29 November 2006
Wellington, Wednesday 29
Issued on the Authority of Colonel Robin Forsyth
Chief Secretary, The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory
For Immediate Release
Fiji Unrest Puts Paid to Visit by Salvation Army World Leaders and Delays Conference Plans of 1000 Salvation Army Young People
A visit by The Salvation Army's international leader General Shaw Clifton to Fiji this week has been cancelled due to that country's worsening political crisis. A Salvation Army youth conference scheduled to take place in Suva in January 2007 has been postponed.
General Clifton, who directed The Salvation Army's work in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga from March 2002 until June 2004, intended to be in Fiji from 28 November until 4 December for the ordination of eight Salvation Army ministers, seven from Fiji and one from Tonga. He was to be accompanied by his wife, Commissioner Helen Clifton, and Salvation Army leaders from Wellington.
In the light of the New Zealand government's travel advisory cautioning against non-essential travel to Fiji, Salvation Army leadership in Wellington, in consultation with the Fiji divisional leaders and the General, believes it unwise for the Army's international leaders to risk travel to Fiji.
The decision is a deep disappointment to The Salvation Army's leaders and those who had been anticipating their visit. General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton will continue with plans to visit Wellington for the ordination of 11 New Zealand Salvation Army ministersâ€”including their daughter, Jennyâ€”over the weekend of 8-10 December.
The Salvation Army has also made the difficult decision to postpone for 12 months a youth conference scheduled for Suva over 18-22 January 2007 out of growing concern about delegate safety.
After more than a year of planning and fundraising, the postponement is hugely disappointing, said conference organiser Major Lyndon Buckingham. Over 1000 delegates from New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Australia and as far away as Canada and the United States had registered, he said. 'We were looking forward to an incredible time of fellowship and inspiration and our young people had also planned to work on a number of service programmes around the Fijian capital.'
The Salvation Army will continue to closely monitor the situation in Fiji. Commissioner Garth McKenzie, the organisation's territorial commander, said, 'We pray for Salvationists in Fiji and for their country with a sense of great love and solidarity, knowing the turmoil Fiji faces at this time will have significant economic and social impact. May God guide the decision-makers and peace-makers of Fiji.'