I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise.

Solidier On

I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise. I started drinking on weekends when I was 12. A few years later, it was several times a week. Then it became daily. By the time I was 30, I was smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking a bottle of vodka every day.

I had always promised my kids I would stay sober on Christmas Day. But in 1983, just before my 38th birthday, I didn’t. I got to thinking if I couldn’t stay sober one day a year, maybe I had a problem.

When a friend suggested I go to church with him, I said no. I’d never been in a church, other than for weddings and funerals. But I said I would maybe go to The Salvation Army. He asked the corps sergeant-major at Lloydminster Corps, Alta., Elmo King, to call me. I told Elmo if he was standing on the street when I drove by on Sunday, I’d come in.

He was there. That morning, I heard the gospel for the first time in my life.

After the meeting, Elmo invited me out for lunch. Why not?—a free meal, I thought. He told me all about Christ and asked if I wanted to accept him into my heart. I said no.

But I kept thinking about what he’d said. Later that afternoon, a feeling came over me. I went into my bedroom and prayed. Jesus, if you are who Elmo says you are, and if you can do what he says, then come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.

At 3 p.m. on January 15, 1984, I became a Christian. That night, I went to the evening meeting and publicly accepted Christ during the altar call.

“Jesus,” I prayed, “come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.”

I never had another drink, and quit smoking the next week. Three months later, I became a senior soldier.

When I retired after 30 years as a truck driver, I went into full-time service for the Army, working as an envoy in Nelson, B.C., until my health declined. I’ve had eight heart attacks.

In 2004, after my fifth heart attack, doctors gave me a five per cent chance of surviving open-heart surgery. But we prayed and I came through.

As a volunteer with emergency and disaster services, I was called to go to Calgary to help after the floods, but found out I couldn’t work in a crisis response unit while on oxygen. If God wants me to go, he can do something about it, I thought. I’d been on oxygen for six years, but on the way to Calgary, I took it off, and haven’t needed it since then. I believe God healed me so I could do his will.

I’ve been a volunteer with our community care ministries here in Swift Current, Sask., for the past 14 years, and I try to support our officers in any way I can.

My relationship with Christ has grown over time. When someone asks me about my faith, I tell them my story, and to give God a try—they won’t be sorry.

“We are a volunteer army,” Bramwell, Booth’s son, responded, “Volunteer? I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” William Booth then

The Virtues of Volunteerism – We are a Volunteer Army

At the height of Victorian England’s volunteer movement in 1878, William Booth dictated a letter to George Scott Railton, his secretary. When Booth said, “We are a volunteer army,” Bramwell, Booth’s son, responded, “Volunteer? I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” William Booth then instructed Railton to delete the word volunteer and substitute it with the word salvation. Thus, “The Salvation Army” name was born.

Today, the Army’s “regulars” are called “officers” (pastors). They wear iconic blue uniforms with star–studded epaulettes on their shoulders.

ARMY BEHIND THE ARMY

However, behind every officer are faithful, hardworking volunteers. Often referred to as “The Army Behind the Army,” volunteers play a crucial role in the Army’s ability to provide quality social services for entire communities.

Volunteers are valuable assets in the Army’s effort to meet the world’s changing needs. Through their skills and experience, they make significant contributions by positively influencing lives. Such volunteers uplift families and communities.

One of the Army’s most memorable volunteer movements occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They came from far and wide and lined up by the hundreds, seeking an opportunity to put their time, energy, and resources toward rebuilding the American morale and spirit.

The following examples illustrate how, for many of these volunteers, their patriotism proved life–changing.

CHANGED LIVES

During a dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, images flashed on a massive screen in a great subterranean hall showing men and women at work at Ground Zero’s “Taj Mahal” (the Salvation Army tent so named by the workers).

Also pictured were Army volunteers, writing prayers on battered beams of steel, counseling survivors, offering water, sandwiches, coffee, and words of comfort. Bright red Salvation Army shields affixed to white windbreaker jackets and construction worker hardhats clearly distinguished them.

Just a few days prior to the actual dedication ceremony, hundreds of Salvation Army volunteers previewed the museum in response to a letter of invitation extended to them by the Museum Foundation via the Greater New York Division.

Kelly–Jane Cotter from central New Jersey, reflected on her visit to the museum. “One of the artifacts I most appreciated seeing was the Ground Zero Cross,” she wrote in myCentraljersey.com, “which I vividly remembered from my time as a volunteer with The Salvation Army. Yet while visiting the museum, I walked right past the 17–foot crossbeam. My mind was reeling, my eyes were filled with tears, and I simply couldn’t see it until I noticed some firefighters aiming their cameras upward.”

Tanya Hoggard, a Cincinnati–based flight attendant, had rearranged her schedule to volunteer with The Salvation Army. She came to realize that children from around the country wanted their messages of thanks and hope to reach the firefighters and rescue workers at Ground Zero.

Through friendships forged with firefighters who visited the Taj Mahal for coffee, conversation, and snacks, Hoggard learned that firehouses throughout New York City were receiving mail bags containing warm wishes from children—sometimes attached to stuffed animals, candy, murals, flags, and quilts. These expressions of love and gratitude proved overwhelming.

Hoggard thought, Why don’t I collect and safeguard these touching expressions? With permission, she archived the materials. Her resulting “Dear Hero Collection” is now on display at the museum.

For Sam Potter, Oklahoma’s disaster relief director, the preview day was an emotional one. He had spent a total of 39 days in Lower Manhattan, providing relief in the wake of the attacks. At that time, disaster relief chaplaincy was in its infancy and was yet to be organized nationally. However, the Oklahoma team carried with them the experiences of ministering to people devastated by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

“I think the biggest thing about the museum is that it truly tells the whole story of what happened that 9/11,” Porter wrote for “theCatholicspirit.com,” an online newspaper.

Jennifer Adams–Webb volunteered in the aftermath of 9/11 for The Salvation Army. She had worked in World Trade Tower One for several years prior to the attack. Today, she is chief executive officer of the September 11th Families’ Association and co–founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center.

Jim Daly, another volunteer, had watched on TV and in horror as the World Trade Center’s twin towers fell.

This parishioner of St. John in Little Canada continues to reflect on time spent as a volunteer at Ground Zero in January 2002. His thoughts are expressed in articles written about him in publications and periodicals.

After answering the Army’s call for volunteers, Daly found himself at Ground Zero staring into “the pit,” a hole the size of a football field, where construction workers, police officers, and firefighters continued to unearth human remains four months after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

When asked by a reporter how the experience affected him, Daly paused for a moment, then said, “I have an appreciation for every day when I watch the sun come up. I think [the experience] probably just strengthened that.”

installation of the new Territorial Leaders of the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland

Chief of the Staff Installs Territorial Leaders for United Kingdom, Ireland

Salvationists and friends of all ages gathered at William Booth Memorial Halls Corps in Nottingham to witness the installation of Territorial Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn Buckingham as leaders of the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland (UKI). The ceremony, conducted by the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Brian Peddle) and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World Secretary for Women’s Ministries) took place less than a mile from the birthplace of Salvation Army Founder William Booth in Notintone Place.

Colonel David Hinton (Chief Secretary, UKI) opened the ceremony and made the welcome and introductions, with the territorial headquarters flag carried onto the platform. The congregational song Who is on the Lord’s Side? was followed by a prayer song, O Love, from the International Staff Songsters.

Laura-Jane Kingscott (Divisional Youth Specialist, West Midlands Division) welcomed the new territorial leaders on behalf of young people and youth leaders. She said that the following were important to young people: “Going deeper in their knowledge and understanding of Jesus, authenticity, that they are valued for who they are, and given opportunities to grow in their faith and leadership.”

Greeting the new leaders on behalf of the territory’s officers, Major Anita Purkiss (Leicester West) said she realized that the Buckinghams – originally from New Zealand – were now a very long way from home and that she appreciated the sacrifice of leaving their family behind. But, she said, “We will promise to pray that you would know the Lord holding you close in those moments when the inevitable homesickness strikes.”

Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham (Territorial Leader for Leader Development) responded to the welcomes, expressing how the Bible verses from Philippians 1 given by Laura-Jane Kingscott were especially significant. The commissioner showed a picture of her family and described them as “an extension of us.” She acknowledged that “God who calls, always equips.”

The Chief of the Staff described the UKI Territory as a “God-glorifying expression, daily,” adding: “The days ahead are going to be incredible.” He commended Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn to be “leaders to these, your people, shepherds of God’s flock, leading in mission and also appointed to be stewards of all that is temporal underpinning mission … knowing that you are daily accountable to God.”

In the sacred moments that followed, the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle installed the commissioners as leaders of the territory before praying for them. The congregation greeted the new leaders with a round of applause.

Territorial Commander Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham addressed the congregation with passion and conviction, taking as his theme “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” He lifted up the fantastic things happening in the territory, together with the amazing people doing the work. He acknowledged the challenges, but wanted to emphasize the mission that was being achieved.

“It’s the courage that we find in [Christ’s] name that counts,” he said. “It’s the hope that we find in his name that matters, it’s the confidence that we place in him that makes a difference. His name is Jesus and we love him. We serve him and we honour him and we march in his name.”

Salvation Army Launches Group Singing Programme For People Living With Dementia

Salvation Army Launches Group Singing Program For People Living With Dementia

The Salvation Army has launched a dynamic program for people with dementia which uses singing to help them connect with others and bring back memories.

The scheme, called Singing By Heart, uses a mix of popular hymns, such as ‘Joy in my Heart’, and popular songs like ‘Moon River’, which span the decades. Each song has been carefully selected to ensure they’re fondly recognised by the people in the groups.

It is widely acknowledged that music can trigger past memories and feelings in those living with dementia. Each song begins with a passage of scripture and finishes with a prayer. The sessions are designed to encourage communication, recollection of memories, and happy thoughts for those taking part. It is also hoped carers will find the sessions beneficial through enabling time for them to relax, make friends, and share experiences.

Bill, 86, has been bringing his wife Anita to the Singing by Heart session at Sedgley since October after being recommended by a friend. Anita, 81, has been living with anxiety and memory loss for the past 2 years, unable to remember events within a very short amount of time. Bill says: “Singing by Heart is the one day in the month when I can see Anita full of life and engaged in an activity. It’s amazing to see her being sociable with others, and it’s like she’s back to her previous self. I’ve found it difficult to get any positive responses from Anita in the past but the enthusiasm and humour of the leaders at Singing by Heart is the key to its success. We were even up doing the hokey cokey at the last meeting. Every month our daughter comes with us to the session and it’s seeing Anita smile again that keeps us coming back to spend this special time together as a family.”

Ivy, 85, has attended the Sedgley Singing by Heart group since last September. She takes two buses from her house to attend and says she “really looks forward to it”. Ivy said: “I’m a firm believer that everybody loves music and the happiness it can bring.

“My mother suffered for many years with dementia and I really think she would have enjoyed a group like this. Seeing everyone connect with the music in the room is wonderful. Caring for someone with dementia can be so hard and sometimes a smile is all you want. That is what Singing by Heart can offer.”

The idea to bring Singing by Heart to The Salvation Army was introduced by Lee Highton-Nicholls, who is the regional specialist for the church and charity’s older peoples ministries based in Birmingham. Lee has 12 years’ experience working in dementia care, and wanted to use The Salvation Army’s musical legacy to bring those living with dementia and their carers together in an enjoyable and supportive way.

Lee said: “After working with people living with dementia for many years I was interested to see how we could create an experience for people to engage in prayer, bible reading, and worship. Singing always seems to enable the individuals involved to connect with others around them in a unique way. We are very excited to see Singing by Heart being rolled out to groups across The Salvation Army to connect with people living with dementia and their carers. We believe it offers people the opportunity to enjoy singing together in a relaxed and fun way; whilst offering a way of connecting spiritually through prayer and scripture readings.”

The singing groups have been piloted in partnership with our music ministries team in a number of The Salvation Army’s churches with the hope of rolling the programme out to more areas around the UK and Republic of Ireland in the near future.

For each church to run a singing group they must first take a “Dementia Friends” course, an Alzheimer’s Society initiative. A song lyric book and training video has been produced by The Salvation Army to support the programme.

The Salvation Army is dedicated to supporting older people and runs 13 residential care homes around the UK, as well as befriending services, day centres and a range of activities to combat isolation.

Andrew Wileman, Assistant Director of Older Peoples Services at The Salvation Army, said: “At The Salvation Army we believe everyone has equal value and is loved by God. Often people with dementia can be overlooked, and our local churches are at the forefront of welcoming older people to weekly lunches, clubs, and activities. These activities are not only important in communities to help combat loneliness and isolation, but we also see older people with dementia and their carers coming to us in need of support.

“We believe Singing by Heart can be used by Salvation Army churches and centres, as well as other church denominations, to connect with people who live with dementia, while also providing them and their carers a social situation and support network.”