Rader Names West’s New Territorial Commander
By Robert Docter –
“We covet your prayers,” stated Commissioners David and Doreen Edwards in a New Frontier interview upon being informed by General Paul A. Rader, international leader of the Salvation Army, of their appointments as Territorial Commander and Territorial President of Women’s Organizations effective July 1 following the retirement of Commissioners Peter and Grace Chang.
With a sense of genuine humility mixed with confident optimism, both Edwards commented on the “sense of joyful excitement” they feel as they anticipate the opportunities “to share a vision with people of what God can do.”
Edwards, a native of Guyana, currently serves as the International Secretary for the Americas and, with his wife, the Zonal Secretary of Women’s Organizations, has traveled widely throughout North and South America and the Caribbean. She is a native of Barbados. The positions at International Headquarters require them to stay current on all issues that face the Army in this part of the world.
Prior to this appointment, they served as territorial leaders in the Caribbean. In January of 1996 they visited the West and spoke with cadets, with the Territorial Executive Council and ministered at the Pasadena Tabernacle. Earlier, they had conducted camp meetings in the Northwest Division.
“It was a great surprise when the General informed us of this appointment,” Edwards stated. “It was never in our wildest dream when we were called to become officers that we should have this kind of leadership responsibility. We feel challenged–but this is not the first time we have felt challenged from a human perspective–and we have learned to trust God and know that he will provide. Of course, there is a little apprehension as well, for this is the first time someone from the Caribbean has received this type of appointment.”
Edwards was reluctant to respond when asked what role he thought his wife would play in their administration and suggested that she respond herself. “I love the Lord and his people,” she said, “and I want to see the Kingdom grow. I consider the responsibility of President of Women’s Organizations to be a vital one, and I shall begin there. Then, as additional opportunities present themselves, I shall be ready.”
Edwards commented on the international image of the West as being highly innovative. “It has always been in the news–always on the cutting edge. Here is a territory charting new frontiers– moving forward with such programs as MISSION2000 and People Count!. There has been a great vision to reach diverse racial and ethnic groups, and with my experience in the very diverse and multicultural Caribbean Territory with 16 separate countries, I understand the difficulties and challenges this ministry presents. But that is part of the excitement we feel.”
While not being fully conversant on some national issues such as welfare reform, Edwards stated that he has read the recent reports from national headquarters on this topic and intends to study it more fully on his arrival. “I sense it will have a telling effect on the poor and place additional responsibilities on the Army and other charities to help them,” he said.
Both Edwards met the Army through their families. He came from a modest background in Georgetown, Guyana, where his father was a taxi driver and his mother a domestic. His great aunt introduced him to the Army, and he thought of her immediately following the announcement of his appointment. Mrs. Edwards’ mother brought her to the Army, and her sisters still attend in Barbados.
Edwards was commissioned in 1962. Mrs. Edwards preceded him as an officer by five years. They were married in 1966 and have no children. Following marriage, they continued serving in corps and divisional appointments as well as on the training college staff and as its principal. In 1980, they were appointed to territorial headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, where he served as territorial field and social secretary and then as chief secretary.
In 1985, they were appointed to the USA Eastern Territory where he served as assistant chief secretary and as divisional commander for the New Jersey Division. She had parallel appointments during this time. Then, following a time as Undersecretary at IHQ, they were appointed to command of the Caribbean Territory. They returned to London for their current position in 1995. Both have had appointments to the International College for Officers.