THE Salvation Army’s international Programme Resources Consultancy Group (PRCG) will meet virtually from 3-5 November 2020, replacing a physical meeting that was originally due to take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bringing together many of the movement’s leaders and practitioners in the fields of emergency relief, recovery, community development and mission, the consultation and conversation will reflect on The Salvation Army’s global response to COVID-19. Delegates will discuss learning points picked up during the year and work collaboratively towards an even more effective response in the months and years ahead.
Under the title ‘Same Storm, Different Boats’, PRCG delegates will explore the reality of the pandemic exhibiting similar traits around the world, but with wildly different social, political and economic frameworks meaning that the impacts have often been greater in already-vulnerable communities. Participants will reflect on what has become a ‘new normal’ and consider what needs to be done to discover and enact a ‘Kingdom normal’ in view of The Salvation Army’s firm Christian ethos.
The group’s time together will include honest evaluation. While for many years the international Salvation Army has had systems, structures, processes and partnerships in place to support emergency responses and community development, these have come under significant strain at key points and have subsequently undergone various phases of review and restructuring. Never before, however, have The Salvation Army and partners had to face the impact of a global and enduring pandemic such as COVID-19. It is evident that the coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on those whose healthcare and economic systems were already at breaking point and whose well-being and capacity to survive and flourish were already severely compromised. The Salvation Army has had to adapt and respond flexibly, with innovation and agility.
In her keynote address, The Salvation Army’s International Secretary for Programme Resources, Commissioner Birgitte Brekke-Clifton poses the question: ‘How can we be satisfied with poorer quality or provision for some?’ Reflecting on a paper on sustainable development presented and discussed at last year’s PRCG gathering, the commissioner is clear that this is an inescapable dilemma. ‘That question keeps coming back to me,’ she says. ‘The answer is: we can’t!’
In this light, the consultation will explore six main aspects of The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response:
- Adaptations of project management systems and structures
- Financing structures and capabilities
- Local capacity for implementation
- Relationships and communications
- Power and resource imbalances
- Changing patterns and modes of work
Joining together for the conference’s concluding session will be The Salvation Army’s international leader General Brian Peddle, with Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World President of Women’s Ministries), Chief of the Staff Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (World Secretary for Women’s Ministries). They will be joined by the International Secretaries responsible for Salvation Army ministry across the movement’s five zones as well as territorial leaders from around the world. The General will address the group during this session.
Ultimately, PRCG will generate recommendations for future collaborative project/programme support working, informing international Salvation Army leadership about future development priorities, development policy, guiding values and practices that are significant to The Salvation Army’s international agenda in the years ahead.