Lets Take Our Hats Off to Our Pastors

by Commissioner David Edwards – 

Sunday, June 28, was farewell Sunday throughout the territory. Fortunately for my wife and me, we were not specialing, so we were in attendance at the holiness meeting at the corps where we are members. Our corps officers, Captains Doug and Sheryl Tollerud, were farewelling for another appointment. We were glad for the opportunity to join with the rest of the corps to let these officers know how much they were loved and appreciated.

While we have only been at this corps for the past year, we are going to miss them. They have, however, been at the corps for five years–sufficient time for them to have established meaningful relationships with their people. Leaving was obviously difficult for them to do. For the people of the corps, letting them go was just as difficult.

Called to be pastors

For an officer, a change of appointment is one of the certainties of life. We try not to become too attached to any one place or any one appointment. It is difficult to do that, however, when it comes to people. People impact our lives as we do theirs. We can never stay detached from people if we are truly called to pastoring.

It was a moving experience for me to sit in that meeting, to share in the fellowship meal which followed afterwards, and listen to the tributes paid to our corps officers. It was difficult holding back the tears. One got the impression that these were tears of gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity of ministry and gratitude for the service rendered.

And what gratitude!

From one of the newest members of the corps, – ” I will never forget this man…who first trusted me with a job. I was homeless. He gave me a job ringing the bells on the Christmas kettles two years in a row. Then when the job of custodian became available, he offered it to me…I will never forget this man…”

From the 8-year-old Junior soldier, “They might move to some place else…but they will always be in my heart.”

From one of the oldest soldiers of the corps, “I will never forget you, Captain. You came to my wife’s bedside when she was very sick and we thought that she would die. I will never forget how you sat holding her hand in yours. I will never forget how you cared…” Yes! It was difficult holding back the tears.

An example of Christlike compassion

I rather suspect that this was the scenario repeated several times over in places right across this territory where officers were farewelling. I do not think that our corps officers, the Tolleruds, are unique. I believe that they are but an example of the men and women, across this territory, who serve at the front lines, in corps, Adult Rehabilitation Centers, Silvercrests, Booth Residences, Harbor Light Centers, homeless shelters, you name it. Men and women, some officers, others auxiliary captains, envoys or just people involved in ministry, who exhibit such compassion for people they serve that they glorify him whose example they follow.

We salute our pastors

On this occasion when we are having the annual field change, I think that it is most appropriate that I take this opportunity to salute these men and women and thank them for their continued devotion to their task.

I therefore salute all of you–our pastors, wherever you serve. I do so on behalf of those of us who serve on headquarters. We need you to know that we appreciate your hard work. We need you to know that our desire is to facilitate your ministry. It is a privilege to serve you.

I salute you–our pastors–on behalf of those you serve as well as those who have chosen to invest us with their trust. It is you who make us worthy of such trust.

I thank God that despite the demands placed upon our officers, and ministry workers, on the field to do and be all things, there is still sufficient evidence to suggest that the large majority have not forgotten that we are first pastors.

Let’s take our hats off to the men and women we call “our pastors.”

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