from theDesk of…

by William Harfoot, Colonel –

Not too long ago on a clear sunny day I looked out the window as I flew from above the Grand Canyon. That region of the USA is spectacular. The sight from 35,000 feet brought to mind the day in 2008 when my 12-year-old grandson and I hiked down into the canyon. Going down was easy, and my grandson sprinted on ahead. The hike back up was a little more taxing, and about every 100 yards he begged to stop and rest.

Since Labor Day last September we have been privileged to visit 19 corps from Denver to Guam. This privilege of experiencing our territory from one end to the other is enlightening and encouraging. There are so many good things happening in the territory, and there are so many committed soldiers and officers serving with skill and passion that we cannot help but view the territory as spectacular.

We have met hundreds of soldiers along the way. Salvationists come in all age groups and from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds. We speak a variety of languages and have a diverse ethnic heritage. Many soldiers wear a uniform to identify themselves as God’s soldiers. Some Salvationists, in the place of traditional uniforms, wear T-shirts or hooded sweatshirts with Army insignias. Some, like me, enjoy traditional brass band music and others enjoy rock-like music with guitars and drums. We are a diverse Army.

Some corps reach out to the larger community by welcoming those who are homeless into a corps operated shelter. Other corps thrive by embracing those seeking recovery from addiction. Still others specialize in reaching out to people looking for recreation, education and social interaction.

We just returned from Salem, Ore., and a Sunday at the new Kroc Corps. There we met over 300 Salvationists on a Sunday morning. In that operation the recreation portion of the corps is closed until 1:00 p.m. and the morning worship is concluded. When the meeting was over and we were greeting those who had attended the meeting, we noticed some of the soldiers moving over to the lobby of the center where people were waiting for the recreation center to open. he soldiers were welcoming and engaging in a friendly way people who were coming to use the new Kroc facilities. Our corps and soldiers have many methods of reaching out into their community to engage others. We are a strategically engaged Army.

Just two Sundays ago we attended the territorial Future Officer Fellowship weekend at the Crestmont campus. There 167 delegates considered God’s call to full time, life long service as Salvation Army officers. There were plenty of thoughtful moments, some humorous moments, but in the end we each took time to listen to the Holy Spirit. Officers, like the rest of the Army, are a diverse group. Some are more youthful than others, we have different personalities, different gifts and talents and we each have a unique personal history. Yet one thing all officers have in common is a confidence that the Holy Spirit has called us to be Salvation Army officers. We are a Holy Spirit led Army.

As part of the January reporting, we learned that seven of our 10 divisions are definitely increasing. In three divisions growth is more mixed, and we need to reconsider our strategies. We have increased so that we now have 33 corps with average attendance over 100, and the average Sunday morning attendance across the territory is 74. Women’s ministries are growing, men’s ministries are growing, corps cadets, youth groups and Sunday school are growing.

What does the territory look like from 35,000 feet? Spectacular! Why? Because the Holy Spirit is leading us and we are each doing our part. As the old hymn says our part is to “trust and obey.”

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