Southwest gathers, celebrates mission

by Heather Melvoin – 

Salvationists in the Southwest Division gathered for their bi-annual Deeper Life meetings in Mesa, Arizona, recently. With 964 registered delegates, it was the largest event in the Southwest in the past 15 years.

Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers, territorial leaders, led the CAPstone-themed weekend. CAPstone is the division’s Partnership in Mission project, Congo Action Plan, which teams the Southwest Division with the Congo/Angola Territory in Africa. Neil Smith, territorial music secretary, was a special musical guest.

Following Friday evening’s performances by the Phoenix Citadel Singing Company, Phoenix Central mime team and the division’s gospel choir, Lt. Col. Don Mowery, divisional commander, commented, “Young people in the Southwest Division are the greatest in the territory!”

While the theme for the entire weekend was CAPstone, Friday evening’s meeting was devoted to the project itself. Lt. Col. Mervyn Morelock is leading a team of 15 people who will be going to the Congo to help build a suitable facility for the Mbenseke Primary School. Currently, about 350 children attend the school, where they sit on a dirt floor in the stick thatched-roof structure. Money has been raised throughout the year to help with the project. Corps officers brought bricks, symbolizing that money (including $13,000 used to purchase two brick-making machines already in use). In all, over $100,000 has been raised for the team members to travel and construct the school.

Commissioner Jean Ludiazo, territorial commander of the Congo/Angola Territory, is very pleased that his territory and the Southwest Division are Partners in Mission and that a team is coming to help improve the school’s facilities. He said, “Buildings are tools and better tools help teachers to teach and students to learn.”

Saturday started off right with a Celebration of Service led by Commissioner Philip Swyers. Accepted candidates Chris Aird, Lisa Aird and Cherie Currie were farewelled and presented with a special gift by Lt. Col. Jan Mowery. Christian comedian, Carlos Oscar, provided a time of clean fun before delegates separated to a variety of educational workshops.

Saturday evening was a time to worship the Lord through music. Divisional Bandmaster Ralph Pearce wrote, arranged and led Quoin (pronounced “coin”), A Worship Experience. Each song, whether sung by the performers onstage or the congregation, focused on Jesus as our cornerstone.

The Southwest Division also added 53 new soldiers to the ranks on Saturday. Twenty-four junior soldiers and 29 senior soldiers vowed to serve Christ and others through The Salvation Army.

More than 1,000 attended the culmination of the weekend, Sunday morning’s holiness meeting. Following Swyers’ message, many received Christ for the first time, or renewed their commitment to him (there were about 150 seekers during the entire weekend). After a rousing rendition of “I’ll Go in the Strength of the Lord,” delegates were off to their hometowns, ready to make (or keep) Christ their cornerstone, and encourage others to do the same.

(Please keep the following individuals in prayer as they travel to the treacherous area of the Congo: Jose Corrales, Major Guy Hawk, Capt. David Kauffman, Andy Larson, Penny Matthison, Lloyd Matthison, Loren Matthison, Capt. Diane McEaneney, Sandy Moss, Capt. Hector Orellana, Mike Shepard, Lt. Col. Don Mowery, Lt. Col. Jan Mowery, Lt. Col. Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Col. Shirley Morelock.)

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