On Saturday, seminar activities included a unique “Round Robin Rotation” style of sessions. Session leaders offered insight into the roles, challenges, and spiritual practices of Salvation Army officers. Seven officers presented five sessions. Seminar delegates rotated from room to room, taking in each presentation and then moving on to the next one. Spanish–speaking delegates received translation assistance as needed.
Major James Foley, social ministries secretary, and Major Sue D. Foley, financial secretary, spoke on how being an officer can influence family life. They stressed the importance of maintaining healthy relationships and emphasized the need to keep jobs of the ministry in perspective rather than let them overshadow the role one may have as a parent.
“It is easy to eat, sleep, and breathe Salvation Army and let the pressures dominate every thought,” said Major Sue Foley, who in her first appointment lived next door to her corps. The Foleys said they sometimes found themselves taking work home.
Major James Foley said, “Make sure to separate family time. Schedule meals at the table with your children. Play with them. Make time for prayer and devotions. After all, you will be the first ones from whom they learn about God.”
Colonel Steven Howard, territorial secretary for personnel, talked about the expectations that come with being an officer. He said that such expectations come first from a covenant with God, rather than from the one an officer signs with The Salvation Army.
“It is a pact that says you will put God above anything,” says Howard. “You are being called to proclaim the Good News—that God sent His Son to live and die for us.”
Major James LaBossiere, designated to be the next territorial program secretary, compared the role of a corps officer (pastor) to that of Jesus, who described “a good shepherd.” Just as a shepherd cares for his flock, LaBossiere said, so an officer is responsible for providing pastoral care to both converted and unconverted people.
“A corps officer is responsible for the spiritual welfare of everyone who appears on the corps records, from the highest ranking officer to the youngest kid who might attend sports programs and tutoring. Sometimes the need for pastoring can come at a completely unexpected but divinely appointed moment. We didn’t make it happen or expect it, but we represent Christ in that moment.”
LaBossiere said that his roles may come with surprises, but one thing remains constant. “When people introduce me as their pastor, I feel I’m at my best. That feeling doesn’t ever change,” he said, smiling.
Lt. Colonel Donald Lance, secretary for business administration, and Lt. Colonel Renee Lance, Pathway of Hope coordinator, talked about the corps officer as an executive and as the chief public relations officer and fundraiser for the corps.
Establishing relationships with local and state officials is crucial to learning how to serve a community. “You’re almost expected to be an expert on the community by your second day on the job,” said Lt. Colonel Donald Lance.
Lt. Colonel Renee Lance talked about how an officer should integrate both a social and a spiritual ministry, and how the Army is bridging social services and corps ministry.
“That’s what William Booth wanted— to minister to both the body and soul,” said Lance.
Colonel Janice Howard, designated to be the new territorial secretary for communications, concluded the Round Robin sessions by talking about a topic that could benefit any believer of Christ.
“Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the spirit of Christ for the sake of others. And it is a process, not a journey,” said Howard. “General André Cox, international leader of the Salvation Army, is still being conformed to the spirit of Christ. The Pope is still being conformed, and I myself am certainly not done being conformed.”
Spiritual disciplines are an important part of one’s spiritual formation, said Howard. “It puts us in a place where God can change our lives.” She suggested to the delegates that, next time they pick up their Bible, they read Scripture out loud.
Howard said, “Take a portion and read it over until a word or phrase pops out at you. Read it one more time, and then ask the Lord, why? Why does this apply to me now?
“When you see that connection, know that it is the Lord who is calling you to action. He is directly inviting you to be in His presence.”
by Hugo Bravo