Cascade–DHQ Has a Ministry Too


NETWORKING–(l-r) Portland Metropolitan Advisory Board members Dave Williams and Scott Milam greet Major Kurt Burger, divisional commander, and Territorial Commander Commissioner David Edwards.


Articles by Sue Schumann Warner –
Photos by John Docter – 

Feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, assisting the aging–typical Salvation Army fare–but who would think those programs describe the work of a divisional headquarters?

Well, Cascade Divisional Headquarters does. That’s because its work–or ministry, as they think of it–transcends administrative stereotypes, linking caring staff with programs that impact lives in the greater Metropolitan Portland area and throughout the division itself. And in the course of a typical day, that ministry is carried out as officers and employees go about their business: administering, facilitating, and supporting programs for abused women, homeless teens, unwed mothers, addicted men and women, the elderly, and others in need. And that’s in addition to partnering with corps and outpost–all 35 of them–as they care for the spiritual and physical needs of their flocks.

How do they do it? Under the leadership of Divisional Commander Major Kurt Burger and Divisional Director of Women’s Organizations Major Alicia Burger, things appear to run as smoothly as a Swiss watch. In the course of a week–or a day–council meetings address program concerns, the finance department deals with corps’ fiscal situations, the city coordinator relates to a host of social programs, the emergency disaster coordinator provides planning information for corps and volunteers, the Rose Center provides health and social activities for seniors, and the development staff assists with grantwriting to obtain funding to support the Army’s work. And the bottom line of all the administrative and bureaucratic business is that this isn’t just business as usual; it’s facilitating the caring, compassionate ministry of the Army. “Divisional Headquarters is as much a ministry as a corps,” explained Burger. “I’ve never felt that DHQ was any more or less than a corps appointment.”

Take last week, for example. At 7:30 am, City Program Coordinator Rowanne Haley, Greenhouse Director Debbie Coppenger, and Greenhouse advisory council members met at the Greenhouse to review progress on the expansion of the program–a ministry to homeless youth–from an 8-hour day to a 24-hour day.

Back at DHQ, Burger, the Portland Metropolitan advisory board long-range planning committee and the Portland Metro program coordinators started their day early, addressing long range planning for the area. “The long-range planning committee of the Metro board is completely involved with our visioning process,” Burger noted. K. Burger

UPDATE–Major Kurt Burger discusses corps’ vision statements. The division has a 95 percent response so far. “Our corps vision statements are almost 100 percent ministry related,” he said, “and zero percent administrative issues. It’s not surprising, but we must marry the two.”

Radio program

When that meeting ended, Burger switched hats and, with the assistance of Captain Randy Kinnamon, divisional finance secretary, recorded a radio program that airs twice on Sundays on channel KPDQ. “We do this on the run,” said Burger. “it’s purely a labor of love for Randy and me. We aren’t qualified, really don’t have the time, but this is a valuable ministry.” He explained that the program airs at 3 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m.–travel time on Sunday afternoons. “There are lots of cars on the road that time of day; that’s our main audience.” Considering the positive response they have received from listeners, their format of music, a devotional, and short testimonies is striking a resonant chord.

Meanwhile, Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Coordinator Kate Griffith was appraising The Salvation Army’s growing relief needs for Kosovo refugees, the latest emergency relief situation for Cascade. “We get lots of flooding along the coast, fires in Eastern Oregon and Idaho, windstorms, power failures, and terrorist problems­like the shooting at the school in Springfield,” said Griffith. Preparation is also a part of her plan. “Since officers transfer a lot within the territory, they may not have been in these kinds of disasters, and we need to provide training for them as well as for our volunteers.”

Down the hall, Chief Accountant Nick Maguddayao was on the phone, talking about the importance of accurate record-keeping to a corps officer in a rural town. “If I can guide officers in accounting, financing, and proper recording, then I will have done my part in the ministry of The Salvation Army,” Nick commented. “The better corps officers understand finance, the better they do in the community. People expect funds to be judiciously spent and accounted for.” finance

PLANNING–(l-r) Judy Ricken, Nick Maguddayao, and Beverly Elwell review an audit report.

People and programs

Later that morning, Steve Weiss, divisional human resources director, was busy checking e-mail and answering voice mail messages. Out of the office for just two days, he had 61 e-mails and 27 voice messages awaiting him. “I try to respond as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’s part of my job.” Like many other DHQ employees, Weiss views his job as ministry. “Sometimes I’m a listening ear. Officers may need someone to bounce employees’ problems off of. I don’t have all the answers, but we talk things through together.”

Over in the conference room, the “Project: Back to School” committee met to work on plans for the event, which provides 1,500 underprivileged children with new items and services they need for returning to school in the fall. Thanks to generous donors, children receive items such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, pens, paper, binders, notebooks, crayons, and other necessities.

Rose Center participants, ages 55 to 101, enjoyed a nutritious lunch and warm fellowship just one floor down from DHQ administrative offices. From 60 to 100 attend the lunch each day. “This is a terrific place,” said Director Pam Mangenes. “We address the needs of the whole person: intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually.” Activities include Bible study, card groups, a complete tour program, beauty salon, bingo–and an exercise class taught by a 92-year-old woman!

Also sharing the building is the Portland Tabernacle Corps, under the leadership of Corps Officers Captains Jeff and Eloisa Martin and assistants Lts. Don and Emily Miller, which is housed on the first floor.

A few blocks away, at DHQ’s satellite office, Larissa Brown edits a grantwriting proposal that a corps is submitting. “I end up being a hotline for the corps, especially when they’re having a problem,” she stated. Brown’s assistance ranges from helping track deadlines, suggests funders, and obtaining endorsement letters from Major Burger, to writing grants herself. A. Burger

VISIONING–Major Alicia Burger recently returned from four days out in the field; she explains the importance of maintaining a vital spiritual life in the midst of a busy schedule.

On the go

Major Alicia Burger, director of women’s organizations, had just returned with Major Virginia Gilman, women’s ministries secretary, from four days, seven corps and 500 miles worth of women’s ministries reviews out in the field–just a few of the 30-40,000 miles a year that are put on her car. “I like being out with people, being able to help,” she said. “I am teacher by profession. I like seeing improvement, and love to teach people to have vision and set goals.”

She noted that in the midst of the hectic pace, officers have to keep their own spiritual life alive. “If you don’t take the initiative, you can become very secular in this job as an officer and a Christian. A five-minute devotion at home won’t feed you. You have to go to Bible study, or do an in-depth study on your own.” Teamwork is important to her as well. “We work as a team here at DHQ. We support each other in prayer and in our work. My staff looks on their job as ministry and pray for us when we’re on the road.”

Later in the week, Commissioners David and Doreen Edwards visited Portland, getting a first hand look at the Army’s work. In an early morning breakfast meeting with a selected group of Portland Metro’s Advisory Board members, Edwards stated “Ever since working in the Caribbean Territory, I’ve been aware of the importance of partnership with government agencies and communities…but more important are partnerships with people such as yourselves. Partnership with advisory boards is very important. You accomplish things we couldn’t do on our own. We recognize the importance you bring to our ministry.”

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