June 2, 2020
A Letter to Our Central Texas Community
From The Salvation Army Area Commander – Major Lewis R. Reckline
Our nation is reeling in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The sadness, outrage and outcry for justice that has gripped our nation has indeed gripped our city in the form of grief and protests. As I watch these events unfold, I am grieved and praying for those who are in pain. Now more than ever, we must continue to pursue meaningful and enduring change to overcome acts of racism and violence that would threaten to corrode the fibers of our community.
Racism is the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others. ‘Racism’ also refers to political or social programs built on that belief. The use of the term ‘race’ itself is contested,but is generally used to refer to a distinct group sharing a common ethnicity, national origin, descent and/or skin color. The Salvation Army denounces racism in all forms.
Racism is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian conviction that all people are made in the image of God and are equal in value. The Salvation Army believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities.
As Central Texas’ largest provider of emergency shelter, our mission is to serve men, women and children experiencing homelessness in Christ’s name, with dignity and respect and compassion, each and every day. While this remains true, we find ourselves embracing a renewed commitment during these trying times. We support the right of each individual to express their freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and each individual’s need to seek safe shelter within our walls.
This weekend, downtown gatherings of hundreds of people at the Austin Police Department Headquarters occurred two blocks from our Downtown Shelter and Service Center. While no client or staff member was personally threatened or harmed, the Center was vandalized with explicit graffiti. Our Property team is currently working to restore the building and grounds.
From COVID-19 safety protocols to recent protests in the vicinity of one of our shelters, The Salvation Army strives to put client and staff safety at the forefront of our operations. Our leadership team is monitoring the situation daily. We will continue to protect our neighbors living at our shelters as we pray for healing and justice in our community.
As an international organization we are committed:
- The Salvation Army will make and encourage efforts to challenge and overcome racism wherever it exists.
- The Salvation Army must always be vigilant and guard against the infiltration of racism in our organization.
- The Salvation Army recognizes the importance of robust systems to report and discuss racism without fear and will endeavor to provide these.
- The Salvation Army will continue to make efforts to ensure ethnic diversity in leadership.
- The Salvation Army will promote the value of ethnic diversity and inclusiveness
in all expressions of Salvation Army life including prioritizing resources for the education and development of all personnel.
We are passionate about making homelessness a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience. We are committed our mission: “Do the most good to those in the most need.” As part of an international network, we draw upon and are enriched by the diversity that we have across Central Texas and the world. Our work cannot stop. We stand in solidarity with those who have been wronged; we pray for understanding, enlightenment, and peace for all; we open our doors each night to allow those in need to sleep safely.
Please join me as we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as in Heaven, The Salvation Army will work towards a world where all people are accepted, loved, and valued.
Major Lewis R. Reckline
Austin Metropolitan Area Command