The International Theological Council (formerly known as the International Doctrine Council) has met for the first time under its new name and charter at Sunbury Court, near London. The recently appointed Chair of the Council, Lieut-Colonel Dr Karen Shakespeare, welcomed new members to their first meeting: Commissioner Denise Swansbury (International Headquarters), Colonel Grace Chepkurui (Kenya West Territory), and Major Donna Evans (The Netherlands and Czech Republic Territory). The fourth new member, Major Arif Masih (Pakistan Territory), was unable to be present due to visa difficulties.
The principal purpose of the International Theological Council (ITC) remains the same as before: to serve the General and the global Salvation Army by being faithful custodians of Army doctrinal positions. During its four-day meetings, the ITC engages in conversations on topics as directed by the General, and careful records of key discussion points are kept by the new ITC Secretary, Lieut-Colonel Wendy Swan.
Inter-church dialogue is an important feature of the work of the ITC, as was recognised when the Chair presented each ITC member with a copy of Conversations with the Catholic Church. Published by the IHQ imprint Salvation Books, this is a fascinating record of papers presented and recommendations made during informal dialogues between the Catholic Church and The Salvation Army between 2007 and 2012. Such conversations provide the opportunity for improved communication and mutual understanding between the two churches – especially in those parts of the world where relationships have historically been strained.
Among other matters discussed at this latest meeting, the ITC spent time working on a response to the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order document The Church: Towards a Common Vision.
Further preparations were also made for the seminar the council will lead at the 2015 Boundless Congress. The topic of the seminar is 'Boundless Grace: Salvationist Theology for Today', and the venue is already fully booked. A lively discussion is anticipated, bringing in a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives from around the Salvation Army world.
Delegates and others are invited to join in the forum discussion online at http://www.salvationarmy.org/doctrine/discussboundlessgrace