SAW-ROA retreat held

Lt. Colonel Norman Bearcroft, conductor and composer, was special guest with his wife, Major Kathleen Bearcroft.

by Melba Gilden – 

Delegates to the recent SAW-ROA retreat held at Camp Mount Crags.

The 85 retired officers attending the recent 2006 SAW-ROA (Salvation Army West—Retired Officers Association) annual retreat at Camp Mt. Crags enjoyed a time of “Reflections”—the retreat’s theme—and a musical feast, brought by special guest world renowned conductor and composer, Lt. Colonel Norman Bearcroft. Bearcroft’s work was featured throughout the four-day retreat, beginning with an intriguing evening called “Meet the Composer,” masterminded by Lt. Colonels Doug and Diane O’Brien, Sierra del Mar divisional leaders.

Conference highlights included Bearcroft’s daily “Reflecting in His Word,” which focused on the holiness of Salvation Army music; workshops on the Army’s missions; and the “Hobby Lobby,” where the delegates displayed hobbies or collections. Matt Bingham, archivist from the Museum of the West, spoke on Army history before Major Bearcroft gave a cameo of The Salvation Army Museum of the East.

Major Bearcroft also shared reflections of her life in the Army—first as an officers’ child and then as an officer herself—serving around the world in corps and headquarters. She began a high school for the homeless, opened shelters for the homeless in New York, Ohio and Sweden, and provided new housing for abused women and children. When the Army re-opened its work in Russia, she was part of the pioneering team of six that set up corps, regional offices and social work programs, and that opened the Army’s work in Ukraine and Moldova.

Saturday evening’s session, “Reflecting the Army Spirit” showcased Bearcroft’s compositions, played by the Southern California Brass Sextet directed by Divisional Music Director Kevin Larsson and the Torrance songster brigade, led by Bearcroft, supported by SAW-ROA’s band and chorus. The division’s leaders, Majors Paul and Carol Seiler, received an unofficial farewell—they have been reassigned to the Central Territory—prior to Major Paul Seiler’s devotion.

Colonel George Church, SAW-ROA president, led the final Sunday meeting, with reflections from Bearcroft, and the chorus reminding all, “My Life Must Be Christ’s Broken Bread.”

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