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Monday, January 30, 2006

 

The submerged tenth

For those of you who haven't heard (and who actually care), the Salvation Army has elected its next General. The General is the International leader of the Salvation Army. Our next General will be Shaw Clifton, he takes over on the 1st of April (ironic perhaps??) He is currently the Territorial Commander for the United Kingdom Territory.
He has written a number of Salvo books, most famous is probably "Who are these Salvationists?" which is basically a Salvo Ecclessiology (who we are as a 'church', or our theology of church).


Last night Melissa and I went over to Moreland for the Divisional Meeting. In the meeting was a farewell to Debbie Messenger, who has been the DYS (person who looks after all the young people in our Division) for the past 2 years.

During the meeting I picked up on the phrase "the submerged tenth", which is a phrase of William Booth (the founder of the Salvos).
Cast your mind back to 1890s England.
An explorer had just returned from Africa and published a book called "In Darkest Africa", where he journalled his experience of travelling through the African jungle and all the horrors and backwardness (as he saw it) of the African savages.

William Booth, ever into Pop culture, decided to seize upon the interest from this book and used a play on it as the title for the book that he and others had been working on.
Hence the book "In Darkest England".

"In Darkest England ... and a way out" was Booth's manifesto of how through the Salvation Army, England could be pulled from the mire it found itself in at the end of the 19th century.

But I digress.

In the book, Booth coined the term "the submerged tenth" to refer to the ten percent of English society that lived at the bottom of the socio-economic pile. They were the forgotten people. Today we would call them societies most marginalised.

So hearing just those three words caused me to reflect upon my own ministry here.
I am called to serve in the Salvation Army, it is something I am passionate about. I believe the Salvation Army is called to work with the 'submerged tenth' as Booth called them.

However I also realise I live and work in a leafy fairly middle class suburb.
I don't live or work in Dandenong, West Heildelberg or Footscray, where perhaps the economically marginalised are easier to see.

So hearing that phrase has got me to think once again about who am I focussed at.
I am confident that I am aiming to reach out to marginalised young people in my community. I wish to connect with socially isolated young people, who are definitely the 'submerged tenth' of our school system.

This year I will need to further evaluate the effectiveness of this ministry.
How can I best serve the 'submerged tenth' of this community?
How can I have open eyes and an open heart to find them and to care for them?
How can I encourage and equip others to also seek out the 'submerged tenth' that are around them?

Well, answering those questions and working towards fulfilling those answers will be more than enough to keep me busy for the next twelve months won't they.

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