A Living Legacy
As they prepared to lead the USA Eastern Territory on July 1, Commissioners Bill and Lorraine Bamford opened a family Bible and read the words of Philippians 1:6.
“That’s our prayer for the territory as we become its leaders and we want to see the future days, reaching others for Christ,” says Bill, who will serve as territorial commander. Lorraine will be the territorial president of women’s ministries.
Reading from a family Bible was no accident. Family is central to the Bamfords, who have a fascinating history in The Salvation Army.
Bill and Lorraine are both 5th–generation Salvationists, and their families were friendly dating back to the early 19th century in England. Bill and Lorraine are products of that legacy and grew up in the Eastern Territory, Bill in the Philadelphia area and Lorraine near Boston.
Rich family history
“My great–grandfather went to The Salvation Army first, and because he went, his father went, and that’s how you get back to the 5th generation,” Bill says. “Of that history, I am a 4th–generation officer.”
Bill’s grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1910 at age 2.
Bill and Lorraine’s families went to the same corps back in Ashton–under–Lyne, England, but they didn’t realize it until they started dating.
Lorraine’s mother came to America as a 3–year–old immigrant in 1924 from Ashton–under–Lyne, and her family kept in touch with the Bamford clan back in England.
“It’s interesting how the paths of our families crossed before,” Lorraine says.
Lorraine’s grandfather came to The Salvation Army in Bascom, England, when he and a friend listened during an open–air meeting. The message—and the messengers—intrigued him. His family was not so keen, however.
“He told the story that he used to have to hide his uniform in the bushes to go to church on Sunday because his family didn’t want him to have anything to do with it,” Lorraine says.
Her grandfather eventually immigrated to Canada and later to the United States, where he became a Salvation Army officer in New Hampshire and in Connecticut during WW I.
“There is a great history and a linkage of our heritage, which is very special to us,” Lorraine says.
Bill and Lorraine first met at The Salvation Army’s Camp Ladore, but love didn’t blossom until four years later when their paths crossed again. Bill’s officer parents were stationed at the Divisional Headquarters (DHQ) in Boston and he began attending the Quincy Temple Corps, where Lorraine and her parents were faithful soldiers.
“We began a friendship and that evolved into marriage,” Bill says. The couple wed in 1980.
Bill had committed at a young age to become a Salvation Army officer, but that idea was put on hold as he and Lorraine raised a family. Bill was a pharmacist and Lorraine a junior high school teacher, but the topic of officership came up from time to time.
“We had several years of conversation over the matter,” Bill says with a laugh.
I surrender all
In 1983, Bill and Lorraine attended the Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings. That’s when Bill saw an auxiliary captain being commissioned.
“That night, the commissioner said, ‘There’s someone else out there who is being called to officership.’ That was it. That spoke to me. And from that, our discussions evolved and a couple of years later we decided to make a full commitment,” Bill says.
At the time, Lorraine was expecting her first child. In those days, pregnant women could not go to training. And a few years later, another child followed. So the Bamfords waited.
“It was family,” Bill says. “We had two young children that we wanted to make sure received attention and time, but when we finally realized that the Lord would take care of all that, we allowed Him to receive everything from us—our children, our professions, our careers, our home, our cars, all that stuff, so that we could give ourselves fully to what the Lord was calling us to do.”
A hard move
Lorraine recalls, “I just really needed some confirmation from the Lord. When our second child was about 6 or 8 months old, I got that confirmation and we started the process of becoming officers.”
Bill was a child of officers and was accustomed to moving. But Lorraine had lived her entire life in Weymouth, Mass. Bill and Lorraine had also bought their first home there and her family was close.
“The elementary school I attended was just down the block,” she says. “Except for short stints, I had never really lived anywhere but my hometown.
“To look back on that, from the girl who never left her hometown except for a trip, to going and living overseas for four years and living in various other states in the U.S., life has changed—for the good. It continues to be a wonderful experience.”
Fulfilling the call
The couple went to training in 1987 and was commissioned in 1989. Their first appointment was as corps officers of the Philadelphia Pioneer Corps.
“We were called to be corps officers,” Lorraine says. “That’s what we were expecting for our entire officership. We were great with that. We were happy with that.”
However, that appointment was followed by a string of DHQ and Territorial Headquarters (THQ) appointments before the Bamfords were sent abroad to serve as chief secretary and as territorial secretary for Women’s Ministries of the South America West Territory, which includes Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Lorraine said she was shy as a child, but among the things that brought her out of her shell and prepared her for overseas service was Salvation Army programming such as Sunbeams, Junior Soldiers, band, and Corps Cadets.
“I was encouraged to take part and to stand up and to lead and to pray out loud as a child, or to lead a song. Those experiences helped me to grow and to realize who I am and to gain self–confidence,” she says.
In 2013, the Bamfords returned to the Eastern Territory with Bill serving as chief secretary and Lorraine as territorial secretary for women’s ministries.
As they take over as territorial leaders, Bill said the “Strikepoint” initiative would continue its emphasis on Integrated Mission, Deeper Discipleship, Skilled Leadership, and Young Adult Empowerment.
“The Strikepoint emphasis is still definitely a priority for the territory,” Bill says.
Bill said General André Cox’s 2017 emphasis on “The Whole World Mobilizing” would also be on the agenda.
“We certainly want to make sure the territory is focusing on that as we think about spreading the Gospel and reaching out in very practical ways to a population that needs to hear the Gospel,” Bill says.
Lorraine said intentionally ministering to a growing senior population would also be a priority, along with accountability.
“Not that there isn’t accountability already, but to confirm it and just pinpoint different ways we can show that we want to be transparent,” she says.
With its array of junior and senior soldiers, adherents, ARC ministries, advisory boards, and auxiliary members, the Bamfords called the Eastern Territory “the best.”
“This is the greatest territory,” Bill says. “There is a lot going on programmatically. There are a lot of great people here.”
Lorraine called the territory a “microcosm of the country and the world, in a sense.”
“We have every culture represented,” she says. “It’s a very diverse territory. I think this territory has been very good and very intentional about ministering to the whole society and we’d love to continue that and even see what’s coming down the path.”
Lorraine would also like to see the ARC ministries connect more with corps and “bring people into the family.”
The Bamfords, who have three children and four grandchildren, said they pray often for the territory’s families.
“I think families should be places of joy and an oasis sometimes away from the world,” Lorraine says. “There should be a feeling of safety in a family and a feeling of ‘I’m home and I’m loved.’ That’s what we pray for in all families and in ours especially.”
Bill said he would like to see families “growing in purity and knowledge of the Lord” and for that to be passed on, as it was to him and Lorraine.
“We want people to understand that family is important,” he says. “There needs to be a priority for family.
“Now that we have grown children and grandchildren, we want to see our grandchildren nurtured in the Lord. We want to see that for families all across this territory.”
by Robert Mitchell
|What do you want people to know about you?|
|Bill: “We just want to be very authentic people in Christ. We want others to know that. We want others to see very practically that they’re loved. It’s just about loving people. We want them to know that we really care about them and we want to help others in their journey with Christ as best we can.”|
|Lorraine: “I want people to know that I don’t deserve to be a Salvation Army officer—it’s a privilege. My daily prayer is, ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in His sight’ (Psalm 19). I want people to know we love each other very much and we love being married.”|