Southern Territory preparing to celebrate the Call to Mission

Jan 31, 2020 | by Brad Rowland

Southern Territory preparing to celebrate the Call to Mission

Lt. Colonels Eddie and Kathy Hobgood, territorial program secretary and assistant program secretary, are coordinating the planning and preparation for the territorial congress, "A Call to Mission," June 5-7, 2020. Dan Childs, Southern Spirit editor, recently discussed the upcoming congress with Lt. Colonel Hobgood.

SS: A territorial congress is a tremendous undertaking that requires a great investment of resources and energy. How does the territory benefit from such an event?

Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood: You have a congress to bring everybody together. We have a lot of corps that are in small, isolated places. If that's all those people know about the Army, then they don't really know the Army. It brings people together so that you can see that you are a part of something that's bigger than yourself, that's making an incredible impact on the world. It's a time of encouragement, a time of teaching, a time of spiritual renewal. You hope that something within people has been challenged and they go back home stronger in their faith and their Salvationism.

The congress theme is "Call to Mission." How will the theme be addressed during the congress?

When General Brian Peddle took office, he cast his vision for The Salvation Army. His vision involved a call to mission. Our sessions are based around that vision. He has challenged the Army to be ready, to be engaged and to take responsibility, and you'll see those points played out in the different sessions throughout the weekend. We're really focusing in our general sessions on hearing from General and Commissioner Peddle. He's speaking Friday night, she's speaking Saturday night, and he's speaking again Sunday morning. And we're bookending the weekend with the Lord's Prayer. We're going to unpackage it in Friday night's session, and then on Sunday morning, the training college will have a grand and glorious celebration of the lordship of Jesus Christ called "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done."

You and your wife coordinated the 2015 international congress. Are you drawing on that experience as you put this one together?

Yes, we learned a lot about what to do – and what not to do – and we find ourselves creating some of the same templates and some of the same organizational things. We were also involved heavily in our 2008 territorial congress as well as other congresses, so we've had some experience in seeing how these are put together. But 2015 was incredibly helpful to us. It was a huge scale with about 70 languages and as many currencies, so it was a lot more detail, but then we had three years to pull it all together, and for this one, we've had a year. But we've relied on a lot of the things we learned in 2015.

This is our territory's first congress since 2008. What are some of the challenges involved in putting on a congress 12 years later, in light of all that has changed in our everyday life in the last 12 years?

With every passing year, the Army becomes … busier, I suppose is the best way to say it. We have so many balls to juggle today. For me, in 2015, congress was my only job, all I focused on every day. Here, in this particular job, the regular work continues, and the work on congress is put on top of that, so finding the balance between the two has been the tricky part for me. But there's just a lot more things on all our plates than there were in 2008, so the sheer busyness makes it more difficult. Obviously, things are more expensive than they were, so everything we do, we calculate and re-calculate and constantly ask
ourselves if we can do things more economically. And we recognize that this is a real financial sacrifice for people to come, but we believe that it's important for a territory to gather and focus and vision-cast and receive. It's critical, I think that we have this opportunity to come together with our international leaders.

What are some of the highlights of plans for the general sessions?

In Friday night's session, we're planning an exciting opening. Bethany Farrell and our territorial creative arts department are working really hard with us to craft all these special things that will happen in the sessions. We'll be focusing on the Lord's Prayer on Friday night, and there will be a real international flavor to that opening. Additionally on that night, we'll be talking about the spiritual battle going on around us, seen and unseen, and I'm excited about how that's going to be portrayed. It's going to be interactive, so the audience will be invited, from their seats, to really speak into this. It's something we haven't seen done, and I think the interactive nature of this, with the involvement of the audience, will be a really powerful moment of the congress.

Saturday morning, we'll be recognizing outstanding soldiers and officers – we believe there will be an Order of the Founder given. We'll have outstanding local officers selected by their divisions who will be recognized. The territory is introducing a recognition called the Spirit of Evangelism Award for officers who have excelled in evangelism in their appointments, and they'll be recognized on Saturday morning as well. We have some people who are real practitioners of evangelism, and we want to get them in front of the territory to encourage people to be more engaged in evangelism. That meeting will also feature some Ted Talk-like speeches. Instead of one long sermon, we're breaking it up into three "Ted Talks," so we've selected some outstanding Salvationists to present those.

Saturday night will feature the enrollment of new junior and senior soldiers by the General. The other feature of Saturday night will be William Booth's vision of the lost. It's the picture that most everyone has seen of people drowning in the ocean and the Salvationists jumping in to rescue them or on the shore pulling them out. Corporate Magic, our production company, has done an amazing job of helping us bring that to life.

And on Sunday morning, Evangeline Booth College will be handling the session, the ordination and commissioning of the cadets. Because the appointments again will already have been given out, there won't be an appointment service on Sunday afternoon. But the school is working on a very creative, exciting way to send them out.

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