Monday, July 24, 2017

From Manhattan to Moscow

Text Box: Volume 10, Number 2, April 19921992      From Manhattan to Moscow Feeding The Homeless


Five years ago Captain and Mrs. Sven-Erik Ljungholm were feeding and sheltering the homeless at The Salvation Army's Central Citadel Corps in midtown Manhattan, not knowing where their dedicated service would take them.
Where it has taken them is Moscow and the re-establishment of The Salva­tion Army's work after a 70-year absence.
The official re-opening took place on November 3rd in the Polytechnic Museum, the same location which was used in 1918 by Capt. Ljungholm's grandfather, who pioneered The Salva­tion Army's work in that city. Since then, Capt. Ljungholm has been busy implementing many ser­vices with much of the focus on feeding thousands of homeless who swarm to Salvation Army soup kit­chens each night.
"We currently operate a total of 18 soup kitchens," explained Capt. Ljungholm, "and we've recruited 100 volunteers from our three Moscow corps plants to oversee them. Already, we've distributed more than 70 tons of food. The City of Moscow is providing the trucks. So we're able to feed about 6,000 senior elderly each night."
The Salvation Army was designated by the United States government to coordinate the $78 million "Operation Provide Hope," distributing emergen­cy provisions to the elderly and poor as well as offsetting the food shortages presently being experienced by the Russian middle class.
The bulk of the emergency rations are leftover supplies unused in Opera­tion Desert Storm and are made up of canned food, dehydrated beef patties, pancake mix and fruit cocktail.
To prevent the rations from ending up on the black market, Capt. Ljungholm and other Salvation Army workers have been riding the food trucks from the airport to the military warehouse where the humanitarian aid is securely stored, which is under 24-hour patrol. From there, Russian soldiers and Salvation Army workers transport it to soup kitchens, hospitals and orphanages.
In addition to providing food, blankets and other emergency sup­plies, The Salvation Army hosted the first-ever social work conference in in the former Soviet Union in March.
One of the select few attending from the United States as a guest lecturer was Mrs. Captain Dorine Foreman, who until recently administered The Salvation Army's fuel fund programs in Greater New York as well as assisting in the Summer Family Respite Camping Program.
Some of the issues covered at that conference included; chemical dependency, halfway houses, family abuse and unemployment, hunger and homelessness, social work structure, juvenile delinquency, latchkey pro­grams and care for the elderly. The
conference was also attended by The Salvation Army's internationl leader, General Eva Burrows.
That Capt. Ljungholm was chosen to spearhead The Salvation Army's re­entry into Moscow was not a surprise to many. He has always been a trailblazerFF in Salvation Army services and programming.
At New York’s Central Citadel in mid-Mamhattan, he established a feeding program for the homeless, mostly from Grand Central Terminal. He later expanded that program into a small shelter for 19 homeless in­dividuals who wished to pursue their GED's (high school diploma). So successful was that program that four of the first graduating class were accepted into Fordham University.
The Salvation Army still maintains a feeding program at Central Citadel as part of an overall division-wide pro­gram that provides more than half a million meals a year.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Profile of a Former Officer and member of the FSAOF Family #2



Former Salvation Army officer Tom Gabrielsen was Promoted to Glory in June 2017. Tom was 78 going on 79 in November and basically died of old age. He had another stroke this past year and died in bed on the last weekend of June quietly in the very late night/early morning hours without any great trauma or fanfare, except that which awaits every forgiven child of God when meeting Jesus.

His second wife (nee' Martha Botu.--Major Botu's eldest daughter) had his body cremated. Though they were Methodists the past two decades and she had a service for him at the Methodist Cathedral in Cincinnati, Martha also decided to do an Army service in Indiana for people who knew him there and will have a final service at Oakbrook Terrace Corps on 26 August at 10AM before a final internment service at Glen Oaks Cemetery that morning. OBT Corps is only about 3 miles or so west of Glen Oaks down Roosevelt Avenue.

 Cornet Solo  "The Old Rugged Cross" Tom Gabrielsen


Tom earned a B.A. from Asbury College, his M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a M.A. from Butler University. 

His vocations have been: Minister, hospital chaplain, Salvation Army officer, theology teacher, & investment banker.

He was a member of the Cincinnati Brass Band and former cornet soloist of the Chicago Staff Band and known widely as a cornet virtuoso.

He and his wife, Panji, are members of Hyde Park Com. U.M. Church, and both are children of the SA regiment.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Profile of a Former SA Officer; Member of the FSAOF Family - #1

Jeni Gregory, PhD., LICSW , CCM       


                                                                          Jeni Gregory has worked in the health and human service field since 1975.  She has held a variety of clinical, management and project development position in care management, medical social work, family counseling, and international trauma relief in 15 different countries. She and her husband have served as pastors since 1975 in various assignments throughout the Western United States.  

Her ground breaking work with Child Soldiers in Africa recovering from Profound Catastrophic Trauma has been noted by many.  Her research and field work for this effort has been published in numerous journals and magazines.  In addition to the work she has done with traumatized children in Africa, she has worked with children who have lived in orphanages, streets and sewers of Eastern Europe, war impacted children in Kosovo and Albania, children who survive in the garbage dumps of Mexico and South America, children impacted by the horrors and terror of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the children who suffered because of the events of the September 11th attacks in New York City.

She has a PhD in International Pediatric Traumatology from Union Institute and University, a Masters in Social Work from University of Washington, Seattle. She has her LICSW and is a certified Field Traumatologist. She is the principal at Heartland Counseling.   She has served as the US Army Western Regional Medical Command's Care Provider Support Program Director.  She is now serving as the Clinical Operations Manager for United Health Care Military and Veterans Community Case Management.

Jeni adds;  God has used me in ways thought impossible since I left full-time officership/pastor in the Salvation Army. I am so happy to be used of God to do whatever He decides!!
By the way, I have been to Iraq most recently and I'm headed back there again soon considering options around service in that area more long-term. Thanks for praying for me as the future is unfolding again. Glory be to God!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Eugene Peterson retracted his comment and upheld the traditional Christian stance instead.

A day after a Religion News Service interview portrayed retired pastor and author Eugene Peterson as shifting to endorse same-sex marriage, the evangelical leader retracted his comment and upheld the traditional Christian stance instead.

 “To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything,” he said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Peterson, best known for creating the paraphrased Bible translation The Message, also regrets the “confusion and bombast” in the fallout of his remarks, which were widely shared and commented on online yesterday.

Peterson stated:
Recently a reporter asked me whether my personal opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage have changed over the years. I presume I was asked this question because of my former career as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which recently affirmed homosexuality and began allowing its clergy to perform same-sex weddings. Having retired from the pastorate more than 25 years ago, I acknowledged to the reporter that I “haven’t had a lot of experience with it.”

To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.
RNS columnist Jonathan Merritt had asked Peterson, “If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?” Peterson had responded with one word: yes.

The interview was published Wednesday under this headline: Best-selling author Eugene Peterson changes his mind on gay marriage.

In his retraction, the 84-year-old said that in nearly three decades as a pastor and in the years since, “I’ve never performed a same-sex wedding. I’ve never been asked and, frankly, I hope I never am asked.

“This reporter, however, asked a hypothetical question: if I were pastoring today and if a gay couple were Christians of good faith and if they asked me to perform their wedding ceremony—if, if, if. Pastors don’t have the luxury of indulging in hypotheticals,” said Peterson. “And to be honest, no is not a word I typically use.”

Peterson went on to state that because of the biblical view of marriage, he would not marry a same-sex couple:
When put on the spot by this particular interviewer, I said yes in the moment. But on further reflection and prayer, I would like to retract that. That’s not something I would do out of respect to the congregation, the larger church body, and the historic biblical Christian view and teaching on marriage. That said, I would still love such a couple as their pastor. They’d be welcome at my table, along with everybody else.

In a post about the retraction, Merritt explained that he asked Peterson about homosexuality after hearing privately that he affirmed same-sex relationships. Their conversation took place last week by phone and lasted about 30 minutes.
“It is possible that Peterson felt he had been placed on the spot and offered an answer that doesn’t reflect his true conviction,” Merritt wrote. “But it is also important to note that in the week prior to the publication of his answers, there was no attempt to clarify or change his answer to these questions.”

He dismissed claims that Peterson was too senile to respond accurately, and added that the author’s views on same-sex marriage “have no bearing on my respect for him or his ministry.”

Merritt later posted links to comments made by Peterson at Western Seminary in 2014, where Peterson said he “started to change my mind” on the status quo of gays being “really bad.” He also says that he “helped several families accept their children as gay,” finding that “this can be a flourishing thing.”

Peterson also addressed the observations he had shared with RNS about the gay congregants he had known and served over the years.

“When I told this reporter that there are gay and lesbian people who ‘seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do,’ I meant it,” he stated. “But then again, the goodness of a spiritual life is functionally irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

“We are saved by faith through grace that operates independent of our resolve or our good behavior,” he stated. “It operates by the hand of a loving God who desires for us to live in grace and truth and who does not tire of turning us toward both grace and truth.”

Peterson continued:
There have been gay people in a variety of congregations, campuses, and communities where I have served. My responsibility to them was the work of a pastor—to visit them, to care for their souls, to pray for them, to preach the Scriptures for them. This work of pastoring is extremely and essentially local: Each pastor is responsible to a particular people, a specific congregation. We often lose sight of that in an atmosphere so clouded by controversy and cluttered with loud voices. The people of a congregation are not abstractions, they are people, and a pastor does a disservice to the people in his care when he indulges in treating them as abstractions.

Following the RNS interview, Christians on both sides of the LGBT debate cited Peterson as one of the most high-profile evangelicals to publicly change his stance on sexuality.
LifeWay Christian Stores had reached out to “confirm with Eugene Peterson or his representatives that his recent interview on same-sex marriage accurately reflects his views.” A spokesperson said that because of his retraction, they will continue to sell his books, which include dozens of versions of The Message as well as A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and The Pastor. The store stopped selling Jen Hatmaker’s books last year after she also affirmed same-sex marriage in an interview with Merritt.
Peterson’s followup warned against pastors “getting clouded by controversy and cluttered with loud voices” rather than focusing on the specific needs of their congregations.
“I regret the confusion and bombast that this interview has fostered,” he said. “It has never been my intention to participate in the kind of lightless heat that such abstract, hypothetical comments and conversations generate.”

In the interview series with Merritt, Peterson also stated that he will no longer be writing, teaching, or speaking publicly. In his retraction, he reiterated his desire to avoid public statements and to restrict his communication to personal correspondence.

In June, CT published an excerpt of Peterson’s final book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire. Peterson and his most famous fan, U2 frontman Bono, appeared together in a film about the Psalms last year.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

SAME SEX UNIONS: Eugene Peterson




uWhen a journalist has a chance to interview a paragon of the Christian faith like Egene Peterson, there’s a lot of pressure to pick the perfect questions. I’d asked him about why he was leaving the public eye and if he was afraid of death. I’d asked him about Donald Trump and the state of American Christianity. But there was one more topic I wanted to cover: same-sex relationships and marriage.
It’s one of the hottest topics in the church today, and given Peterson’s vast influence among both pastors and laypeople, I knew his opinion would impact the conversation. Though he has had a long career, I couldn’t find his position on the matter either online or in print. I did discover that “The Message,” Peterson’s popular paraphrase of the Bible, doesn’t use the word “homosexual” and “homosexuality” in key texts. But this wasn’t definitive proof of anything. After all, those words never appear in any English translation of the Bible until 1946.
So here we discuss his views on this divisive topic. Peterson’s answers are measured, but pointed and provocative.

RNS: You are Presbyterian, and your denomination has really been grappling with some of the hot button issues that we face as a culture. I think particularly of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Has your view on that changed over the years? What’s your position on the morality of same-sex relationships?

EP: I haven’t had a lot of experience with it. But I have been in churches when I was an associate pastor where there were several women who were lesbians. They didn’t make a big deal about it. I’d go and visit them and it never came up for them. They just assumed that they were as Christian as everybody else in the church.
In my own congregation — when I left, we had about 500 people — I don’t think we ever really made a big deal out of it. When I left, the minister of music left. She’d been there ever since I had been there. There we were, looking for a new minister of music. One of the young people that had grown up under my pastorship, he was a high school teacher and a musician. When he found out about the opening, he showed up in church one day and stood up and said, “I’d like to apply for the job of music director here, and I’m gay.” We didn’t have any gay people in the whole congregation. Well, some of them weren’t openly gay. But I was so pleased with the congregation. Nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician.
I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do. I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over. People who disapprove of it, they’ll probably just go to another church. So we’re in a transition and I think it’s a transition for the best, for the good. I don’t think it’s something that you can parade, but it’s not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned.

RNS: A follow-up: If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?

EP: Yes.

RNS: I’d like to ask you one last question. You’re entering the final stage of your career, your ministry, and your life. One day, as with all of us, Eugene Peterson will not be someone who exists. He will be somebody who did exist once. When that moment comes, how do you hope people will remember Eugene Peterson?

EP: I don’t know. I tell you, I’m still getting used to it all. I’m still getting used to being noticed. People write to me. They ask to come and overnight with us, with my wife and me. Boy, the stuff that comes in my mailbox is just enormous, so I do a lot of letter writing and telephoning. And I’m just amazed really.
I haven’t been part of anything big. I’ve never been a big church preacher. I’ve never been on the radio or anything like that. I’m so pleased that people care about what I’ve done and support it because these are difficult times for the church. I’m quite aware of that. Anyway, I guess I’m just surprised that anyone would remember at all.


RNS: Thanks for your time. I know I speak for countless others when I say thanks for your courage, for your witness, and for your words all these years. You will be remembered, Eugene Peterson. For how could we forget?