Asbury honors Chief of the Staff
by Henry Gariepy, Colonel and Michelle Gaither Sparks –
“It was our great joy and privilege at Asbury College to honor the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Israel L. Gaither,” stated Dr. (General-Ret.) Paul A. Rader, president of Asbury College, Wilmore, Ky. “In so doing,” he added, “Asbury College was itself honored in recognizing his outstanding leadership, administrative acumen, unique giftedness in proclaiming the Word of God, and his contribution to the cause of Christ around the world.”
Rader officiated in the hooding of the Commissioner, who was cited for his position as second in command of the worldwide Salvation Army with its headquarters in London. He was acknowledged as becoming the first African-American to become a commissioner, a territorial commander, and to be selected Chief of the Staff, “putting fresh heart into persons of color within the Army across America and around the world.” He was also recognized for having been twice a nominee for General of The Salvation Army, and having created “A Bridge of Hope” when territorial commander in South Africa—linking substantive resources from the USA with constructive projects for the people of South Africa.
Asbury College has a long history of close association with The Salvation Army, hosting through the years one of the largest Army Student Fellowships. Following his retirement as the Army’s international leader, General Paul A. Rader was invited to serve as its president.
On this occasion 306 undergraduate and graduate degrees were awarded. The event took place on May 8, Mother’s Day. Dr. Rader remarked, “I wish I could personally introduce all mothers here today, but since I cannot, I would like to recognize one mother in particular.” He invited Mrs. Lillian Gaither, the Commissioner’s mother, to stand and receive the recognition and applause of the large congregation.
Son Mark and daughter Michele are both graduates from Asbury College, and Michele is also a teacher at the college.
The USA Eastern Territory last year commissioned the writing of a biography of Commissioner Israel Gaither, for release in late 2006.