Raders, Watsons Celebrated On Eve of their Retirement
by Warren L. Maye –
The Salvation Army salute to General Paul A. and Commissioner Kay F. Rader drew the largest audience ever to attend the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) since it opened just two years ago in Newark. The magnificent auditorium, which some say resembles the interior of St. Albert Hall in London, served as the venue for a spectacular stage presentation of music, drama, and ministry.
Prior to their own celebration, the Raders participated in the retirements of the national commander, Commissioner Robert A. Watson, and Commissioner Alice Watson the previous evening. Commissioner Joe Noland, USA East territorial commander, officiated at both events.
At the salute to the Raders, more than 3,000 spectators heard stirring melodies performed by the New York Staff Band, the Korean Children’s Home Band, Star Search Showcase participants, and congregational singing.
Broadway star and Salvationist Carol Dilley Jaudes (newly appointed director of Creative Ministries for the Eastern Territory) and company, presented an outstanding musical tribute, titled “Partnership in Mission,” that chronicled the lives and ministry of the Raders.
Commissioner Joe Noland presented the Raders with a substantial gift toward world services. He also announced that in honor of the Raders, an endowment would be established to fund the new Paul and Kay Rader Lectureship on Missiol-ogy at the School for Officer Training in Suffern, N.Y.
General Rader touched hearts and stimulated minds with a thought-provoking message that was characterized by the slogan, “no reserve, no retreat, no regret!” Many years ago, a missionary, William Borden, who gave his life for the ministry, said those words before he died of meningitis. Rader used Borden’s example to challenge the audience to take action in their lives–now. “What then, does all of this mean to you?” he asked with outstretched arms. Rader said that they must take advantage of the day and not put off the mission God has called them to complete.
Commissioners Robert A. and Alice Watson entered honored retirement before a capacity crowd in New York’s Centennial Memorial Temple. The retirement salute, conducted by Rader, recognized the Watsons for more than 40 years of service as officers.
The General praised the Watsons for “staying the course” and for doing it with “remarkable distinction.” He saluted them for their constancy and devotion to God and for their national leadership. The General also thanked him for serving on the Advisory Council to the General.
The Watson children, Captain Robert A. Watson, Jr., Captain Carol Ditmer, and Charles Watson, along with members of the national advisory board praised the Watsons by way of a videotape prepared by the Office of Media Ministries.
In response, Commissioner Alice Watson gave witness to the grace of God in their lives during good and hard times. Commissioner Robert Watson challenged his audience to make a choice-between the “grave” of separation from God, and the “grace” one receives when he or she puts on the full armor of God and then stands for him on the “solid rock” of Salvation, sanctification, and service.
Colonels Bill and Gwen Luttrell represented the West. “The weekend was filled with countless moments of challenge and anticipation as God’s presence evidenced himself on each occasion,” Luttrell said. “We are confident that our great God will continue to do great things in our blessed Army, even as he has done down through the years as we stay yielded to his will and purpose.”
During the weekend, the Raders also participated in the retirements of former Western officers Lt. Colonels Albert and Ruth Avery.