Souvenirs of Salvationism 1
by Commissioner Wesley Harris

COMMUNICATION between Salvationists may never have been as easy. Phones, faxes, E mails and Lotus Notes can enable us to have instant contact with comrades around the world. It was not ever thus!

By ‘snail mail’ a letter from London might at one time have taken six weeks to reach Australia by ship and cables were expensive. But entrepreneurial Salvationism sought a way of overcoming the difficulty with the introduction of The Salvation Army General Telegraphic Code.

My copy which runs to over 500 pages is dated 1910 and it was followed by later editions. The Code (now something of a museum piece) was described as a ‘private document’ to be preserved carefully under lock and key and used only by the duly authorised officer’. It might be used to communicate details concerning the visit of the General to a territory or matters concerning property or finance. Sometimes the messages were inspirational and sent for dissemination to a whole territory, officers and soldiers alike.

With a combination of a few words from the Code a fairly long message could be cabled or telegraphed at a relatively low cost. So, for example, the code word, kunge conveyed a message for all and sundry: ‘Let us pledge ourselves to love each other. With every injury forgiven, every grudge banished, with souls full of holy resolution to love each other as never before, let us march on to War’. And all that was conveyed for the price of a single word!

Similarly, for general consumption, the code word kunyz meant: ‘I call for the renewed consecration of every heart and energy to the great business for which The Salvation Army exists, and give you in one word the motto which is to describe and control the operations of the coming year; that word is “Aggression”’.

In any army communication is important. As the former leader of a large Salvation Army territory I know that, for one reason or another, soldiers in corps may still complain that they have not received necessary information, despite modern facilities.

Although a far flung movement the Army is a close knit community. Even so, there can be a lack of communication leading to misunderstanding or failure to support work in other parts of the world.

Proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive in the Army may be found in the growing use of the internet, videos and DVDs to spread our good news. Whatever next?

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