23 May 2024

The Catherine Programme: Connecting with our roots

Major Julian Watchorn

A photo of teaching at the Catherine Programme

Major Julian Watchorn finds out more about a learning opportunity for people in leadership positions.

Catherine Booth, mother and co-founder of The Salvation Army, put great store in studying – not for her own sake alone, but for the sake of others. She is quoted as saying: ‘You are not here in this world for yourself. You have been sent here for others. The world is waiting for you!’  

Inspired by that spirit, European training leaders within the Army have, since 2007, been providing foundational teaching in identity and mission for officers, Salvationists and employees in leadership positions. 

At a Salvation Army facility in the Netherlands each summer, the Catherine Programme Committee has run a course to educate, enlighten, encourage and inspire anyone engaged in Salvation Army mission across Europe and beyond.

The committee offers an initial intensive basic course covering topics such as the history of The Salvation Army, its internationalism, symbols and rituals, women in ministry, doctrine, theology, pioneering and ethics. 

It’s all provided by some of the Army’s best lecturers from across Europe and includes visiting some of the social programmes provided by Army expressions in and around Amsterdam – linking learning with social work, as Catherine had always demonstrated and advocated.

There is much to embrace and learn and therefore an advanced course is also available for those who have taken the basic course in previous years. It looks at additional topics, such as cultural change in today’s society, ecclesiology, form and essence, social justice, modern slavery, Salvationist spirituality and learning from Salvation Army visionaries.

Over the years, a number of officers and employees from the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory have attended and benefited from this unique opportunity. One such participant was Director of Audit and Assurance Daniel Wills (THQ).  

Having worked for the organisation for seven years, Daniel says that ‘working for The Salvation Army gives me a sense of ikigaia Japanese concept where every aspect of your life comes together in harmony. However, he wanted to increase his understanding of the Army’s mission and the Catherine Programme summer school gave him that opportunity. 

He describes the content of the course as ‘a nice mix of theory, understanding the wider Salvation Army and developing friendships’. The cohort that accompanied him on the course were ‘a good blend of frontline workers and those who fulfil support roles’.

He adds: ‘Getting a glimpse of the global picture was very helpful. There were lots of good things about it. The accommodation and hospitality were excellent, the presentation was really slick. Visiting expressions of Salvation Army work in Holland was inspiring. There were lots of stories of positive change.’

‘For someone looking for a better or deeper understanding of The Salvation Army,’ he continues, ‘it would be a great opportunity. For me it was a very positive experience that I would highly recommend.’

Enabling and equipping leaders is an essential component of any strategy. Learning from the Army’s heritage and being true to who God wants us to be are a strong foundation for any individual, and this Movement, to build on.  

  • Applicants in this territory wanting to attend would need to be supported through their line manager. The application period each year usually runs from 1 March to 1 June. If this resonates with you, find out more information at catherine-programme.eu

Written by

Photo of Julian Watchorn.

Major Julian Watchorn

Editor, Salvationist

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