Thursday, October 29, 2009

IF ANY OBJECTIONS, SPEAK UP NOW !

The Salvation Army Says no Flexibility on Officer Marriage Policy

BY KEVIN ECKSTROM ©Religion News Service

The top spokesman for the Salvation Army on December 5 signaled that there is no flexibility in a marriage policy that threatens to end the career of a Salvation Army officer who plans to marry a non-officer next June.

Capt. Johnny Harsh of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was suspended after he told superiors that he plans to marry a woman who is not a Salvation Army officer. His former wife, Capt. Yalanda "Yoley" Harsh, died last June.

Maj. George Hood, the national community relations and development secretary for the Salvation Army, said the marriage policy is "almost as old as the organization itself" and serves the officers' long-term interests. "Married couples, each with the same calling and working together for the same purpose, are more effective in service and better able to support each other," Hood said in a statement to Religion News Service.

"Each officer `cadet' is made aware of this policy before attending one of The Salvation Army's two-year office training schools."

Harsh told The Northwestern newspaper in Oshkosh that he was aware of the policy, but doesn't agree with it. He also knew what the consequences were for disobeying it. "For the Salvation Army to let me go because I will marry outside of the (Salvation) Army, I think is wrong," Harsh told the newspaper. "I pray that people will write letters and call the Salvation Army to change this ruling. It wouldn't be for my benefit, but for future officers."

Hood declined to comment on Harsh's specific case because it is considered a private "personnel" matter. Harsh said his fiancée "saved my life" after the sudden death of his wife. Salvation Army officials also told Harsh the woman could not stay in the guest room of his house, which he also disagreed with.

"I told them ... as long as I live in that house, I can have anyone there that I want," Harsh told The Northwestern. "In my 14 years with the Salvation Army, my wife, Yoley, and I had prostitutes, drug users, homeless people and abused women and their children stay in that house. However, I signed a covenant to obey my Salvation Army leaders and I have failed to obey my leaders."

Harsh said he would be "very very surprised" if he is not dismissed, and if he is, plans to move to Waukesha, Wisconsin, and start a non-denominational church.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Addicted to Facebook ???

A new study suggests negative consequences from the rising social media use on Christian college campuses.

Updating their status. Posting pictures. Checking out the news feeds of their friends. It’s all in a day’s work for today’s college students.

One-third of Christian college students spend 1-2 hours a day on Facebook, according to a new study from Gordon College professors. Twelve percent use Facebook for 2-4 hours each day, and 2.8 percent report using it from 4-7 hours a day. This is in addition to the time they spend on other forms of electronic media, such as blogs, Twitter, and the internet. And it doesn’t even count the time they spend texting, talking, or using applications on their cell phones.

More than half of the students reported they were “neglecting important areas of their life” because they were spending too much time online. And when given the definition of addiction as “any behavior you cannot stop, regardless of the consequences,” more than 10 percent said they believed they were in fact addicted to some form of electronic activity.

I teach several classes at a local Christian college, and I’m not surprised. Students text friends under the table during a lecture or class discussion. They post pictures, make plans with friends, begin and end romances on the internet. One student even dropped my class after I told her she wouldn’t be allowed to bring her laptop along.

And I understand. I have my own Facebook account, multiple e-mail addresses, and a cell phone, all of which suck up my time. Controlling the amount of time I spend with social media is difficult for me, and I went to college when e-mail was fairly new. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it is for students who are familiar with even more and better forms of technology.

“It isn’t yet clear whether over-zealous use of computer-based activities will be formally accepted in the U.S. as a distinctive, unique form of addiction,” said Bryan C. Auday, professor of psychology and one of the study’s authors. “What is clear from our study is that a surprisingly high percentage of Christian students who frequently engage in electronic activities report several troubling negative consequences. But ironically they also mention many positive outcomes related to the time that is spent on Facebook or text messaging their friends.”

Last Lent, I joined with many students on my campus in a Facebook fast. For 40 days, I didn’t share how my day was going or check to see what my old college friends were doing for the weekend. Did I notice that I had more time to spend on worthwhile things? Absolutely. I had time to read, to talk to my husband, to play with my son, to read books for fun, to write, to think.

But after Easter, I headed back to Facebook. Call me nosy, but I like being able to follow what my friends are doing, even if those are friends I haven’t seen since high school. I love watching their families and adventures appear in pictures. And I like to be able to share my own experiences in one convenient spot, instead of attaching dozens of pictures to an e-mail.

I’m still searching for a way to limit my time on Facebook without letting go altogether. And according to the Gordon study, Christian college students are, too. They have recognized the potential negative effects that accompany the ease and access of social media and they’re fasting from Facebook, deleting their accounts, avoiding places with internet access, or imposing limits on themselves.

We have to carefully keep ourselves in check as we integrate these new technologies into our lives. So what are some ways we can practice self-control online? And how do we teach that to our children, who will grow up with even more attractive technology than today’s college students?

Sarah Eekhoff

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What should I wear to work today ?

As a Salvation Army officer, I’m expected to wear a uniform to work and to public events in the community, as it identifies me as a representative of the Salvation Army and, by extension, the gospel. While navy and white does get boring, I’m spared the “what should I wear today?,” and Larry is spared having to answer the question husbands dread: “does this outfit make me look fat?” The choice is simple: navy blue skirt and the required off-black panty-hose or navy blue slacks.

Recently, however, I wore my United Way “Live United” tee-shirt to run some errands around town. Just as the Salvation Army uniform proclaims that I’m a person with certain values and beliefs, so too does that tee-shirt. When I put on that Live United tee-shirt, I declare that I value unity within diversity, and I believe we are much stronger together than we are when we think we’re independent.

This strength through connection could be labeled coincidence, but I’m convinced more than coincidence is happening in our community. In a spiritual sense, coincidence can be God’s way of staying anonymous, or, as Evelyn Underhill understood, “there is no such thing as coincidence, only God’s universe in the act of rhyming.” However, novelist Emma Bull gives an additional slant to its definition: “Coincidence is the word we use when we can’t see the hammers and the pulleys.” She’s absolutely right, for there are many invisible hammers and pulleys in motion across Ashland County. Some operate in churches and civic clubs, while others are centered in neighborhoods or United Way partner agencies. For instance, a ‘chance’ conversation put in motion the hammers and pulleys to connect a home health care patient who had lost the ability to communicate with the technology to free him to participate in his world again. A Family and Children First Council Care Team meeting connected a struggling family to a water pump for their vehicle, restoring their mobility and independence.
It’s no coincidence that children have safe and enriching places to be after school. It’s no coincidence that Red Cross’s response team is available 24/7 when disaster strikes. It’s no coincidence that cancer patients find a listening ear and help with medication. The hammers and pulleys in our community are hard at work, creating our own miracles day in and day out.
They are the hammers that repair homes and hearts and the pulleys that Ev DeVaul, Dennis Miller and United Way volunteers use to extract dollars from wallets to support the work of the hammers. The hammers and pulleys are operated by the professionals in agency offices, the high school and college students who are game for any task, and the volunteers of Ashland County who continue to amaze me with their willingness to serve.

Live United is much more than a catchy slogan: it has become a prophetic word for our community. A prophet is one whose task is two-fold; forth-telling and fore-telling. On one hand, “live united” acknowledges who we are, for it recognizes the truth of our town and county – that we do feel a sense of responsibility and care for each other, even the “each others” that we’ve never met. In the same breath, it also challenges us to take up the banner of living in a united sense, working steadily to connect resources to need.

It’s as simple as sharing garden produce with a neighbor or food panty, which I’ll do if my 100 green tomatoes ever ripen. It’s as hard as making a sacrificial financial contribution to United Way. It’s as tiring as a night with the church-based ACCESS program for homeless families. It’s as joyous as celebrating a year’s anniversary of sobriety with a neighbor.
There are times in our lives when we are forced to admit: “I can’t do it.” Yet the prophecy of the slogan and the promise of a community who “lives united” is that we don’t have to journey alone. We do care about each other, we believe for each other, and we keep the light of hope burning through the dark night.

That’s why we can wear that tee-shirt proudly, Ashland and LIVE UNITED!


Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has contributed to this blog since its inception.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MAKING MESSES...

I spent the first twenty-four years of my ministry with a crazy idea in my head, a ludicrous expectation: that my life—and, more precisely, my ministry and the life of my church—was supposed to go smoothly.

And, corollary to that expectation was another: when everything didn’t go smoothly, something was wrong. And, usually, a third and a fourth corollary: it was my fault, and it was my job to fix it.

Now, I know better (most of the time). A verse I read recently in Proverbs made me laugh out loud:
Where there are no oxen,
the stalls are clean;
but much is produced
by the strength of an ox (Proverbs 14:4, CJB).
Of course, we all know, stalls are made to house livestock, and therefore they will get dirty. And churches are spiritual houses made of people, who often make bigger messes than dumb animals.

Eugene Peterson writes,
Every time I move to a community, I find a church close by and join it—committing myself to worship and work with that company of God’s people. I’ve never been anything other than disappointed: every one turns out to be biblical, through and through: murmurers, complainers, the faithless, the inconstant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring moralizers, glamorous secularizers.
Of course. Why should we expect this process (whereby a bunch of sinners are transformed into a community of the redeemed) to be free of such disappointment? Not even Jesus enjoyed smooth-sailing with his band of twelve; they were sometimes as clueless, crotchety, and bumbling as I am!

But every once in a while, Peterson says, “a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminate those companies, and then I see what my sin-dulled eyes had missed: word-of-God-shaped, Holy Spirit-created lives of sacrificial humility, incredible courage, heroic virtue, holy praise, joyful suffering, constant prayer, persevering obedience.”

Oh, I’ve seen those things in my church. I’ve also seen us make plenty of mistakes (somewhere around a bajillion). And we want to get better. And we ARE! But we should also remember that, like cattle stalls and sheep pens, only empty churches can go very long without making a mess.



Bob Hostetler
Former USA NHQ

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SPEAKING TO POLITICS...


Speaking to politics - our right and our responsibility

You might notice that the title of this blog posting is also the title of a new page on which - because of the interest it seems to have aroused - you'll find the text of my message at the service for the Conservative Party Conference.

The main thrust of my message was simply that the church has both the right to be heard and the responsibility to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Let me comment briefly on both of those things...

We have the right to be heard because of the truths we hold dear and because of the involvement of Christians in working to bring the reality of God's kingdom into every aspect of life. But that means that the opposite is also true: if we fail to live out the truths of the gospel and if we retreat from practical involvement in the world, then we have no right to be heard. So the challenge is to continune to be both thinking and active disciples of Jesus engaging with the prevailing culture and responding to human need.

And we have a responsibility to speak for those who might otherwise not be heard. The gospel has a bias to the oppressed and marginalised. It is good news for the poor. It is all about setting captives free.

This afternoon I took part in a debate on radio with Adam Harbinson. Adam is a writer and journalist from Northern Ireland who is a follower of Jesus who has given up on church. He just doesn't go any longer. He says, 'I don't have to, I don't want to, and I don't need to.' In all honesty I had more than a little sympathy with some of his criticisms of the church. But I think he's wrong. We can't give up on it.

Why? Because it's the body of Christ on earth, called to do his work, called to live out the gospel, called to declare the truth in word and deed. Of course, it's not exempt from the central condition of following Jesus - the church - just as individuals have to do - must die in order to live. It must die to everything in its culture and its practices that is unlike Jesus. But that isn't the death of rejection and abandonment. It is the death that lays everything on the altar of mission and discovers resurrection and renewal.

And only insofar as the church is willing to do that will we win the right to be heard by politicians and the world at large. But, as Bill Hybels has said, when the church is truly to the body of Christ it is the hope of the world.

But it's late and I must sleep!

If you have been, thanks for reading this.

Chick Yuill

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tattoos of Compassion

My wife’s brother was in hospice care towards the end of a long battle with cancer. When Doris and her sister-in-law first saw the nurse assigned to him—spiked, multi-colored hair, body piercings and tattoos up and down both arms—they were not sure they wanted this particular person looking after their loved one. After watching her in action, their impressions began to change.

The next day one of the other nurses asked them if Bronte’ (the hospice nurse) had told them about her tattoos. She had not, so the nurse said to them, “Let me tell you.” She told them that Bronte’, originally from Scotland, had worked in an Australian AID’S hospice before coming to America. While there one of her patients said to her, “I know I am going to die soon, and when I do, no one will know, no one will care and no one will remember.

That evening Bronte’ went out and got her first tattoo. She approached that AID’S patient the next day, pointed to the freshly engraved tattoo on her arm and said to him, “Do you see this tattoo? It is for you. Every time I look at this tattoo I will think of you. Every time I touch this tattoo I will remember you. I care! You will never be forgotten.” And now tattoos are lined up and down her arms—the tattoos of compassion. The Body of Christ must line itself with the invisible tattoos of compassion.

William Sloan Coffin Writes:

"The opposite of love is not hatred but fear. 'Perfect love casts out fear.' Nothing scares me like scared people; for while love seeks the truth, fear seeks safety, the safety so frequently found in dogmatic certainty, in pitiless intolerance."

"I think the love of Jesus is indeed the plumb line by which everything is to be measured. And while laws may be more rigid, love is more demanding, for love insists on motivation and goes between around, and way beyond all laws."

God help us!

Commissioner Joe Noland (R)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SPELLING O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y. -3-


Opportunity What an incredible opportunity we’ve been given. After all the tears and headaches, we have a magnificent facility that is making a difference in our community every day. Thank you, Lord. Children and adults are being exposed to music and art and dance and gardening and Jesus. Thank you, Lord. We have the opportunity, as does the Starbucks chain, to be welcoming, genuine, considerate, knowledgeable and involved. Thank you, Lord. Like Starbucks, we can make it our own. We can recognize that everything matters. We can be open to surprise and delight. We can embrace resistance rather than fight it. And we can leave our mark. Thank you, Lord. What an incredible opportunity we’ve been given.

Prayer

’Mid all the traffic of the ways, Turmoils without, within,
Make in my heart a quiet place, And come and dwell therein.

A little place of mystic grace, Of self and sin swept bare,
Where I may look upon Thy face, And talk with Thee in prayer.

William Dunkerley’s words speak to a place in the heart, yet also describe a place within the busyness of the center. A small room was initially meant as a crying room for parents to use if their babies needed to be taken out of the church services but now has been set up as a prayer room. It has become a place of mystic grace for many in our community, as has the labyrinth in the southwest corner of the property.

Questions Richard Rinehart asks the following five questions:
Is Jesus Christ the focus of attention around here?
Are relationships the lifeblood of this ministry?
Can I let go of control and step aside when I need to?
Am I growing more conscious of my leadership values and assumptions?
What kind of change agent am I?

Role Model Yogi Berra tells us that “you can observe a lot by just watching.” Many eyes are on these new centers, and our actions are being observed by children and adults alike. It is a great gift and a great responsibility. Oh, God, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

Structure and System Somewhere I ran across the concept that suggests that where the spirit is right, any structure will work. I’m not so sure of that. Our structure and the systems that support the work are important to what we’re doing. Perhaps our greatest challenge in the early days was that we didn’t have enough ‘system’ in place to allow staff to relax into their positions. We are still challenged by phones, the copier, Kroc Suites, statistical collection and accounting decisions. It seemed as though we had worked a lot on getting systems in place, and so it was frustrating to see how much we hadn’t gotten finished prior to opening. There are days when I simply want to throw open the doors and say, “come on in” – we’ll figure out the paperwork and stats later. Perhaps there’s a spiritual lesson to be learned??

Tension There is a tension between two descriptors of our work: saving souls, serving suffering humanity, and making saints versus the goals of developing character, confidence, capacity and hope. There is a tension between ‘go for souls and go for the worst’ and offering programs in the arts, education, andrecreation for the underserved, the undeserving (dare we say that word out loud), and the paying audience. There may be a tension between those who have been faithful to the Salvation Army through thick and thin, and those newcomers who may seem like ‘carpetbaggers’ to those who have been in the war for a long time.

Tension is not inherently good or bad. After all, without tension in the strings, a cello is silent. Joan Borysenko understands: “Some tension is necessary for the soul to grow, and we can put that tension to good use. We can look for every opportunity to give and receive love, to heal our wounds and the wounds of others, to forgive, and to serve.”
Naming the tensions when they exist and valuing the hearts of all who are included will allow for love, healing, forgiveness and service to occur.

Under Authority Regardless of the Kroc distinction or aura, we are the
Salvation Army, and as such remain people under authority. We do have unique concerns that we’d like the corporate Army to understand and to bend its long standing practices that would make our job easier, but that may not happen. We need to accept that and get on with it.

Vision Without vision, the people perish. The challenge of the Kroc projects is that there are a number of visions that have to somehow be integrated into a
whole. First, the vision of Catherine and William Booth, that the lost of the world might know Jesus. Next, Joan Kroc’s vision that placed specific parameters around the use of her gift. Then there is the vision of the local community, that
may not understand the requirements of the gift or the machinations of the Salvation Army. Add to that mix the levels of DHQ and THQ, where each personaround the board table has his or her own ideas and priorities, and we have quite a task of integration. Is there room for the vision of the advisory board or corps council? The children? What of the vision of the officers who are appointed to the Kroc center development, often partway through the process? And, first and foremost, what does God want? The Kroc leader has the responsibility of taking hundreds of vision-bearing images and crafting them into a coherent film. “Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart.”
Welcome “There is a welcome here for you. A cup of water, a warm embrace, there is a welcome here for you.” Is that evident? Space can be designed to
create an atmosphere of welcome, and systems can be developed to facilitate methods of welcome, but in the end it depends on people.

eXamine How will we evaluate what is happening in the centers and in the lives of its participants? We’re so busy trying to get programming started that we’ve not been very good at building in an evaluative component. This is our baby – what if someone says it’s ugly? How open can we be to feedback?

Yes Tony Blair suggests that “the art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” While I get his point, I suggest that our centers need to be places where “yes” is heard more often than “no.” Yes, you can do this, I believe in you. Yes, you can sing and dance. Yes, you can run and fly kites. Yes, you can love Jesus and love your brother and sister. Yes, you can be safe here. Yes, you can dream. Yes, you can hope. Yes, you can reach your capacity. Yes, you can!

Zoo During our assignment at the Cleveland Hough Center, definitely a precursor for the Kroc Center concept, a Salvation Army leader joined us on a
busy evening at the center and commented: “This is a zoo, and you’re the zookeeper.” Ouch! I’m not always good at responding in the moment, but nearly twenty years later, I can tell him that a zoo is the wrong metaphor. We don’t have people in cages, and while we may have a lot of activity in the centers, it is not chaos.

It’s up to us to choose healthy metaphors for our centers. While we continue to be the Salvation Army, a military metaphor may not be the only one to use in these settings. Might we also see ourselves as a circle, a harbor, a well, or the village green? How we as leaders see our centers will influence what they become.

PART -3-

Major JoAnn Shade
Administrator

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HOW DO YOU SPELL "START-UP" LEADERSHIP ? PART -2-


HISTORY
We must find ways to honor our heritage in the midst of the new work of the Lord in the centers. In Ashland, the Salvation Army has been in operation since 1886, and we had to consider how that history could be honored. In our case, this included story-telling with soldiers, finding a place for the existing altar and holiness table in the new building, and honoring Salvationists from prior generations through bricks and other naming opportunities. These centers are not being developed in a vacuum, but instead, are part of a long train of mission stations in operating since the beginning of the church of Christ.

INVOLVEMENT
We’ve worked to create a team approach to leadership and to our work within the center, but that brings its own challenges. Who does what? How do we delegate? How do we decide which voices have priority? How do we handle conflict? We’re not a voting organization, so this feels like new ground.

JOY
“I’m lovin’ it!” I’ve heard a number of our staff say, “I love my job.” What
can we put in place in the planning and structure so that this will be true? Are employees and volunteers being affirmed? Are conflicts being resolved so that there aren’t uneasy feelings at the center? Is there room for celebration? Are there enough flowers and chocolate? Do we as leaders love our jobs? Do we show it?

KITES
We interviewed a candidate for one of our positions who wrote in her cover letter, “While I would love to be employed at the center, I do need to keep
time to fly kites with my grandchildren.” There’s got to be time and space for fun, and not just for center participants. The development of these centers is hard work and very time-consuming. Every once in a while, we need to hear the whisper from

Mr. Banks and Bert of Mary Poppins fame:
When you send it flyin' up there all at once you're lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze over 'ouses and trees
With your fist 'olding tight to the string of your kite
Oh, oh, oh! Let's go fly a kite up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere, Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!

LOVE
Can these words be said of us? “We are patient. We are kind. We don’t envy. We don’t boast. We are not proud. We don’t dishonor others. We are not self-seeking. We are not easily angered. We don’t keep a record of wrongs. We don’t delight in evil. We rejoice with the truth. We always protect. We always hope. We always persevere.”

MOTHER
Let’s be clear here. I am not your mother. Your mother doesn’t work here, and your mother isn’t going to clean up after you. More than that, our centers must find ways to move away from the parent-child relationships that occur so often in the Salvation Army so that we can invite people to healthy adult-to-adult relationships.

NOISE
Face it. We want noise. If our buildings are silent, we have failed. However, noise is not always welcome. While some like the strains of our Dixieland band, others would prefer peace and quiet. Crying babies in our Gathering Place make the welcome center job more difficult, We have had more ‘concerns’ expressed over what kind of Muzak is playing in the hallways than anything else – classical, contemporary Christian, smooth jazz, SA brass music – every switch brings e-mails and suggestion cards lamenting or applauding the change. What is noise to one is harmony to another. Is there room for it all? “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalm 98:4


GRACE Ah, it is an amazing grace. Now is a time to offer grace for each other and for ourselves. “You deserve a break today” isn’t only a McDonalds slogan –
it’s a gift we can give each other. In a big adventure like the Kroc Center development, we are sure to fail in some ways. For every Big Mac that sold millions, there was an experiment like Ray Kroc’s Hula Burger that never made it out of the gate (grilled pineapple topped with cheese on a bun). Dan Allender tells us that “to continue to dream when failure and disappointment cloud the sun is the radical gift of hope,” the kind of hope that is “a calculated risk that declares, whatever the loss, it is better than remaining where we are.” Like it or not, we’ve thrown our hat over the fence, and have no choice but to go after it and give it our best shot. When it doesn’t work out quite like we planned, we’ve got to have a large helping of grace to ease our sense of failure.
PART -2-

Major JoAnn Shade
Administrator

HOW DO YOU SPELL SERVICE LEADERSHIP ? (click for video)

As children we learn the quasi-nursery rhyme song that concludes: now I sang my ABC’s, next time won’t you sing with me. The following ABC reflections are offered as a part of the song I’ve now been singing for about three years, specifically in relation to the development of a Kroc Center, but the principles are broader than Kroc. Hope you’re able to sing along.


Adaptability “Here is the principle...adapt your measures to the necessity of the people to whom you minister. You are to take the Gospel to them in such modes...and circumstances as will gain for it from them a hearing” (Catherine Booth). While we’ve been adapting in various ways since the days of William and Catherine, Kroc is a new song that we (individually and corporately) have never sung before. We are each searching for our groove, straining to hear the notes flowing through our days. We are adapting to a new paradigm, but none of us is quite sure what it will look like when it is complete. What saves us is that we know the Singer!

This adventure requires that we find both organizational balance and personal balance. Not the kind of wobbly, hold-your-breath kind of high wire walking, but a steady balance that lives from a well-grounded faith. As Oprah
Winfrey reminds us, “I've learned that you can't have everything and do everything at the same time .“ Even if we’re doing it for Jesus.

BALANCE This adventure requires that we find both organizational balance and personal balance. Not the kind of wobbly, hold-your-breath kind of high wire walking, but a steady balance that lives from a well-grounded faith. As Oprah Winfrey reminds us, “I've learned that you can't have everything and do everything at the same time .“ Even if we’re doing it for Jesus.


COMMUNICATION Even with all the expanding ways of communicating in our technological world, it remains a challenge to get and keep everyone on the same page. Lotus Notes calendars and e-mails are wonderful tools, but we each have varying technological savvy and comfort. We also have to realize that just because we sent an e-mail on a topic, it doesn’t follow that our staff has received and/or read their e-mail. Also, there are some communications that should be handled in person (as our lawyer has recently reminded our division).

Our on-going communication struggles are made more difficult by the longer hours that the RJKCCC is open. There are part-time employees that we may not see for a couple of weeks if our schedules don’t coincide. We do continue to have monthly full staff meetings where all employees are welcome but not mandated to attend. We’ve also established ‘section’ meetings to bring together all those working in a particular area that have met with some success. Yet if we were to name our biggest staff-related challenge, it would be communication. We need to TALK!


DETERMINATION
There is a measure of resolve and even stubbornness needed to bring these centers to completion. There are times when we must do what we have to do to move the development ahead. There are times when we just have to jump through one more hoop, and there are other times when we need to battle to dismantle a hoop or two. Might we have the serenity to accept those things we cannot change, the courage to change those things we can change (or work to change), and the wisdom to know the difference.

EXPECTATIONS With all the hype surrounding the new centers, expectations have been flying sky-high. Joan Kroc’s expectations for excellence come to us from the grave. Our communities expect us to keep our promises, while many participants do not expect to have to pay for services from the Salvation Army – after all, ‘you are the Salvation Army.’ Our donors expect us to be the Salvation Army, careful of how we spend the money that’s been entrusted to us to use. Our DHQ’s may expect our centers to be a resource to the division without realizing the local commitments we have. Tourists expect to drop in and get a tour, often with the officers as tour guides.

We expect our staff to take a crash course in Salvation Army policy and procedure, and to know how to use systems that are still developing. We expect excellence in programs from the start, and we have a “If we build it, they will come” mentality that may be naïve, especially in tough economic times. We also expect too much of ourselves as leaders, and any workaholic tendencies we have are easily exacerbated in the Kroc experience.

To manage expectations, we need to make sure that we’re all telling the same story. We need to be willing to say, “This is what we can do,” and offer alternatives when we can’t help or provide a particular karate class. Even with the wonderful resources of the center, we cannot realistically be all things to all people.

FUTURE-THINKING What will our centers look like in five, ten, twenty or fifty years? We must think to the future, programmatically and facility-wise. Just having celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Hough Center in Cleveland, it was apparent that its inflexible facility footprint, lack of preventative maintenance, and on-going financial struggle are limiting its impact in the twenty-first century. While we can’t predict the future, we can anticipate that change will occur and keep our centers open for shifting interests and needs within our communities.

GRACE Ah, it is an amazing grace. Now is a time to offer grace for each other and for ourselves. “You deserve a break today” isn’t only a McDonalds slogan –
it’s a gift we can give each other. In a big adventure like the Kroc Center development, we are sure to fail in some ways. For every Big Mac that sold millions, there was an experiment like Ray Kroc’s Hula Burger that never made it out of the gate (grilled pineapple topped with cheese on a bun). Dan Allender tells us that “to continue to dream when failure and disappointment cloud the sun is the radical gift of hope,” the kind of hope that is “a calculated risk that declares, whatever the loss, it is better than remaining where we are.” Like it or not, we’ve thrown our hat over the fence, and have no choice but to go after it and give it our best shot. When it doesn’t work out quite like we planned, we’ve got to have a large helping of grace to ease our sense of failure.

PART -1-

Major JoAnn Shade
Administrator

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MANY FIND GIVING FILLING



SA LATVIA Blog
REGIONAL COMMANDER; RIGA LATVIA: Peter Baronowsky (translated: Sven Ljungholm) 2009-10-14

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Yesterday morning when I finished editing the current post on www.rupeba.se, I scanned through the headlines and suddenly saw in a new way our own blog headline b"Give them something to eat."

It was the heading to the (my) comments on (our) Daily Bible reading: Give them something to eat. The comment was based on Jesus' words to the disciples in connection with the feeding of the multitudes where two fish and five loaves fed five thousand men, in addition to the women and children. "They do not go away. Give them something to eat yourselves." (Matthew 14:16 Bible 2000).

The comment was written from a Western perpective where people basically do not go hungry. But now, taking the literal meaning in the title to me in a new way: "Give them something to eat." I thought about the situation in Latvia:

- which we just started a program to provide school lunches to children whose parents can not afford to pay for childrens' school lunches

- where we started a program to increase the number of food parcels provided to poor families

- where every week we distribute over a thousand portions of our soup kitchens and eateries

We really admire all the gifted people who are active in The Salvation Army in Latvia. But there are so many more who suffer from hunger than those we can currently help. And Jesus' words, "Give them something to eat". challenges us to move on .

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In a preceding FSAOF blog article you'll find a description of the project the FSAOF has committed to support fully. The FSAOF has already pledged several thousand dollars to support a special project in Sakarny, Latvia with more support anticipated, including a proposed mission project, summer 2010.

In North America, please send all donations for forwarding to:

Jeff Bassett
(Designate: FSAOF)
Living Water Church Ministries
1813 Central Ave.
Wall, NJ 07719 USA
Tel. 732-280-1690 (please be cognizant of the time zone; USA East) (Many persons have committed to sending $20.00 per month)

or directly to:

Bank account information:

R/O Pestisanas armija
Bruninieku 10a, LV-1001, Riga
Office phone: +371 67310037
Reg. Nr.90000158170


Account: LV31NDEA0000080011705
Bank code: NDEALV2X

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

LATVIA NEEDS US...

REPORT FROM THE REGIONAL COMMANDER; RIGA LATVIA

The Riga 2 Corps is growing spiritually and the social work programs consisting of, and ministering primarily to the mainly Russian-speaking population located near central Riga, are providing hope for new life. Following religious services on Wednesdays and Sundays, dinner is served. The up to150 worshipers consist mainly of homeless people from the area.

The officers responsible for the Corps’ activities are assisted by a team of twenty volunteers who are soldiers or recruits. They assist with renovation, food distribution, clothing needs, cleaning and gardening.

In August they had the third soldier's enrollment this year, welcoming four new soldiers. They also greeted an additional seven recruits (see photos). The new soldiers, as is the case with the majority of those worshiping at Riga 2, are homeless. The testimonies shared by soldiers, recruits and ‘regulars’ all focus on their abstaining and being freed from long-standing abuse of alcohol or heroin. It is a miracle that these soldiers could stay sober on the streets and hostels where the drink flows freely and needles readily shared. After a day spent at the Corps all are regrettably forced to return to homelessness: neither the SA or city government is able to provide accommodation for this vulnerable ethnic group.

If an apartment or rooms where these new Christians could be accommodated could be found, even if it is in deplorable condition, they could and would be eager refurbish it. There is no need for supervisory personnel in this apartment as the Corps Officers would have oversight. They have survived on the streets and in rundown shelters, surrounded by alcohol and drug abusers, so they will surely be able to live in a wholly sober environment where daily manna would include spiritual training and meals. The Corps has a score of soldiers and recruits with many in need of immediate help. A larger apartment costs around 500,000 USD. Winter is coming soon.

The four new soldiers, enrolled in August (pictured), while welcoming seven new recruits.

The stories below are written by the Corps Officer in Riga 2
I have written down a few stories of people coming to Riga 2 Corps of TSA. All of us are praying and asking our Heavenly Father for a hostel for these people, who have started a new life and do not have even the most elementary conditions for surviving. We, Captain of TSA, Andrei and Irina Konovalovi firmly stand in the faith that God will hear our prayers and answer them.

Sergejs went to a boarding school. When he finished this school, he had no other choice than live in the shelter for homeless people. Sergejs came to TSA in April 2009, accepted Jesus Christ into his life and expressed a wish to become a recruit of Riga 2nd Corps. Sergejs has found a family in The Salvation Army among the recruits, soldiers and officers. On 22 August, 2009 he was enrolled as a soldier in TSA. Sergejs dreams about his life changing and him living in normal human circumstances and not in the shelter of homeless people, where he can not even pray or read his Bible. God Has Set Sergejs free from drugs and smoking, and continues to change his life.

Fjodor came to TSA in a state of severe depression. His name was on the register of a narcology centre and he has also been in prison for taking drugs and acting as a drug dealer. Relationships with his relatives were destroyed. Fjodor has completely got rid of his drug addiction and was taken off the register of the narcology centre. On 21 March, 2009 Fjodor became a recruit of Riga 2nd Corps, but in July of the same year he was enrolled as a soldier of Riga 2 Corps. At the present Fjodor comes to the Corps with his mum and is actively involved in the life of the church.
Olesja and Andrejs - wife and husband. Came to the 2nd Corps of TSA in April 2009. At that time they had lost their jobs and flat due to the crisis and had to live in shelters (Olesja in a shelter for women, Andrejs - in a shelter for men). In order to meet and communicate they met in a park. In April both of them welcomed Jesus in their life and God started working in their lives. Olesja found a job and on 22 August, 2009 they made a decision to become recruits of TSA. God delivered them both from smoking. In their faith to Jesus Christ and prayers God is renewing their life. At the present they live together in a flat with no light and no gas, but they are happy to be together. They are grateful to God and are actively involved in serving Him and other people in TSA.

Alexander came to the 2nd Corps of TSA in October, 2008. Before coming to TSA his father threw him out of the house. Next two years he spent living on the street, in cellars and attics of houses. Alexander suffers from epilepsy; a severe gastritis; consequences of a severe brain concussion. In The Salvation Army Alexander got rid of his alcoholism, drug addiction and smoking. At the moment Alexander is a soldier of Riga 2 Corps. He is actively involved in church life and is grateful to God for change in his life. Unfortunately after the service Alexander must go back to being on the street, he doesn’t have a place to live. The Salvation Army operates 17 different programs in Latvia; corps, social work institutions and childrens homes.The Commanding Officers of the Riga II (in photo on right), Russian speaking Corps, Captains Andrej & Rina Konovalov .

We are asking our Lord for a hostel for these saved people, who long to change their lives, the recruits of soldiers of TSA.
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In a preceding FSAOF blog article you'll find a description of the project the FSAOF has committed to support fully. The FSAOF has already pledged several thousand dollars to support a special project in Sakarny, Latvia with more support anticipated, including a proposed mission project, summer 2010.

Bank account information:

R/O Pestisanas armija
Bruninieku 10a, LV-1001, Riga
Office phone: +371 67310037
Reg. Nr.90000158170


Account: LV31NDEA0000080011705
Bank code: NDEALV2X

Monday, October 12, 2009

COVENANT PART -2-

There are many officers who believe that the covenant is like a triune pact - the officer, God and The Salvation Army. I suspect there is an inherent danger in this belief which leads to confusion between who we’re serving - God or the Army.

There has always been this tension between serving God and serving the Army. From what was said on that fateful day 17 years ago to our session, we understood we were covenanting with God - and The Salvation Army. However, that’s not what it says on “My Covenant” that hangs on my office wall. But it is the essence of what I’ve signed.

So here’s the question… if I am in a covenant with God to serve Him, and yet I simultaneously signed a contract with The Salvation Army (which is not a legal contract and in no way obligates The Salvation Army legally to have any kind of remunerative relationship with me!) then who am I working for. Oh my, it does get so convoluted sometimes.

And therein lies the rub. How do we communicate to a younger generation that demands a genuine faith in Jesus be lived out in everything we do and mistrusts organized, institutionalized religion - what it means to be an officer? What I wrote about in The Shrinking Pool on how an officer is valued by the organization in linked to this point - this generation sees the inconsistencies and convoluted wording of what an officer’s covenant relationship is supposed to be and says, “That doesn’t seem right.” You’re asking me to sign a paper called “The Undertakings of an Officer” in which I will make all the sacrifices, financial and otherwise, and the organization to which I am going to “work” for and serve God through will have no legal obligation to me whatsoever? And if a leader makes a decision that is unfair to me and I suffer as a result, that’s too bad? I have to just suck it up? And if I’m given an appointment that drains the life out of me because I’m totally out of my element and not working within my gifting, that’s ok? I need to just work with that because that’s what being an officer means? Is this kind of “sacrificial” relationship still needed in such an affluent country? It’s not the early days anymore - why doesn’t the Army change with the times?

How do we answer those questions? Just what is the sacrifice they are being called to make.
It’s not that we as officers didn’t know this going into it, as one comment suggested. We know what we signed up for. We work and pray to help The Salvation Army stay true to what God called us to be every day. We strive to be as authentic as we can in everything we do because we believe this is where God has called us to be. However, we also know that as our culture changes and as a society we learn more about ourselves as God’s creation - the organization has to change and grow as well.

If we want to see the pool in which we fish for officer recruits expand, then we need to find a way to refill the pool. It may mean that we have to look at how we define officership and that it may have to change. Will we stay as volunteers in this legal no man’s land? Or will become employees like pastors in other churches - protected by the law against injustice or abuse? If we do change, however, where will “sacrifice” come into play?

Again, I don’t know the answer to these questions. I only know I have them - and so does a new generation seeking for ways to serve God in The Salvation Army. Only one thing I am sure of, no matter whether the Army changes or not, no matter in good times or bad - I made my covenant with the Lord and I will serve Him all my days. For never will He leave me, nor will He ever forsake me, I am His and He is my God. I will follow Him wherever He leads me - because I love Him so. That is why I am an officer. Because this is where He has led me and I will always be faithful to my calling. Through good times and not so good times and even through horrible times - that is the commitment I made. However, I will continue to ask the questions and continue to pray for Godly leaders to take through these changing times.

…Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15, NIV

http://therubicon.org

KATHIE CHIU

Along with her husband Ed, Kathie Chiu has been the corps officer of Mountain View Community Church. Kathie has five children and by June 2009 will have eight grandchildren. For over two years she has been writing a monthly column for Salvationist.ca called Just Between Us and right now is working on a blogazine called Full Potential to help equip leaders for ministry. Her passions include building and equipping others for ministry and writing, knitting and especially her family.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

COVENANT PART -1-

It was covenant signing day. The officer stood at the pulpit and looked out at us as he prepared to speak about what his covenant meant to him. I was intrigued because during my two years at the College for Officer Training I had come to admire this man and his commitment to educating cadets. He always challenged us to think beyond what was commonly accepted as ‘gospel truth by the tried and true, the faithful of the beloved Salvation Army. What would he say?

The gist of what he said was this. “When I married my wife, I married her for who she was that day. My covenant with her was not based on my expectation that she would improve or change. I accepted her for who she was right then. It’s the same with my covenant with God and The Salvation Army. I accepted what The Army was that day without expectation that things would change or improve.”

For the last 17 years his words have stuck with me. They have been a blessing when things are good and a sore spot when things have not been so good. But they have never left me.

I asked a few officers to answer some questions for me about their thoughts on their officer covenant and what they understood about it. I was not surprised that each one believed that they had signed a covenant with God to serve Him - and the vehicle they chose to do that was The Salvation Army. One said, “… I signed it, with a clear understanding between God and myself, as a covenant with Him alone. As it turned out, I did stay with the institution for His mission purposes, whereas some of my close friends did not. And we all signed the same covenant, each of us fulfilling it in God-ordained ways.”

Not one of the officers who wrote to me considers their covenant to be with The Salvation Army. That is why for many who have left the Army, there is a sense that they have not broken their covenant and consider themselves to be still fulfilling it through other avenues of service.

And yet, The Army as an organization is so intricately involved with our covenant as officers, and some that wrote understood their covenant that way. For why would I be signing this covenant in the first place if not to serve God through The Army itself? I signed my covenant in a Salvation Army owned and operated school. My ordination, recognized by the government, is as a Salvation Army officer. If I then leave the Army, and cease to be an officer, how am I still being true to the covenant I signed? Consider what another officer had to say, “I understood that it was a commitment to The Salvation Army. Of course there was also an understanding that this was a covenant with God, but mostly I understood it as a commitment to officership. I understood that it meant that I would serve as an officer for the rest of my life and that I would be serving God by doing so as a minister of the Gospel of Christ.”

PART ONE

http://therubicon.org

KATHIE CHIU

Writer: Along with her husband Ed, Kathie Chiu has been the corps officer of Mountain View Community Church and is the Executive Director of The Caring Place ministries which includes a shelter, transitional housing and community programs, located in British Columbia, Canada. Kathie has five children and by June 2009 will have eight grandchildren. For over two years she has been writing a monthly column for Salvationist.ca called Just Between Us and right now is working on a blogazine called Full Potential to help equip leaders for ministry. Her passions include building and equipping others for ministry and writing, knitting and especially her family.

Friday, October 9, 2009

OUT OF SIGHT - OUT OF TOUCH ...

Recent discussion of the FSAOF blog has focused on the Army’s response or lack of it to those who ‘leave the work.’ I am hopeful that this discussion will generate some specific guidelines for use across the Army so that officers who are taking up the “former” mantle will find some systemic support for that oftentimes traumatic transition.

Yet all too often, a corporate policy is only as good as the abilities and attitudes of those who are charged with carrying out that policy. I know of very few Salvation Army officers who would say that they have too little work to do, as most of us are dealing with a plate that is overflowing with responsibility, and sadly, pastoral care doesn’t always rise to the top of the list. Like many corps officers, the typical divisional commander is hard-pressed to meet the pastoral needs of his or her active and retired officers, and the expectation that they will be able to keep in contact with those who have moved in a different direction may be unrealistic. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a fact of life, whether we like it or not. This is not to say that we shouldn’t reach out to former officers, but it’s probably not top priority at the beginning the day.

The recent posts have, however, forced me to consider my own reactions, both past and present. As an active officer, my response to someone choosing a different path than officership has generally depended upon my relationship (or lack of one) with the person involved. If I'd normally send them a note or call them were they sharing a college graduation or a death in the family, I've generally done the same upon hearing of their decision. If I had little more than a passing acquaintance, I probably wouldn't be in contact.

However, there have been times when I have gotten involved in the dynamics of an officer resignation. In a recent situation, our corps was privileged to invite a DHQ officer to be with us on her last Sunday as an active officer, where we were able to provide her with affirmation of her work, a blessing upon her new ministry, as well as a luncheon and some shower gifts for her new home. Our intention was to treat this transition for her with respect and with appreciation for her impact on our lives.

I’d suggest that what made this particular situation a positive one was our commitment to treat our friend’s decision as one that we were willing to support, even though I was sad to see her leave the Army. People do change directions in life, and working to normalize those transitions is a healthy response to people we love, even if we don’t fully agree with their decision. By helping those involved grieve the losses and celebrate the new possibilities, we are modeling a healthy approach to life in general.

The more difficult situations are those when there has been a dismissal or a marriage breakdown. What do we do? After all, there is often no public announcement, only a whispered message that implies some difficulty that can’t quite be explained. I must admit that in all too many instances, I've done nothing, excusing my inaction with the thought that perhaps someone else who is closer to them will have involvement. Sadly, that may be the thought of many officers, and the officer being asked to leave is also stripped of much of his or her support system at a time when they most need that support. No one offers to baby-sit, help clean the quarters, or lend some money.

A friend who left officership, admittedly under a cloud of her own making, told me that I was the only officer who had even called. That saddened me, knowing that there were many who were all too willing to talk to me about the ensuing scandal. Perhaps those are the situations where the administration needs to request that someone make contact and stay in contact, whether they be an active officer in the vicinity, a retired officer of discretion, or even someone from outside our denomination.

Ultimately, while the corporate response is important, all Salvation Army officers, active, former or retired, have a responsibility to each other to support, comfort, confront and care for each other. While we may not reach out every time a rumor comes our way or a bulletin crosses our computer screen, we can make an effort to call or e-mail a session-mate or a former officer whom we had served with simply to check in and to say, “I remember.” And we can do it now.
So to those whose paths have crossed with mine, you are not forgotten. Your ministry has touched my life, and I am grateful. The words of II Thess. 3:5 from The Message are my prayer for you today: “May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God's love and Christ's endurance.”

Major JoAnn Shade
Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has contributed to this blog since its inception.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

THE PASSING OF A DEAR FRIEND...

An Obituary printed in the London Times...

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, O. C. Sense
, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:Knowing when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies ( don't spend more than you can earn ) and reliable strategies ( adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boycharged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Active SA officer UKT