Phoenix rising

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Phoenix Citadel Corps undergoes physical transformation.

by Ralph Pearce –

Lt. Colonel Don Bell cuts the ribbon at the dedication of the newly remodeled Phoenix Citadel Corps supported by then Mayor Phil Gordon and Divisional Leaders Lt. Colonels Don and Jan Mowery.

After 18 months of “homelessness,” Arizona’s Phoenix Citadel Corps celebrated the opening and dedication of its new spiritual home. Appropriately, the recognition of its rebirth occurred over Easter weekend.

Lt. Colonels Donald and Debi Bell, Western Territory chief secretary and secretary of women’s ministries, respectively, presided over the dedication ceremony along with Southwest Divisional leaders Lt. Colonels Don and Jan Mowery.

Ten years ago, as a soldier of Phoenix Citadel while serving as Southwest divisional secretary for business, Bell played a role in keeping the corps in its current location.

Though the Phoenix Citadel Corps has existed in this community for 115 years, soldiers had discussed relocation due to a perceived lack of growth opportunities. An informal survey of the area however, revealed the corps’ presence there was more significant than realized. The citadel would stay in place, they determined, and a new manifesto, “Changing the Heart of the City,” outlined phases for transformation.

The new facility’s building is due in large part to a legacy from the late Virginia Near; the Education Center now bears her name. The initial property work included renovating an old Victorian housethe “Peirce House,” named for its first resident, which is now the corps administrative building with rooms available for formal meetings and informal gatherings.

The Phoenix Citadel Corps had also established a relationship with Arizona State University and the local Kenilworth School to work with children and adults in the surrounding community. Programs exist to assist children with math and English schoolwork as well as English classes for adult second language learners. When the corps had to vacate its premises for the rebuilding phase, Kenilworth School authorities permitted use of their auditorium for Sunday worship.

The dedication came after a week of Holy Week remembrances, including a performance of “Love Divine” by the Citadel Songsters and a presentation of a Passover “Seder” meal in which Majors John and Dee Webb explained the significance of the “Last Supper” and how Jesus fulfilled his prediction of sacrifice. The Citadel Band led a musical meditation on Good Friday with readings from English author David Kossoff’s Book of Witnesses.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and other civic leaders attended the ceremony. Gordon spoke of the Army’s contributions to the community and how building the facility contributed to the mission, “Change the Heart of the City.”

The new building indeed symbolizes the Phoenix Citadel Corps’ intent to “Change the Heart of the City” for many years to come.

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