The Salvation Army’s Maryland-West Virginia Division battles to change lives of its neighbors

Maryland-West Virginia Division battles to change lives of its neighbors

By: Captain Lorraina Crawford

In a place where struggle is a way of life for many, the Maryland-West Virginia Division can easily see The Salvation Army’s purpose. What is often hard for others to see is salvation, the goodness of God, hope for tomorrow and a heart of encouragement while they are struggling. As a result, we have shared and re-emphasized our Soul-saving WHY across the Maryland-West Virginia Division with thought and purpose. The outcome is that the story of individual lives is changing.

Throughout the division, many canteen ministries have started and are tackling both food scarcity and spiritual need. Accounts of families and individuals being saved right by the canteen have ignited new passion.

The Frederick, Maryland, Community Care Ministries team started a canteen outreach into the community twice a month to serve and minister to anyone they encounter. They have reached many people over the past year, praying with them for an impact on their lives. One person they met named Rick, was an addict who shared his struggle by showing his bottle of whiskey. His concern was that he would never be able to let go of the addiction and that he would never be accepted into church because of it. Five CCM members surrounded him and showered him with encouragement through testimonies and prayer.

One soldier couple through the Feed More program in Baltimore, Maryland, literally saved a homeless man’s life. While out serving on the canteen, the couple found the gentleman unconscious from a drug overdose. They were able to get help and save him from dying alone on the streets.

The Huntington, West Virginia, canteen ministry has led souls to Christ at the canteen. “The crew does a wonderful job of starting deep conversation with the community that come to eat each Sunday,” Lieutenant Liz Blusiewicz said. “They are seeing fruit to this ministry, but the team is needing reinforcements as it is work intensive, and very physically tiring.” The Huntington corps cadets brigade decided to contribute. They saw making and distributing food boxes in their area as a way to help those struggling and deliver the gospel. Their work was even recognized by the governor of West Virginia.

We see many at-risk youths set to continue in the same struggle they witness at home. Our Boys and Girls Clubs across the division are seeking to place youth on a different path. Among 236 in attendance at youth councils in 2019, there was a group of at-risk Baltimore Boys and Girls Club youth. This group was under the ministry of corps officers and club directors who have intentionally tried to bridge the gap between the two worlds. All weekend, they wrote notes and shared them with Major Becky Hogg of the Central Maryland Area Command on what they gleaned from the speaker, Steve Carter. Several made decisions for Christ that weekend and attend the corps on Sundays.

Across the division we celebrate that junior and senior soldiers’ enrollments have taken place in Weirton, Havre de Grace, Middle River and Clarksburg. We praise God that at women’s retreat, many women made decisions or sought a deeper relationship with Christ with 111 seekers, some for the first time.

Many of our women’s ministries are participating in women’s evangelism outreach events. The Annapolis, Maryland, women went “glamping” (glamorous camping) at the corps. They invited women from the community to join them for an indoor camping experience, with air mattresses, air conditioning and stories by the electric fire. Other women’s ministries are completing a study of “This Invitational Life” to help revamp the purpose of their ministries. The women in Beckley, West Virginia, have been inspired by the study to make laundry bags. They filled laundry bags with quarters and laundry supplies and distributed them at the local laundry facility to help start meaningful conversations in their community.

Many people struggle here. They need to see salvation from addictions, that there is a way out of hopelessness and how a relationship with God gives strength for the daily struggles they face in life. Rising up in our division is an army of compassion that loves God and its neighbors enough to do something. We see soldiers who are partnering with God to change the story of people’s lives. For every victory, no matter how small, we praise God!

Captain Lorraina Crawford is the associate divisional secretary for women’s ministries in the Maryland-West Virginia Division.


The Salvation Army offers care in wake of tornado in Tennessee

The Salvation Army offers care in wake of tornado in Tennessee

By: Kimberly George

The Middle Tennessee region prepares for the influx of thousands of volunteers to extend the hope that is the hallmark of The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is serving meals and emotional and spiritual care alongside those who love their neighbors.

“We are tripling our meal count for Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of residents and volunteers being on the frontlines of the destruction, cleaning up debris,” said Bo Sells, Salvation Army operations chief.

In the seven days following the tornado, The Salvation Army served 5,219 meals along with 4,639 snacks and 5,807 beverages. Some 1,120 individuals had received personal prayer support.

An F3 tornado was spawned by a storm system that swept across Middle Tennessee March 3, resulting in the deaths of at least 24 people and causing severe damage to homes and businesses across four counties.

By March 7, The Salvation Army had five mobile kitchen units capable of cooking and serving up to 1,500 meals a day, two catering trucks capable of serving 1,500 meals a day and two disaster response units capable of cooking 500 meals and serving up to 1,500 meals a day. Along with caring for the physical needs of its neighbors, The Salvation Army deployed 16 officers, who are pastors, to provide emotional and spiritual care.

The Salvation Army was serving meals, beverages and offering emotional and spiritual care with serving times beginning at noon and 4 p.m. in East Nashville, North Nashville-Germantown, Hermitage-Donaldson, Mount Juliet, Lebanon and Putnam County. Roaming teams were serving food to residents in most of those areas.

Financial contributions are needed and most efficient. A cash donation allows charitable relief agencies to use monetary contributions to purchase exactly what disaster survivors need and is easy to get to the disaster area. One hundred percent of a disaster donation to The Salvation Army is used for disaster relief efforts for that event. Supplies can almost always be purchased locally at the disaster site and provide savings in multiple ways. Money used to purchase needed items locally can support local and state economies, helping local businesses and workers.

“As the story of response continues to unfold, we are certain of the ending. The Salvation Army will continue to serve the people of Tennessee, and we have become stronger together,” said Major Ethan Frizzell, Nashville area commander.

Kimberly George is the director of communications for the Chattanooga Area Command.


Kentucky-Tennessee division unveils new take on fellowship with ‘The Unveiling’

Kentucky-Tennessee division unveils new take on fellowship with ‘The Unveiling’

By: Brad Rowland

With a desire to bring young adults together across the Kentucky-Tennessee Division of The Salvation Army, a group traveled to six locations – including four in a single holiday weekend – to share “The Unveiling.” The Unveiling is a mystery dinner theater program designed and implemented by the Youth Department of the division, with seven characters executing an interactive show accompanied by a meal.

The ensemble traveled to four corps – Frankfort and Henderson in Kentucky, Knoxville and Jackson in Tennessee – and two college campuses – Asbury University and Trevecca Nazarene University. Combined, over 200 young people attended, with the idea that this kind of fellowship could be brought to young adults, rather than asking them to come to a central location.

“Rather than having everyone drive to one location, the idea of a tour allowed people to avoid driving a long distance,” said Joel Collier, divisional music director. “It still allowed for fellowship but also for a level of convenience and cost savings.”

While a large portion of each program was dedicated to the enjoyable and entertaining mystery program, things transitioned to a time of praise and worship, followed by a dedication message. Lieutenant Mark Cancia, Trevecca student ministries, delivered the word on multiple occasions, with Captain Matt Cunningham, divisional youth and candidates secretary, also bringing a devotional time along the way.

“I think it went quite well in every stop,” Collier said. “We were pleased with how many people got involved and attended. I think people enjoyed it and had fun, but it was also great to keep people engaged with the dinner theater and be able to transition that into active worship and spiritual study.”

The tour, or something like it, could be implemented again, either later in 2020 or in the years to come. Beyond that, the idea was simple, yet effective and replicable, planting the seed for similar activities in other parts of the territory and across the Salvation Army world.

“It’s important to remember that this came out of a desire to fellowship together and that it can be very easy to put something like this together, even without a designated financial budget,” said Alicia Collier, divisional creative arts director. “This is something that can be both fun and impactful. If there is a desire or a need, people can get out there and just make it happen.”

“Our young adults simply wanted to be involved and wanted to have something they could participate in,” Joel Collier said. “Ultimately, I think that’s why they turned up and invested their time, to be a part of a fellowship together.”


Tenacity, perseverance, and discipline: Kroc Center ‘social circus’ reaches at-risk kids

Tenacity, perseverance, and discipline: Kroc Center ‘social circus’ reaches at-risk kids

By: David Ibata

When a group of at-risk teenagers in Atlanta, Georgia, learned this winter they’d be going to a Kroc Center to learn circus arts, most were less than thrilled. Circus, they said – isn’t that elephants, clowns and flying trapezes?

Well, not so much elephants, but it takes talent and hard work to be a clown, and a trapeze is more than a person on a swing – think acrobatics, ropes and silks.

“They love it. They didn’t know they were going to love it, but they do,” said Traci Willis, director of the JourneyZ program of Chris180, a social services agency that works with youth in group foster homes. “They’d never have learned how to do the trapeze or ride a unicycle if they weren’t here. It’s not as hard as it looks. Doing it builds self-esteem, confidence, all types of things.”

Nineteen young people are enrolled in “social circus” at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. The program came out of the Cirque du Soleil performance troupe of Quebec, Canada, and its Cirque du Monde, which uses circus arts to reach young people around the world.

“Social circus aims to ensure the all-around development and social inclusion of people at risk, especially youth,” says the Community Worker’s Guide of the Foundation Cirque du Soleil. “Precisely because it leaves room for freedom and creativity while demanding tenacity, perseverance and discipline, social circus empowers participants to use their marginality to express themselves and establish a new relationship with a society that has often excluded them.”

Benjamin Scholes, director of operations at Kroc Atlanta, said social circus “is an intervention program for our children most at risk, to give them a safe place to learn circus arts and to fold in social workers to help them. We go into the schools and seek out local groups who can tell us the kids having the most trouble in school, who are going through something traumatic, who need some adults to come around them in life and get them to the other side of whatever they’re going through.”

Blake Lanier, a psychologist and therapist, explained why he brought the social circus idea to the Kroc Center.

“Social circus is designed to be community intervention,” he said. “Youth see the larger community investing in them, and the community sees the youth investing back in the community.”

Lanier’s “aha” moment came when he began working with the Cirque du Soleil global citizenship team. “I saw their model of using the circus as psychosocial and community intervention absolutely had the possibility of being just as effective as the therapy I had been doing for many years … a way to reach kids who didn’t tend to respond well to the traditional, office-space type of therapy.”

For young people, he said, circus training “provides grace and development with fine motor and gross motor skills; it provides life skills, such as communicating with others, problem solving, grit and perseverance; and certainly it offers empowerment and a way to find their voice. It’s unlimited, the number of skills you can transfer from learning circus, to life.”

The Kroc Center piloted its first social circus last fall, working with youngsters in elementary through high school. This winter, it’s working with teens about to age out of foster care. Chris180 brings the students, and InFlight Gymnastics provides the training.

Classes meet twice a week for two hours in the evening. Students first eat dinner in the dining room, then go to the gym for “circle time” in a big group, and finally, break up for instruction in areas that interest them – from tumbling to trapeze to juggling to plate spinning. They may work in small groups, learning about trust, responsibility and camaraderie.

“We try to use the circus as a way to foster their imagination,” said Meredith Gordon, the director of clowning. “Most of what we do involves something physical. When teaching a lesson, kids can understand with their bodies as well as their minds.”

Nyissa Casado, who teaches stilts, dancing and aerial skills, said, “We tap into their talent and remove the limitations. For instance, one kid here is good at shooting three-pointers. How about shooting three-pointers from a unicycle? We encourage kids to think creatively.”

Michael, 17, is an enthusiastic learner; he’s been in love with the Big Top since attending a summer circus camp. “I want to learn juggling – bean bags, bowling pins, basketballs, anything. It’s one of the things that got me interested in the circus.”

A semester runs for 17 or 18 weeks and culminates in a performance, awards and a party. The program is free to the young participants; The Salvation Army pays the salaries of trainers and social workers. An outreach to potential funders will begin soon.

It so happened that during last fall’s session, Cirque du Soleil was performing in Atlanta. Of course, the social circus students got tickets to a show.

“All the skills they were working on, they were able to see on stage,” Scholes said. “The light went on: This was something more than playing in a gym.”

“There is a chance some child will find a path for themselves in the circus arts. But this program is more about developing relationships, helping a child work through a short- or long-term trauma, providing them an outlet to express themselves in a safe yet seemingly dangerous atmosphere, and to give these children a chance to succeed in a non-traditional area.”


The Salvation Army of Atlanta’s needs mesh with those of volunteer retiree

The Salvation Army of Atlanta’s needs mesh with those of volunteer retiree

By: Brad Rowland

After completing the last 20 years of a career in housing, community development, zoning and development management in North Carolina, James Diepenbrock relocated to the Atlanta area to spend more time with his grandchildren and two grown children. Diepenbrock became aware of The Salvation Army’s work through a connection during his time in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in the summer of 2019, he attended a disaster services training put together by the Georgia Division.

From there, Diepenbrock was connected with Chris Durand, director of management services for the Atlanta Area Command, and a fruitful partnership was formed through Diepenbrock’s heart for volunteer mission.

“Last summer, we decided to put together some disaster training classes at DHQ and Jim signed up to attend,” said Donna Roper, volunteer coordinator for the Atlanta Area Command. “He ended up doing so, and I was attending the classes as well. Afterward, he let me know that he wanted to get involved in other ways, also sharing what his background was. Looking at that, I put him in touch with Chris (Durand). He was eager to help, and it ended up being a perfect fit.”

In Atlanta and across the Southern Territory, The Salvation Army deploys a facilities management software called ARCHIBUS, which would apply, but not be limited, to Kroc Centers, area command buildings and shelters. The software is highly useful and functional, but the implementation can be labor intensive, particularly at the outset, due to logistics and data entry.

That opened the door for Durand and his team to carve out a dedicated volunteer position, which seemed to be a natural fit for Diepenbrock. Beginning in October, Diepenbrock began coming to the area command offices on a weekly basis, spending time with data entry that helps with workflow, preventative maintenance and the furthering of capital planning.

“It’s a God thing,” Durand said. “The timing just happened to be perfect and we really needed the help that Jim was able to bring. He’s been pivotal in this implementation, entering the data almost as quickly as we can give it to him. It’s blossomed from there and we are very grateful for Jim, his heart and the work he’s done.”

In a state of semi-retirement, Diepenbrock was on the hunt for ways to make an impact in the Atlanta community. He found a niche that was both enjoyable and functional with The Salvation Army, and Diepenbrock’s previous career experience proved to be a bonus.

“I enjoy hearing that it makes a significant difference and that the work is helpful,” Diepenbrock said. “This work also helps me keep my skills sharp, which I think is important for someone of retirement age. I think volunteering can be a spiritual calling, and it’s also an age and stage in life for me. The thing that’s really great about volunteering is the flexibility to invest where the need is and to be available where the need is; also just being free to explore many different options and be as helpful as possible wherever I can make an impact.”

Diepenbrock plans to continue the work, recently visiting Atlanta’s Red Shield Services Emergency and Transitional Housing Facility. When he’s not volunteering, Diepenbrock works on the campus of Perimeter Church in the Johns Creek community, and he also provides support services in the Atlanta community for adults with special needs and memory loss.

“I’ve long believed in the mission of The Salvation Army, and this volunteer role provides wonderful opportunities to serve and contribute to that mission with tangible significance,” Diepenbrock said. “We aren’t always fortunate enough to minister this way in our first vocation. I hope to encourage others age 60 and older, because it’s never too late to play a part and let the Lord minister through us using abilities with which he has equipped us over the course of our lives.”


‘Mom’ Miller still influences many people around The Salvation Army world

‘Mom’ Miller still influences many people around The Salvation Army world

By: Major Frank Duracher

Major Catherine Miller has too many “children” to number – in addition to the four she birthed. That’s because her front portal has been a revolving door for decades, admitting scores of young people needing a place to stay and a listening ear.

Retired now for over 25 years, “Mom Miller” remains the matriarch of the Wichita, Kansas, Citadel Corps. Her influence continues with dozens of youth active in her corps.

Her motherly love for troubled kids and teens began while she and her beloved husband, Arnold, served as active officers across the Central Territory and, in post-retirement, a corps officer stint in the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division in the South. Several of her kids have gone on to serve as Salvation Army officers themselves, including one of her sons.

One “daughter,” Margaret, became an officer, and Catherine participated in the dedication of their baby not long ago.

Catherine also has a great heart for the mission field, fostering young adults from as far away as France, Switzerland, South Korea and China. “We always supported the missions and volunteered but never were able to go (one child, Joy, was handicapped).”

One has only to look to her mother as Catherine’s Christian example. “My mother raised us 10 children while working as schoolteacher in Nebraska. It was hard for her because dad was away much of the time, working on the road.”

Admittedly, the “revolving door” has slowed dramatically (she has only one living with her today), but that hasn’t slowed Mom Miller in her 90th year. She is very active in her corps and constantly encourages others to be very involved in the Army’s mission and ministry.

She keeps correspondence with her foster kids both here and abroad, sending monthly checks to those living overseas and remembering all birthdays and anniversaries. She even includes a $5 bill to children for birthdays up to adult age. In her basement, extensive photo albums of her foster kids track their whereabouts and important milestones, including babies of their own.

Through decades of taking kids in, Catherine marvels that she and Arnold “always had the support of our divisional commanders.” A running joke has it that whenever the DC’s phone rang, he might have been wondering if the Millers were taking in one more waif.

As for her own children, Catherine exercised great patience and faith. She says now that her greatest answer to prayer spanned 54 years during the life of her handicapped daughter, Joy. Born breached, the baby was deprived of oxygen. “Joy was a miracle because God preserved her brain. She was mentally alert, and loved to laugh spontaneously,” Catherine said.

Another daughter, Dawn, grew up to be a great wife and mother in her own right, but was diagnosed later in life with multiple sclerosis. Dawn was Promoted to Glory a few years after her sister, Joy.

Catherine lost her beloved Arnold some five years ago.

Whether she found intense joy in housing youth – or the times of extreme grief – Catherine falls back heavily on her faith in Christ. From the night of her conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade in Moline, Illinois, to the weekend at youth councils where she felt God’s call to Salvation Army officership, Catherine’s reliance on God only grew stronger.

One Mother’s Day a few years ago, her family and friends pulled off a surprise crowning of Catherine as “Mother of the Year” at the Wichita Citadel Corps. Scores of tributes from around the world were read and videoed, all of them rising up “to call her blesséd” (Proverbs 31:28).

Major Frank Duracher, a former staff writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.


To Battle We Go: Accomplishing the mission is not enough

To Battle We Go: Accomplishing the mission is not enough

By: Steve Kellner

Leadership is a complex subject, but the U.S. Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer’s Creed contains this one sentence description: “My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind – accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers.” The U.S. Air Force defines it even more succinctly: “Mission First, People Always.” This creed is introduced at the lowest levels of military leadership training and is re-emphasized throughout the careers of every service member right up through the ranks, from the newest privates, sailors and airmen to the most senior generals and admirals.

The order of tasks in the creed is no accident. Accomplishing the mission is always the top priority, but taking care of the troops is a very close second, more like 1 and 1A. A military unit dedicated primarily to the welfare of its own members is a club, not a fighting force. But neglect of the troops’ welfare makes it impossible to accomplish the mission. And, somewhat paradoxically, one of the primary needs of the troops is to have a clear mission and leaders truly dedicated to that mission. Without this, morale suffers, infighting breaks out and the overall effectiveness of the unit is lowered.

The Salvation Army has historically been a very mission-focused movement, carrying the message of the gospel and serving the needy all over the world. But in the busyness of our myriad ministry activities and programs, it’s easy to lose sight of our primary mission. That mission must always be our top priority, not just because we’re Salvationists, but because we’re Christians. The Army’s mission is the same mission Jesus gave the disciples: to “go into the world and preach the gospel” and to “clothe the naked, visit the sick and come to the prisoners.”

I think it’s fair to say that we in the Army haven’t paid as much attention to the welfare of our troops as to accomplishing our mission. This cultural shortcoming within our ranks goes all the way back to our founder, William Booth. General Booth possessed many outstanding leadership traits, but compassion for those wounded in the fight (including his own family members) was not chief among them. Perhaps this is understandable given the rapid growth of the early Army and Booth’s desire to “turn the world upside down” for Jesus. But it isn’t sustainable long term, because the work of the Army is hard and takes its toll on those doing the front-line fighting.

Some wounded Salvationists feel unsupported and leave the Army altogether. Others stick around but are shell-shocked and ineffective in ministry, just going through the motions. Salvationist leaders at all levels must heed the instruction in Acts 20:28: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

So, let’s recommit ourselves to accomplishing the mission – and taking care of the troops.


‘Salvation Army USS Events’ app set to debut for territorial congress

‘Salvation Army USS Events’ app set to debut for territorial congress

By: Brad Rowland

Searching for Salvation Army content in the iOS or Android app store would yield numerous returns, with commands from around the world represented in the results. In 2020, though, a new entrant arrived with the creation of an app titled “Salvation Army USS Events,” with the Call to Mission Southern Territorial Congress serving as the event that will launch the product.

The territorial congress, taking place June 5-7, will be the first event chronicled by the app, but it was designed with the capability to be used for all territorial events, with potential expansion to divisional gatherings. In short, it brings the experience of a full, deep-dive program booklet and places it on one’s cellular device, delivering a bevy of information in highly accessible form.

“It can be really engaging for younger adults, or really anyone, to be able to dive into everything that an event has to offer, right on their phone,” said Dave Haas, territorial ministry toolkit and events app manager. “It provides the ability to connect with others in a social setting, all while also bringing the informational components that bring their own functionality. I think it will be very cool for any event in its own way.”

The app is available now, though it won’t take on its full form until closer to the congress’s arrival. It will feature basic information, ranging from schedule information to speaker biographies and location maps. The app also brings social interactive capability, with the ability to connect with other attendees through messaging and information sharing. In addition, the capability exists to send push notifications to any app user, bringing a dynamic approach that allows for reminders and real-time insight.

Though the current design centers on the Call to Mission congress, there is great versatility in the events app, with organizers of future events able to mold its features to the needs of a specific assembly.

“The app can be as bare-bones as an event organizer would want with just schedules and basic information,” Haas said. “Or on the flip side, it can be very creative and expansive if the event calls for it. There are always some limitations, but just about everything that we’ve thought of for the congress has been able to be achieved within the app. We’re excited about the potential for the future.”

Though it should be noted that attendees must register separately for the congress, even after downloading the app, its capabilities are wide-ranging, and individuals can prepare for the congress well before arriving.

“The app really allows people to dig in and personalize their experience, all while engaging with the broader community in that public setting,” said Haas. “Almost everybody’s got a phone. Everybody’s digital today. We can be environmentally friendly by using this and avoiding extensive printing but, in addition, we can put the information in everyone’s hands and update things instantly throughout the process. It’s modern, but it’s also simple and it gives us the ability to let people mold the experience to what they want. We think that’s important.”

The app can be found here for iOS and Android.


Young Salvation Army musicians polish skills at Gardner-Webb University

Young Salvation Army musicians polish skills at Gardner-Webb University

By: Major Frank Duracher

With an average age of 17, some 34 budding musicians were treated to a weekend of music instruction and performance when the Carolinas Divisional Youth Band visited the music department’s ministry partner, the School of Performing and Visual Arts at Gardner-Webb University.

The two-day event developed from an ongoing collaborative partnership between the CDYB and the Bible-based college located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.

“This is our second collaborative event,” said Dr. Patricia Sparti, GWU chair of the Distinguished Artists Committee and professor of music. “Last summer, the division’s music groups and GWU presented a concert in uptown Shelby (North Carolina).”

The young musicians hit the ground running on Saturday morning, with intense practice that lasted well into the afternoon. Tim Hudson, principal trumpet with the world-renowned Carolina Brass, spent an hour working with the entire group.

Additional workshops were conducted by other Carolina Brass members, according to instrument sections: Trumpet/Cornet (Hudson); Horn (Bob Campbell); Trombone/Euphonium/Tuba (Dave Wulfeck); and Percussion (John R. Beck).

Tanner Shelton is principal trumpet/cornet for the CDYB, and a soldier of the Burlington, North Carolina, Corps. A sophomore at GWU, he is working towards a degree in music performance.

A free concert was offered Saturday night, showcasing the impressive progress of the young musicians and supported by Carolina Brass and members of the GWU Brass Choir. The program, held at the Dover Theater on campus, was the latest in GWU’s Distinguished Artists Series and The Alfred & Shirley Wampler Caudill Endowed Fund.

A massed band then filled the stage for the finale – Wagner’s Elsa’s Procession To The Cathedral – especially arranged for the occasion by Andrew Wainwright.

For Sunday morning worship, the CDYB was on duty at Dover Chapel on campus, with the message delivered by Pastor Tracy Jessup, GWU vice-president for Christian life and service.

Nathan Cole and Sam Mhasvi, CDYB leaders, came away from the weekend pleased with the instruction and performance of this talented group of young artists.

“The Salvation Army has a rich heritage in Christian music and the arts,” Cole said. “In the Carolinas, we provide a comprehensive program for youth and adults, where talents are nurtured for the glory of God.”

“This latest collaboration helped ‘raise the bar’ in what our young people can achieve and set a benchmark for future artistic outcomes,” Mhasvi said. “Our guys gained so much from performing and instruction with Carolina Brass and also being in and around the more experienced Gardner-Webb students.”

Brass banding is a developing genre in the South, and this weekend further enhanced and showcased the future music “all-stars” and leading citizens of North and South Carolina.

Major Frank Duracher, a former staff writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.


The Salvation Army and needy individuals are helped by skilled and loving hands in Atlanta

The Salvation Army and needy individuals are helped by skilled and loving hands in Atlanta

By: David Ibata

Rosie Brannon said she started the “Knit Wits” in 2006 at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, as a women’s Sunday school activity that wasn’t bridge – “because some of us didn’t play bridge, yet we liked to get together.”

The knitting and crocheting circle set out to produce hand-made goods for needy residents of the community. And Brannon knew the agency best suited to distribute the gifts.

“I was for many years active in The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary,” she said. “We thought the work of our knitters should go to the needs of the Army.”

Today, the Knit Wits – “Knitting Women Inspired to Serve” – are an integral part of the Presbyterian Women of Peachtree Presbyterian.

They’ve evolved into an ecumenical, service-oriented group made up of 28 volunteers mostly from the church and some from the Women’s Auxiliary and other congregations. About half are regular contributors, faithfully producing hundreds of hats, scarves, baby booties, shawls and blankets every year.

Among the group’s guidelines: Members do not need to attend meetings regularly to participate; instructions are available for learning to knit and crochet; help is offered to correct mistakes or solve knitting problems; and there’s a large supply of new and partial skeins of free yarn to use in gift-making.

“It’s a great organization,” said Karen Klett, major gifts manager for The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command. “The ladies get together and do what they enjoy doing for something that’s worthwhile and very needed.”

The Knit Wits’ first output went to the Adult Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta. Over the years, items have gone to the William Booth Towers senior housing and Red Shield Harbor Light homeless shelter. Occasionally, a piece arrives so well made – notably, the baby blankets by member Teena Everhart – it’s selected for Metro Atlanta’s Christmas Angel Tree distribution.

The group created 315 knitted goods in 2019 and have given 4,344 items to date, mostly to The Salvation Army. Members work through the year. Every October, they have a gathering “where people who’ve been hanging on to pieces they’ve made bring them in,” Brannon said.

“We have a 98-year-old member, Penny Parker, who lives in a retirement home in Buckhead (in Atlanta) who will bring in 14, 15, maybe more, scarves. We’re especially proud of her because her main interest in life is dancing, and at her age, she’s still competing in dance contests around the country.”

Brannon, 93, retired two years ago as Knit Wits leader, handing the reins to the present co-leaders, Marianne Lassiter and Wendy Moore. New members are always welcome; interested persons can contact Brannon at [email protected] or 770-579-8557.

“God is the source of power that first inspired us,” Brannon said. “We feel that God led us to this service and has supported us in following the motto of The Salvation Army, ‘Doing the Most Good.’ While our history and continued service is interesting, the power supporting and inspiring us is of the greatest importance.”