Relevents: Bill Burke
Bill Burke, the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board chair, and senior V.P. of marketing for Nationwide Insurance, talks about his visit to Israel and the Army’s presence in his hometown.
When I was a teenager, I attended Cathedral Preparatory School in Manhattan, a private high school and seminary for young men like me who were interested in the priesthood. Though eventually I realized that the call was not for me, many of the principles I learned in Cathedral Prep have driven my love for The Salvation Army. I specifically admire its correlation between loving the Lord and doing work for the Lord. The Army has been an outstanding outlet for me to do work for God
My wife Marianne and I love traveling. As empty nesters, we’re enjoying just being in each other’s company. It’s like dating all over again! Of all our trips, two have been most memorable. The first took us to London last July for the Boundless International Congress. It was a blessing to witness such a historic event for The Salvation Army. The second one was a 9–day tour of Israel in 1999, from Lebanon to Mt. Sinai. We walked the path that Christ walked, from Jericho to Jerusalem. The book of Matthew tells the story of Jesus giving His sermon atop a mountain. We stood by the Sea of Galilee, where archaeologists believe Christ stood and addressed the people. It was such an amazing opportunity to see and understand the Bible in a new dimension.
I recently met Captains Cilianise and Luxene Claircius of the Yonkers (Citadel), N.Y., Corps. Marianne and I are from Yonkers, and we were interested in hearing about the Army in our hometown. The captains told us about the gang problem happening there, which I had not been aware of, and about the sports ministry at the corps. The Clairciuses invite local kids to participate. The opportunity provides an oasis for them amid a life on the streets, if just for an evening or even a few hours. The Army’s presence in Yonkers is a good reminder that neighborhoods from your past may change, but it’s in those changing neighborhoods where The Salvation Army does its best and most important work.
Reading a Psalm a day has been a wonderful source of inspiration for me. The book of Psalms offers practical elements for one’s life. In it are beautiful verses about placing your trust in God, as did King David. When I have my first cup of coffee in the morning, and I do my Bible study, I read those psalms and say to myself, I am going to trust God all day. The writers of these psalms trusted the Lord, and I will too.
Nine years ago, I completed a Master’s degree in ministry at Grace College and Theological Seminary. I enjoyed learning and studying ministry. As my retirement approaches, Marianne and I have been trying to figure out what’s next for us. We don’t have an answer yet, but we look forward to the morning when we wake up and the Holy Spirit tells us, “Bill and Marianne, this is what I have planned for you.”
interview by Hugo Bravo