Youth promise strong future for Casa Grande


Photo by Gloria Storie

Photo by Gloria Storie

Corps enrolls new junior soldiers.

Lt. Colonels Al and Sherryl Van Cleef welcomed nine children into membership at the Casa Grande (Ariz.) Corps March 3. After several years of building programs, Corps Officers Captains Bill and Elizabeth Welch were thrilled to see youth take this important step.

“In 2009, we started youth programs by handing out water after school,” Elizabeth Welch said. “After a month, we advertised a Thanksgiving Party. Thirty-two people, including parents, showed up to roll frozen turkeys down the hallway. This was more than the Sunday attendance.”

By March of the next year, almost 20 elementary students were attending Homework Club, Art Smart and troops.

Sunday success did not happen right away. It was about 18 months before any youth came to Sunday school. The Welches believe that Sunday happens daily at the corps; fellowship and praising God is not an event, but a lifestyle.

“Communicating this to young people makes such a difference in how they look at church. We love God and we love them,” Welch said.

Van Cleef challenged the youth to be pure in heart, body and soul. He delivered these words with resounding confidence and a promise that God would honor such a commitment.

“These were not hollow words. The Van Cleefs have been such a support to us over the years. Spiritually, they made a commitment to us. Naturally, we wanted them to be a part of this meaningful moment,” Bill Welch said.

Several parents and family members came to witness the enrollment and stayed for Van Cleef’s sermon, “Come and Dine,” and for a potluck lunch.

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