Generation to Generation
New lieutenants of the Heralds of Grace session are coming to a corps or an ARC near you. Their ministries are expected to positively influence the lives of Salvationists in the USA Eastern Territory and beyond.
Many of the 51 newly–commissioned officers represent several generations of Salvationists, marking a rich heritage of soldiers and officers who have contributed to the Army’s legacy in the USA Eastern Territory.
On Friday, June 12 in Hershey, Pa., the cadets received associate degrees in applied science from the College for Officer Training (CFOT). On Saturday morning, a younger generation of future Army ministers honed their skills as musicians, dancers, singers, and dramatists by participating in the Territorial Star Search competition. And at the same time, an older generation of active and retired officers enjoyed reflective session reunions. On Sunday, Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander, ordained and commissioned the Heralds of Grace as ministers of the Gospel. Later that day, they received their first appointments amid an exuberant crowd of friends and family.
The continuation of Strikepoint, an initiative to empower Salvationists to think outside the box and to launch new and innovational ministries, featured special guests Willie Richardson and his daughter Sadie from “Duck Dynasty,” the A&E TV network’s hit reality show.
The weekend was also an opportunity to advance “Impact 150,” a campaign to increase the number of cadets next year to 150. Many prospective candidates came forward and were recognized.
In this article, personal testimonies and stunning photos will highlight the stories of a few Heralds of Grace. You’ll enjoy a glimpse into their lives and see how two years of rigorous CFOT training have transformed them.
‘THE TIME IS—NOW!’
Lieutenant Barri Vasquez Brandon
My grandmother, Senior Soldier Bertha Payne, attends the Hartford (Citadel), Conn., Corps. When I was a child, I would stay at her house every weekend.
On Saturday evenings, we would watch the TV show, “Touched by an Angel.” And then, we would get ready for church. Before going to bed, we recited the Lord’s Prayer. “Ok, repeat it back to me,” she would say.
The next morning, I pressed my hair, put on my stockings, and, of course, my uniform. And then she would take my sister and me to the corps for meetings. By the time I was enrolled as a senior soldier at 14, I had an appreciation for the uniform—including the hat.
When I was 16 at a territorial Star Search event, I accepted God’s call. At that moment, the cheering, the clapping, and the exciting music seemed to go silent. I entered a moment of peace. I thought, Okay, God, I understand. This will be my life. My acceptance was exciting. And that feeling remains with me.
In college, I felt emptiness. I finally called my divisional youth secretary (DYS) and said, “I need something more.” One day, as I was putting on my uniform in front of a mirror, it seemed as if my epaulettes had turned red. When I told this to my DYS, he said, “That was a vivid vision!” Right then, I accepted my call to officership. I thought, Okay. The time is—now.
A SPIRIT OF HOSPITALITY
Lieutenant Taylor Senak
In our family, there are so many other people whom we’ve embraced as our brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles.
My friends and I used to jokingly call our home “The Senak Inn” because frequently we would meet someone new there who would be living with us for couple of months.
At the time, my parents were divisional youth leaders in Ohio. And during a summer break, we had 15 guys stay at our house.
On my mom’s side, we are fourth–generation Salvationists. My grandparents were avid soldiers. On my father’s side, we are third–generation Salvationists and third–generation officers.
In terms of my officership, I really want that attitude of hospitality that my parents displayed. And I want the people in my corps to be family—brothers and sisters in Christ—and to be treated as such.
This attitude actually goes back to my grandparents. Whenever people discover that I’m related to them, they say, “Your grandparents are great people.”
My passion is in sports ministry and young adult ministry. I want to develop and disciple youth to become outstanding leaders.
‘LORD, SURPRISE ME!’
Lieutenant Carmen Colón
This year, clearly the most dramatic show of surprise and gratitude for a first appointment came from Lieutenant Carmen Victoria Colón.
When Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander, announced, “You are going to have a great time, I know, because you’re going to be the corps officer of the Norwalk, Conn., Corps!” Colon, who had served a summer assignment in Hartford, Conn., put her hands to her head in disbelief. Then she dropped to her knees, covered her face with her hands, and wept.
Cheers from the audience filled the air. The new lieutenants and officers on the platform also applauded her. Friends from the Coatesville, Pa., Corps where she had originally soldiered, as well as friends from Connecticut, stood to their feet.
Commissioner Swanson quipped, “Was it something I said?”
Later, Colón said in an interview with SAConnects that she was ecstatic to be returning to Connecticut. “They captured my heart,” the devoted evangelist said of the people she had met there. “I feel like I’m going home. I asked God to surprise me, and He did!”
One of the first people to give Colón a congratulatory hug was Dee Collier, O.F., a soldier from Hartford and a recipient of the Order of the Founder, the Army’s highest award given to a Salvationist.
‘SHOWING THE LOVE’
Lieutenant Nicolas Senak
I’m a fourth–generation Salvationist. My grandfather’s mother was one of the first social workers for The Salvation Army in Cincinnati, Ohio. For 30 years, my grandfather was a local officer at the Cincinnati (Citadel), Ohio, Corps. And he actually sent 30 young adults to training. My mom was the 30th. For having guided so many people in preparation for officership, he received the Order of the Founder, the highest award given to a Salvationist.
One day in a history class at the College for Officer Training, Major Kenneth Wilson talked about all the Salvationists who have received this award. My grandfather has that, I thought. When I went home for Christmas vacation, I asked my mom, “Do you have grandpa’s Order of the Founder? I’d really love to see it.”
When I looked at it, I was amazed. He had died a couple months before I was born. But, through this award, I feel as if I’ve met him, and that I know the influence that he has had on the Army and on my mom.
As an officer, I want to show that same love.
A ‘6 G’ MINISTRY
Lieutenants Bramwell & Jana Applin
During his remarks, Major Ronald Foreman, principal of the College for Officer Training, said there were 22 first–generation Salvationists in the Heralds of Grace session, as well as 14 second–generation, nine third–generation, four fourth–generation, one fifth–generation, and one sixth–generation Salvationist.
The fifth–generation Salvationist was Valedictorian Lieutenant Jana Applin and the sixth–generation Salvationist happened to be her husband, Bramwell. The Applins are both the children of officers.
“We’ve always known that God called us to The Salvation Army,” Jana said. “We’ve grown up in it and it’s part of who we are. We had a calling to serve and to love people and to follow God.
“It’s just a blessing to know that, for so many generations, God has worked in our lives and in the lives of our families.”
Jana said she and Bramwell heard the call to officership individually.
Bramwell said, “A lot of times, as officers’ kids, you wonder if your calling is your own or if it’s just the only thing you’ve ever known. But, God [revealed] our calling to each of us. And it has really been a blessing to know that we’re continuing the legacy of The Salvation Army.”
Bramwell said that legacy is often on his mind. He thinks about all the lives that have been touched by his Salvationist ancestors.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” he said. “Much prayer goes into it. With God’s help, I hope to make a fraction of the impact made by the Salvationists who have preceded me.”
Lieutenants Brittany & Bryan Bender
“One day, in a conversation between Brittany and me, officership came up. In that moment, we got a sense of clarity,” recalls Lieutenant Bryan Bender. “It’s hard to explain, but I just sensed a peace unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.”
Lieutenant Brittany Bender recalls, “When Bryan brought it up, I knew that it was confirmation from God that He was still calling me to be an officer and that I should put my plans aside to follow His.”
Bryan is a fifth–generation Salvationist. Both of his parents and all of his grandparents on both sides of the family were officers. Brittany is a first–generation Salvationist. Her parents laid a foundation for her Christian walk by telling her stories about God. “I was so mesmerized by what they were telling me,” she says. “And as I grew up, they told me I could do whatever I wanted to do.”
As a teenager attending the Empire State Division’s Youth Councils at Long Point Camp & Retreat Center in Penn Yan, N.Y., Brittany heard the call to officership. “But, from a little girl, I always said that I wanted to be a teacher. And so, I put officership on the back burner.”
Three years ago, a miscarriage brought the Benders to their knees. Brittany remembers, “we prayed with our officers and got deeper into God’s word. He got us through those hard times.”
Today, they have a two–year–old daughter and a seven–month–old son. “I can’t imagine our lives without them,” says Bryan.
God has placed a passion on Brittany’s heart—to offer childcare to moms and dads and to provide a place where they can grow deeper in the Word and in their family.
DELIVERING ‘GOOD NEWS’
Lieutenant Kathryn Mayes
Lieutenant Kathryn Mayes, a first–generation Salvationist and the representative speaker for the Heralds of Grace session, recalled her first job as a newspaper delivery girl living in Kentucky while soldiering at the Newport, Ky., Corps.
Mayes called on her sessionmates to be as excited about delivering God’s “Good News” to the world as she was to deliver the daily news to her community.
Mayes, a passionate evangelist, as well as an avid athlete in basketball, said, “We are God’s delivery people. We have news this world needs. A heartbreaking number of people don’t know about this News.”
“This [realization] should set us on fire,” Mayes said. The former Hands On team leader to South Korea repeated, “This must set us on fire!”
‘RISE UP, MIGHTY CHURCH!’
On Sunday morning, the tears flowed freely at the Ordination and Commissioning service.
Commissioner Brian Peddle, International Secretary for the Americas & Caribbean Zone, turned to the new lieutenants and asked rhetorically, “Can I say today that you are a living example of God’s continued work in the world? Can I say to you today that, if there is any evidence that God has not taken His hand off the Army, it is you?
“Rise up mighty church! Let your light shine!” Peddle said. “Onward Christian soldiers, the battle is the Lord’s! The gates of hell will not prevail!”
Warren L. Maye, Robert Mitchell, and Hugo Bravo contributed to this story
Para leer el artículo en español, visite saconnects.org/de-generacion-en-generacion/