Colonels Doug and Colleen Riley take up new appointments in West leadership roles.
Colonels Doug and Colleen Riley moved to the 12th floor of Territorial Headquarters Nov. 1, taking up new appointments as chief secretary and women’s ministries secretary, respectively.
The pair met while working on a Gowans and Larsson musical at a Salvation Army camp. They were commissioned as officers in 1995 with the Messengers of Hope Session—he as a fourth-generation officer and she as a fifth-generation Salvationist—and most recently served as leaders of the Southern California Division. Riley’s father, Lt. Col. David Riley, served in the same role 25 years earlier.
Here, the Rileys share a bit about themselves and the vision for their new responsibilities.
What do you love about The Salvation Army?
Doug Riley: I love that it transforms lives, and changes lives for all eternity. It’s the blending of sharing the gospel with helping those in need.
I love that we have innovative programs that solve real needs—like Alegria , which opened in Los Angeles in the late 1980s as a response to HIV/AIDS. I love that the Army does that on a regular basis. We don’t sit back, we march on and we go forward. We take risks and walk forward in faith.
Colleen Riley: There are many things to love about The Salvation Army. One of the biggest is that we exist to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to help those in the most need. In the West, we are so highly diverse in culture, language, worship, and so on that it is exciting to be a part of such diversity and yet have such unity in Christ.
What brought you into The Salvation Army?
DR: I was called to ministry and I had a love for the Army; God brought the two together. Every day is a joy and a challenge.
CR: I have been a part of The Salvation Army from the day I was born. My parents are Salvation Army officers as well. I’m so grateful for my heritage.
Is there a moment that stands out in your ministry to date?
DR: I’m most proud when I see people realize their need for God, and when I get to see them respond to that need and see where God takes them in their journey. It affirms your belief, faith and trust. It’s the miracles that happen every day that we don’t call miracles but they are; and I believe in miracles.
CR: I think there are many moments that come to mind as standouts, but nothing does my heart more good than to see people commit themselves to the Lord for the first time and to see men and women answer the call to officership. When you realize that you have an opportunity to come alongside others to become what Christ wants them to be, it is humbling. It certainly is not me, but the Lord prompting me and allowing me to be his vessel. It’s something I do not take lightly.
What has prepared you for your new role?
DR: I’m not sure I’m prepared, but I’m ready to give it my all. I often feel like a Moses—an ordinary guy that God has picked and is directing, just asking me to obey him. So that’s what I do.
CR: I don’t know if you are ever fully prepared for a new role. I have experience in women’s ministries and working with others. I have learned from those around me and I’m just going to dive in and do the best I can.
What is a lesson you’ve learned as an officer that continues to impact your ministry and leadership?
DR: To encourage people no matter where they are. The Greek word for “encourage” means to come alongside and lock arms—to let them know there’s hope, and that they’re valued. That goes for officers, soldiers, and anyone else I would meet on the street.
CR: To keep God first. And not to rely on myself and my own strength. When I do that I fail. My relationship with him, and the strength of that relationship is essential to me, my family and my ministry.
What do you hope to bring to this appointment?
DR: I’ll bring everything I have. Jesus asks us for everything, and sometimes we are the ones who give him less. I don’t want to give him less. I have a love for people. I have a good understanding of business. I have a passion to take this Army further than where we are today.
I want us to be an Army that doesn’t settle for being lukewarm, that lives by faith and is not surprised by the unexpected things of God.
I’m going to support the initiatives of Commissioners Jim and Carolyn. They’re impactful and will make a big difference in the lives of those involved and those on the receiving end of them. The Salvation Army meets people’s needs every day, but now we’re talking about going much deeper beyond that—largely by connecting to our corps.
CR: I want to be who God wants me to be. I want to work together with the rest of the women in the department to equip the field and to continue to see the vision of the territory happen. I am blessed to be working with amazing people who want women’s ministries and the other programs of the territory to be incredible for the kingdom.
Beyond being an officer, who are you as a person? What might people not know about you?
DR: I’m a husband and father of four boys. That’s taught me more than it’s probably taught them. I’m a cancer survivor, and I learned a lot about God’s faithfulness to me and my faith to him through that. I’ve learned that I need to be bolder in my witness and connectivity to people with the gospel.
I love to have fun and laugh. I love sports—well, the Dodgers, Chargers, and Lakers. And I love to enjoy other’s joy.
I pray longer and harder every day than I used to.
It’s not about me. It’s about what God is going to do by his power. That’s the thing that brings me peace. When I focus on myself I get nervous. But I realize this is about his kingdom and his ministry, and that puts it back in perspective. I signed a covenant to be an officer and I’ve never looked back on that. This is what God’s calling me to in the Army so I’m moving forward.
These are exciting days to see what God has in store for us all.
CR: Firstly I love Jesus with all of my heart. I love to pour into others and to come alongside them to fulfill the calling on their life and encourage them along the way. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a confidant. I enjoy reading when I get the chance, being with my family and friends, enjoying a good cup of tea, and soaking in all of life I can. I love to watch sports and sing and play music. I especially love brass bands. And any opportunity I get to laugh—count me in!