Gaither installed as Chief of the Staff

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Commissioner Israel Gaither had barely gotten his sleeves rolled up as the newly appointed Commander of the Eastern Territory when his next assignment arrived. General-elect Larsson selected him to be his Chief of the Staff, and this was the preface to this installation.

General Gowans presided at the morning event, and heartily welcomed the gathering of Salvationists from the UK Territory. It was clear from the audience’s response that during his tenures as the UK territorial commander and General that a warm and loving bond has developed.

Following the installation ceremony, Gaither addressed the crowd with a forward looking message. The text for his message was from Acts 26 in which Saul cried out, “Who are you?” This is a question for our Army, Gaither explained. “We are a rescued church, rescued from the world and from ourselves.” He proclaimed that the Army has been placed strategically in the world by God for “missioning” in the world. “When we do that right,” said Gaither, “people get saved.” He underscored the fact that we must not disguise who we are, and we must understand the urgency of our mission.

In answering the question, “Who are we?” Gaither painted a picture of the Army’s identity as having five critical characteristics. (1) The Army’s mission of saving the lost is paramount. Nothing matters more than this. He seemed to imply that we are not a good works organization for the sake of doing good deeds. This would mean that all of our services and activities are driven and based on the foundational mission. (2) We must have a collective presence in the world as a Salvation Army. (3) Our ethos must never be compromised. Steeped in our identity is righteousness and integrity. This is the part of our identity that makes us trustworthy. (4) Pertaining to God’s kingdom, every Salvationist must understand his or her particular call to service. The work of the Army is not delegated to the few, and every soldier has a call to fulfill. (5) Universal diversity is a gift. Our differences must never keep us apart.

His message was inspiring and well received. For Gaither, the identity question is central if the Army is to continue to grow and fulfill its mission. He warned that we cannot rely on “care-taking” or “memorializing” our past. Rather, we need to see ourselves as “missioning” agents preparing the people of the world for His coming. He sees the Army as unique in this way, as God’s “special agents” called to do the work that others won’t. Gaither concluded his address proclaiming, “I am glad to be a Salvation soldier.”

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