Silver Star parents honored in virtual salute

Silver Star parents honored in virtual salute

By: Dan Childs

In normal times, the Order of the Silver Star Luncheon is a gala event held on Friday afternoon of Commissioning Weekend, honoring the parents of cadets who are about to be commissioned as Salvation Army officers. Largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, 2020 is anything but normal times, and the Silver Star celebration by necessity took on a different look this year.

The constraints of social distancing made the usual luncheon an impracticality, so the celebration of a critical ingredient in the formation of a Salvation Army officer was carried out in video form and presented online following the virtual commissioning of the Messengers of the Kingdom Saturday, June 13.

Commissioner Barbara Howell, territorial president of women’s ministries, welcomed viewers and expressed her regret that parents of the Messengers of the Kingdom could not be physically present for the celebration honoring their efforts as parents and positive influences on their children. Lt. Colonel Fiona Hofer followed with a narrative of the background of the Order of the Silver Star, then most of the remainder of the presentation featured the Messengers themselves.

Lieutenant Abby Milner was the representative speaker, and she thanked her parents for their love and unwavering support, which helped carry her through some years of personal trial and difficulty when she turned her back on God and became lost on a wayward path.

“Sometimes, people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there,” she said. “To serve a purpose, teach you a lesson, cheer you on, or to help you figure out who you are meant to become. They are the ones who see more in you than you can see in yourself. They could be a family member, pastor, a professor, a friend, or even a complete stranger. For me, it is my parents, Majors Andy and Amy Kelly, who have faithfully served as officers of The Salvation Army for over 35 years.”

Lieutenant Milner was followed by her session mates, who expressed their gratitude their parents and those who had raised them and set them upon their path.


Commencement commences unprecedented virtual Commissioning Weekend

Commencement commences unprecedented virtual Commissioning Weekend

By: Brad Rowland

The USA Southern Territory embarked on the first-ever virtual Commissioning Weekend in 2020, with the opening event on Friday, June 12. The Commencement Service, which can be viewed on YouTube, annually acts as something of a kickoff to the festivities, honoring the hard work and diligent study of the Messengers of the Kingdom session over the past two years.

Major Thomas Louden, president and principal of Evangeline Booth College, provided greetings and thanks to all who have influenced and lead the cadets. He recognized the work of the session itself, the sky-high expectations for their ministry, and the reality that “even the perplexities and perils of a pandemic cannot impede the mission and march of The Salvation Army.”

The service featured musical and worship-leading contributions from the Southern Territory’s own transMission, offering songs of praise in “Great Are You, Lord” and “Goodness of God” to aid in setting the mood for worship. Diane Ury followed that time of praise with prayer and Scripture, reading from Psalm 123 and Matthew 9:35 – 10:1 to provide the backdrop for what was to come.

Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, introduced the keynote speaker for the day, Dr. Bill Ury, who joins with his wife, Diane, in serving as The Salvation Army’s national ambassadors for holiness. Dr. Ury, a renowned Christian author, speaker, teacher and a soldier of the Raleigh, North Carolina, International Corps, delivered a poignant and important message.

“Our king never coerces anyone to follow him,” Dr. Ury said. “He only invites, he welcomes. Thus, his commissioning power is to invite us into his heart. That is the foundation of all ministry.”

“This commissioning, this commencement for us, is a sacramental picture. Your parents and family who are watching from far away, they agree with you. It’s a picture of the nature of what is the Kingdom of Jesus. The King is speaking, and he wants to speak through you to any who have ears. He will never coerce, to any who will hear his very heart.”

In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus tells his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Focusing on that passage, Dr. Ury urged the Messengers of the Kingdom to remember that it is the Lord’s harvest of which he is in full control.

“He knows what it takes to minister every day, to people who don’t want to hear, don’t comprehend, are confused,” said Dr. Ury. “You may find them in your first appointment. Come alongside Jesus, Messengers of the Kingdom, and you with him will slowly, consistently, undeterredly care and tend for his harvest.”

Following the official distribution of diplomas from Major Roni Robbins, EBC director of curriculum, a vocal ensemble comprised of cadets provided a moving presentation of “God We Will Give you Glory,” recorded virtually and impressively assembled.

Cadet Konstantin Maslenikov served as the representative speaker from the session, speaking on the challenge and necessity of humility, both in ministry and in life.

“In this life, it becomes so easy to demand things and claim what is due to us,” he said. “Our self will always demand, but the pathway to excellence in the kingdom of God is paved with humility.”

Finally, winners of two significant awards were recognized, with Major Louden presenting the Principal’s Award to Cadet Mariah Deshazo and Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell presenting the Commissioner’s Award, the highest honor in any session, to Cadet Konstantin Maslenikov.

transMission then led the singing of an uplifting anthem in “How Great Thou Art” before a closing benediction from Major Louden. The Messengers of the Kingdom will be commissioned and ordained on June 13 at 10 a.m. ET, but before that consecrated gathering arrives, the challenge to focus on God’s harvest was evident and all-encompassing in this service of celebration and recognition.

“You’re going to go to corps over your lifetime that are going to be all over this territory,” Dr. Ury said. “You’re going to give me, in years, a whole outline of your four, five, six, seven corps. It will all be marvelous history. But Jesus has gone to every one of them before you get there, and he’ll be there long after you leave. It’s his harvest. He’s the King of his own harvest.”


Pathway of Hope: Long-term investment, long-term gains

Pathway of Hope: Long-term investment, long-term gains

By: Brad Rowland

When Hannah arrived at The Salvation Army in Sarasota, Florida, she was facing significant challenges, ranging from unemployment to a lack of transportation and the reality of life on probation. In January 2015, she entered a transitional housing program in which she would spend eight months, eventually finding employment in March 2015 and establishing stable childcare and firmer financial ground. From there, Hannah secured permanent housing in September 2015 with the help of The Salvation Army’s assistance, and she was on a clear and sustainable path.

However, the challenges did not end there for Hannah, with a roadblock arriving in January 2017. Hannah was living with a boyfriend on a shared lease, when he began to relapse into drug use that would test her own sobriety. The situation escalated with haste, resulting in Hannah experiencing homelessness in unexpected and difficult fashion.

It was then that she returned to The Salvation Army’s transitional housing program and proceeded with the help of the Pathway of Hope initiative. Fortunately, Hannah maintained the employment she secured in 2015, and, in short order, she was able to re-establish permanent housing by June 2017. The next step for Hannah was a path to higher education, with acceptance to Suncoast Technical College in the business management and analysis program.

In order to help this educational dream become reality, The Salvation Army helped to provide financial assistance to Hannah as she dove into her studies.

“We receive some grants, and one of them is the family self-sufficiency program, which assists individuals financially if they are going back to school and pursuing that valuable education,” said Valerie Walton, Pathway of Hope program manager in Sarasota. “We were able to put Hannah into that program to receive that assistance as she was studying, which was extremely helpful in allowing her to really focus on her education.”

Hannah performed exceptionally well in school and, at the same time, received promotions in her employment setting. Ultimately, she succeeded in her path of study, first earning a certificate of completion, then reaching out to the State College of Florida for continuing education. Eventually, Hannah earned her associate degree in risk management and insurance services.

While Hannah’s hard work and persistence were crucial to her overall progress, Pathway of Hope played a significant role, with long-term investment at the forefront.

Pathway of Hope is a national Salvation Army initiative to help families break the cycle of intergenerational 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.

“Stories like Hannah’s don’t happen overnight,” Walton said. “The support that The Salvation Army is giving acknowledges it will be a long-term process, and we’re here to work with people for as long as it takes to get back on their feet and support their families. That is one of the wonderful things with this program is that it is truly a long-term commitment. That’s what we do with Pathway of Hope and we want to help for as long as people need us.”

“We want people to know they can change and make a difference. It is going to take a while, maybe even several years, and there is work required. But every small step is a success, and we celebrate those alongside people, including Hannah. She acknowledges that the support really helped her, but it takes time and effort to make this kind of complete change happen.”

After years of hard work and progression, Hannah penned a heartwarming letter in thanking Deshane Collins, case management specialist, and The Salvation Army’s staff in Sarasota, while firmly encapsulating the mission of the Pathway of Hope initiative in the process.

“Thank you for everything you have done for my daughter and me,” Hannah said. “The Salvation Army provided us with a place to live, not once, but twice. You supported me on my road to recovery, which has led to many great things.”

“I could not have made it this far without your help. Some of my greatest accomplishments I owe to you. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life who care for me and my family and want nothing but the best for us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The Salvation Army in Sarasota is also a national best practice site for the Pathway of Hope initiative.  Best practice sites are selected for high performance in seven key areas of impact, including pastoral care, team approach, data quality and community collaboration.


Lilly Endowment assists Salvation Army’s COVID-19 fight

The Salvation Army homeless shelter at the Augusta, Georgia, Center of Hope is one of a number in the state that has been converted from overnights only to a 24-hour operation. The Georgia Division is using its $250,000 gift from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to support all-day shelters as they protect vulnerable residents from the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Lilly Endowment assists Salvation Army’s COVID-19 fight

By: David Ibata

Helping families avert eviction, expanding homeless shelters to 24-hour operations, and other aspects of The Salvation Army’s response to the COVID-19 emergency got a big assist this spring when the Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded grants totaling $15 million to the organization.

A $5 million grant was dedicated specifically to help residents of Indiana, Lilly’s home state, and a $10 million gift was made to assist in the nationwide fight against the novel coronavirus.

“Across the country, our dedicated staff are going above and beyond to ensure that our neighbors have access to desperately needed resources, such as food and shelter,” National Commander Commissioner David Hudson said in a March 31 announcement of the Lilly gifts.

“This much-needed support from Lilly Endowment will allow us to meet those needs for millions of Americans, and we hope the support will boost awareness and inspire others to give as well.”

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, NHQ said, one in six Americans was already living in poverty, and more than 70 percent of Americans indicated they would have trouble meeting their financial obligations if they missed a paycheck. Now those numbers are expected to increase with layoffs, salary reductions, food shortages and increased childcare needs brought about by the pandemic.

The national Salvation Army divided its $10 million equally among the four USA territories, with each territory getting $2.5 million.

Major Terry Israel, territorial secretary for the Southern Territory, said this territory’s share was divided 10 ways, with $250,000 going to each of the nine divisions and the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command. The blessing quickly was put to good use.

The National Capital & Virginia Division, for example, is using its funds on long-term recovery efforts, with a focus on utility and rental assistance, said Greg Tuck, divisional development director.

Leadership in the Arkansas & Oklahoma Division dedicated their portion of the gift to helping people stay in their homes.

“In this time of national and global crisis, when millions have lost their jobs and tens of thousands of familys risk losing their homes … this Lilly Foundation Grant came at the right time,” said Lt. Colonel Allan Hofer, AOK divisional commander.

“In times of need, many people know to come to The Salvation Army for their basic needs,” Lt. Colonel Hofer said. “Thanks to this great grant from the Lilly Foundation, we are able to pay the mortgage and rent of many families, thus buying them more time from becoming homeless and, hopefully, to become financially stable again.”

The Georgia Division was facing unanticipated costs when the governor’s office in March asked The Salvation Army to open its 12 shelters 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to safeguard the vulnerable homeless population from the disease.

“This has required additional staff, food, security and cleaning, as normally all residents are required to leave the facilities as they look for employment or attend school or other classes and training to move them to stable housing and employment,” said Captain Philip A. Canning, Georgia divisional secretary.

“These funds will help these units with the funding critically needed as these additional programs and services were not in the FY 2020 budget,” Captain Canning said. “The Salvation Army is grateful for the many partnerships, collaborations and funding needed to match this grant and enable officers and staff to advance the mission of The Salvation Army.”

The Lilly Endowment was founded in 1937 to promote and support religious, educational and charitable endeavors, and it has supported The Salvation Army for more than 70 years. In recent years, it has been a significant funder of the Army’s work to help low-income families break the cycle of poverty through the Pathway of Hope initiative.


Savannah Army receives anonymous gift of $70,000

Major Paul Egan, corps officer in Savannah, Georgia, watches a procession of cars participating in a recent “Feed the City” event. The initiative, in partnership with Feed the Hungry and Georgia State Rep. Carl Gilliard, distributed meals via curbside pickup at The Salvation Army Community Center in Bee Road.

Savannah Army receives anonymous gift of $70,000

For the second time in as many months, an anonymous donor has given a substantial gift to help The Salvation Army in Savannah, Georgia, assist those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Savannah CEO business newsletter reported on June 1 that the donor had given $70,000 to support The Salvation Army’s efforts to aid individuals and families in need.

The Savannah Corps has been providing rent, utility and food assistance as well as spiritual care to people in desperate financial straits. It also has opened a second shelter, separate from its men’s shelter, for homeless women and children.

“We have been blessed to receive this generous donation at this challenging time for our community,” said Major Paul Egan, Savannah Corps officer. “Since the pandemic hit, The Salvation Army has seen a significant increase in demand for all of our services. Many vulnerable people in the Savannah region have been pushed over the edge into homelessness, hunger and great need.”

The $70,000 gift follows a $250,000 donation announced in May by the Savannah Community Foundation. That prior anonymous gift, from a donor-advised fund, helped The Salvation Army make urgent repairs to its Community Center and supported its COVID-19 response.

The need has only grown since then.

“Our doors have remained and will continue to be open to all, but our resources have been depleted,” Major Egan said. “We anticipate the need for our services to remain at a very high level throughout this year and beyond. We remain thankful to all the supporters who make our mission possible.”


EMBRACE: A covenantal commitment to a journey to end racism

A Covenantal Commitment to a Journey to end Racism

Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.” Rev. 7:9a

Purpose of this Advocacy Campaign

This campaign is an invitation to a covenantal commitment to a journey to end racism. It is a way for the church and stakeholders in the kingdom of God to express their grief and the spirit of lament regarding injustice and any actions that may have damaged or hurt our minority brothers and sisters. It is rooted in the prophetic actions of the gospel of “sackcloth and ashes” or the renting of a garment to express lament and a desire for change. So many of us wish to express to those around us our support, our sorrow, and our desire for change. This campaign offers two practical ways of getting involved.

The Black Ribbon

The black ribbon has traditionally been a sign of grief and mourning when worn. It can additionally be worn as a sign of hope and healing, as well as, solidarity and repentance. Salvationists and friends of The Salvation Army are invited to wear a black ribbon as an expression of grief, mourning, hope, healing, solidarity, and repentance.

The Pledge Card

The wearing of the ribbon can be accompanied by a pledge card, or the pledge card can be used without necessarily wearing the black ribbon. We are a covenant making people in The Salvation Army and it is natural for us to make a pledge or a commitment with the Lord to enact change in our personal and corporate lives. The pledge can be signed during corporate worship, or in the privacy of individual homes. An invitation to join in can be extended beyond The Salvation Army to the wider community.

The Pledge Card and Logo can be found as a JPEG file on MTK, ready for print.

The Black Ribbon can easily be purchased and put together with a safety/straight pin.

Join and promote this campaign at any time!


Messengers of the Kingdom set for virtual Commissioning Saturday

Messengers of the Kingdom set for virtual Commissioning Saturday

By: Dan Childs

Like so many other events of 2020, the Commissioning of the Messengers of the Kingdom has been forced to navigate a detour around the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled for June 7 as the concluding event of the Call to Mission Congress, the Ordination and Commissioning of the MOK session will take place this coming Saturday, June 13, at the Atlanta Temple Corps.

That’s not all that changed. With a nod to strict social distancing, the meeting will be closed to the public but presented live via the Southern Territory’s YouTube channel at 10 a.m. The Ordination and Commissioning will be the centerpiece event of a weekend that will include the Commencement Service (Friday, 11 a.m.) and the Order of the Silver Star Service (Sunday, 2 p.m.). Those two events, both pre-recorded, will also be made available on YouTube.

Although the weekend’s proceedings be unprecedented, the order of service for the Ordination and of Commissioning will have a distinctly traditional flow. Two of the elements of the service, however, will be a departure from the norm. The Messengers of the Kingdom sessional song, “Hear the Call of the Kingdom,” will be performed as a pre-recorded virtual choir, and the new lieutenants’ exit with their divisional commanders at the service’s conclusion will be a stirring presentation of a video recording that was done on the grounds of Evangeline Booth College. Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, will be the speaker.

Friday’s Commencement will be an hour-long pre-recorded presentation featuring Bill Ury as the speaker. Major Roni Robbins will present diplomas and degrees and Cadet Konstantin Maslenikov will be the MOK session speaker. Concluding the service will be the presentation of the Commissioner’s and Principal’s awards. Other cadet awards usually presented Commissioning Weekend will not be given this year.

The traditional Silver Star Banquet will not be held this year, but a pre-recorded program will nonetheless be aired on Saturday afternoon. Commissioner Barbara Howell will open the program, preceding Cadet Abby Milner, the session speaker, who will pay tribute to the people who played crucial roles throughout her formative years as she progressed toward a life of service as a Salvation Army officer. Commissioner Howell will offer closing remarks.


Camp Kroc returns fun to kids’ COVID-interrupted lives

Camp Kroc returns fun to kids’ COVID-interrupted lives

By: David Ibata

Historically, the end of the school year brings a transition to a summer of fun, fellowship and Bible learning for children as The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers launch their summer day camps. But how to do it in this COVID-19 year?

The answer is a combination of things: ensuring ample space between groups of children, scheduling activities so not too many campers are in the same place at the same time, and lots and lots of disinfectants. No question, though – where it’s possible to safely do so, Camp Kroc will happen.

That means specialty camps with cooking classes, sports training, music and arts, water play and silly games, said Melissa Williams, territorial marketing manager for the Kroc Centers in the South.

“Especially now, given the uncertain times, Camp Kroc will help families provide a safe environment for their children to socialize and build friendships – and get the wiggles out, while they’re at it.”

Day camps began June 1 at the Kroc Centers in Augusta, Georgia, and Biloxi, Mississippi, and will begin June 15 in Memphis, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina.

“The whole reason we opened camps and are doing our best to follow the public health guidelines is to help our kids, to give them hope and normalcy and a little bit of fun this summer,” said Morgan Shiyou, marketing coordinator for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Command.

“A lot of fun has been canceled. We’re trying to bring that back.”

Some protocols are common across the Kroc Centers, such as taking everyone’s temperature and making sure they’re symptom-free as they arrive; having children wash their hands before entering the building; and separating kids into small groups of no more than nine or 10 plus a counselor. Any child or staff member who falls ill is immediately separated from the others and sent home.

Every Kroc Center also has trained its staff in heightened cleaning procedures – sanitizing a room or play area every time one group of children leaves, and the entire facility several times a day.

Augusta has designated specific times campers can use the swimming pool; and has set up a car line for no-contact drop-offs and pick-ups of campers. Memphis is keeping its building at half capacity for summer camp use and half capacity for fitness use during the weeks of camp. Greenville is utilizing its soccer fields and basketball court for camp so children have more space to spread out. Augusta and Greenville are allowing only 20 campers a week.

Biloxi has reduced the size of its summer camp, from 200 registrations typically by the end of the season to no more than 80; and its camp hours from 14 to 11 hours a day. It is unable this year to offer before-camp and after-camp programs for families, a convenience for parents who have to be at work early in the morning and can’t leave until late in the afternoon.

“There’s no free-for-all play any more” – no more Hula Hoops, scooters and balls kids can play with and then pass along to others, Shiyou said. “Our activities are with items that can be easily cleaned after the children are done playing with them. For example, every room has a deck of Uno cards. As soon as the kids are done, the cards are sanitized, and the deck stays in that room.”

“Our counselors have to wear face masks in front of the kids, and some of the kids are wearing masks, too,” Shiyou said. “Every room has a sanitizing station with wipes, sprays and hand sanitizers. We’re encouraging kids to keep their own areas clean; and as they finish, adults come in to clean.”

The Biloxi Kroc Center is now working with outside vendors to see if field trips can be arranged to a bowling alley and a skating rink. Later this summer, it plans to offer specialty camps for basketball, volleyball, music, theater and fine arts. “But everything is still very fluid due to COVID-19, and we’re trying to accommodate our kids and our community as best as possible,” Shiyou said.

Is there now a “new normal” for day camps because of the coronavirus? Williams thinks there is.

“Regardless whether the virus returns or not, the entire world is going to constantly be operating on a cautious level, and the Kroc Centers will have to be a safe place in all this,” she said. “We will have to revamp a lot of policies and procedures to be respectful of what has happened and what could happen and to be better prepared for the next time.”

The year 2020, Williams said, “has marked a year of change, and the Kroc Centers will remain a safe place in our communities for members and guests to bring their families.”


COVID-19 heroes lauded on National Donut Day

Trinka King offers coffee and donuts to her coworkers on National Donut Day for The Salvation Army.

COVID-19 heroes lauded on National Donut Day

By: Major Frank Duracher

Salvation Army personnel took advantage of the early morning shift change at the AdventHealth medical center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, to thank hospital personnel for their brave service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, coming on National Donut Day, also afforded the opportunity to share the Army’s doughnut history, going as far back as World War I.

Hospital employees were treated to fresh doughnuts, steaming coffee, a Salvation Army umbrella and handouts on the Army’s connection to National Donut Day.

Trinka King pulled “double duty” at the handout station, located at the hospital’s main entrance. She is a member of the Army’s advisory board, and for 12 years she has worked at AdventHealth Hendersonville in the Foundation Department as corporate development officer.

“My department’s role at AdventHealth is to raise money to offset costs, building construction and renovations, technology upgrades, equipment turnover, and to keep vital programs in play,” King said. “Because, when you land here (at the hospital), everything needs to be good!”

Ironically, in her role on the Hendersonville Advisory Board, the duties are much the same.

“It’s nice to share Salvation Army traditions and sharing about the Doughnut Lassies,” King said, explaining her double-role at this special event. “And it’s exciting to have our frontline workers come up for a ‘thank you’ cup of coffee and a doughnut in recognition of the hard work they continue to do during the pandemic.”

Lieutenant Joshua Smith, associate corps officer, agreed: “It’s important to us to thank the people on the frontlines for what they are doing. The Hendersonville Corps partners with AdventHealth Hendersonville to serve the community. We depend on their supports at Christmas and throughout the year.”


NFL’s Panthers to partner with Carolinas Division Boys & Girls Clubs

NFL’s Panthers to partner with Carolinas Division Boys & Girls Clubs

By: Ed Boyce

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of North and South Carolina and the Carolina Panthers have announced a multi-year marketing partnership, underwritten by Transportation Insight, North America’s leading supply chain management firm based in Hickory, North Carolina.

As part of the agreement, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of North and South Carolina become the presenting sponsor of the Carolina Panthers Kids Club. The Boys & Girls Clubs also receive promotional opportunities around the team’s Keep Pounding Day, Football 101 event, and Play 60 Combine at Romare Bearden Park, among other promotional, experiential and hospitality, and fundraising opportunities.

“The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs cannot thank Transportation Insight enough for making this partnership a reality,” said Wesley Sharpe, executive director of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of North and South Carolina. “The awareness that the Carolina Panthers can help bring our programs is unmatched, and the workforce development program will really benefit our club members. We believe when young people have access to quality opportunities that support workforce readiness, they are well-positioned for great futures.”

In addition, the partnership creates a workforce development program for the club’s children and youth. Prior to Panthers preseason and regular season home games, club members will tour Bank of America Stadium to learn about jobs from the box office to concessions to sports medicine and more. After the tour, club members will head to their seats to see the Panthers in action on the field.

The partnership supports the workforce development strategy of the Boys & Girls Clubs, which gives children a chance to explore careers, develops essential life skills and provides opportunities to learn and demonstrate job skills in a real-world work experience.