by Major Chick Yuill –
The other night, in the small hours of the morning, some people moved house here in Pasadena. This wasn’t your normal house-moving, however. I don’t mean that a family went to live in a new place. I mean they actually moved house! Let me explain.
The house in question was designed by Greene and Greene, the famous Pasadena architects, and has stood on South Madison Avenue for 96 years. The site on which it was built, however, is zoned for development, so the old house had to go. But Greene and Greene houses are greatly prized here in Pasadena and the local preservation society certainly did not want to see a building of such historical significance lost forever.
The owner had a brainwave. He put the house on the market for $1.00–on condition that whoever purchased the house had to arrange for it to be moved and re-assembled on a new site. And that’s why, if you’d been in Old Town on the night in question, you’d have seen the classic two-story, 1,700 square foot wood-frame home–partially dismantled– being driven by tractor-trailer to its new destination on North Marengo Avenue.
I could shed a tear for that old building. If houses have feelings, I know how he (or should that be she?) feels. After four and a half years in Pasadena, Margaret and I have been called back to the United Kingdom to be the divisional commanders of the Central North Division based in Manchester. And it sure doesn’t feel like ‘moving house’ in the normal sense of that phrase. We, too, feel a little like we’ve been lifted from our foundations and broken in half.
Apart from four years on the staff of the Training College in London, we’ve been corps officers since 1972. It may not be quite as long as that old house stood on South Madison, though there have been times when it felt that way! And here in Pasadena we’ve tried to put into practice so many of the things in which we passionately believe about the Kingdom of God as it pertains to the ministry and growth of The Salvation Army. We’ve been privileged to see some measure of growth and to welcome around 100 new people into our congregation. You can’t easily walk away from that.
On a purely personal level, we’ve loved living in Southern California; the people, the climate, the lifestyle, the restaurants, even those odd American sports–we’ve learned to love them all.
Now it’s time to move, not just to a new place geographically, but to a new kind of work. And I’m going to take a lesson from that old house. The new owner may have purchased it for only $1.00, but the move has cost him $26,000 and the restoration will come to around $100,000. He must want that house badly, and he must be convinced that it can continue to serve a good purpose in its new setting. If he’d wanted something modern, something new, he could have bought any one of a thousand houses and saved himself a ton of trouble. He wanted that particular house because he saw in it some qualities that were worth preserving.
Presumably someone thinks the same about us! And I want to make them–and you–a promise. All the things for which I have pleaded passionately as a corps officer, all the things I have tried to stand for over the last quarter of a century, all the things I have said that some have considered just a little controversial–I won’t give up on any of them. Margaret and I may be standing in a new place, but we won’t become different people.
We want to be the best Salvation Army officers we can be, we want to do the job of divisional commanders to the utmost of our ability, but we will try to remain true to the plan that the Great Architect has placed in our hearts.
And if you ever hear that in the reconstruction we’ve become something different, come knocking at our door and tell us. Or–better still–pray for a massive spiritual earthquake that will shake us to our foundations and force us to rebuild the house that God meant us to be.