Relevents: Major Stanley Newton
Major Stanley Newton, corps officer at the Salvation Army corps in Asbury Park, N.J., talks about Ocean Grove, N.J., family, and the importance of ministry between generations.
Sometimes it feels like there are two corps in Asbury Park. The challenge is to find a middle ground. There is the traditional one made up of comrades who have given years of service. The other one is filled with young people who are being introduced to God and The Salvation Army. We need to reach out to and respect people who have been serving here as well as prepare the young people who will one day run our corps.
Ocean Grove is only a few blocks from the corps and is near Asbury Park’s summer homes, restaurants, and businesses. It’s also a national historic site. We’ve had congress meetings in its beautiful Great Auditorium, and parades on its main street. Hurricane Sandy left the area with a lot of damage, but it’s making a comeback. The people here have embraced the Army and its ministry in the community.
In my teen years, I was a fast runner. My school had no track program until I was a senior, but my mother knew John, a childhood friend of my father and a dedicated marathon runner. As adults, my father and John worked in the same steel mill; John also served as a pallbearer at my father’s funeral in 1975. In 1980, he became my trainer and mentor, taking me to enjoy races with him. But after a month of training, I noticed that John, a bachelor at 48, was coming to visit us even with no races scheduled. The following year, my mother and John got married, and he raised my brother and me as his own children. I could not have asked for a better stepfather. I jokingly take credit for John being in our lives, but it was all my mother. Twice in her life, she chose the right man.
As I was driving to my first day at the training college, I prayed to God that I would meet the girl I would marry. In our session, I was one of only three single men. At a meeting, a female cadet spoke in Spanish to Richard, one of the single men. When she walked away, I asked, “Is she your girlfriend?” He said, “That’s my sister Norma, a second–year cadet.” I became friends with her during our year together. When she became an officer, I visited her in Allentown where she had been assigned. When I returned, I told her brother, “I’m going to marry your sister.” He asked if we were dating or if she even knew that I was interested in her. I replied, “No, but I know I’m going to marry her.” When I became an officer, I was assigned to East Stroudsburg, Pa., only half an hour away from Norma. I finally let her know how I felt about her; we were married a year after that.
Just like young Jesus at the temple in the book of Luke, as officers, we must be about our Father’s business. When Major Norma Newton and I came to Asbury Park, we attended meetings with town leaders, local newspaper editors, and even gathered with people in places like the Stone Pony concert venue. We never know where we’ll find our next corps board member. The Army has so much history in Asbury Park and I’m just in awe of the possibilities for us here today.
interview by Hugo Bravo