Yuba/Sutter: Connecting corps and program

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Corps and program participants find common ground

Over the last few years, the Yuba/Sutter, Calif. corps has experienced steady growth and the development of a link between its recovery programs and the corps itself. Captain Courtney Stratton recounts here an event highlighting this bond, and then shares insight into this successful integration.

“The ladies are barbecuing…I’ll be there!” was the unanimous response of the men at the Yuba/Sutter Corps this Father’s Day weekend. Excitement was in the air as families gathered for the third annual Family Day BBQ celebrating fathers. The corps women specifically designed the event for dads to spend time with their children. The women prepared the meal—with Captain Courtney Stratton actually doing the barbecuing herself—and served a special dessert in honor of the fathers.

The corps wanted to take the opportunity to honor dads, including those fathers participating who had recently been reunited with their family members. The turnout from our recovery programs—The Depot Family Crisis Center and the Transitional Housing Program—was excellent, and the corps family supported the event wholeheartedly.
Activities included a bounce house, which even the adults loved, bobbing for apples, face painting and of course lots of food. When asked why we plan events that are such a challenge to put together, I responded: “It is my joy to see the corps family and our program participants come together in one place and to know that they are loved and cared for in a safe, wholesome environment.”
The vision
Over two years ago, Captains Darren and Courtney Stratton were appointed to serve alongside the corps family in Yuba/Sutter. For many years the corps has operated a Family Crisis Center and a Transitional Housing Program; while each is successful on its own, there were many unsuccessful attempts to achieve integration of the programs with the corps family.
With a combination of the Strattons’ passion for recovery ministry and a newfound openness in the souls of the corps family and key staff, the ministry found successful integration for the first time. Moving from the early days when about 35 attended services to now—with an average attendance of 70-plus—we are bursting at the seams with possibilities.
“We have been privileged to enroll 13 senior soldiers/adherents, seven junior soldiers and seven local officers, and to conduct four baby dedications,” said Stratton. He continued, “What is truly exciting is to witness the change in the tough exteriors that most of our participants have when they begin attending church. When they find Jesus, that, for me, is why I give it my all everyday.”
Two such families are Tammy Graham and her children and the Millhollin family—they have come so far! These families love the Lord and love the Army, but I will let them tell their own story (see accompanying stories)…and there are more! Every family from our programs that attends the corps loves it here. They feel a sense of genuineness, warmth, kindness and love from all those who have called this corps their church home for years.
The success that God has permitted is only because of the right combination of willing people at the right time. One of the hallmarks of our success is that Dan Schifle, director of Residential Program has caught the vision, too. For him the Army is his church home, and he other like-minded staff want to see lives changed and our Army grow.
“We thank God every day for our staff, corps council, advisory board and others who see the possibilities and help us in ministry every day,” said Stratton.
We continue to look forward to what God will do in the next year and the new families that he will bring into our corps family. We know that as long as we are faithful to the mission for which God raised up the Army he will continue to bless the ministry of the Yuba/Sutter Corps.
The affirmation
Major Eda Hokom, territorial secretary for Program, commented: “At the recent corps review I was encouraged to see the incredible integration of the social services ministry with the corps ministry. The ‘Celebration’ evening reminded me of our old Sunday evening praise service as it vibrated with joy, thanksgiving and praise for the changes God is making in clients and the corps members—many of whom are former clients. Realizing that transitional housing clients from William Booth Lane and shelter clients from the Depot are being saved and growing into saints confirms again that God brought The Salvation Army into being for specific reasons—one of which is to love and touch the lives of the ‘neglected, ignored, and those society judge as unproductive.’ May God continue to bless the Yuba/Sutter corps officers and all involved in ministry there.”

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