Kettles offer donors ‘bump and pay’ option

Kettles offer donors ‘bump and pay’ option

By: David Ibata

For the first time ever this holiday season, The Salvation Army nationally will let donors bump and pay.

Thousands of “Kettle Pay” stickers have gone out in recent weeks to every corps and command in the Southern Territory, to be affixed to every Red Kettle Campaign tripod sign.

“This is a National Advisory Board effort through National Headquarters to provide opportunities for folks who don’t carry cash or credit cards to still help with the kettle,” said Tom Knox, territorial assistant community relations and development secretary.

The Kettle Pay sticker measures five inches square and has four graphic elements: an Apple Pay logo for Apple iPhone owners, a Google Pay icon for Android phone users, a QR (“quick response”) symbol and an NFC (“near field communications”) tag, which looks like a WiFi symbol.

Owners of late-model smart phones can simply “bump” their phones against the NFC tag. That activates a link to a custom Salvation Army donor web site equipped with Apple Pay or Google Pay. (Owners of older phones can point their phone cameras at the QR symbol to also pull up the site.)

People are given options to donate in $5, $10, $25 increments, or they can specify another amount.

Apple Pay and Google Pay will send The Salvation Army the donor’s name, email address, and full mailing address with zip code; payments made by credit card will send the same information. This way, the Army will know which division to credit the donation to.

“There have been attempts over the last few years to try to find ways to help donors contribute when they’re not carrying cash,” Knox said, citing past experiments with iPad kiosks and “Dip Jar” credit-card readers. The challenge has only gotten harder with the growing number of people who don’t carry credit cards, either; they prefer using the pay apps of their smart phones.

The National Advisory Board ran Kettle Pay pilot programs in select cities last year. NHQ rolled out the program nationwide this autumn.

Kettle Pay comes in two parts: The self-adhesive sticker described above, and a small disc 2¼ inches in diameter that contains the NFC circuitry. You peel off the sticker backing, put the disc on the sticky side beneath the NFC logo, and place the sticker on the “Doing the Most Good” sign of the kettle tripod.

Click here to view a training video. Kettle Pay materials and information also are available on Ministry Toolkit.

“Trade South sent out the first batch of 13,564 stickers based on our estimates,” Knox said. “Some commands asked for a few more, so National is sending out another 400.”

Some instructional materials show the sticker attached to the kettle, but Knox advises against that.

“The kettles get picked up every day, they get thrown into a van and jostled around, and the Kettle Pay device can get damaged,” he said. “We’re recommending putting the stickers on the sign,” which stays with the tripod.

While it’s too early to say how well the devices are working, the initial response from the corps has been positive. “People like the idea, they’re excited about it,” Knox said.


Home run derby raises profile of The Salvation Army of Gwinnett County

Home run derby raises profile of The Salvation Army of Gwinnett County

By: Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army of Gwinnett County, Georgia, planned to kick off the 2018 Christmas season with a home run derby at the home of the Gwinnett Stripers, a minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. Due to weather issues for the outdoor event, the originally scheduled outing had to be put on hold but the 2019 edition, the first of its kind in Gwinnett, took place on Saturday, Nov. 2.

The event, held at Coolray Field, served as the official kettle kickoff for the region, with a trio of former Atlanta Braves players – Mark DeRosa, Mark Wohlers and Nick Green – on hand to serve as ambassadors and participants. The afternoon centered on the derby itself, with the former major leaguers joined by softball players from Brenau University and Buford High School to hit home runs to raise funding to help The Salvation Army.

Throughout the afternoon, entertainment options were plentiful, with activities for young children like face painting, a bouncy house and appearances from various characters and mascots. Abundant food options were also on display, with individuals able to bid on high-end sporting items in a silent auction and various giveaways for those in attendance. Also, musical groups from The Salvation Army performed, from the Lawrenceville Corps band and singing company to transMission, the Southern Territory’s contemporary worship ensemble.

“The event was certainly a success,” said Captain Jeremy Mockabee, commanding officer. “We achieved what we set out to do with the event, which was to raise money, raise awareness for the Gwinnett County Red Kettle Campaign and raise awareness of The Salvation Army of Gwinnett in general. The former MLB players had a great time and were happy to participate and appreciate all the work The Salvation Army does.”

Ultimately, more than $36,000 was raised with the help of corporate sponsorships from companies like UPS and CentiMark, with plans in the works to continue the event on an annual basis in 2020 and beyond. The funds gathered serve as a kick-start to the upcoming Christmas campaign, but the event was also beneficial from a public awareness perspective.

“Our goals for the event, from the purposeful and intentional effort to bring awareness of The Salvation Army in Gwinnett County to helping to launch our fundraising for Christmas, were achieved in a great way,” said Jeremy Rowland, territorial sergeant major and Lawrenceville corps sergeant major. “The derby also allowed us to help build partnerships for the future. We were able to inform and educate vendors and partners on our mission and why we do what we do. It also helped to create meaningful relationships that we can continue to grow.”


NCV, MWV to become one: Potomac Division changes configuration of USA Southern Territory

NCV, MWV to become one: Potomac Division changes configuration of USA Southern Territory

By: Dan Childs

Since its birth in 1927, the USA Southern Territory has been subdivided in a variety of configurations. The divisional makeup of
the territory has been static since 1983, but it now has a new division. Commissioner Willis Howell announced on Nov. 1 the creation of the Potomac Division, which will combine the present Maryland-West Virginia and National Capital-Virginia divisions.

The MWV and NCV divisions are being consolidated in order to provide stronger leadership, more efficient management and more effective support and resources to the field. The consolidation is expected to reduce administrative operating costs, help in the remission of current debt and increase support for ongoing service and ministry.

“The focus of this realignment is primarily related to divisional headquarters, not so much the corps,” said Commissioner Howell in the announcement video. “At the corps level, we’re counting on you to keep doing what God has placed you there to do.”

Preparations for the consolidation will take place over the coming months, with completion of the process targeted for October 2020. The new divisional headquarters will be located in the Greater Washington, D.C., area with a projected staff of 14 officers and 78 employees.

It is the first divisional reorganization in the territory since the adjustment in divisional lines of the MWV and NCV divisions 1983. Prior to 1971, Virginia had been paired in a division with Southern West Virginia, and the Army’s operation in the National Capital area had stood alone as a division. The Potomac Division will be the third largest (in number of corps) in the USA South, following Texas and North-South Carolina.

The Salvation Army engaged a professional consulting firm to offer guidance, research and analyze data and recommend a strategy for the future. The study took place over a 15-month period, and when the decision was made to seek consolidation, the plan was proposed to International Headquarters in September and approved. Officers, soldiers and employees of both divisions were involved in the study.

Several alternatives to consolidation of MWV and NCV were weighed, including maintaining the status quo, strengthening MWV and redistributing corps and other facilities across the two divisions. However, it was determined that consolidation would create the most efficient and effective approach for supporting the field, carrying out the mission and providing financial stability.

Lt. Colonels Mark and Carolee Israel, NCV divisional leaders, and Majors Art and Ann Penhale, current Kentucky-Tennessee and former MWV divisional leaders, were heavily involved in the process to determine the best course going forward for the two divisions.

“We believe there are many great opportunities for growth of the Army’s ministry, and the consolidation of the divisions will help us to achieve it,” Lt. Colonel Mark Israel said. “In some communities, we need to take different approaches to ministry. Baltimore and Washington are both unique metropolitan areas with cultural diversity in contrast to parts of rural Virginia and West Virginia. The focus of a united division will help us to be effective in meeting the various needs of each community.”

Major Art Penhale, who commanded MWV from 2015 to 2018, said he was struck by the challenges the division faced in terms of not only finance, but also personnel numbers and support capability at the headquarters level.

“We had an inability to respond adequately to the needs of the field,” he said. “We could be doing a real disservice to the field because of that inability. We had to ask ourselves if we were doing the best we could, not so much at the corps level, but from DHQ to the corps. Consolidation will allow the Army to be much more effective in providing services to the field while sustaining itself financially.”


The Salvation Army helps share love of reading with South Georgia youth

The Salvation Army helps share love of reading with South Georgia youth

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts and local reading enthusiasts are partnering in Tifton, Georgia, to make children’s books available to less fortunate families.

“Shirene Daniels and the 20th Century Library Club here started it,” said Kelley Bedore, Salvation Army service center director in the South Georgia city. “We partner with pretty much everybody in town, and we said we’d love to help. I love to read, and we get a lot of donated books.”

The effort is part of the nationwide Little Free Library reading initiative that promotes free community book exchanges. Typically, volunteers sponsor small boxes or kiosks where donated books are placed in public places.

In Tifton’s case, the little libraries are going to neighborhoods where families might not have the wherewithal to buy books for their youngsters. “The idea is to share a book, read a book, bring it back – but if a child keeps it, that’s OK,” Bedore said.

A local newspaper, the Tifton Gazette, donated more than 20 old sidewalk vending boxes to get things rolling. Four libraries were set out initially.

Troop leader Amanda Gabel and 15 members of Girl Scout Troop 40363 recently came to The Salvation Army’s service center to decorate four more. Adults had done the messy work of spray painting; the girls finished the boxes with stickers and colored duct tape.

Each receptacle holds about 30 titles – children’s works, mostly, and some young adult novels, Bedore said. “We get many wonderful children’s books. We’re still selling them in our store, but some we set aside every few days to share with the community.”

The Army is sponsoring one box, with Bedore checking it every few days to make sure it’s stocked; it also will provide books to other boxes, “because not everybody has access to donated books.” The Girl Scouts will be back after the holidays to decorate more little libraries.

“We’re helping people in our community have access to reading,” Bedore said. “We love our children, and we’re going into poverty areas where children probably would not have a book in the home. Now, each child can have a book. This is right in line with The Salvation Army’s mission to help others in need.”


Many hands make the work lighter: The Salvation Army’s disaster services partners

Many hands make the work lighter: The Salvation Army’s disaster services partners

By: David Ibata

Therapy Dogs International had approached The Salvation Army about a possible partnership in disaster relief. Last year, “during Hurricane Florence, we said, let’s try it – we’ll deploy two dogs with their handlers and see if it works out,” Jeff Jellets said.

The two dogs were so well received at a Wilmington, North Carolina, assistance center where 1,700 people came in for emergency food stamps, the USDA put them on the cover of its newsletter. Now, when The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services deploys, you can count on therapy dogs being there, too.

“They’re so good working with kids and helping people open up to an extent they wouldn’t with a human being,” said Jellets, EDS coordinator for the Southern Territory.

Therapy Dogs, Operation BBQ Relief, Midwest Food Bank, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and House in a Box – to name just a few of many EDS partners – work as a team with The Salvation Army to assist victims of catastrophe.

“For a good partnership to happen, there’s planning and there’s opportunity,” Jellets said. “You can talk a lot about partnerships, but until you get an opportunity to execute it, it doesn’t really become solid. And it has to be a two-way street; both partners have to benefit in some way.”

Operation BBQ Relief was founded in May 2011 to assist relief efforts after a tornado struck Joplin, Mo. Volunteers from competitive barbecue teams from eight states responded to a call for help, serving more than 120,000 meals over 13 days to residents, responders and National Guard personnel.

Today, the organization has 9,000 volunteers from California to Florida and equipment pre-staged around the country. Corporate partners donated the food: frozen meats including turkey, chicken and pork; fresh bread; canned vegetables and dried mashed potatoes and gravy.

A fixed-site operation works well to serve, say, an emergency shelter housing hundreds of evacuees. But how to get sustenance to individuals, families and emergency crews in the field? That’s the job of The Salvation Army and its mobile feeding units (canteens) and rapid response vehicles.

“We’re scaled to be a large feeding operation,” said Paul D. Peterson, head of corporate relations for the Shawnee, Kansas-based BBQ Relief. “We come into a parking lot that’s safe, vacant and has easy access coming and going for both our organizations. Twenty-four hours later, we’re feeding an entire community that’s been devastated by disaster – whether fire, flood, hurricane or tornado.”

BBQ Relief produced 355,000 meals during Hurricane Florence and 759,000 meals after Hurricane Michael. “Our equipment we bring is tailored more for setting up to cook in high volumes, with the distribution arm being The Salvation Army,” Peterson said. “It’s amazing how we complement each other.”

For effective partnerships, Jellets said, “we also have to be compatible with each other from a mission and service delivery standpoint – they’re filling a gap we’re weak in, or they augment a strength we share.”

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, part of the North American Mission Board, is an example of a like-minded agency with a missional vision. It supports relief efforts of the Baptists’ state conventions and has worked with the Army on nearly every major disaster of the last 50 years.

“We have like missions,” said Eddie Blackmon, disaster response coordinator for the Alpharetta, Georgia-based organization. “It’s just a natural fit for us to support and work with The Salvation Army.”

In additional to the spiritual aspects, Blackmon said, “both of us are very active in mass care feeding and support in disasters. If the Salvation Army’s canteens aren’t enough and they bring in their larger kitchens, we have our volunteers help man some of those larger kitchens.”

The Southern Baptists also have expertise in post-disaster recovery – helping people put their homes, and their lives, back together after a calamity.

Another faith-based partner, Midwest Food Bank, is primarily a supplier of food pantries. It entered disaster services in 2005 during the Hurricane Katrina response. On faith, the food bank sent two truckloads of victuals – each load with about 1,000 boxes of food – to Louisiana not knowing what would happen when they got there.

“We got down there looking for a partner who could use the food,” said Mike Hoffman, procurement and logistics director for the Normal, Illinois-based nonprofit. “The Salvation Army is known for doing the most with the resources they have, so it was an easy decision.”

The Army asked if the food bank could commit to delivering 10 more semis. “At the time, we didn’t have that much food in our warehouse,” Hoffman said, “but our founder David Kieser said we’ll do it. In the end, we got enough food to meet the need – the donations just kept coming it. It’s kind of how God works: You say yes, and he’ll find it for you.”

Today, Midwest Food Bank is a designated First Responder with The Salvation Army; the two organizations use the same, co-branded boxes to distribute food at disaster scenes. “We have three or four loads on the shelf, ready to go,” Hoffman said.

House in a Box is a program of Disaster Services Corp., a Catholic lay organization of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. It also got started during Katrina, when thousands of families lost everything.

The program gives qualified disaster victims what’s essentially a household “starter kit” – “your basic couch, kitchen table and chairs, bed frames, mattresses, linens, towels, flatware, dishes, pots and pans,” said Gail Kidd Bertrand, director of disaster programs of the Irving, Texas, Disaster Services.

House in a Box assisted more than 700 families after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Alvin Migues, EDS director for The Salvation Army Texas Division, said the Army aided the effort by providing space in its warehouses for incoming housing kits.

Bertrand said, “The Salvation Army is one of our most valued partners. Wherever we are, wherever they are, if they can assist us in any way, they have been most gracious.”

For these reasons, House in a Box this fall gave The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services of Texas its Partner of the Year award.

Which brings us back to Wilmington. Therapy Dogs International sent Jane Willis of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and her black Labrador “Wally,” and Debra Willis (no relation) of Jackson, Ohio, and her black Goldendoodle “Jazz.” They saw partnership in action.

“We were there for a week,” put up in a motel by The Salvation Army, Jane Willis said. “When people are understandably wounded, a dog can help give them emotional comfort. Of course with the children, most kids love to play with dogs. But also, the adults — some people were holding in their emotions, but they’d see a dog and they’d start to cry.”

“We went to the place where all the (relief) agencies were, maybe 30, 40 of them. … Every organization did their bit, and we worked together. There was no division, no fighting, because we had one goal in mind: to help people who’d been in a disaster with whatever our contribution was.”


A warm place on a cold night: Knoxville plans low-barrier shelter

A warm place on a cold night: Knoxville plans low-barrier shelter

By: David Ibata

Every night in Knoxville, Tennessee, just outside the doors of The Salvation Army area command, homeless residents bed down under an interstate highway. For whatever reason, they’ve resisted the idea of sleeping in an emergency shelter.

The Salvation Army is working with the Volunteer Ministry Center of Knoxville to try to get these people in from the cold and on a path toward permanent housing. They are turning a former Family Store into a “low-barrier” shelter. If all goes as planned, the facility will open in December with 40 to 45 beds; the Army will lease it to VMC, which will run it.

“We’re calling it, ‘The Foyer,’” said Gabe Cline, chief clinical services officer with VMC. Inspired by a similar Salvation Army operation in Charlotte, North Carolina, “we will try to engage some of the folks who currently choose to camp outside. It is very much a tool that can increase a person’s ability to get into housing.”

Locals call the stretch of Broadway just north of downtown “The Mission District” because that’s where several missions, like The Salvation Army, offer services to the needy. During the day, 50 to 100 homeless people can be seen walking on the street; at night, many sleep under the I-40 overpass.

Captain Dan Nelson, Knoxville area commander, said Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries operates a large emergency shelter nearby; people can stay overnight but must leave the next morning. The Army currently offers an emergency shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, and a transitional shelter for those working toward permanent housing.

“We are trying to fill a need that really is still bigger than the three of us can meet,” Captain Nelson said. “As for The Salvation Army’s role in the low-barrier shelter, we have a property next door to where the population resides, right next to the overpass. The type of shelter VMC will operate is a stepping-stone for people to move to longer-term housing.”

Cline described a low-barrier shelter as a place where “people would not need to meet a bunch of requirements in order to get in.”

“We know a lot of our folks on the street don’t have identification or the ability to get identification,” she said. “Or, we know that they might not, quite honestly, be able to meet sobriety requirements. These challenges are harder to overcome without the stability of a fixed place to sleep.”

Being small, The Foyer aims to be more inviting. A $388,000 renovation is now underway. The City of Knoxville has taken the lead on funding with other donors that includes churches and individuals.

The former thrift store sales floor is being turned into sleeping quarters. Movable dividers will separate men’s and women’s areas. The space can be subdivided further as needed for particular groups – elderly people, for example, or young people, who form a growing portion of Knoxville’s homeless population. The building also is getting male and female restrooms with high-capacity showers. The Salvation Army will provide snacks or continental breakfast items and beverages. Guests will have to spend the day elsewhere, but VMC’s resource center and day room is only the next block over.

“To access the shelter, you’ll have to have a referral from an outreach case manager,” available at the resource center, Cline said. “It will be understood that though it’s a low barrier to get in, there are some expectations regarding who stays there. … A person will be expected to complete an assessment and get engaged in a housing plan.”

As for those with additional issues, Cline said, “we’ve found that people engage in mental health and substance abuse treatment to a higher degree if the goal is permanent housing. People often are not motivated to seek treatment just for the sake of seeking treatment, but if you make the link that this is really affecting their ability to get housed and stay housed, there’s better success in the treatment.”

Captain Nelson said, “The folks coming into this shelter will be folks looking to move beyond their situation, not just a place to stay for the night. They’re saying, I’m homeless, and I want to be actively moved to not being homeless.”


Southern Territorial Band puts an emphasis on hope

Southern Territorial Band puts an emphasis on hope

By: Brad Rowland

In mid-October, members of the Southern Territorial Band spent a weekend of ministry in Atlanta under the umbrella of hope. For most of the four-day gathering, the band focused on the recording of a new album, to be released in 2020, but the weekend arguably peaked with a rare visit to the Evangeline Booth College and intimate worship alongside cadets, officers and families.

First on the agenda was the recording of an album centered on what Nick Simmons-Smith, territorial music secretary, described as “easy-listening hymns.” Most musical selections featured on the recording were penned by members of the band, but as a whole the repertoire is an intriguing mixture of newly-written works and classics.

“The album is based on ‘Songs of Hope,’ which happens to be the title,” Simmons-Smith said. “Each hymn has a nugget of truth that gives hope to Christians today, and there is considerable strength to be found in hope.”
While the recording process can be taxing, the band found strength in pouring over the meaning of the text in which the hymns are based. Major Michael Harris, Texas divisional finance secretary, serves as the band’s chaplain, and he was joined by other band members, including principal cornet Jeff Barrington, in sharing much-needed devotional time throughout the weekend.

At the conclusion of the three-day recording process, the band packed up and changed venues, from the Atlanta Temple Corps to Evangeline Booth College for Sunday morning. The ensuing worship experience was memorable but, beyond that, there was an intriguing purpose to the visit.

“It’s not often we have the opportunity to connect with the cadets, and many of them arrive at the EBC as first or second-generation Salvationists,” said Simmons-Smith. “Some of them also enter full-time ministry with limited previous access to music and arts groups on this scale, and I think there is real value in having this as an educational experience.”

The band helped in leading a combined Sunday school class for the entire body of the EBC and, during that time, fruitful conversations took place that allowed for wonderful fellowship. From there, all parties transitioned into a modern, blended worship service in the EBC chapel.

“Major Julie and I have always found added strength in our corps appointments from the band, songsters and ministry arts,” said Major Thomas Louden, principal of Evangeline Booth College. “It is really limitless what you can do with the gifts that God has given each one of us. And if you, future officers, can focus your vision for your corps to include music, arts and/or worship teams, you will find amazing added strength.”

The worshipful gathering featured traditional Salvation Army music-making from the band, in addition to testimony time, a children’s message and contemporary praise and worship. Simmons-Smith described the benefits for the band visiting the EBC as threefold, with an emphasis on having the opportunity for joint worship, the chance to “model a blended worship service that included worship team, testimony, children’s stories and musical accompaniment,” and the educational benefit of cadets experiencing the “hosting” process, with visiting groups likely to visit corps across the territory during their officership.

In the center of it all, however, was the word of God, and Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood, territorial program secretary, delivered a devotional message that perfectly centered the weekend of ministry.

“Far too often, those who have found the living water have kept it to ourselves,” Lt. Col. Hobgood said. “People are lost, facing critical things like starvation and death, simply because we have not told them of the message we’ve been given. We need to give them that hope, and that hope has a name. Its name is Jesus.”


Retired General Bramwell H. Tillsley is Promoted to Glory

Retired General Bramwell H. Tillsley is Promoted to Glory

General Bramwell H. Tillsley (Retired), The Salvation Army’s 14th international leader, was promoted to Glory on 2 November 2019 from his home at the Army’s Meighen Retirement Residence in Toronto, Canada.

Bramwell was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, on 18 August 1931 to Salvationists Harold and Doris Tillsley, who had emigrated from England to Canada just a few years before. He accepted Christ at a young age and became actively involved at Kitchener Citadel, including as a junior soldier, corps cadet, bandsman and cornet soloist.

In 1953, Bramwell married his beloved Maude Pitcher, and together they entered the Toronto College for Officer Training in 1955 as cadets in the Sword Bearers Session. Upon their commissioning in 1956, they were appointed as corps officers (church ministers) in Windsor, Nova Scotia, followed by Oakville, Ontario. They served for the next six years at the training college in Toronto before their appointments as divisional youth officers in Saskatchewan and corps officers at North Toronto Citadel in 1966. In 1969, the Tillsleys returned to the training college in Toronto, where Bramwell took up the position of education officer. He went on to become training principal, first at the training college in St John’s, Newfoundland, and then in the USA Eastern Territory.


In 1977, the Tillsleys returned to Newfoundland, with Bramwell appointed as the provincial commander. The position of divisional commander in the Metro Toronto Division followed, bringing the Tillsleys to home ground. Bramwell became principal of the international training college in London, United Kingdom, in 1981, chief secretary of the USA Southern Territory in 1985 and territorial commander in the Australia Southern Territory in 1989, taking the rank of commissioner. In 1991, Commissioner Tillsley was appointed as Chief of the Staff at International Headquarters in London, UK.

In 1993, he was elected as the 14th General and international leader of The Salvation Army, an office he held until May 1994. Together with his wife, Mrs General Maude Tillsley (World President of Women’s Organisations), General Tillsley travelled the world, nurturing Salvationists in their faith and highlighting the work of The Salvation Army.

General Tillsley received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario and furthered his studies at Wycliffe College in Toronto. He was a gifted writer and communicator who authored many books on biblical studies and holiness, including Life in the Spirit, This Mind in You and Manpower for the Master.

General Tillsley was predeceased by his wife, Mrs General Maude Tillsley, who was promoted to Glory in 2014.

Loving prayers are extended to the General’s sister, Lieut-Colonel Audrey Wilder, and to his children and their families – the Revd Dr Barbara Robinson, Commissioner Mark Tillsley and John Tillsley.


The current international leader of The Salvation Army, General Brian Peddle, writes: ‘As a Canadian officer, I have experienced the impact of General Tillsley’s leadership for more than four decades. I have valued his writings and enjoyed his preaching and teaching, while noting his Christian character.

‘Servant of God, well done!’

The Salvation Army International Headquarters News Release


Soundcast is taking off in new directions with upcoming series

Soundcast is taking off in new directions with upcoming series

By: Brad Rowland

With the holidays on the horizon and audio consumers everywhere in search of content, The Salvation Army’s Soundcast network of programs is expanding. Already deploying an arsenal of intriguing audio productions, Soundcast is now in the midst of a new series under the banner of Wonderful Words of Life and a pair of new products are launching as well.

Wonderful Words of Life, a worldwide program centered on hope that has operated for decades, is in the midst of Head Space, a series devoted to mental health. The 11-episode arc explores a variety of subjects in the mental health arena, promoting awareness and giving resources to those tasked with shepherding congregations.

“We thought this was a great opportunity to specifically give churches the tools to discuss mental health and for it to exist as a piece of ministry to encourage people and for them to know that they aren’t alone,” said Chris Benjamin, Soundcast director of production and operations. “Hopefully, those in leadership can have a wake-up call to be aware that a lot of people are on the sidelines, sometimes thinking they are alone and experiencing something they don’t think they are supposed to feel. I think the series struck a nerve in a great way. It’s cool to be able to share in a space that isn’t always discussed, and there is a great heart behind that.”

The series, which began in mid-September, will run through the end of November on a weekly basis. Soundcast has received tremendous feedback on the offering, with testimony to its effectiveness as a ministry tool. At the conclusion of the series, Wonderful Words of Life will continue, pivoting to a five-week Christmas series. Soundcast is also in preparation for a new podcast called The Storytellers Series, with Benjamin indicating plans for a daily podcast set to arrive in December. The show will utilize different viewpoints and demographics in discussing the book of Luke on a chapter-by-chapter basis, and there is the potential for future expansion beyond the Christmas season.

Finally, Soundcast is rolling out a new opportunity in partnership with the Florida Division. The Holiness Podcast is a monthly audio program primarily hosted by Lt. Colonel Vern Jewett, and the show doubles as the first example of a podcast recorded locally but officially distributed through Soundcast. The podcast’s first episode was released in mid-October. The show is the first foray for the network into longer-form audio programming, including the use of in-depth study guides to accompany the audio.

“As we do surveys and look at the trends of the podcasting world, there is an opening for longer shows with more depth,” Benjamin said. “Younger listeners and older listeners alike are searching for more options, and we’re excited about having a longer form program for the first time.”

The Holiness Podcast aims to explore God’s gift of holiness that is offered to every Christian. While a series will emerge, this is an audio product that will continue on a monthly basis.


Tallahassee meets community, stays prepared with ‘Feed the Need’ program

Tallahassee meets community, stays prepared with ‘Feed the Need’ program

By: Brad Rowland

With Hurricanes Hermine, Irma and Michael making landfall in the area within the last half-decade, The Salvation Army of Tallahassee, Florida, is all too familiar with on-the-ground disaster work. With that as the backdrop, the Army saw an opportunity to both maintain its readiness for emergency disaster services and serve the population of Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla counties on a regular basis.

The result is the “Feed the Need” program, deploying each week to serve hot meals in the community and address an emerging local issue of food insecurity. Simultaneously, these deployments allow The Salvation Army to stay sharp, expanding a volunteer base and maintaining crucial equipment for a time when an immediate need arises.

“Our goals for ‘Feed The Need’ are two-fold,” said Julie Smith, social services program coordinator in Tallahassee. “First, we can meet the needs of people in our community that are in need of a hot meal. The other side is that the program is operated by our EDS volunteers. There is a lot that goes into it and there is a lot that people can learn by doing, rather than only going through the typical training, even if that part is also necessary.”

In addition to vital EDS training that must take place with any volunteer, the “Feed the Need” program allows for a hands-on experience that also opens the door for regular engagement with The Salvation Army. Four teams of four individuals operate on a rotating basis, going into the community on Thursdays to serve after important preparation takes place. There are four distinct positions held by team members, ranging from crew chief to food service specialist, and deployment locations are predetermined, in conjunction with social services, to meet the greatest local need.

“This is a great way for us to meet a need in the community but also to simply be prepared for the future,” said Lieutenant Ryan Meo, corps officer. “We’re praised often for our response times in The Salvation Army and how quickly we’re able to respond on the ground after an incident. With that said, people don’t always realize the work that went in before it and all of the training and team building it takes to do it well.”

The program launched in 2018 on a four-month basis, experiencing real success both in volunteer recruitment and critical service to the community. After a brief hiatus, “Feed the Need” launched in August 2019 with an expanded, four-team format, and plans include a year-round utilization.

Early returns have been exceedingly positive for volunteer engagement and the overall impact of the program and, with the dual purpose of aiding those with immediate needs, success is being achieved.

“I really think that this is a great solution to any potential EDS volunteer problem,” said Smith. “I believe this program has solved that for us because these people are now ready to go when an incident occurs and, in the process, we’re serving our community. This has motivated individuals in a fantastic way and people are getting involved.”

“I think our disaster services program is uniquely able to engage stakeholders in the community as volunteers that other programs and services don’t always seem to reach,” Lieutenant Meo said. “Our disaster volunteers are sometimes people that we aren’t able to engage with in other ways and, when we’re able to allow people to be a part of The Salvation Army through a program like this, people serve with a sense of agency.”