Oslo, Norway (July 27, 2011) – Salvationists in Norway have been a comforting presence in the public displays of remembrance for all affected by the bomb and gun attacks that killed at least 76 people on Friday, July 22. The Salvation Army's leadership in Norway asked that, where possible, Salvationists should wear uniform or items of clothing featuring a Salvation Army logo so that members of the public can identify them as people who can offer prayer and words of comfort.
Members of The Salvation Army joined the 'Rose March' in Oslo and other cities. The gathering in Oslo, attended by more than 150,000 people, was a time of shared remembrance and grief, with appeals being given for people to show love and to stand together in the face of hurt. Salvation Army officers and soldiers also joined the crowd in front of Oslo University where the royal family, prime minister and many others held a minute's silence on Monday 25 July.
Colonel Jan Peder Fosen (Chief Secretary, Norway, Iceland and The Faeroes Territory) writes: “Salvationists in their uniforms and others with a Salvation Army logo on have had a great response from people talking to them on the street. We have received phone calls at territorial headquarters from people who simply want to talk over some of the things that have happened. Officers on the building are handling these calls.”
The territorial youth department has sent a letter of condolence to the Labour Party's youth organization, many members of which were killed in the atrocities.
The colonel says that so far no Salvationists are known to have been killed. There are, however, victims who have known links to Salvation Army corps (churches). Corps officers are counseling people who have lost friends or family members.
One of the most moving stories reported by the colonel comes from The Salvation Army's harbor light rehabilitation work. He says that some of the men being treated through the program made donations which they put together to buy flowers to place with the 'ocean' of tributes outside Oslo Cathedral. He says: 'They wanted also to show their respect.'
More than 200 children and leaders gathered at a five-day Salvation Army camp outside Oslo on Sunday, to take part in activities including dance, music, singing and drama. A Salvation Army counselor has been available at the camp and gave counseling to all the leaders on Sunday.
Colonel Fosen says: 'It was most moving when many of these 6 to 13-year-old children wrote in their own words prayers about the tragedy and placed them on a wall. [There were] beautiful words about love and sorrow.'
He concludes by saying that Salvationists and friends in Norway are 'truly grateful' for the 'many emails, letters and words of prayer during these days from The Salvation Army around the world.’
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About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.About The Salvation Army