Still Red-Hot and Righteous

The Salvation Army's International Congress meets outside London for the first time since its founding.

Some 136 years after the burning of Atlanta, this summer the capital city of the New South was under invasion by military forces again. But the only fire these soldiers hoped to light was the flame of the Holy Spirit. About the time of the American Civil War, Gen. William Booth and his wife, Catherine, were marshaling forces to attack sin in London. Booth's brigades became the Salvation Army, now 1 million souls strong in 107 countries. More than 20,000 Salvationists gathered in Atlanta last week for the first International Congress of the denomination to be held outside international headquarters in London."After all these years, it's time it left London, don't you think?" asked Gen. John Gowans, the Army's top officer. As home to the 1996 Olympics, he said, "I think Atlanta's the right place for Salvationists to get together."The Olympics had little on the Salvationists when it came to an international presence. Out on the streets, in parks and hotel lobbies, the world mingled. Female Indian Salvationists in navy saris with white blouses stood near other Salvationist women in the western version of the uniform, white blouses with navy skirts a few inches below the knee. Nearby, Lt. Col. Amos Makina of Zimbabwe wore the full regalia of his country's tan uniform. And in Centennial Olympic Park, Gary Noland of Warren, Mich., in shorts and a purple T-shirt, greeted the uniformed Lt. Klilliqui Sackie of Liberia as a fellow Salvationist."The Salvation Army fights sin," said Noland, who wore a U.S. Army Veteran baseball cap. "The U.S. Army fights so that we can have the right to fight sin."In a summer when several American mainline denominations are struggling over the emotionally heavy and theologically divisive questions of ...

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