Harfoots hit the ground running

West welcomes new chief secretary and women’s ministries secretary.

by Robert Docter –

Lt. Colonels William and Susan Harfoot

Lt. Colonels Bill and Sue Harfoot, recently appointed Territorial Chief Secretary and Territorial Women’s Ministries Secretary, respectively, have already moved into action. They have what many believe is the ideal preparation and training for their new positions—17 years in corps work and 10 years at the College for Officer Training. Prior to this appointment, they served in the Central Territory as Personnel Secretary and Officer Resource and Development Secretary.

Preparation for territorial
“All Salvation Army appointments are about service,” Harfoot stated. “If you succeed in corps settings you meet the diverse needs of people in widely different settings.”

Because service to people demands relationship skills, the corps becomes a vital training ground for any Army appointment, he said.

Sue Harfoot added that corps work requires stewardship management, public relations, confronting poverty issues, working with local government officials, and collaborating with other organizations that share aspects of our mission. “Mostly, however, the work is pastoral—helping people discover their potential spiritually, socially and mentally,” she said.

“Part of this job,” Harfoot stated, “is to see the big picture and facilitate the development of an integrated, cohesive community—one territory moving together toward common goals.

Individualism and community
“Now,” he continued, “I have a slightly different congregation to relate with, and congregational life is not individualistic. It is about community building through the empowerment of individuals, but it is not individualistic. We must avoid individualistic thinking that moves us away from our common goals.”

En route to Long Beach from Chicago, the Harfoots began to pick up the rapid tempo and driving tensions of the West. “As officers who were stationed in the plains and the large cities of the Midwest in corps of all sizes, we are deeply impressed with the level of commitment of Western officers and soldiers in corps ministries. We want to come alongside people and avoid giving answers before we ask the questions. This is team ministry,” Harfoot said.

Having a “long view” attitude
“I learned very early that we need to take the long view as we approach each appointment. That means we see it as if we will be in that community for a lifetime. Focusing on the future—on one’s next appointment, only causes us to lose focus on the present. With the apostle Peter, we discovered that ‘the Lord will provide everything we need to live a holy life,’” Harfoot said.

Both have a strong Army heritage through several generations. Sue’s background is deeply entrenched in the West. Her great-grandmother, Mahala Hodge, moved from Canada to Butte, Montana in 1908. She had eleven children, all of whom were active in the Army. The oldest, Lillie, was Sue’s grandmother. She became an officer in 1911 and, with her husband, led the work in Spokane, Wash. and Billings, Mont. after serving as corps officers in western Canada for several years. Names like Guest, Morton, Ellis, and Hodge have found places on officers’ and soldiers’ rolls throughout the West.

Territorial contrasts and
future challenges
When asked to compare the Central and Western territories, Harfoot noted the strong similarities between the two and then said: “What really hits us is the tremendous geographical expanse of the Western Territory. I think it could possibly be the largest territory geographically in the Army world. Also, there is such wide ethnic and racial diversity among people of the West. I see this as both a challenge and strength.”

In exploring future challenges, he noted the increasing secularization of the nation and finds the Army uniquely poised to be very effective within this culture. The sacred marriage of our social and spiritual ministries, as well as our ability to use soldiers in ministerial roles and as volunteers in all dimensions of service, makes it possible for us to grow and serve humanity. There is no religious litmus test for the expression of Christian love. “In fact, Booth once said: ‘You want to help us, we’ll make a spot—then you’ll get saved along the way.’

“Good corps,” Harfoot continued, “have a continuing conversation about the integration of our social and spiritual ministries.”

Both Harfoots look forward to meeting the people of the West in their travels throughout the territory. Their formal welcome to the West will take place during the Welcome of Cadets at 6 p.m., Saturday, September 13, in the Tustin Ranch Corps auditorium.

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