VII

It’s move day in The Salvation Army. For those that don’t know, every year our Territorial Administration, in consultation with our Divisional Leaders, assign some of the officers in the territory new ministry locations and responsibilities. Today is the day those decisions and assignments become public knowledge.

 

Detroit is home for at least another year. As we begin our seventh year on the Eastside, our ninth year in Detroit altogether, we feel blessed and privileged to continue to serve in such a great community. We love our corps, our people, the neighborhood we serve in and the neighborhood we live in. We’ve got great neighbors at the corps and at home – and we’re happy to be staying.

Seven is a significant number for us – it is a milestone in Salvation Army corps officership that many never reach for a single appointment. That’s a shame. It’s changing though – longer appointments like ours are becoming much more common.

I wish each of my comrades could reach a seventh year in the same appointment. There isn’t anything quite like it. I’m a better officer for it.  I like to think my corps is better off too, but you’d have to ask them.

There is great power in staying put. There is a deep contentedness in continuing on in the place you’ve fallen in love with. There is abiding joy in longevity. There is flat out relief at not having to deal with the packing and the cleaning and the physical acts of moving. While I know that I will have to (in the words of a fellow officer loves my appointment and would like to have it) “get out of his chair someday”, for now it’s still mine.

God bless those who are getting out of their chairs and moving onto to new ones. I’m excited for the possibility of friends moving closer and new relationships that these changes bring each year.

God bless those who are leaving these chairs behind for good and are seeking new seating arrangements – there are names that should have been on that list and aren’t. It makes me sad and angry – a day of mixed emotions for sure.

God bless those who are staying put, too.

 

The First of Many

“Mrs. Moreno”, she called. “Mrs. Moreno”. One of my “Home League” ladies – those who have been here longer than I’ve been alive can’t quite let go of that long-loved name and move into the “Women’s Ministries” era.

No matter how many times I tell her to call me Captain Kelsie, it’s usually Mrs. Moreno. Today we were planning for the next three months of programming, and we can’t do that without coffee and donuts. She was calling my name because we were out of sugar.

“Mrs. Moreno, we’re out of sugar.”

Long before my time, married women officers fought to be addressed by their own rank. Times changed and, true to form, years later so did the Army I love so dearly. Eventually, “Captain and Mrs. Jones” became “Captains Jones”. I remember commenting once that I was glad I would be commissioned by my rank and not my marital status – and was gently chided by a retired male officer who told me what I’m called shouldn’t matter.

It didn’t occur to him that it might be a big deal to me, because he had always been called by his rank.

I was blessed to be among the first session of cadets in which the female cadets could wear pants instead of skirts during the week. Hallelujah, I thought, God called me to training at the right time – I would have never lasted in pantyhose and my skirt every day, all day long. ‘What’s the big deal about pants?’, I recall a male cadet asking me, after overhearing a conversation in which several female cadets were rejoicing over the pantyhose free wardrobe option.

It didn’t occur to him that it might be a big deal to us, you see, because he wore pants every day.

Now before you think all the men who share my calling are callous and ignorant to the places a married woman officer has occupied in this Army, let me assure you that the vast majority of them are enlightened to our situations – and fought on behalf of and alongside us for every bit of equality due us. I’m blessed to be married to one who has never considered me anything less than his equal and often tells me I’m his better.

While we still see few married women in top leadership positions and there isn’t a formal uniform option that includes pants, and there’s still that pesky problem (though it’s getting better in recent years) of Married Women Officers Headquarters Appointments, today another step forward was realized for me and my fellow married female colleagues.

We got our first paychecks.

That journey is a battle that I can’t document here, because I honestly wasn’t on the front lines, I was just a commentator from the sidelines. There are certainly lots of feelings over how long it took and what happens now. It all comes down to this, for me, in the words of Commissioner Carol Seiler: It was the right thing to do.

You can’t really argue with right. It’s right to pay married women officers in their own name, equally to their male and unmarried female counterparts.

A lot was said recently about what people thought we should or shouldn’t do with our paychecks. I believe it was all well-intentioned, yes, even the comments I didn’t find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with – but it got me thinking. What are these ladies that I’m proud to count myself among ACTUALLY planning on doing with it?

My finance minded husband sat down days after the announcement and reworked our budget according to our new income and we did what I imagine a lot of my married comrades did: We discussed what to do with our money.

I asked, ladies, and you answered. Over 100 of you wrote to me to tell me what you’re planning to do with your paychecks.

For our first paychecks, some of us had plans to celebrate. A couple of us are getting tattoos, many of us are treating our families to a nice dinner out, some of us have decided it’s time to splurge a little and get a fresh cut and color or perhaps a pedicure and a massage. Some of us will spend this first one or at least part of it on books, some on their hobbies (knitting being the most popular with scrapbooking a close second), and some of us are choosing to make a special donation out of this first paycheck to a cause we love or in one case, directly to a friend in need.

Collectively, here’s what a lot of us are doing with our money long term.

Many of us are paying for college – both for ourselves and our children.
Most of us are paying down debt – medical, student, and consumer.
Several of us are planning to save for retirement or other future needs  – and continue to just live on the amount we lived on before.
Quite a few are taking a vacation – in some cases to overseas relatives we are not often able to see.
Three of us are planning to save for upcoming wedding expenses for your children.
A few mentioned gym memberships in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
One of us is planning to purchase a car for their college bound student and another for their high schooler.
More than a handful are planning on an increase to their grocery budget – the healthy stuff costs more!
One of us is using the money she earns to pay for reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy. (Pray for her with me, won’t you?)
Twelve of us have specific causes we plan to give more money to each month and almost half of us mentioned increasing our giving in general.

To my surprise, several even said they hadn’t really thought about it. They would approach it the same they had all these years – the money would go in the joint checking account, they would write the tithe check, see to the needs of their family, and then see where the Spirit directed them after that.

As for my plans – I took my husband out to dinner tonight. I’m planning to get a tattoo in the coming weeks. I have some friends I want to help out. We plan to save more money each month – for retirement, for traveling, for a rainy day. I’m going to give more to World Services.

Today, when payroll arrived, I was with my Women’s Ministries Group, planning for the next three months after the sugar was refilled and the coffee was brewed. How lovely it was to see their eyes light up with mine when Javier made it a point to interrupt the meeting to present me with MY first paycheck as a married female officer in The Salvation Army.

“Congratulations, Mrs. Mo….err, Captain,” my die-hard Home Leaguer said as she threw her arms around. “It’s about time.”

Farewell, Harding (pt. 2)

Christmas has proven to be a very magical time for The Salvation Army on Detroit’s Eastside. It was during Christmas 2014 that Javier stumbled upon the Conner facility, up for sale. It was during that same busy Christmas that our leaders would make time in the busiest of seasons to come and look and give it their seal of approval. It was on Christmas Day 2014 that we received an email from our Divisional Commander letting us know that an official offer to purchase had been made. Merry Christmas, Harding Corps.

So it seems exactly right that two years later, almost to the day, we would be closing the sale of the Harding corps. Merry Christmas, Conner Creek Corps.

In a few hours, the old Harding building will no longer belong to The Salvation Army. Another church has purchased it and will give it a go on Harding and Mack. Yesterday Javier went back and took the last thing we needed to get, the chapel cross that hung in memory of Eugene Collet, Major Beverly Collet’s father. Our beloved Major has been gone to glory for a few years now, but she’d surely come back to admonish us if we forgot that cross! It’s safe and sound now, Major, we’ve just got to find a place to hang it.

The realtor is on his way to Conner Creek to pick up the Harding keys and as we’ve gathered them from soldiers and staff, it’s been meet with both joy and sadness.

We’re happy in our new home just down the road on Conner. God has truly blessed us with a great building out of which we fulfill the mission to share the Gospel message and meet the needs of community. That’s the joy.

The sadness is the final parting with a building that housed so many testimonies, saw so many lives changed and was used for many, many years as a place where people could find a second home, be part of a family, and come to know God in a real way.

The lesson is that while the buildings come and go, while keys change hands and deeds have new owners listed, the mission isn’t swayed. Here or there, the mission is the same. Reach people for Jesus. Make life better for those we serve. Fight against poverty and hunger and injustice. Teach children confidence and build their self esteem. Strengthen families. Care for seniors. Be a part of building a better Detroit.

As we say one last final goodbye to Harding today, we also eagerly welcome the future for Conner Creek.

harding-keysEvery key to Harding – a house that served the Lord faithfully for many years! 

Hello, Conner Creek!

For me, it was a day 5 years in the making. For others, it’s been nearly 30 years. This past Sunday, we gathered as a church family in our new building for the first time. We’ve exchanged pews for chairs, dark rooms for bright ones, a parking free for all for a lot with 112 spaces, and several sets of stairs for none at all.

New chapel, new Sunday School rooms, new flags. We’ve got more newness on the way….carpet, pew chairs, office furniture, signage. All the pieces to the puzzle will probably take a few months to be fully in place.

One thing that isn’t new, that we won’t be changing at all, is the God we praise for this victory. Javier came up with a little tagline for the move… “New Name…..New Location…..Same God!”

God’s faithfulness to the people of Detroit Harding and now to the people of Conner Creek is unmatched. While it didn’t happen in any of the timelines we planned, the minute God said GO, it all fell into place as easily and quickly as we could have ever hoped. Because of this faithfulness, we raised an Ebenezer during our service. I don’t know what kind of approvals it would have taken to get a two-ton boulder in the chapel, so we decided to be a bit more practical and used river rocks and a vase to build our remembrance of this first Sunday.

Thus far has God helped us…

Farewell to Detroit Harding

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I have a good excuse though.

We’ve been utterly consumed with a task set before us – and anyone who has been paying attention to the goings-on of Harding for the last 30 years or so can probably guess at what that task was.

Last fall, after the current “try and replace Harding” effort had come to a definitive end – I had decided to take a break from working/thinking about/hoping for a new building. I figured we would get through Christmas and sometime in the spring, after my mind and my spirit had a chance to rest from all of the effort spent on another failed attempt, we could start talking about what to do next. And while I took a break, Javier kept right on looking. Javier doesn’t do breaks. Javier doesn’t give up. I like that about him.

I’m fairly certain it was during the weeks we had no heat (yes, weeks. No heat.) that Javier drove past a building not too far from our own that had a for sale sign out front. It was the UAW LOCAL 51, on Conner. It was just a few weeks before Christmas.

Christmas in The Salvation Army. Nobody does anything but ring bells, do toy shop, and try to eat and sleep at least once a day. Except Javier, that is. He decided to send just a little email off to DHQ letting them know about his find. And that’s when the ball started rolling faster than anything I’ve ever seen in The Salvation Army. Two days later, DHQ was in that building. A week later, every board that needed to have a say was in that building. Just before Christmas, an offer was made. In the months that followed, all the boxes got checked. And on July 15th, the keys were ours.

Today we said Farewell to Detroit Harding. The pews were filled with soldiers and friends – some who are here every week, some who we haven’t seen in a very long time.

Harding has a long history. Below is what was printed in our bulletin – the Story of Detroit Harding.

A History of the Detroit Harding Corps

The Detroit Harding Corps of The Salvation Army as we know it today began in Detroit as The Salvation Army No. 2 Corps. The No. 2 Corps first opened its doors in October 1888. The first recorded site was a Baker & 23rd Streets. Captain & Mrs. Cooper were the commanding officers. In 1890, the No. 2 Corps moved to 482 Baker Street. Lieutenant Scott was the commanding officer. The No 2. Corps closed in 1894 and reopened in December 1905. The corps opened at a new location, 220 Harrison Avenue under the leadership of Captain Van Dyke. In 1920, the No. 2 Corps moved east relocating at 1955 Mack Avenue. Captain & Mrs. John Masters were the commanding officers. In 1922, the Corps moved further east to 10425 Mack Avenue, under the leadership of Captain & Mrs. Thomas Dula. In 1928 the No. 2 Corps became the Detroit Mack Avenue Citadel Corps, the home of the Eastern Michigan Divisional Headquarters under Captain & Mrs. William Rawlin.

In 1930, The Salvation Army and Grace Hospital joined forces in a three million dollar United Building Fund. The United Building Fund resulted in providing better health care facilities and community services for the citizens of Detroit. The Detroit Mack Avenue Citadel and Community Center benefitted from this building fund drive. The site selected for the new citadel was on Harding Avenue just north of Mack Avenue, a few blocks from the Mack Avenue Citadel. This new site is the location of Harding today. On August 3, 1930, a Cornerstone Laying Service dedicating the Citadel was held. Judge Frank Murphy gave the address that August afternoon. The cost to build the new Citadel and home of The Eastern Michigan DHQ was $60,000.

The Detroit Citadel Corps at 3735 Harding Avenue later came to be known as the Detroit Harding Corps, after a new citadel and Eastern Michigan Divisional Headquarters was built in downtown Detroit.

In 2015, after many years of work and countless prayers, the UAW Hall at 3000 Conner, Detroit MI 48215 was purchased as the new home for the Detroit Harding Corps. It will henceforth be known as The Salvation Army Conner Creek Corps & Community Center. We take with us our rich history of serving the people of this great city of Detroit.

If you were ever privileged enough to serve as the Corps Officer here, your name was read during our service today. A lot of “greats” can count Harding among their past appointments  – it’s an honor to find my own name on such a list of people.

As the Flag was retired and posted at the front of the Chapel for the last time, as the last person got up from the altar, as the last prayer was said and the last benediction given, there was an overwhelming sense of joy and peace. For that which we struggled so long for has finally been accomplished.

This week we said, “Farewell, Detroit Harding.”

Next week we say, “Hello, Conner Creek.”

Days Like This

Today a young man was shot at the intersection of Harding & Mack. He ended up laying in the middle of Mack Avenue, unable to move as he had been shot three times, in the back.

Our office manager had heard the shots and looked outside to see cars flying past him as he lay bleeding in the road. As she called 911, I headed out to divert traffic away from this young man. With the help of a few others, we were able to make sure no one ran him over before the police arrived to close off the street. In a Detroit miracle, the cops responded very quickly and were on the scene within minutes, the ambulance was shortly behind them. Praise God for a quick response time.

The young man who shot him disappeared into the neighborhood.

All I could think of while standing there, in the middle of Mack Avenue, frantically waving at cars to slow down and go around, was how glad I was that all the vans full of our precious VBS children had pulled away minutes earlier.

I have many days in Detroit that do not unfold like today did. I praise God for each day that I am not needed to stand in front of a shooting victim to ensure he doesn’t suffer even more. I thank God for each day that the corner of Mack & Harding is only full of the sounds of kids playing or people laughing. I give God all the glory for each day in Detroit that brings joy, peace and happiness.

And on the days that do unfold like today (and I’m grateful that there aren’t so many of them) I’m glad that God is a rock on which to lean.

Pray for this young man who laid there in the street today, asking to be moved out of the street and begging to live. Pray for his family and friends who I’m sure are rushing to be with him now.

And pray for the one who did the shooting too – I don’t know him at all, but I know he surely needs Jesus.

Ladies Day Out

It was an absolutely beautiful day in Detroit and the ladies of Detroit Harding spent it downtown.

We enjoyed the sights at Campus Martius.

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We listened to a great little folk band, The Flutter and Wow , with a fiddler who had everyone stomping and clapping.

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We even met a local celebrity, Mr. Detroit, who graciously posed for a picture with Clara (after we literally chased him through Campus Martius).

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We finished our afternoon with lunch at Detroit One Coney (which is by far my favorite Coney Island in the D).

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It was a great day out with the ladies in a Great American City.

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