Luttrells Continue ‘Joyful Journey’
by Robert Docter –
Colonels Bill and Gwen Luttrell continued their “joyful journey” from Long Beach, the place of its beginning for them, as they bade farewell to the officers and soldiers of the West to assume their new ranks and appointments at International Headquarters in London. Promoted to the rank of Commissioner, the Army’s highest rank designation below only the General, the Luttrells take appointments as International Secretary and International President of Women’s Services for the Americas and the Caribbean.
The journey began in Long Beach. Gwen was a soldier and it was Bill’s first appointment. Here they met and married and started significant careers in the Army which took them to service in a number of corps and divisional appointments, four years as directors of the Manhattan Project, a drug rehabilitation and treatment center in Los Angeles, leadership of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division, faculty membership and leadership of the College for Officer Training, Territorial Secretary for Personnel, and Chief Secretary.
Strong feelings of ambivalence filled the capacity crowd in the Long Beach Temple Corps–happiness that the Army recognized the excellence of their good friends, the Luttrells, and sadness in saying good-bye to faithful soldiers who attended the corps regularly during every appointment in the area.
Gwen Luttrell, whose roots spring from the Long Beach area, noted that the journey’s joy emerges from the presence and power of Christ in their lives and from the people they meet along the way. Drawing on verses from the 16th Psalm which examines the types of joy derived from loyalty, she disclosed the immeasurable joy in her life from service, from faith and in hope.
Bill Luttrell spoke in his informal yet substantive manner as he moved easily without notes from the platform to the front of the auditorium, back to the platform–always maintaining eye contact, always relating, always thoughtful and organized. “I thank God for using me in this joyful journey,” he said, “I’m ready to go.” Paralleling his wife’s thoughts from Psalm 16, he noted verse 11 which states: “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for ever more.”
Luttrell observed that we can cope with the difficulties of life and accomplish his will as we relate to him. “God provides us with helpers to aid us in accomplishing his tasks and moving on. In his presence is fullness of joy. It’s allowing ourselves to make ourselves known to him. These times of fullness of joy come after the journey’s challenges. In our humanness we say: ‘Let’s give up!’–but if we do, we would miss that fullness of joy. If we confront problems and press on, we receive at his right hand pleasures ever more.
“We go to a new appointment in confidence that God is in what he asks of us,” Luttrell said–“for he gives us power and joy and a sense of peace. I challenge you to claim that same sense of peace through your relationship with him.”
In the dedicatory prayer, Commis-sioner Doreen Edwards brought the Luttrells before God, praying: “They have been obedient to your call. Anoint them with your Holy Spirit and double the portion of your blessing so they will go in your strength. Surround them with your love, and let your grace and peace be upon them.”
Earlier in the service, Commissioner David Edwards provided them with some insight into the scope of their responsibilities. The positions the Luttrells will fill were occupied by both of the Edwards just prior to their appointments to the West. He noted the awesome dimensions of the tasks within the Americas and Caribbean Zone, which presents a range of cultures, language, history, and economic diversity, and revealed with both humor and seriousness the depth of love he still holds for the hemisphere.
Colonel Esther Sather, a friend of Gwen since girlhood, spoke on behalf of officers and thanked them for their faithfulness with beauty and grace and lyrical language. Clarence Ing from Honolulu, who came to know the Luttrells when they served as divisional leaders in Hawaii, spoke on behalf of soldiers. He described them as a couple who complete each other–loving servants of God, understanding and compassionate–hardworking people. He and his wife then recited the verse from “Aloha” and gave them flower leis.
Music was provided by the Tustin Ranch songsters, led by Bruce Freeman; by an area band led by Divisional Bandmaster Chris Mallett; and by Songster Faye Mallett, who shared a delightful rendition of “Marching On.”