Commissioners Swanson Retire
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places …” — (PSALM 16:6 NIV)
Rarely if ever have two Salvation Army territories met at the crossroads of ministry in such a visually dramatic way. That was the case during the official retirement service for Commissioners Barry C. and E. Sue Swanson held at the Hershey Lodge and Conference Center on June 12.
Although The Salvation Army’s Central Territorial Headquarters is 584 miles away in Chicago, as many as 2,000 people in the Great American Hall in Hershey, Pa., reacted to a prerecorded video greeting from hundreds of “Centralites” as if they were in the room too, all standing on common ground. In the video, uniformed officers and soldiers held handmade placards and shouted heartfelt greetings to the Swansons.
That evening, the lives and legacy of the Commissioners Swanson was what everyone had in common. Under the theme “Crossroads,” their combined celebration and appreciation for the retiring territorial leaders was exuberant and genuine.
The Swanson’s immediate family, in–laws, and grandchildren flew in from Chicago to witness the “Salvation Meeting” live and to participate onstage.
Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, who led the meeting, also represented Commissioner Eva D. Gaither, who was present. He said to the Swansons, “We believe in you. During our time together at National Headquarters, we fell in love with you.” As he invited them up, the Swansons received a stirring ovation.
Because the Swansons have traveled so much during their officership, they’re excited about the prospects of finally enjoying traditional family gatherings. Commissioner Sue said, “We’re looking forward to being in Chicago as a family, rather than as visiting grandparents.”
The New York Staff Band played a special piece in honor of the Swansons, which was written by Army composer Bill Himes, who personally introduced it.
Colonels F. Bradford and Heidi Bailey of the USA Southern Territory presented the retirement certificates to the Swansons, recognizing their combined 76 years and 40 days of ministry as Salvation Army officers. Commissioner William Cochrane, Commissioners Eva D. and Israel L. Gaither, Commissioners Joy and Ken Baillie, and Commissioner Nancy A. Moretz served as flagbearers. Majors Andrew and Cheryl Miller held the session flag.
Said Commissioner Barry Swanson, “Thank you for honoring us with your presence. We can’t see it yet, but just beyond the hill is our future.”
—For more on the Commissioners Swanson, read A Ministry Journey Together (June 2016).