Hodders reflect on time leading Western Territory
After more than three years leading the Western Territory, Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder are headed to Alexandria, Virgina, where they will take up appointments from General Brian Peddle as the USA National Commander and National President of Women’s Ministries, respectively, effective July 1.
The Hodders were installed as Western Territorial leaders in January 2017 at the Tustin Ranch Corps in Southern California. Their tenure as the West’s territorial leaders was guided by Kenneth G. Hodder’s territorial vision: “Christ and Him Crucified,” which emphasized covenant, engagement and stewardship.
New Frontier Chronicle caught up with the Hodders before they set out for National Headquarters.
What have you learned in leading the Western Territory?
Jolene K. Hodder: You must start with the size of the vision, not the size of the budget. Finances have been tight these last few years, and it would have been easy to let God-given dreams die in our budget meetings. God has worked some miracles in the Army these past few years and I am grateful to have played a small part in his amazing plan.
Kenneth G. Hodder: I have learned once again that the resilience and strength of the Army exceeds any challenges we might face. Clearly, that is a product of our reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
There are a number of hallmarks of your time in the West—ensuring a functioning advisory board in every unit along with launching a territorial advisory board, successfully moving Territorial Headquarters to the Crestmont Campus, increasing the West’s kettle volunteer hours, rebooting Women’s Ministries, launching the Way Out, debuting a new structure for the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command, and more. What are you most proud of in your roughly 3.5 years at the helm?
Kenneth G. Hodder: I am most proud of our people. They are the ones who have made it all happen.
Your tenure has been guided by your territorial vision: “Christ and Him Crucified,” emphasizing covenant, engagement and stewardship. How have we done as a territory, and where do you see opportunity for continued growth?
Kenneth G. Hodder: Our territory has done an exceptional job in all three areas of emphasis. The vision, of course, will always call us to greater efforts for the Kingdom of God, but I believe we can see how our reliance on his wisdom rather than our own has renewed our territorial commitment to the mission that God laid out for the Army.
Along those lines, in 2017 you initiated Project 180, a three-year territory-wide effort to reduce costs, increase income and develop ministry. Can you share briefly about this effort, what was accomplished and what you hope it means in the long-term for the territory?
Kenneth G. Hodder: Project 180 will come to a conclusion in September, and it has in many ways set a new direction for the territory. The process has not been easy, of course, but we have certainly become more efficient, we’ve expanded our services among those in need, and we’ve built new and stronger relationships with the communities in which we serve.
Is there a particular event, conversation or encounter you’ll always remember from your time leading the West? What is it and why?
Jolene K. Hodder: I will always remember this COVID-19 crisis. All our officers, employees and volunteers had every reason to stop working and hide out in their homes to stay safe. Instead, so many of them became community heroes working long hours on the frontlines to literally save and serve suffering humanity. And even those who had to stay home due to family responsibilities or health found very creative ways to minister to their communities. They truly mobilized and reached more for Christ than ever.
As you head into this new appointment, leading The Salvation Army across the nation, what aspect of the new role are you most looking forward to?
Kenneth G. Hodder: I can’t imagine a greater privilege than to represent our General and The Salvation Army to both the federal government and business leaders around the nation. I also look forward to learning more about the astonishing range of Army programs in other parts of the country.
What do you love about The Salvation Army?
Jolene K. Hodder: We are one big international family with a common passion—to love and serve others unconditionally. When mobilized, there isn’t anyone we can’t reach with the hope we preach—Jesus Christ!
Kenneth G. Hodder: I love the fact that, while we will always be part of the Church, we are not tied to a church building. We’ve seen so many occasions over the past three-and-a-half years when the strength of that approach has come to the fore. People want to know that we care about them first and foremost, and the adaptive nature of Army ministry allows us to do just that.
What spiritual encouragement would you offer the territory at this moment in time?
Jolene K. Hodder: The only way God can show us he is in control is to put us in situations we can’t control. God is up to something big and I believe the Army is playing a major role in his plan.
Kenneth G. Hodder: We should continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18a). Doing so will simultaneously encourage and challenge the officers, soldiers, employees and friends of The Salvation Army.
If you could send a brief note to each Salvationist in the West on your final day as territorial leaders, what would you say?
Jolene K. Hodder: It has been an incredible privilege to see what God has done in and through you these last few years. I thank the Lord for choosing me to serve alongside you and for your grace in allowing me to be your leader. I will always thank God for you in my prayers.
Kenneth G. Hodder: From the bottom of my heart, thank you.