TSM Kris Hevenor chairs Territorial Soldiers Express Council
“Without soldiers, there is no Army. To develop a clearer chain of communication between soldiery and leadership, the cabinet of the USA Eastern Territory has made the decision to initiate the role and the appointment of a Territorial Sergeant Major (TSM).”
—Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander
Speaking on behalf of hundreds of Salvation Army soldiers in the USA Eastern Territory sounds like a daunting task. Bringing their heartfelt concerns to the table where leadership can clearly hear them is the expectation placed squarely on the shoulders of Kris Hevenor, Territorial Sergeant Major, and chairperson of the new Territorial Soldiers Express Council (TSEC). Despite the challenge, she believes God has called her to this assignment and is ready to launch what she says will be a paradigm shift in the way leadership and soldiers will relate to each other.
“I will say that God gave me a clear vision for this a couple of years before the Commissioners Bamford asked me to do this,” remembers Hevenor. “Being the church corps sergeant major was advance confirmation of a call that God had placed on my life. So, it was an answer to prayer for me. God was working it all out and in His timing. I just had to wait. But I knew that it was the right thing; that this is what He wanted us to be doing. It’s exciting for me to see the way He’s worked that out.”
Make the message clear
Hevenor, who works professionally as an elementary school librarian, is in the business of sharing complex information in ways that are simplified and easy to understand. “I think what the council is doing is bigger than what we see on the face of it. It’s really a culture shift. Doing something like this is courageous on the part of our leadership; to give us this opportunity, because we are not used to it,” she says.
“The TSEC is inviting us to flip that top–down model and instead seek ideas from the front lines. The whole COVID–19 situation is also forcing us to think creatively and outside the box, which aligns perfectly with the mission of this council .”
Hevenor will receive plenty of help from the council members who will represent their respective divisions in the territory (see sidebar for listing). “It’s exciting to see the membership of the council and how well we’ve worked together, right from the beginning,” she says. “They were recommended by their divisional leaders, so they come to the table well respected and full of integrity and with their own vision. I think that’s just a great way to start.”
Hevenor points out that council members will offer their own ideas, but their broader responsibility will be to solicit the opinions and concerns of the soldiery. “We want to hear all of the ideas of the whole territory. We would like to be able to include on our agenda any suggestions. Then we will go through them and prioritize those topics as they come up,” she says. “We’re in the beginning stages and we’re looking at everything.”
Adding worth and value
Communication will be a two–way street, as territorial leadership will also have opportunity to ask questions and seek input from the soldiery. “The communication will go both ways,” says Hevenor.
Soldiers say that the need for this council has been a longtime coming. They are excited and hopeful about the possible outcomes. “We hear soldiers all the time saying ‘there wouldn’t be an Army without the soldiers, but we’re never asked our opinions on things. We don’t have a forum for expressing what matters to us.’ Well, now we do.
“Structurally, the Army is a top—down organization and so we often don’t have a say in the mandates and decisions that affect us directly. People can often get discouraged by that,” Hevenor says. “The mission of the Soldiers Express Council is to give soldiers a voice into the decisions that affect their church and the movement that is so important to them.”
Hevenor says people are thrilled at news of the TSEC. “When you give more people an opportunity to speak, then that adds to the excitement and their sense of worth and value. I really want them to be encouraged to speak up. No idea is off the table,” she says.
by Warren L. Maye
Meet your TSEC member
as of 9/11/20
Kris Hevenor, Chair, Territorial Sergeant Major – Kris.Hevenor@use.salvationarmy.org
Envoy Pat Wood, Secretary, SNE – Pat.Wood@USE.SalvationArmy.org
Jose Alejo, GNY – Jose.Alejo@use.salvationarmy.org
Bryan Cook, WPA – email@example.com
Mabel Cuevas, PRVI – Mabel.Cuevas@USE.SalvationArmy.org
Rebecca Dina, NEOSA – Rebecca.Dina@use.salvationarmy.org
Arlene Jackson, PENDEL – ArleneBanks.Jackson@use.salvationarmy.org
Gerard Perry, NNE – Gerard.Perry@use.salvationarmy.org
Robin Rice, EMP – Robin.Rice@use.salvationarmy.org
Eric Snowden, SWONEKY – Eric.Snowden@use.salvationarmy.org
Fernando Velasquez, NJ – Fernando.Velasquez@use.salvationarmy.org
Neil Welds, MA – Neil.Welds@use.salvationarmy.org