics Department. In this profile, he shares his vision for the task and reflects on today’s USA Eastern Territory.

HolinessCultureandPassion_insMoral, theological, and spiritual issues have always been part of the human journey. That’s what makes these subjects so intriguing. And today, we may be in a unique season unlike any other in recent western democracies. Our society is moving from being a Christian culture to being a decidedly post–Christian culture. So, the sanctity of life, human sexuality, inter–faith relations, immigration, and the environment are very much under scrutiny these days.

What excites me regarding my new appointment is the charge to nurture “the critical development of thought and strategy in areas related to theology and ethics, giving special attention to the interpretation and application of Salvation Army policy.” I am privileged to serve closely with Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander. This is exciting because Salvation Army doctrine and theology are both dynamic and missional. The subjects never fail to evoke passion.

I look forward to the discourses, gleaning insights from colleague Salvationists in our territory, and indeed around the world. And I look forward to serving as a catalyst to stimulate critical thought that would ultimately strengthen our mission and bring confidence to our communities of faith.

Let’s start with the distinctives of our Wesleyan theological personality, then move on to the orthodox beliefs we have in common with other worldwide denominations, and then offer a chance to feature our bracing Salvationist values on sacraments, on women in leadership, and on holiness. In time, we surely need to look at the issues of homosexuality, euthanasia, abortion, inter–faith relations, pornography, addictive behaviors, poverty, and the environment. And that’s probably just the beginning.

Our beautiful doctrine of holiness is one especially shining jewel in our overall soteriology [theology of salvation]. My role encompasses a wider range of theological material, and also incorporates the moral, social, and ethical dimensions. Of course, what a delight to serve alongside my esteemed colleague, Major Young Sung Kim, territorial ambassador for holiness, and we will certainly join our energies and minds to complement each other’s roles. We’re a theological tag team.

Seven years away from the USA East seems as if it was just a few months ago, and a lengthy lifetime both at the same time. The change that warms my heart is the immediately noticeable “Impact 150 Initiative.” I recall cadet sessions striving to reach the mid 30’s in terms of numbers. Now, we anticipate a session closing in on 100 cadets. Remarkable! The “Army Essential/Essential Army” values are clearly impactful, and the current statistical profiles for the USA Eastern Territory show positive numerical growth.

What remains the same is warm USA East hospitality, a commitment to multi–cultural Salvationism, superb music and creative arts, and aggressive, adaptive evangelism.

Having just returned from Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings I am referencing them as the “new and improved” camp meetings. The Pier ministry is unrecognizable. The mid–week family fun night is dynamic. And the “LEAD” soldier development gathering is new and fresh. Add to that our vibrant social media presence and live streaming, and the net effect is a sharper and more piercing mission. And it’s more fun and clever.

We’ll set up a digital presence and establish forums for public dialogue. And of course, nothing beats sharing ideas over coffee. My treat!

by Warren L. Maye