Rileys welcomed as divisional leaders

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Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs install Lt. Colonels Doug and Colleen Riley as Southern California divisional leaders. Photo by John Docter


By Robert Docter

Commissioners James and Carolyn Knaggs surprised the audience with a special announcement following the formal installation of Majors Douglas and Colleen Riley as Southern California divisional commander and divisional director of women’s ministries, respectively. Turning to the Rileys, he said: “I am happy to inform you that both of you are hereby promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel.”

The audience burst into applause as Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs and Chief Secretary Colonel David Hudson fastened epaulets reflecting the new rank on the Rileys’ shoulders.

It was a warm welcome home for the Rileys, who have been away from Southern California for the past 18 years. Their four sons, twins 16-year-old Nick and Zach, along with Noah, 13, and Elijah, 11, have never lived in the area.

A stirring fanfare, “To a God Like This,” began the evening, during which officers, soldiers and various musical groups from the division celebrated the new leaders.


A warm Southern California welcome

Major Ana Diaz and Captain Dianne Madsen offered prayer in both Spanish and English. Dawn Smith led a performance by the Long Beach Corps Singing Company. Tustin Ranch Corps Sergeant-Major Gary Ayres spoke for the soldiers of the division and pledged support, commitment and tithing.

Music included praise and worship with the team from the Santa Ana Temple Corps led by Erick Rodriguez, and the Tustin Ranch Band, Ed Freeman, bandmaster, which performed Bill Himes’s challenging message “All That I Am.”

Captain Erika Hernandez, Pomona corps officer, spoke for the officers of the division. “We are innovative and use the latest approaches in evangelism, fundraising, and educating our communities relative to a growing ministry.

“We are a big family, and we take care of each other. We are culturally diverse and hold strong family values,” she said. “We need your encouragement, accountability, and, most importantly, we need you to be our pastors. Stay in touch—and, oh yes, Saturday barbecues at your house are always acceptable.”

Irene De Anda Lewis, executive director of the Los Angeles Red Shield Youth and Community Center, spoke on behalf of employees. “Good fathers make good sons,” she said, referencing her work with Lt. Colonel David Riley, Douglas’s dad, now promoted to Glory and an unseen presence in the room. As the former Southern California divisional commander, he told her that the most important thing she could do in her position is “love the people who walk through the door with all your heart and be the living example of God’s love. This is what transforms people and communities—and don’t forget to save your receipts.”

Lewis told the Rileys: “Know that you have our support, prayers and determination to work together to transform people and communities in that time-proven way. It’s what we are called to do.”

The Pasadena Tabernacle Songsters, led by Martin Hunt, sang “My Life Must Be Christ’s Broken Bread.”

Both Commissioners Knaggs administered the formal installation, and Carolyn Knaggs offered a prayer of dedication.


Lt. Colonels Doug and Colleen Riley greet well-wishers following the installation service. Photo by John Docter

“The greatest power in the universe”

Following a response and testimony by Colleen Riley, the new divisional commander spoke on “Déjà vu all over again.”

He expressed appreciation to Knaggs for “being part of this new beginning for us,” and thanked the Leslies, outgoing divisional leaders, for all they have done. He also noted the presence of his mother and brother in the audience, thanking his mother for her legacy of service to God.

“We serve a big God who exceeds our understanding and uses ordinary people as angels on this earth. If we are an army we need to invade and invite. The greatest soldier is one subject to the power of the Holy Spirit, exhibiting the compassion of Christ. The greatest power in the universe is ours if we choose to use it.

“Our service to the division is not about ourselves. We give that away to serve others, letting go of personal ambition, being and making soldiers. We are not just another church. This Army is called and set apart to care for those who are the least. Think big!  I’m excited to be a Salvationist in this Army today.

“Do you believe that God has stopped doing amazing things today? Aren’t there still miracles? Can’t he still do them through the faith of ordinary people? I believe he can and he will if we are willing. So let’s team up. Let’s work together. Let’s stay connected, and God will do a ‘new thing.’

“Here I am, wholly available,” Riley said. As for me, I will serve the Lord.”

Major Isobel Robinson led a song of celebration, “To God Be the Glory,” and Major Sherry McWhorter pronounced the benediction.

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