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Monday 16 April 2012 I For immediate release
One of South Africa’s most vibrant Churches, The Salvation Army, is undergoing a change in its leadership as Lieutenants-Colonel William and Thalitha Langa become Territorial Leaders with the rank of Commissioner of the Southern African region on 1 May 2012.
At the same time, the Church will bid farewell to outgoing Territorial Leaders, Commissioners André and Silvia Cox, who take up an appointment at the helm of The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. They have served the Southern African region since October 2008.
Incoming Territorial Leaders, Commissioners William and Thalitha Langa have deep roots within The Salvation Army.
The eldest of eleven children, Lt-Col William Langa was born in Witbank and grew up in a Salvationist family, playing the tuba in the local corps band from the age of 15 years. His wife, Thalitha, also comes from a strong Salvationist background in Mpumalanga.
Only after he married Thalitha, however, did he respond to his calling to become an officer of The Salvation Army.
An early posting to a girls’ hostel in rural KwaZulu/Natal was followed by a stint at headquarters as a field officer training members of the Church in planned giving and tithing.
As divisional commander, Lt-Col Langa’s territory included areas of deep rural Transkei where the challenges were many and varied. Another highlight of his career was seven months spent in Mozambique in 2008.
As Territorial Commander, he would like to see The Salvation Army become more visible in engaging with people to connect with the Gospel.
During his tenure in Southern Africa, Commissioner Cox introduced a five-year strategic review process, from which five focus areas for The Salvation Army have emerged. These are youth and children; community engagement; institutional community life; business administration; and leadership development.
This is the first time that the organisation has engaged in this level of strategic planning and has resulted in specific goals and objectives for the period to 2016.
Commissioner Cox noted that The Salvation Army provides services to a large number of young people and children, in particular, and is constantly addressing the challenge of how to engage and connect with them.
Another challenge is to understand how The Salvation Army can, in the face of escalating costs, continue to be involved in institutional care for children and the elderly.
“We were maintaining social institutions in a reality of declining financial resources. We had to face the fact that we could only reach a limited number of people.
“In spite of cutbacks, however, we still have a wide outreach to the elderly, children and the homeless. In the case of the homeless, we are now focusing on helping people get themselves re-established in society, so that we are not just providing cheap accommodation,” he added.
Commissioner Cox has updated and modernised information technology, finance and administrative systems, including an integrated network for the divisional centres.
He said his happiest memory of his time in Southern Africa was witnessing the joy and hope in people and the strength of their worship as he had travelled around.
“We have learnt about the reality of living in the present. In the West, people live for a future over which they have no control. Many in the West are despondent about the future, but in Africa there is always hope,” he said.
The Salvation Army is an international movement and evangelical part of the universal Christian Church and has a professional record in rehabilitating and accommodating trafficking trade victims and addressing social injustice in a systematic, measured, proactive and Christian manner through its International Social Justice Commission.
ISSUED BY QUO VADIS COMMUNICATIONS ON BEHALF OF THE SALVATION ARMY
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