Changes of appointment

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By Bob Docter –

This is the way I see it.

In The Salvation Army, there is certainty in regard to officer appointment change. Newly commissioned officers usually “farewell” (transfer) more rapidly than other officers. High ranking officers move less. As in any army, soldiers have nothing to do with the change. They are rarely given notice in advance. It just happens on a three to five year schedule. Some appointments seem more desirable than others. No rules that I’m aware of dictate the length of appointments except retirement. One corps officer I know spent an entire career in one corps.

It appears to me that, depending on the nature and importance of the appointment, the recommendation is made either by a divisional commander or the Personnel Secretary at Territorial Headquarters. The Territorial Commander, and sometimes the General, become involved.

The General has had to be occupied in our territory due to the fact that our territorial leaders, Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs, are retiring on Dec. 30, and he wanted to be here. They will be followed by Commissioners Kenneth and Jolene Hodder, who have had a lengthy stay in two command appointments in Kenya, Africa, as well as other appointments.

I will miss the Knaggses very much. They have been outstanding leaders and communicate genuine warmth, high interest in what’s going on, and a sincere desire to be helpful. They have succeeded in everything they have done.

Throughout their lives they have sacrificed on behalf of others, been strong on behalf of the poor and destitute, and focused on the primary element of human change: the heart. James is outstanding on the platform and at his desk, and he deserves a medal for bravery with the fortitude he’s shown in fighting his recent serious illness.

We will enjoy seeing and welcoming the Hodders home. Ken soldiered at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps after he earned degrees at Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Jolene still has the wit, wisdom and beauty she had when they left for other duties. She is also an outstanding writer. Ken shot up through the ranks with many different appointments in many different settings. Their daughter, Jessica, attends the Tab with her new husband and contributes her skills significantly.

Of course, there’s also me. I’ve retired—a definite change.

Early in the 80s, Commissioner Will Pratt jumped on my proposal to start a newspaper. It was full speed ahead. It didn’t have a name yet, so I offered a couple of semi-religious titles. Pratt said, “…Nah.” He thought for a few seconds and said, “How about New Frontier?”

I didn’t ask about budget. Pratt said, “do it,” so I did it. I learned a valuable lesson. Get the Commissioner to want what you are proposing, and you can move forward.

So far, I’m enjoying retirement after well over 35 years of developing and publishing this paper, something designed to communicate what the Army is. I had some valuable assistance from members of the community relations and development department, people of faith who could be trusted to come up with good ideas, George Church, Bob Bearchell, Steve Bradley, and even my son, John.

Last month, some wonderful celebrations took place. It was a great time as I moved from being an active member of the New Frontier Publications staff to an active retirement, a capacity in which I will serve as Founding Editor. Our former Managing Editor, Christin (Thieme) Davis, will now run the show as Editor in Chief and Literary Secretary. If you don’t know her, she attends the Torrance Corps. Christin has assembled a great staff responsible for all publications. She’s ideal in every respect with a master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California and 10 years of experience here keeping track of everything we do.

So, don’t worry about our publications. They’ll only get better.

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