Army rolls swell as 220 enrolled
Viquez receives Territorial President’s Award.
by Sue Schumann Warner –
With fervor, flair, and flags waving—and yet retaining, somehow, the ‘family feeling’ of a camp meeting—1,300 soldiers, officers and friends of the Del Oro and Golden State Divisions joined in celebrating the Army’s rich salvation story.
Along the way, the Army’s rolls swelled as 220 junior soldiers, senior soldiers, and adherents—standing proud and trim in uniform blue or smart red jackets—stretched across a wide stage and responded enthusiastically to territorial leaders Commissioners Phil and Pat Swyers questions and commendations as they were enrolled. And in a surprise presentation, Gilroy Corps Officer Captain Melissa Viquez, who serves with her husband Captain Roberto Viquez, was awarded the Territorial President’s Award by Commissioner Pat Swyers for her work with the Home League. Gilroy has just enrolled—at one time—63 new Home League members.
Commissioners Swyers led the united meeting, held in the Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley, Calif., supported by Colonels William and Sue Harfoot and divisional leaders Lt. Colonels Joe and Shawn Posillico, Golden State, and Majors Doug and Colleen Riley, Del Oro.
National leaders Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither were special guests.
The evening’s meeting was preceded by a private reception for advisory board members and civic leaders; national advisory board member Mary Theroux, a member of San Francisco’s advisory board, welcomed the guests and introduced the Gaithers.
Commissioner Israel Gaither spoke to the group, thanking them for their support. “The ministry and mission of The Salvation Army is going against the tide of what is happening within America,” he stated. “It’s difficult to tell you how much the men and women of the advisory boards mean to us personally. If you don’t stand with us, we may teeter a bit. We need your energy!”
Theroux also recognized Dick Haggerty, a national advisory board member emeritus, who hails from Modesto, Calif.
A variety of refreshments were beautifully prepared and served by eight men who are students in the Lodi Corps’ Chef’s Culinary Academy.
An evening of music and mission
The Concord Corps Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Jim Black, and the United Songsters, led by Divisional Music Director Derek Helms opened the evening in worship through music, followed by 132 gentlemen from the Oakland ARC, who poured down from their seats in the balcony to fill the stage and enthusiastically set a tone of rich praise and unbridled joy. Major Laura Heiselman, director of special services, led the group.
Lots of applause and laughter accompanied Swyers’ presentation of the Trailblazer Award to Major Grace Tse, Oakland Chinatown corps officer, as Swyers prompted Tse to tell the audience of the many avenues of ministry she has initiated during her tenure there. He told her, “You have a ‘can do’ spirit. Nothing seems impossible to you.” To her amazement and joy, he then told her the West has pledged to give a grant to the corps for computers and music for the after school program.
Major Joe Posillico and Major Colleen Riley introduced the accepted candidates from their divisions, four from the Golden State and six from Del Oro.
Gaither: “Who will I send?”
In his opening remarks Gaither warmly greeted the audience and said, “This is a night I’m glad to be a Salvationist. I’ve seen this territory in a way I’ve never been able to see it before!”
He then preached from Isaiah 6:8, recounting Isaiah’s response to God’s call—“Here I am, send me!”— and encouraged Salvationists to ask God if he can use them.
“Just do something about the needs you see,” he said. “There are some who wear the uniform and do very little; we need to be God’s Salvation Army…be his soldiers. Saying ‘I’ll be a soldier’ has deep implications.
“Are we doing enough?” he asked. “I don’t think so! There is a world to win for Jesus. God uses ordinary people—you and me—to do his sacred work.”