The seeds were there, scattered, when Envoy John Jones arrived in Murrieta, Calif., seven years ago. He came armed with a list of 20 names with Salvation Army connections all people living in that area.
Jones and his wife, Marlene, invited those people to a buffet where they discussed building a corps. From that meeting sprang a Bible study and a Sunday service in their living room. Soon it wasn’t just Army people who were showing up. Friends came. Jones’ mailman came with his family. Marlene invited a woman she met jogging, who has since become a soldier. “The Salvation Army is coming to town!” proclaimed the local newspaper. Word had gotten out and Jones recalls, “Suddenly one Sunday morning there were 45 people in my living room for the service!” It was time to take the next step.
The Murrieta Corps now worships at the Alta Murrieta Elementary School and averages 60-70 people. “Our growth is slow but steady,” says Jones, “and is the result of good fellowship.” The corps has a new building on the drawing board, and plans to be in it by next year.
Jones praised the Army’s worship style, especially the wealth of theology and inspiration in the songbook. “If you use it, explain it and teach it, people new to Army are thrilled,” he said. After a meeting, one such woman approached Jones, saying, “I have to keep this songbook the words of this song are so precious to me.”
The Joneses grew the Murrieta Corps by getting out into their community and by looking both to the future and the past. “While we need to look forward and see what we can do better, we should also remember the great resources we already have and not take them for granted,” said Jones. “God has a real purpose for The Salvation Army, and we should explore it.”