The Salvation Army of Tallahassee is investing in its musical future

Tallahassee investing in its musical future

By: Brad Rowland

Music is at the heart of The Salvation Army’s ministry in many locations and, in Tallahassee, Florida, an investment is being made with the opening of the Beginner Music Academy. The instructional program opened its doors in mid-February, with a weekly gathering on Tuesday evenings.

The Beginner Music Academy currently has three tracks – piano, dance and guitar – and each child attending also participates in a united chorus. The academy, held at the Tallahassee Corps, utilizes two rooms that were overhauled for the program, with the unveiling of a dedicated dance studio. With the help of a partnership with Guitar Center, a keyboard lab is also in use to aid in the development of the piano program.

“Our community and our donors make this academy possible for these kids, and that is a gift” said Lieutenant Ryan Meo, corps officer. “It’s truly an enduring gift.”

The professional-caliber instructional staff includes a pair of graduate students from local universities. Beyond the staff’s artistic experience, however, is a dedication to the overall development of young people through The Salvation Army’s mission.

“All of our instructors understand the mission of The Salvation Army and use what they are teaching these kids to show them the love of God,” Lieutenant Meo said. “They’re passionate about what we do, and it shows in how they invest in the program and these children.”

The academy operates on a semester system, with a break engineered in the schedule for the summer. That is a purposeful choice that allows the potential to introduce children to the Army’s divisional music and arts programs and to promote the summer camping experience.

While the academy has only been officially underway for only a short time, it is already successful, and there is potential for growth and development as a result.

“The response has been great,” said Lieutenant Meo. “We wanted to take the first semester slow and work out all the kinks, but it’s filling out very quickly. We are looking at ways to potentially expand, while still keeping the quality of the program at a high level, and we’re thrilled with how it’s going so far.”

Ultimately, the promotion of musical and artistic development is intriguing and a centerpiece of the academy’s design. Still, there is greater power at work, and that thinking permeates the weekly instruction.

“The power of music should really never be underestimated,” Lieutenant Meo said. “It really has the power to change the course of these kids’ lives. When a child discovers for the first time that they have the ability to make beautiful music, sometimes that can just alter things in so many awesome ways. We just love to see the way the Lord uses music in their lives. It is something they can look forward to, no matter what home or school are like, and music opens doors and opportunities for a lot of kids.”


Call to Mission Congress postponed until 2021

Call to Mission Congress postponed until 2021

By: Dan Childs

The Call to Mission Territorial Congress scheduled for June 5-7, 2020, in Atlanta has been postponed until 2021, according to an announcement made by Commissioner Willis Howell, Southern territorial commander. The postponement is a result of the uncertainty created by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Although the congress will not be held this year, the territorial commander said plans are to hold it June 4-6, 2021. The venue – the Infinite Energy Center in the Atlanta area – will remain the same. Notably, The Salvation Army’s international leader, General Brian Peddle, and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle have agreed to be the featured guests at the 2021 event, as they were scheduled to be this June.

“Quite simply, we believe it’s the responsible thing to do given the uncertainty and challenges so many are facing right now,” Commissioner Howell said.

The territorial commander added that options for commissioning activities for the Messengers of the Kingdom are being examined now by the territory’s leadership. The commissioning and ordination of the session were scheduled to be held on the final day of the Call to Mission Congress.“

To be sure, we will still be having Commissioning – of some sort,” Commissioner Howell said. “But by necessity it will likely look very different.”

Commissioner Howell added that other scheduled territorial events in the near future might well be affected by circumstances created by the public health crisis and that announcements will be made as decisions are reached.


The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope has given Georgia client road map for progress

The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope has given Georgia client road map for progress

By: Brad Rowland

Life has been hard for Kaitlyn. A childhood accident created medical issues, and an abusive relationship in adulthood created fears for the safety of herself and her children. With the help of The Salvation Army in Dalton, Georgia, Kaitlyn’s life is on track and the Pathway of Hope initiative has been central to her progress.

In May 2019, Kaitlyn came to The Salvation Army and enrolled in a transitional housing program. She was referred by a family crisis center in Dalton with her children alongside. She was trying to escape from a problematic relationship situation. Prior to arrival, she re-connected with her father, who was also in the Dalton area in a recovery program, and though Kaitlyn was battling fear in the early days, it quickly faded.

“First, she was a little bit afraid, but she was determined that she could do it,” said Brenda Foster, The Salvation Army’s case manager in Dalton. “She got rid of the fear and was determined that she was going to make it for herself and her kids the best that she possibly could. She is motivated and determined to break the cycle and have her children do better and have the chance to avoid the things that she went through.”

After a few months in the transitional housing program, Kaitlyn moved into Pathway of Hope, taking to the initiative quickly and investing in the tools provided. She secured transportation and budgeted effectively, advocating for herself to find growth in a new job and finding confidence in her abilities.

“One of the amazing things about Pathway of Hope to me, is that the people have the chance to address those barriers in life,” Foster said. “Kaitlyn is an amazing young lady. She has embraced the program, even from when she started in transitional housing. Any opportunity placed in front of her, she embraces it, and we’re proud of her.”

Eventually, she was able to find permanent housing for her family, making it on her own for the first time. Kaitlyn recently completed enrollment at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, where she plans to focus on social work and a potential specialty in the battle against domestic violence. She is passionate about using her own story to help others, including the express desire to provide a better life for her own children.

“This program will change your life if you are able to do the work,” said Foster. “You’ve got to put the work in, and we tell people that. But Pathway of Hope really will truly change your life if you invest in it. Kaitlyn is amazing and is an example of that. She just never gives up. She’s amazingly determined, and she’s accomplished so much.”

In her own words, Kaitlyn has expressed great thanks to The Salvation Army and the Pathway of Hope program. “I have hope and a future like I have never had,” she says plainly, and Kaitlyn’s gratitude and message to others is potent and inspiring.

“I cannot thank them enough for the love and support they gave me and continue to up to this day,” Kaitlyn said. “I thank God for a place like this and the people and places he has guided me to. My message to others is don’t give up. There is hope, and things may feel like they will never work out, but one day they will fall in place. And if you want it bad enough, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and you can do amazing things in life.”

Pathway of Hope is a national Salvation Army initiative to help families break the cycle of inter-generational poverty through strength-based case management, community collaboration and data-driven support. More than 1,300 families have been served to date in the Southern Territory.


Foundations’ gift benefits Charlotte Boys & Girls Club

Foundations’ gift benefits Charlotte Boys & Girls Club

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Kevin Harvick Foundation and Group 1001 joined The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 26 to unveil a multisport playing field that will provide youth with a safe place to learn, play and compete.

Speakers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Milton Road Boys & Girls Club included Kevin Harvick, NASCAR Cup champion and Kevin Harvick Foundation co-founder; Melissa Jacobs, vice president, sponsorships, Group 1001, an insurance holding company that partners in the revitalization of community sports fields across the country; and Steve Salem, president and CEO of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

“We are so grateful to have another opportunity to partner with the Kevin Harvick Foundation and Group 1001 to open another successful Youth Development Park,” said Cal Ripken Jr., a Baseball Hall of Fame member and vice chairman of the Ripken Sr. Foundation. “We can’t wait to see the kids and local community in Charlotte benefit from the positive impact on the field and off of the field as well.”

The 52,000-square-foot multi-sport playing field is lined for youth baseball, softball and soccer. The facility includes a synthetic turf playing surface, digital scoreboard, backstop, dugouts, foul poles, bleachers and sidewalks.

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club will manage and maintain the field and work closely with the Ripken Foundation to create programs to engage at-risk young people. The programs will address such youth development needs as character development, health and physical education, and culture and history.

“Being active and playing sports can teach kids so many great and valuable lessons,” Harvick said. “Thank you to the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Group 1001 for their hard work. This park is a great investment in the community, and it will be in great hands with The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.”

“Growing up and playing a number of sports, athletic facilities were the backdrop to where I learned a number of vital life lessons and skills that set me up for success later in life,” said Dan Towriss, CEO of Group1001.

“Group 1001 is committed to helping the next generation in Charlotte to learn the same lessons and to live healthier and happy lives. We are so thrilled that by teaming up with the Ripken Sr. Foundation, we are able to bring this beautiful field to life.”


Florida music and arts ensembles perform, instruct in weekend outreach

Florida music and arts ensembles perform, instruct in weekend outreach

By: Brad Rowland

Musicians and artists from nine Salvation Army corps in Florida came together Feb. 28-March 2 for a weekend of ministry and fellowship. The Florida Divisional Band and Creative Arts visited Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City over the course of three days, covering 138 miles in ministry area, with a wide-ranging visit that included performance, visitation and instruction.

After arrival and setup on Friday evening, the group split into three ensembles for nursing home visitation on Saturday morning. It was a fruitful time, with connections made and many smiles generated among those visited.

“Music is universal and can break down many barriers,” said Paula Bridges, divisional Christian education director and a member of the band. “Music is a great way to draw both young and old into The Salvation Army and, more importantly, into a relationship with God.”

Simultaneously, a group of instructors spent Saturday morning and early afternoon leading breakout sessions at the Fort Walton Beach corps. Classes included audio-visual training, praise and worship, creative arts and both beginner and intermediate brass.

“Florida is such a big state and division. Reaching out and ministering to the corners of it keeps The Salvation Army connected,” said Julie Hastings, an employee of the Orlando Area Command and a member of the band. “That ministry inspires both the band and those we encounter through the spiritual words of the music shared. The workshops, in particular, were a fantastic idea.”

The workshops were perhaps the highlight of the weekend, with the children showing substantial progress across three breakout sessions, each spanning an hour. That growth also serves as a reminder that spending intentional time in instruction can pay dividends.

“I was personally impacted by the spirit of the children we taught,” said Taryn McComb, program assistant at the Clearwater Corps and a member of the band. “They were eager to get back to their practice rooms and continue learning how to play their horns. The beginner’s brass class was so excited by a mouthpiece buzzing game where they buzzed the rhythm of a song and let their peers guess the song. They were disappointed when we told them class was over and even begged for more time playing. Their spirit and enthusiasm gave me a lot of hope for the future of The Salvation Army and brass bands.”

From there, the ensembles and instructors came back together as a full band, venturing to HarborWalk Village in Destin, Florida, for a rousing and well-attended open-air concert. Finally, the divisional group purposefully split into three separate ensembles for Sunday morning worship, supporting the work at the Panama City, Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach corps, coming alongside local corps musicians in an inspiring manner.

“Musical ministry is so important, and I believe it gives people a strong connection with the church,” said Jonathan Renfroe, a bandsman from Clearwater. “I can personally say that music ministry is what held my own relationship with Christ through my ups and downs. It also provides an opportunity for kids to receive small-group, or even one-on-one, instruction for little to no cost, which wouldn’t be provided anywhere else.”


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.”