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Knowing, being and doing: the spiritual life development of Salvation Army officers

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posted on 2023-08-30, 13:37 authored by Karen Shakespeare
This research is rooted in my professional practice at the newly established international Centre for Spiritual Life Development (CSLD) of The Salvation Army. It is designed to develop a foundation which can shape and enhance the policy and provision of the CSLD. It seeks to answer two questions: How do Salvation Army officers sustain and develop their personal spiritual life in the context of an activist, missional organisation? In what ways can the Centre for Spiritual life Development facilitate and support this process? The research methodology is qualitative, bringing responses to a written questionnaire and semi-structured interviews into mutual critical dialogue with the conceptual framework, which is drawn from the theology and history of evangelicalism and evangelical spirituality, and the theory of theological and vocational education. This has generated a rich description of spiritual life development in Salvation Army officers in the 21st century, leading to new understanding. The empirical research focused upon a particular constituency, delegates to the International College for Officers, thus facilitating understanding of the difference encountered in an organisation that has both global and local influences. It confirmed an expected diversity of understanding and practice in three major areas; definitions of, and practices leading to, spiritual life development; the means used by officers develop their spiritual lives; and the relationship between practice and the spiritual life. The work contributes to academic knowledge about The Salvation Army by locating the organisation, and Salvationist spirituality, within the framework of evangelicalism. A proposal to encourage a holistic understanding of spiritual life development using a process of reflection based upon the integration of, and interrelationships between, ‘knowing, being and doing’, offers a way forward that is applicable in a range of contexts. The evolution of my professional practice during the period of the research demonstrates that the foundations of new policy and practices are taking shape. It therefore contributes to the field of practical theology, as the integration and mutual critique of practice, spirituality and educational theory have led to new understanding and new practice.



Anglia Ruskin University

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