The faces and ethos behind INCLUDED.
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In 2020 a group of passionate salvationists from across the
world came together, creating a space to facilitate conversations around LGBTQI+
matters within the Salvation Army. We believe that movement towards inclusion
is crucial to The Salvation Army and its mission, as we seek to educate,
facilitate conversations, and raise the voices of those who represent the
rainbow community within the Salvation Army. The INCLUDED team consists of
people who are themselves LGBTQI+, as well as sexuality and gender affirming
allies who desire to further these goals.
The INCLUDED team facilitates the annual INCLUDED webinars, publish podcasts and resources, conducts interviews, and hosts stand-alone webinars to help the Salvation Army community connect, and provide a space for conversation to happen.
The INCLUDED team is listed here as a matter of transparency and inspiration. This is done not to place them on a pedestal or proclaim them to be leaders, but to humbly introduce them that you might know who they are.
Our team consists of both LGBTQI+ individuals and allies:
With a wide variety of experience within the Salvation Army,
ranging from working at a transition house for women and children fleeing
domestic abuse, to living in an intentional community in Vancouver's Downtown
East side, and working as chaplain in a second stage housing facility to working
in the territorial youth department, I am currently serving as a corps leader
in Oulu, Finland.
Growing up I was taught to be welcoming and caring to everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender expression, and I have brought this practice into my officership. Though my first impression and early experiences with the Salvation Army showed it to be an inclusive organization, after seeing situations within it where people were not being accepted and welcomed due to their sexuality or gender expression I was embolded to do something and work towards a more inclusive and affirming spiritual community. I became a member of the Included Team in early 2021.
Bio coming soon...
I am a Salvation Army Officer in the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland Territory but originally from Gothenburg, Sweden. Currently I am serving together with my husband in east London as a corps officer and have two young boys. I love to learn and to be challenged in my thinking, but I am particularly passionate when this collides with theology, people and the mission of the church in the 21st century. I have a B. A. (Hons) in Theology and Christian Practice and have studied cultural diversity, sociology and English literature at Booth College in Canada and at the University of Gothenburg. I have been part of the INCLUDED team since 2020 and feel privileged to be part of playing a small part in facilitating and normalising conversations around inclusion within The Salvation Army.
As a cisgender, straight, Australian immigrant (I grew up in
the UK) I feel incredibly privileged to work alongside the LGBTQI+ community. I
have been an Officer within The Salvation Army since 2007, serving in Corps,
social, chaplaincy, DHQ and other appointments.
I joined the INCLUDED team in 2021 after founding Rainbow Wear, and also taking on responsibility for the INCLUDED website. On a local level I help cultivate LGBTQI+ inclusion within Salvation Army social mission ventures, including our growing involvement in the Midsumma Pride March.
We are a cisgender, heterosexual, white, British, married couple. We recognise that these labels mean we have had a privileged experience of The Salvation Army. We grew up together in the Army, got married in the Army by an officer grandparent, and we are soldiers attending a central London corps where we have leadership positions and a joint ministry together. Not everyone is able to have the same experience as us, especially those who identify as LGBTQI+.
We believe everyone is equally loved by God and everyone has the right to take their place in the body of Christ. We grieve for people who have experienced pain because they have been excluded. We repent for when we have not recognised our privilege and have perpetuated exclusive narratives and relationships. We are committed to listening and helping The Salvation Army become increasingly inclusive – this means that we not only serve all people without discrimination, but we welcome, value, honour and embrace all, regardless of sexuality.
We joined the INCLUDED team in July 2021 because we feel challenged to be more intentional about how we put what we believe into action. We pray that INCLUDED will be a safe space that champions the voice of LGBTQI+ Salvationists and brings together people who want to listen to each other and learn from God about how we can build more inclusive communities within The Salvation Army.
Bio coming soon...
The Salvation Army is in my DNA. My great grandparents were among the first generation of Salvationists in Australia. My grandparents, Mum, uncles, aunties and cousins grew up in Salvation Army fellowship. That said, I was unaware of this rich heritage and found my own way to “the Salvos” as a teenager… or, perhaps, God brought me back. I’m now an Officer of ten years and spent 7 years before that in full time work at my home Corps, Melbourne 614 where the mission was primarily to those on the very edges of society – people who were homeless, addicted, suffering from mental illness or had been shunned by society. While that sounds a long time, it was a delayed process. I was, multiple times, rejected from the officership journey and told that a gay man could never be an officer. Having fought for my right to live out my calling within this Church, and having spent decades with people excluded from the Church, or society, I am a passionate advocate for inclusion, acceptance and equity for all people, especially those who are gender or sexuality diverse. I’ve now served across Australia, and in Sweden, and in every place have seen people come into full life with Jesus, having been accepted as they are, as God created them, reflections of His beautiful, creative diversity. I’ve got a BA in community development, a Grad Cert (and a nearly completed Masters) in leadership and a heart for The Salvation Army to live out its destiny as a movement of the Spirit, inspired by Jesus to bring justice, equity, love and life to all of creation.
My name is Jeroen (Jerry in English) and I am a child of God. I am saved by his grace. I try to show this in my job as an officer of The Salvation Army. At the moment I am in charge of a corps in the North of The Netherlands. I like to bond with other people, with an open heart and an open mind. During my studies Theology and Pastoral Care with Psychology, I focused on diversity and inclusivity. For me these are core values in The Salvation Army and I like to help to make them more visible within the organisation. That is why I am grateful to be a member of the Included Team and I hope we can grow together to a more inclusive Salvation Army.
Bio coming soon...
Whilst currently serving in the USA Southern Territory as a Corps officer, I have worked alongside people dealing with homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues in both the USA and UK. Originally from East London where I became a Christian at 18, I have always known that I was gay but did not come out until I was 39. Sadly, it was the Church that made me be afraid to be who I was. Even though I love the Body of Christ and am committed to the mission of The Salvation Army, I am also very much aware of the harm that is being done to the LGBTQIA+ community, and how this is tarnishing the witness of Christ. My desire is for all to see how much they are loved and welcomed by God, to be able to celebrate how they were created, and to take hold of the abundant life that Christ brought by being authentically who they are. We are currently being held to a poor theological understanding of human sexuality that is dangerous and restrictive. I am hoping that we can move beyond that so that we can be a force that brings life rather than poorly informed judgment.
Bio coming soon...
I am Margo Merts-Tinga, born and bred in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. I grew up with values like togetherness, inclusivity and looking after people without judgment. My big example was major Alida Bosshardt OF, who was in charge of the Goodwill work in this area of the city. I am a Salvationist and I am employed by the Army as regional-officer, daily promoting social and spiritual activities within the neighborhood. I just celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. My husband and two children of 19 and 23 make my life beautiful and complete. In Amsterdam inclusivity is not an issue, it’s a way of life. I am happy that I joined the Included Team and I am dedicated to show our knowledge and attitude and emphasize that God wants that every human being, all created by Him, can be fully part of our society and organisation.
I have been an officer since 1984, and am currently serving as the Personal Secretary and music Secretary in the Denmark and Greenland Territory. I am the happy father of two adult children and a son in law. I came out as open gay in 2011. Today I live alone, but hope in future to be able to have a partner in my life. I work for inclusion, believing it to be within the DNA of the Army. Whilst some LGBTQI people live in the closet, and some are in envionments where they cannot be themselves, I have it upon my heart to be a voice for LGBTQ+ persons who have no voice. I desire for God's church to be able to reach out in love towards everyone. I believe in a revival comming, and the rainbow people will be a part of that! The Lord is doing a new thing in our time.