Salvationists continue the fight against disease, hunger

Salvationists continue the fight against disease, hunger

As communities across the U.S. reopen after weeks of COVID-19 shutdowns, the needs are as great as ever. The Salvation Army is in the thick of battle against hunger, homelessness and poverty and continues to support our first responders.

Baltimore, Maryland: Maryland posted this to one of its Facebook pages on June 9: “The Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism Team is overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity of Marylanders. Thank you to The Salvation Army of Central Maryland for the opportunity to directly serve 2,020 meals to our neighbors impacted by #COVID19. #MarylandStrong AmeriCorps members commit to service and do this work every day.” — Director Nicki Fiocco

Collier County, Florida: The Salvation Army helped to provide meal service for a three-day testing of residents for COVID-19 at the Collier County Public Library. The Army and Three60, a local market, fed first responders and workers as they administered more than 1,000 tests. The Salvation Army served 420 meals in addition to snacks to test administrators.

Savannah, Georgia: The Salvation Army partnered with Chatham Parkway Toyota and the Toyota/Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association on May 22 to deliver more than 200 food packages. The deliveries went to senior citizens without transportation and unable to purchase food safely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of a nationwide initiative in which TLMODA gave away 4,800 food boxes in 17 states and 24 cities, The Salvation Army and Toyota and Lexus dealership staff distributed boxes of nonperishable groceries to the TSA Senior Ministry, Senior Citizens Inc., the Isle of Hope Methodist Church community outreach and senior residents of Rendant Apartments. “Chatham Parkway Toyota/Lexus has demonstrated their commitment to this community and to those less fortunate during this time of crisis,” Major Paul Egan of the Savannah Corps told the Savannah CEO business newsletter.

Martinsville, Virginia: Responding to the coronavirus pandemic’s economic crisis, and supported by a hefty donation, the Martinsville Corps opens a food bank each Thursday. The “Thank God It’s Thursday” food bank is for whoever needs food, with a limit of one visit a month per family, according to Salvation Army Lieutenant Bradley Mumford.

Meridian, Mississippi: On National Donut Day Friday, June 5, The Salvation Army partnered with Shipley Do-Nuts to serve more than 300 frontline workers at local hospitals and police, fire and EMT departments.

Charleston, West Virginia: The Salvation Army corps posted this to Facebook on June 19: “Partnerships are vital in serving those in our communities. Today, The Salvation Army, United Way of Central West Virginia, Kanawha Valley Collective and Cabin Creek Health Systems gave out 475 hot meals and over 200 food boxes on the West Side of Charleston. Together, we are making a difference.” Earlier in the week, staff and volunteers of The Salvation Army and the United Way delivered food to 87 households, and four pallets of food boxes to the Hungry Lambs Food Initiative to feed another 140 families.

Deland, Florida: Salvation Army staff and volunteers distribute personal hygiene and comfort kits to homeless men and women in the area

Albany, Georgia: Salvation Army corps members celebrated National Salvation Army Week May 11-17 by visiting with community partners, leaving treats and thanking them for their service. Those visited included police, firefighters, the Phoebe Putney Health System and Southern Point Staffing.

Hampton, Virginia: Gloucester Toyota and the Toyota Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association partnered with The Salvation Army of the Virginia Peninsula to help distribute food boxes, PPE kits and paper products to 240 families across Gloucester and Mathews counties.


Retirement: Majors David & Debbie Cope

Majors David and Debbie Cope receive their retirement certificate from Commissioner Philip Swyers.

Retirement: Majors David & Debbie Cope

By: Major Frank Duracher

Majors David and Debbie Cope enter honored retirement “So Very Thankful, Incredibly Grateful, Unbelievably Blessed”—the theme for their retirement service held at the newly renovated corps building in Waynesville, North Carolina. The Sunday morning service consisted of two events: the dedication of the building extension  and the retirement of Majors Cope.

The twofold worship service was led by Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe, with Commissioner Philip Swyers conducting the retirement ceremony. Lt. Colonel Jim Arrowood and Major Jerry Friday served as flagbearers. Commissioner Pat Swyers offered the dedicatory prayer.

Other program participants included Lt. Colonel Linda Arrowood, Analeigh Pulver, Tim Overcash, Milo Ayen, Major Rick Mikles, Major Roger Coulson and Captain Susie Graf.

David and Debbie Cope entered the Evangeline Booth College from Sherman, Texas, in 1981 as members of the Heralds of Hope Session. Commissioned with the rank of lieutenant in June 1983, their first corps appointment was to Freeport, Texas. Following an appointment to Pasadena, Texas, they went on to serve as corps officers in Ocala and Lakeland, Florida; Lynchburg, Virginia; Macon, Georgia, and Waynesville. Two divisional appointments as youth leaders took place in the Arkansas-Oklahoma and North & South Carolinas divisions.

They have four children: Hayley (John), Billy (Stephanie), Bobby (Baylie), and Josh (Sally), and five grandchildren (Ethan, Anna, Ayden, Owen and Wyatt). Their home in retirement will be 2540 Long Branch Road, Del Rio, Tennessee, 37727.


The Salvation Army meets human need in a variety of ways

The Salvation Army meets human need in a variety of ways

By: Cindy Fuller

The Salvation Army’s mission is to meet human needs in God’s name without discrimination. Human needs can be a variety of things: filling stomachs, sheltering persons without a pillow, preventing someone from being evicted by helping with rent, providing utility assistance for an elderly family member to keep cool in the heat of the summer and so much more.  In some instances, human need can also be a cup of coffee, a prayer or even inspiring a smile.

Recently, Lt. Colonel Allan Hofer, Arkansas-Oklahoma divisional commander, contacted Salvation Army officers throughout the division, touching base with them out of concern for their well-being. With officers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, and as the weeks have turned into months, it may feel like there is no end in sight of the extraordinary demands required of them. One of his questions was, “What was your greatest fear and greatest joy?”

For this story, let’s focus on the greatest joys shared by two officers.

Captain Ian Carr, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, corps officer, told of a recent visit he had with a long-time advisory board member, Dick Cooper. Due to illness, Cooper hadn’t attended a meeting in the past three years, yet he remained a member due to a family history and impact on The Salvation Army. When Captain Carr discovered the health of this board member was worsening, a decision was made to make a special presentation of a certificate of appreciation to him at his home.

Upon arriving, Captain Carr was greeted by Cooper’s family. Dick Cooper’s wife, Irene, shared how proud her husband was of the Army through his work with disaster services, the advisory board, social services and more. Cooper was exuberant upon seeing Captain Ian and shared stories about his experience with the Army.

The family also shared that Cooper’s health was critical, and they were overwhelmed with pending funeral arrangements, the grieving process and questions of life after death. Amid COVID-19, and with great demands on his time, Captain Carr gave a precious gift to the board member and his family: his time, his ministry of Christ and his heart and grace.

Sadly, Irene Cooper recently passed away. Captain Carr represented The Salvation Army at her funeral and did so again when Dick Cooper died; he also served as a pallbearer at the funeral, June 22. While sharing his story, Captain Carr said he realized that it might sound awkward “finding joy” in a time of grieving, but he felt great joy in providing a simple ministry of God’s love and power over death to a family in service to The Salvation Army.

The other story came from the Captain Joshua Robinett, Northwest Arkansas area commander. He shared with Lt. Colonel Hofer a letter from a 71-year-old resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who has been a daily shopper at The Salvation Army Family Store for many years.

Over the years, she has become friendly with many store employees she deems “exceptionally helpful and friendly.” She stated one of the benefits of shopping at the Family Store is the fresh produce for customers to take home at no cost.

She mentioned the stores were closed for some time due to COVID-19, and that she didn’t have access to purchasing food. She told Captain Robinett how much she appreciated the food boxes being provided by the Northwest Arkansas Salvation Army and the fresh produce available in the store.

She ended her letter with a story that a few years ago, her daughter passed away and she didn’t visit the Family Store for over a week. Her heart was encouraged in her grief when she received a call from one of the employees, asking if she was OK. The kindness exhibited that day went beyond duty; it showed passion and compassion from an employee who chose to go above and beyond.

The stories above are just a tiny part of how human need is filled by The Salvation Army in ways that are not necessarily tangible yet bring joy to the souls of those we serve.


Salvationists serve at Atlanta march against racism

Photo Credit: Don Felice

Salvationists serve at Atlanta march against racism

By: David Ibata

“The Salvation Army believes that God’s love is all-encompassing and it urges us to reject racism and discrimination. The Bible commands us to ‘be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.’ We are committed to fighting racism wherever it exists and will speak up wherever we encounter it. As we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven, The Salvation Army will work toward a world where all people are loved.” – The Salvation Army Statement on the Death of George Floyd and the Ongoing Protests Across the United States, June 2, 2020.

Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the liberation of African-American slaves at the end of the Civil War, coincided this year with rallies around the country against hate and racism. And amid the signs and banners as thousands marched through downtown Atlanta, Georgia, the crimson-and-blue flags of one group stood out.

“People were asking us, what does ‘Blood and Fire’ mean?” said Captain Ken Argot, corps officer of The Salvation Army Atlanta Temple Corps.

“The flags were a wonderful witness,” Captain Argot said. “They’re a reminder that we’re a marching Army, going into battle, to places where darkness is. They gave us the ability to say, The Salvation Army is not just about providing social services; the theology behind it is we are freed by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit infills us with his passion and fire to do his will.”

About three dozen Salvationists served at the “March on Atlanta” organized by the OneRace Movement on Junetenth – Friday, June 19 – offering bottled water and prayer at a rally and worship service at Centennial Olympic Park. They then joined participants as they peacefully marched about a mile to the Georgia Capitol, where the state legislature was considering a hate-crime bill.

After the turmoil of recent weeks touched off by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis police custody, “we knew we needed to respond,” Captain Argot said. “To not respond would have been complicit with everything that’s going on. And historically, The Salvation Army has always been on the front line against social injustice.”

The Salvation Army worked with the Atlanta-based Coca Cola Bottling Company-UNITED to acquire more than 14,000 bottles of water at a discounted price.

Joelle Miller, special events coordinator for the Metro Atlanta Command, put together a logistics plan for the park that called for two canteens – from Red Shield Services and the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center – and four tents with tables and water bottle coolers and barrels, as well as personnel to staff them. Officers, soldiers and volunteers from local corps including Atlanta Temple, Atlanta International and Atlanta Peachcrest turned out for the event.

For all, it was an inspiring if exhausting day. Captain Argot arrived at the park to help set up at 6:45 a.m. and did not leave until 4:30 p.m.

“The wonderful thing about this was, it was a true bringing together of Christians from across Atlanta,” Captain Argot said. “It was so positive to see The Salvation Army connecting to other people of faith, taking a stand wherever there’s inequity. People were kneeling and praying, people were confessing to each other, people were listening to each other’s stories – it was really fabulous.”

The conversations started on June 19 continue in corps social media pages, Captain Argot said.

“When we’re all stuck in our corps running programs, I think maybe we’re not aware of what’s happening in our community where we need to take a stand publicly,” he said. Juneteenth “was a great opportunity for us to reawaken The Salvation Army to a social movement to create change. It’s reawakening our commitment to social justice.”


Divisions improvise in scheduling of summer youth programs

Divisions improvise in scheduling of summer youth programs

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army Southern Territory has long offered summer overnight camps and music conservatories to young people; yet each division in recent weeks has had to decide whether to have any camps at all this year. The decision has not been an easy one.

Given differing local, state and national public health guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the rigorous social distancing, small-group isolation and cleaning rules for youth activities; and how far along a state might be in recovery and reopening, “it’s a very complicated onion to peel,” said Caleb Louden, territorial youth character-building and camp program director.

Nationwide guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Camp Association was late in coming this spring. Camp sessions that had not been canceled outright “were pushed further into the summer and for a shorter amount of time,” Louden said.

The Kentucky-Tennessee Division, for example, will have only a senior music conservatory, in July, at Camp Paradise Valley. However, the division has launched a “Camp Paradise Weekly” series on Ministry Toolkit, with a live broadcast each Tuesday through the summer for youth, along with printed resources.

One week’s activity sheet, with a “Pirates” theme, offers an indoor scavenger hunt; creating a family flag out of fabric and fabric markers; and making a cork boat out of cork, rubber bands, paper and a toothpick. Children are invited to send in photos of their work.

“Adults can stay connected to each other during this pandemic,  but for young people, it’s a dire time to keep them engaged with our programs and with Jesus Christ especially,” said Daniel Meeks, Georgia divisional music director.

In Arkansas -Oklahoma, if children can’t come to camp, the Youth and Music departments will take camp to the children. They’re creating a “Traveling Road Show” to bring one-day camps to 13 of 26 corps and possibly some Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs in July and August.

“The aim is to let kids experience Jesus through music and Bible education,” Louden said. “They’re building on existing praise and worship teams, and they’ll also be giving private lessons.”

Captain Matthew Satterlee, Florida divisional youth secretary, said in an email to corps officers that “depending on the time of the different phases (of) reopening, we do have a plan for rolling out some very cool summer programs that will be coming to a corps near you.” The Youth and Music departments will split up and visit every day camp and Vacation Bible School they possibly can. Captain Satterlee was recently appointed to National Headquarters as the assistant to the national program secretary.

“It’s basically summer, flipped upside down,” said Captain Jamie Satterlee, then Florida divisional youth and divisional candidates secretary. “Instead of all the kids coming to us, our team is going to them. We are also doing a virtual conservatory and a virtual leadership development program for music.”

Captain Bill Mockabee said the Texas Division is conducting a “virtual camp experience,” [email protected] It’s a combination of live meetings, using Zoom video conferencing software, and prerecorded material hosted on the Texas Division website. Camp crates are being sent to each camper with supplies to participate in counselor-led activities.

“The first week is now well under way with a combination of corps kids and Junior Conservatory who are learning the musical, ‘Under God’s Sea in 3D,’” said Captain Mockabee, who served as Texas youth secretary before his recent appointment as Central Arkansas area commander. “The kids will be recorded individually, and the individual videos, compiled to have a musical that will be posted on the website.”

Community camps and Senior Conservatory are set for Week Two, with 129 young people registered. “We are excited that we are still able to connect with these campers and the possible impact that we can continue to have,” Captain Mockabee said.

The Territorial Music Department, meanwhile, is working with the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division on a one-week virtual music camp, July 6-10.

A morning devotional for everyone will be followed by breakout Zoom sessions for brass, percussion, creative arts and worship teams, with opportunities for social interaction among campers, said Robert Snelson, territorial music education director.

Let’s take a detailed look at one division: Georgia will combine a Virtual Junior Music Conservatory and Virtual Vacation Bible School from June 29 to July 3. A Virtual Senior Music Conservatory is planned for July 6-17. This summer’s overarching theme is “Praise.”

Virtual VBS will be for children in preschool through middle school, ages 3 to 13, said Captain Ruth Cancia, Georgia divisional youth secretary.

“Our team has written Bible studies and lessons and curated videos to go along with the snack, recreation and craft segments of VBS, as well as videos to accompany the Bible lessons,” Captain Cancia said. “We’re pushing them out to corps and the division in the coming weeks; the idea is the whole division gets to be a part of Virtual VBS the last week in June and first week of July.”

As in Texas, Georgia’s Junior Music Conservatory campers will perform in a “virtual musical.” It’s based on “We Can Praise,” performed at camp several years ago; essentially, individual children read simple lines and Scripture verses and do a little “armography,” and then it’s all put to music in a single performance.

“Essentially, we’ll send lines to our kids, and they’ll send videos back to us reciting their lines,” Meeks said. “We’ll also have the kids do choreography videos, and they’ll return them to us, too. We’ll take all the videos, put them together and come up with a piece we can share to social media and our corps.”

The Virtual Senior Music Conservatory will follow a traditional schedule – a praise and worship time featuring different groups from the division, followed by a devotion and, during the day, private lessons and a virtual choir rehearsal.

“We will work with each student to come up with (an instrumental) solo they can record and send back to the Music Department,” Meeks said. “We’ll put an accompaniment to it, and we’ll send it back to their corps and to the youth to have as a keepsake.”

Vocalists will participate in a virtual choir rehearsal using Zoom. At the end, “students will send in videos, and we’ll piece them together” for a virtual choir piece.

“This is new territory we’re all dealing with,” Meeks said. “Honestly, we’d rather be face to face with each of our young people. The biggest thing our youth will miss this summer is the fellowship with their friends at camp. At choir time, we’ll give everyone a chance to interact during the Zoom session, so they can get the fellowship they’re missing.”

Young people will access VBS and the conservatories from home, through the internet. For those whose families do not have online access, Captain Cancia said, “we’re working with their corps to be sure they’re part of a day camp or corps programming, so they can participate from the corps.”

The Georgia Division also will roll out “Fri-Yay,” a twice-monthly social media event for young people with snacks, crafts and an activity. “Our department has produced an instructional video showing families how to do it,” Captain Cancia said.

It’s critical, in times like these, to keep youth connected.

“The young people of the Georgia Division are our congregation,” Captain Cancia said. “We want them to know they are loved, that they are cared for. We went them to know there’s still a place for them even in the midst of this separation.”


In these times of stress, Salvation Army tends to physical, spiritual needs

In these times of stress, Salvation Army tends to physical, spiritual needs

Communities are beginning to reopen across the nation, but the human toll of COVID-19 continues. The Salvation Army meets the physical and spiritual needs of individuals and families facing financial distress, hunger and homelessness as a result of the pandemic; first responders and medical personnel on the front lines of the virus fight, and others in need in these financially and emotionally stressed times.

Fairfax, Virginia: The Salvation Army Fairfax Corps has been teaming up with 29 Diner, a local comfort food emporium in operation since 1947, to provide meals to first responders. On one day on mid-May, some 450 meals were given to doctors and nurses at Inova Fairfax Hospital. The Salvation Army continues to provide food, shelter and emergency assistance throughout the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area to help families and people facing hardship.

Atlanta, Georgia: Lieutenant Jose Valentin of the Marietta, Georgia, Corps helps with the Metro Atlanta Area Command’s May 28 distribution of free electric box fans to people in need. The Salvation Army gave away 1,541 fans to residents in nine metro counties. The distribution was made possible by a donor-advised fund through the Atlanta Jewish Foundation at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. An anonymous donor has given The Salvation Army this generous gift for nearly 30 years. With this summer expected to the warmest in recent years, posing the threat of deadly high temperatures, barriers – many of them financial – prevent individuals from being able to stay cool. Financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can magnify these barriers.

Princeton, West Virginia: The Salvation Army of Mercer County, West Virginia, assisted by volunteers with the Princeton Rotary, on May 30 gave away Salvation Army/Midwest Food Bank food boxes containing non-perishable products and paper supplies to 235 neighbors in need. “Hunger doesn’t know pandemics. Hunger doesn’t know seasons. Hunger doesn’t know timing. Hunger is just hunger. We just want to constantly be committed to helping feed our community and take care of those who need help and meet them at their needs,” Lieutenant Dennis Smith, Mercer County corps officer, told WVVA-TV.

Owensboro, Kentucky: The Salvation Army was present, handing out bottled water, masks and hand sanitizer to participants at the Standing Up for Racial Justice, Peace and Reconciliation rally June 5 at Smothers Park in Owensboro.

Broward County, Florida – Local residents Ryan and Trinity Ward started a food drive with neighbors at their condo community in Broward County. Together, they were able to collect and donate a bin full of nonperishable items for The Salvation Army’s food pantry in Fort Lauderdale.

San Antonio, Texas: The San Antonio Area Command teamed up with the San Antonio Food Bank for a public food distribution outside The Salvation Army Peacock Boys & Girls Club. Staff and more than 30 volunteers served 250 households. A similar food distribution took place a week later.

Chattanooga, Tennessee: On National Donut Day Friday, June 5, The Salvation Army in Chattanooga continued the more-than 100-year-old tradition, begun during World War I, of serving unsung heroes by delivering 700 Tasty Donuts to front-line workers and first responders. Assisted by volunteers from State Line Toyz and American Legion Post 214, supporters also decorated appreciation cards and prayed for service members.


The new lieutenants: South welcomes Messengers of the Kingdom into officer ranks

The new lieutenants: South welcomes Messengers of the Kingdom into officer ranks

Lieutenant Anna Maslenikova carries the session flag into the Atlanta Temple sanctuary during the Ordination and Commissioning of the Messengers of the Kingdom.

Commissioner Willis Howell addressed God’s Kingdom in his message.

Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell commission Lieutenants James and Claudia Guzman.

Lieutenant Jennifer Webb was the soloist for “Prelude on Finlandia” during the entry of the session flag.

Lieutenants Konstantin Maslenikov and Anna Maslenikova join with their session mates in prayer during the Ordination and Commissioning.

The ordained and commissioned Messengers of the Kingdom are joined for a group photo by Majors Tom and Julie Ann Louden, principal and assistant principal at Evangeline Booth College.

The Messengers of the Kingdom listen as Major Tom Louden, Evangeline Booth College principal, welcomes online viewers to the virtual Commissioning and Ordination.

Lieutenant Shawn Simmons, representative speaker, said the Messengers of the Kingdom will be known for the service they provide and the love they share.

Lieutenants James and Abby Milner kneel as they are commissioned.

Photo Credits: Laura Dake


Congregations returning to services in corps across Southern Territory

Congregations returning to services in corps across Southern Territory

By: Dan Childs

Tracking the reopening of corps across the USA South is much like tracking the reopening of any number of public facilities these days – a thoroughly mixed bag that can vary wildly from place to place. But, even with that in mind, it’s apparent that The Salvation Army is mustering after weeks of social distancing and self-imposed isolation.

When the COVID-19 pandemic settled in around mid-March, churches of all denominations were forced to devise plans for maintaining their outreach. For many, virtual church via the Internet became the new reality. Even Southern Territorial Headquarters generated online services, sharing a four-part series on God’s promises to complement local corps’ outreach. Other corps found makeshift chapels in their parking lots as drive-in services became a hit in some locations.

The question of striking a balance between spiritual and physical well-being was bandied about in the legal arena at times as the nation began easing restrictions on public gatherings. In the Southern Territory, decisions on reopening corps are being determined at the divisional level. It can be a daunting decision – across the South and the nation, coronavirus hotspots have dotted the map while many other locales have been only slightly affected. Some headquarters have adopted a division-wide policy, setting a date that all corps could open. Other corps have opened at their own discretion, with some corps holding services while others in the same division have been holding off until conditions feel safer.

Here’s a thumbnail of where each division stands in mid-June:

ALM – Six of the division’s corps opened by the end of May, and six more resumed worship services June 7. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Kroc Center will hold worship services limited to corps leadership starting June 21 and will reopen to all congregants July 5. Fourteen corps are still working on their reopening plans. Nine corps continue to offer in-person spiritual/worship programs to shelter or CSRC residents. Until social distancing guidelines are lifted, no ALM corps will offer transportation. As a result, some corps have delayed reopening and continue ministry through social media and other means.

AOK – All corps are conducting live services. Many of those have been doing so for some time. Some corps will continue to share services online. A decision on a reopening date for Sunday school is pending.

FLA – Most of the division’s 30 corps were open by May 31. Citrus County plans to resume services June 21, and Port Charlotte on July 5. DHQ has circulated detailed guidelines for use by corps as they resume meetings.

GA – Corps have been asked to hold virtual services or meet outdoors through this past Sunday. Detailed guidelines have been issued to help corps with planning for reopening. The guidelines address social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, meeting procedures and children’s activities.

KT – Of 33 corps in the division, 12 reopened on May 31, following two (Frankfort and Louisville Portland) which opened on May 24. Nine others opened June 7.

MWV – Reopenings and resumption of services are being done on a corps-by-corps basis, based on local conditions. Corps have been holding online services, meeting in parking lots and using Church in a Box. West Virginia has a lower number of COVID cases than many states, and some corps in the state have been able to resume meetings.

NCV – Fifteen of the division’s 32 corps have already opened their doors for services, and at least seven more were to reopen this past Sunday. Several more will resume services later in June.

NCSC – In accordance with CDC and guidelines specific to both North and South Carolina, 31 of the division’s 55 corps have reopened for indoor Sunday services while others are maintaining virtual and/or outdoor services. Detailed guidelines for minimizing risk have been circulated by divisional headquarters.

TX – Corps are resuming worship services under the guidance of local health officials and corps councils. Several corps across the division have already resumed services, others are providing parking lot services and several more reopenings are imminent. Those that have resumed services are adhering to a checklist issued to Texas churches by the governor as well as guidelines provided by DHQ.

Guidelines that are being issued to the corps address a variety of issues that need to be considered as congregations return to the corps for services, including social distancing, cleaning/disinfection, pickups, careful consideration of entries and exits and many other points. Physical contact such as hugging and fist-bumping with friends before or after services are discouraged in the guidelines. Use of hand sanitizers and exercising care in collecting the offerings are recommended.


Majors Brian and Loretta Gilliam retire after combined 88 years’ service

Majors Brian and Loretta Gilliam receive their retirement certificate from Major Terry Israel. Session flagbearers are Major Libby Duracher and Lt. Colonel Jim Arrowood. Major Owen Gilliam delivered a dedicatory prayer.

Majors Brian and Loretta Gilliam retire after combined 88 years’ service

By: Major Frank Duracher

Celebrating “Joy In Our Journey,” Majors Brian and Loretta Gilliam were saluted during a Sunday worship service at the Hendersonville, North Carolina, Corps, attended by family, friends, corps members, volunteers and advisory board members. The retirement ceremony had to be moved from one month earlier due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Major Terry Israel presented the official retirement certificate, thanking the Majors Gilliam for a combined total of 88 years as active Salvation Army officers. Both session flags provided the backdrop with flagbearers Major Libby Duracher (Soldiers Of The Cross) and Lt. Colonel Jim Arrowood (Companions Of Christ).

Other program participants included: Roy Snelson, Major Dorothy Sipe, Major Donna Israel, Captain Lauren Boatman, Alexis Boatman, Major Owen Gilliam, Major Cheryl Grider and Major Roger Coulson. Following the morning meeting, a barbecue dinner was hosted by the Sons of the Savior Motorcycle Ministry.

Majors Brian and Loretta were childhood friends and sweethearts at their home corps in Weirton, West Virginia. They entered Evangeline Booth College two years apart, and were married on June 11, 1977, after both had been commissioned. For the two years between Loretta’s commissioning and their marriage, she served in Augusta and Columbus, Georgia.

As a married couple, they were corps officers in Moundsville, Martinsburg, Bluefield, and Parkersburg, West Virginia; Baltimore (South) and Salisbury, Maryland; Memphis (Ben Lear), Tennessee; Henderson, Kentucky; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; and Hendersonville, North Carolina. On the training college staff, they served as field training officer and Family Life Center director from 1997-1999. They moved from there to Nashville, Tennessee, as area commanders from 1999-2003, then on to divisional staff appointments in Texas from 2005-2013.

An outstanding teacher and proponent of the Word, Major Brian was a member of the National Seminar on Evangelism faculty from 2010-2015.

They have one daughter, Captain Lauren Boatman, and two grandchildren. Effective retirement date is July 1, 2020, residing at 30557 Summer Sun Loop, Wesley Chapel, Florida 33545.


Virtual commissioning sends Messengers of the Kingdom into officership

Photo Credit: Laura Dake

Virtual commissioning sends Messengers of the Kingdom into officership

By: Dan Childs

When they set out on their path to officership two years ago, little did the Messengers of the Kingdom know that their final steps on that path would be taken as historical events unfolded around them. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the session was commissioned and ordained Saturday, June 13 in unprecedented circumstances.

Customarily, sessions are commissioned in public meetings in large auditoriums attended by hundreds of people. But the social distancing mandated by the pandemic called for markedly different circumstances, and the 22 Messengers of the Kingdom embarked on their lives of service in a ceremony at the Atlanta Temple Corps with no congregation present but nonetheless made available online by the Southern Territory’s Communications Bureau.

The commissioning and ordination of the Messengers of the Kingdom was originally planned as part of the Call to Mission Congress, but the safety constraints imposed by the pandemic necessitated not only the postponement of the congress but a scaling down of commissioning ceremonies.

Lieutenant Shawn Simmons, the session’s representative speaker, noted that he and his session mates have been shaped by the events that surrounded their final months of training and that they set out as new lieutenants fully prepared to carry out The Salvation Army’s mission.

“We leave here as messengers, called to live out Psalm 145:11, which says, ‘They tell of the glory of your Kingdom and speak of your power.’ We will be handed the keys to the Kingdom and given the opportunity to seek out the lost and lovingly lead them to Jesus.”

Lieutenant Simmons said he and his session mates will try to let others see Jesus through their own example of serving and loving their fellow man and that they will rely always on the Lord to empower them. “We do not take hold of the keys of our corps in our own strength; it is only in the strength of the Lord.”

Following the ordination and commissioning, Colonel Susan Bukiewicz offered a prayer of dedication and Territorial Sergeant Major Jeremy Rowland offered a blessing and asked that the Messengers of the Kingdom be dedicated to loving and working hand-in-hand with the people of their corps to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth.

Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, brought the message, in which he expounded on the nature of kingdoms in general and God’s Kingdom in particular. “What exactly is the Kingdom,” he asked. “If we don’t know exactly what it is, how do we know if we’re getting the message right about it?”

He challenged all to imagine a kingdom without injustice, bigotry, pettiness, self-promotion or selfishness and where everyone looks out for others. That kingdom is available now, he said. “That’s the kingdom we’re invited to live in.”

Commissioner Howell noted that Jesus prayed in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s Kingdom would be established on Earth, that God’s will would be carried out here, just as it is in Heaven.

“Guess who’s charged with sharing the message of how God intends it to be,” he said. “It’s the Messengers of the Kingdom. That’s the responsibility of being saved, the responsibility of being members of God’s Kingdom.”

Major Tom Louden, principal and president of Evangeline Booth College, pronounced the Messengers of the Kingdom fully prepared to carry out the mission with which they are charged. “They are prepared to minister in the mighty name of Jesus, to bind the broken-hearted, quickened and sharpened with the proven weapons of our warfare – love and service.”